Road Tripping with the ‘Check Engine’ Light On

Today marks Day #4 of our second workcation. We started calling this trip “The Vermainshire Workcation,” but then we ended up in Canada and name combinations just became too confusing.

I write today from a dorm-like motel in Scarborough, on the outskirts of Toronto, as I knock out some projects to pay for the days ahead. Things are going smoothly so far, but they didn’t start out that way.

On Saturday morning at 7am, we stuffed the Jeep full of seemingly useful crap, attached a couple bikes, and secured the hitch rack cargo bag. About an hour into our drive, my Jeep (who goes by “Chief Surfs with Manatees, if you were unaware) dinged a foreboding ding.

The dreaded “check engine” light was shining brightly back at me from the dash, mocking me.

A debate of the options ensued, and we considered driving back to Chicago to get it taken care of. We settled on pulling over in Michigan City, Indiana to take Chief to the automobile emergency room.

photo (1)

We first attempted to buy a scanner to diagnose the problem at an Advanced Auto Parts. The dude there was kind enough to scan Chief with the company scanner for free, which saved us at least fifty bucks. Woot! The diagnosis indicated an EGR (exhaust gas re-circulation) issue, and while a treatment plan couldn’t be determined from that, it was clear we needed some professional help.

A crap-hole shop called Apex Auto Care advised they couldn’t even diagnose Chief, let alone fix him because he was “too new”. Apparently, all the cars they service are from 2009 or older, which is weird and lame.

Fortunately, another shop, Chris’ Car Care, ran a $45 test and told us that the EGR valve sensor had been set off, but that no immediate fix was needed. Even after explaining that I needed this Jeep to get me to Maine, the dude reassured me that it would drive just fine. I can’t say I understand his explanation very well, but I guess I am apprehensively relieved. Fingers crossed!


We’ve made it to Toronto so far and have been hanging out in and around the city, which reminds me of Chicago but nicer, greener, friendlier, and equally expensive. Stay tuned for future blog posts about our adventures, which will hopefully be about fun things rather than Jeep drama.

Posts about biking Toronto Island and the Bellwoods Brewery are coming up next! I’m also creating a road trip poetry book that will feature haikus, limericks, and other forms of random poetry that I decide to Google and learn how to write.


Happy trails!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *