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Blue Angel
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672 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The 2017 International in Denison, Texas was fantastic, what a great time. By the time I left Sunday most folks were already on the road. I got a few miles down the road and got a check engine light. First thought: I have almost 2000 miles to home, I can’t risk not knowing what this is about. I headed back to the hotel where I hoped Mike (Mike in Arizona) and Debbie might still be there. They were, I caught them just as they rounded the building on their way out. The next lucky break was Frank (Dinerman) coming by with an awesome plug in device that could read codes with an app to his phone. (Frank, I think we all need to know more about this device!) The codes were PO171 & PO174, System Lean right & left banks. Short version of this part: we changed out the expansion tank, that seemed to work, the code cleared and all went on their way.

A couple hours down the road through Oklahoma I stopped for gas and 20 miles later I stopped for lunch. A couple miles after that the check engine light came back on. Dang. Sunday of a 3 day weekend. Now what. I pulled off beside a small gas station with a side road next to it. As I was checking simple things like that the gas cap was threaded tight and looking under the hood for whatever might be obvious a man pulled up in a somewhat beat up 4-door and asked from a respectable distance away if I needed help. I said I was ok but had a check engine light and lots of distance to travel before a garage might be open on Tuesday. He never got out of the car and talked to me from where he had stopped. He suggested I go to an AutoZone or O’Reilley’s, they can read the code and I could make a plan from there. He gave me directions to both local ones. I thanked him and told him I appreciated the info. We talked a bit more and it turns out he is a hot rod guy. He does custom stuff, his name is Charley. His place was just down the side road. He gave me his card and said if I needed more help he had a shop there and was headed home. He also said I could ask the folks in the gas station store about him. He is a local and they all know him. His website: Home . Nice man and helpful reminding me of simple concepts at a time when your mind goes blank and making a decision without enough info is hard. I headed to Autozone because it was the closest. The 20-something woman that helped me was pleasant, professional and knowledgeable. The young man that was there was mildly sarcastic and dismissive of Chevrolets. I asked him if he had ever seen an SSR before, a real one, up close. No, just had seen some stunts and videos. Told him they are much more than a stunt car or a video star.

Codes were the same as in the morning, PO171 & PO174. Their computer recommendation was to replace the Mass Air Flow Sensor. Ok, piece of cake. Can you show me exactly where and what that is please? She did. Oh, Ok, I can do that. Of course they didn’t have one in stock but the AutoZone 30 miles up the road did. We called and confirmed that. Off I go.

Really nice Sunday manager, he is normally the Parts Manager but enjoys giving the Store Manager a weekend day off from time to time. I head to the parking lot with my new Mass Air Flow Sensor and am actually successful in getting the old one almost off. At that point I am not sure how much I can “manhandle” the thing to get stuff apart. What I never know is which of the many parts you can yank on and which ones you have to be more respectful of. I asked my new friend Stanley, the manager, what he thinks. He comes out to the parking lot and showed me what I could muscle and what to be careful of. He helped get it all back together which was good because it turns out that thing does take some pulling & pushing. He also said he had been watching out the window to see if it looked like I needed any help but it seemed like I was doing ok so he left me alone. To tell you all the truth I am really quite pleased with myself :rock:. Done, installed. Stanley clears the code because it may not clear itself for awhile and it would be good to know if I get a new one. I head to the hotel 2 hours away, no new check engine lights. Yay.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings I start off without a check engine light on. Each day after about 20-30 miles I get a light and it stays on the rest of the day. Oil is fine, coolant is fine, add Lucas supplement before every fillup. Stop somewhere in Pennsylvania at O’Reilley’s and confirm I am getting the same codes. I am.

Home. Off to my favorite mechanic and tell him my tale. They poke around a bit but don’t have any ideas or obvious solutions. Two days later I start the truck and the check engine light doesn’t come on. Good. Stable for about a week. On a Saturday I drive to New Hampshire, after about 20 highway miles the light comes on. By the time I get home and wait till Monday to go to the mechanic the light doesn’t come on. Drive a couple more weeks, no light. Then driving on the highway the light comes on. Back to the mechanic. Same codes. I give him a painstaking account of the previous weeks, days and times of engine light on and not on, mileage, road speed, hours driven, temperature, everything I can think of. They bring in a coolant/air flow/transmission expert from one of their other shops. They check the new Mass Air Flow Sensor and get variable readings. It is not a GM part. Maybe that is having an influence. They get a new GM Mass Air Flow Sensor. It tests positive and stable. I bring them the one I removed. They test that. It is positive and stable, there is nothing wrong with it and never was. The code is indicating an air flow issue. What else can affect air flow? Where can air get into the system? The Air Filter. They remove that. Ah Ha!! It looks original (12 years). It has damage around a part of the gasket perimeter. The guys hypothesis that the damage (age) is causing the filter to not seal properly. It is somewhat deformed; it has somewhat of a bend down the center. At town speeds it works fine, at highway speeds the air flow is increased to the point that the filter actually deforms and bends because the perimeter of it is compromised. As a result it allows too much air though and messes with the fuel/air balance. Check engine light, System Lean right & left banks, system running lean because of too much air. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to take a picture of the damaged filter.

Conclusion: it’s now been 2 weeks since the air filter was replaced and I have driven over 1000 miles locally and at highway speeds. No check engine light!

Now I have a leaking radiator but that is a different thread…
 

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The 2017 International in Denison, Texas was fantastic, what a great time. By the time I left Sunday most folks were already on the road. I got a few miles down the road and got a check engine light. First thought: I have almost 2000 miles to home, I can’t risk not knowing what this is about. I headed back to the hotel where I hoped Mike (Mike in Arizona) and Debbie might still be there. They were, I caught them just as they rounded the building on their way out. The next lucky break was Frank (Dinerman) coming by with an awesome plug in device that could read codes with an app to his phone. (Frank, I think we all need to know more about this device!) The codes were PO171 & PO174, System Lean right & left banks. Short version of this part: we changed out the expansion tank, that seemed to work, the code cleared and all went on their way.

A couple hours down the road through Oklahoma I stopped for gas and 20 miles later I stopped for lunch. A couple miles after that the check engine light came back on. Dang. Sunday of a 3 day weekend. Now what. I pulled off beside a small gas station with a side road next to it. As I was checking simple things like that the gas cap was threaded tight and looking under the hood for whatever might be obvious a man pulled up in a somewhat beat up 4-door and asked from a respectable distance away if I needed help. I said I was ok but had a check engine light and lots of distance to travel before a garage might be open on Tuesday. He never got out of the car and talked to me from where he had stopped. He suggested I go to an AutoZone or O’Reilley’s, they can read the code and I could make a plan from there. He gave me directions to both local ones. I thanked him and told him I appreciated the info. We talked a bit more and it turns out he is a hot rod guy. He does custom stuff, his name is Charley. His place was just down the side road. He gave me his card and said if I needed more help he had a shop there and was headed home. He also said I could ask the folks in the gas station store about him. He is a local and they all know him. His website: Home . Nice man and helpful reminding me of simple concepts at a time when your mind goes blank and making a decision without enough info is hard. I headed to Autozone because it was the closest. The 20-something woman that helped me was pleasant, professional and knowledgeable. The young man that was there was mildly sarcastic and dismissive of Chevrolets. I asked him if he had ever seen an SSR before, a real one, up close. No, just had seen some stunts and videos. Told him they are much more than a stunt car or a video star.

Codes were the same as in the morning, PO171 & PO174. Their computer recommendation was to replace the Mass Air Flow Sensor. Ok, piece of cake. Can you show me exactly where and what that is please? She did. Oh, Ok, I can do that. Of course they didn’t have one in stock but the AutoZone 30 miles up the road did. We called and confirmed that. Off I go.

Really nice Sunday manager, he is normally the Parts Manager but enjoys giving the Store Manager a weekend day off from time to time. I head to the parking lot with my new Mass Air Flow Sensor and am actually successful in getting to old one almost off. At that point I am not sure how much I can “manhandle” the thing to get stuff apart. What I never know is which of the many parts you can yank on and which ones you have to be more respectful of. I asked my new friend Stanley, the manager, what he thinks. He comes out to the parking lot and showed me what I could muscle and what to be careful of. He helped get it all back together which was good because it turns out that thing does take some pulling & pushing. He also said he had been watching out the window to see if it looked like I needed any help but it seemed like I was doing ok so he left me alone. To tell you all the truth I am really quite pleased with myself :rock: Done, installed. Stanley clears the code because it may not clear itself for awhile and it would be good to know if I get a new one. I head to the hotel 2 hours away, no new check engine lights. Yay.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings I start off without a check engine light on. Each day after about 20-30 miles I get a light and it stays on the rest of the day. Oil is fine, coolant is fine, add Lucas supplement before every fillup. Stop somewhere in Pennsylvania at O’Reilley’s and confirm I am getting the same codes. I am.

Home. Off to my favorite mechanic and tell him my tale. They poke around a bit but don’t have any ideas or obvious solutions. Two days later I start the truck and the check engine light doesn’t come on. Good. Stable for about a week. On a Saturday I drive to New Hampshire, after about 20 highway miles the light comes on. By the time I get home and wait till Monday to go to the mechanic the light doesn’t come on. Drive a couple more weeks, no light. Then driving on the highway the light comes on. Back to the mechanic. Same codes. I give him a painstaking account of the previous weeks, days and times of engine light on and not on, mileage, road speed, hours driven, temperature, everything I can think of. They bring in a coolant/air flow/transmission expert from one of their other shops. They check the new Mass Air Flow Sensor and get variable readings. It is not a GM part. Maybe that is having an influence. They get a new GM Mass Air Flow Sensor. It tests positive and stable. I bring them the one I removed. They test that. It is positive and stable, there is nothing wrong with it and never was. The code is indicating an air flow issue. What else can affect air flow? Where can air get into the system? The Air Filter. They remove that. Ah Ha!! It looks original (12 years). It has damage around a part of the gasket perimeter. The guys hypothesis that the damage (age) is causing the filter to not seal properly. It is somewhat deformed; it has somewhat of a bend down the center. At town speeds it works fine, at highway speeds the air flow is increased to the point that the filter actually deforms and bends because the perimeter of it is compromised. As a result it allows too much air though and messes with the fuel/air balance. Check engine light, System Lean right & left banks, system running lean because of too much air. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to take a picture of the damaged filter.

Conclusion: it’s now been 2 weeks since the air filter was replaced and I have driven over 1000 miles locally and at highway speeds. No check engine light!

Now I have a leaking radiator but that is a different thread…
Sailing, I have had the check engine come on in my truck and was told if it's solid it is most likely an 02 sensor. It it flashes you have a problem and better pull over. So I carry a cheap code reader and when my light come on I turn it off. I also have an XLR in Southern CA. with the same problem and I just turn the light off. The problem started with that car when I put a Corsa exhaust system on. This is the year I get a smog test so the light better stay off.
John F.
 

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SSR Pit Crew
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1,736 Posts
It's nice to read about good well-meaning people that want to help when others have a problem. I'm glad you made it home safely although you did have many frustrations along the way.

Dave
 

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Premium Member
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3,697 Posts
Sailing
sounds like you sailed into some nice folks on your trip home.
Great story and I hope your problem stays fixed.
 

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Premium Member
2006 Redline FPR 6 Speed
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994 Posts
Jody, thanks for the great, detailed info. Will certainly help someone. Glad you made it home safely. Bill
 

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Proud Original Owner
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18,156 Posts
Yes, quite a story.
Glad you met some friendly, helpful people along the way.
 

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SSR Pit Crew
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12,527 Posts
It was great to see you in Texas, Kathy and I always enjoy talking with our New England roots.

Interesting story, kinda like my suggestion of changing battery and ignition switch every four years if I need to or not.

But Air Filter?? 12 years?? You have to be kidding.

Lesson learned. May it SNOW on your head for not changing the air filter sooner.

Dicktator/Kathy

Merry Christmas! We will miss the SNOW!! (NOT).
 

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5,218 Posts
Holy cow !! Is there any ink left in your computer ? That's a longer story than I've ever seen written on here. :laugh:

If that was the problem, then great. Also, if that was the problem, and it was a 12 year old filter :)surprise:), may I suggest a different mechanic ? If I recall, you had your truck checked for the long trip down the Eastern sea board to Florida last year. That should have been checked then.
On that note, how was the oil consumption on this trip ? Has it stopped losing oil ?
 

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Daily Driver
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8,935 Posts
Excellent information, thank you. I would have never suspected the air filter.
I can see if the filter was plugged and the engine starving for air the performance would drop off, but I thought the engine management system adjusted the fuel for the volume of air the engine was sucking in. Leaking extra air before the flow sensor throwing codes doesn't seem right. What about aftermarket filters that claim to flow more air? I'm confused.:confused
 

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Premium Member
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Excellent information, thank you. I would have never suspected the air filter.
I can see if the filter was plugged and the engine starving for air the performance would drop off, but I thought the engine management system adjusted the fuel for the volume of air the engine was sucking in. Leaking extra air before the flow sensor throwing codes doesn't seem right. What about aftermarket filters that claim to flow more air? I'm confused.:confused
Agreed, I too am confused. According to Mrs. Autoprof (and many others that wish to remain anonymous) this is not unusual.
 

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Premium Member
2004 Slingshot Yellow
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1,902 Posts
Agreed, I too am confused. According to Mrs. Autoprof (and many others that wish to remain anonymous) this is not unusual.
I suspect the cause of the light was LOW airflow when engine was under load due to the filter being plugged solid causing a rich condition. Intermittent because the collapsing of the filter and breaking the seal to let more air in then springing back to shape when engine is off.
What really shocks me is that the mechanic never checked the simple stuff first. That's Auto repair 101!
I had a mechanically challenged friend who changed his air filter in his Mini Cooper and decided to wipe the soot out of the airbox, put it back together with the new filter. He started it and got a light and limp mode. Towed to the dealer and they had it for three days trying to diagnose the problem until someone finally found the rag he left in there stuck around the MAF.
Knowing AutoProf, I'm sure you teach students to check the simple stuff first!!!
Greg
 

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Premium Member
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836 Posts
Jody, your civil engineering background shows through with your ability to report all the variables to help analyze the problem. Glad to hear that you were able to get your SSR home without any apparent damage. Congratulations. Me being me, I can’t help but wonder how could this be related to the “disappearing oil trick”. As for Charlie, what a guy being aware enough not to scare you off.
 

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Blue Angel
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672 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Hi all, appreciate all comments cause all info is, well, more info.

Checked back with mechanics, my bad comprehension - not original air filter, original GM part (verses aftermarket). Not exactly sure how old but not original 2006, I think 2013.

Not related to oil issue, still working on that. But oil issue seems to at least be evened out. I check it weekly and before any trip of more than 100 miles.

And it's now been another 1000 miles with no check engine lights. I believe this is a viable consideration when faced with these 2 codes. So next question is other than normal wear and use, why should it fail in this particular way in the first place? Is there a specific time frame we should be considering to look at the air filter condition? I know it should be part of normal maintenance and I have normal maintenance done, so does it fail somewhat suddenly? Not sure.
 
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