1988 Buick Century Service Engine Soon light

Tiny
HAVE2KNOW
  • MEMBER
  • 1988 BUICK CENTURY
Engine Mechanical problem
1988 Buick Century Automatic 117000 miles

I know this light is programmed to come on very briefly when starting the car. My problem is when this light then stays on, which started happening with some frequency a few weeks ago. It usually occurs when starting the car with a warmed engine. If it comes on, the engine will run rough, like it is not getting enough air, especially when going up an incline.

The light almost never comes on when the car is first started with a cold engine, and it is unlikely that it will come on while driving. But if I make a stop at a store or gas station and turn off the engine, it will usually come on and then it stays on. If I repeatly restart the car, there is a chance that I will be successful and it will not come on.

I am out of state assisting a family member, and I have no idea what to do and where to go for help with this. I have no "codes" and don't know how/where to get them. I have been told that it would cost me considerably to get this diagnosed and that I should just ignore it and keep restarting.
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Thursday, October 16th, 2008 AT 1:37 PM

7 Replies

Tiny
JNOVACK
  • EXPERT
Under dash on drivers side is a test port were you can retreve codes


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/52960_gmobd_1.gif



Turn ignition switch to OFF position
Locate Data Link Connector (DLC), see image above.
Jumper the A&B terminals(a paper clip or a jumper wire work ok)
Turn Ignition switch to ON position.
Count the flashes on the "CHECK ENGINE" or "SERVICE ENGINE" light.
FLASH, pause, FLASH, FLASH = code 12
code 12 is ok means jump is working count number of flashes it will have a longer pause between codes all codes flash three times so have pen and paper handy to write down codes and please get back to me and I will help you more
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Thursday, October 16th, 2008 AT 2:45 PM
Tiny
HAVE2KNOW
  • MEMBER
The code is 13.
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Thursday, October 16th, 2008 AT 4:28 PM
Tiny
JNOVACK
  • EXPERT
13-Oxygen sensor voltage stays between 0.35 and 0.55 volts for 3 seconds during closed loop operation and will set code after 40 seconds for Century and Cutlass Ciera. For the Lumina, the oxygen sensor voltage stays between 0.35 and 0.55 volts for 60 seconds during closed loop operation and will set code after 2 minutes. Both systems can go into open loop after 15 seconds.
I would change O2 sensor
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Thursday, October 16th, 2008 AT 8:55 PM
Tiny
HAVE2KNOW
  • MEMBER
Thank you so very much for the information. I'll have to let others know about your site.

One more question, though. Can you give me a guesstimate of how much would be a fair price for getting the oxygen sensor replaced in an '88 Buick Century? Are we talking $50, $100, more?
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Friday, October 17th, 2008 AT 6:59 AM
Tiny
JNOVACK
  • EXPERT
You can do this your self heres how
The oxygen sensor must be replaced every 30,000 miles (48,309 km). The sensor may be difficult to remove when the engine temperature is below 120 F (48 C). Excessive removal force may damage the threads in the exhaust manifold or pipe and result in injury; follow the removal procedure carefully.

Locate the oxygen sensor; it protrudes from the center of the exhaust manifold at the front of the engine compartment. (The sensor looks somewhat like a spark plug.)
Disengage the electrical connector from the oxygen sensor.
Spray wd40 or pb blaster onto the sensor threads and allow it to soak in for at least five minutes.
Carefully unscrew and remove the sensor.
To install:
Coat the new sensor's threads with GM anti-seize compound No. 5613695 or the equivalent. This is not a conventional anti-seize paste. The use of a regular compound may electrically insulate the sensor, rendering it inoperative. You must coat the threads with an electrically conductive anti-seize compound.
Tighten the sensor to 30 ft. Lbs. (42 Nm). Do not overtighten.
Attach the electrical connector. Be careful not to damage the electrical pigtail. Check the sensor boot for proper fit and installation.
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Friday, October 17th, 2008 AT 5:58 PM
Tiny
HAVE2KNOW
  • MEMBER
I sincerely appreciate your help telling me how to do the oxygen sensor replacement myself. However, I am a senior citizen (and I hope it's not sexist to mention being a woman), and am 1,000 miles away from friends and family assisting a family member. Only a few tools here, and I am mechanically challenged anyhow, though I do try to pay attention.

I wrote you so I'd have some information: 1) to determine whether a repair now was really needed, and 2) to avoid being "victimized" by ignorance.

Can you possibly give me some idea of a fair price to have a professional install this part for me? Should I perhaps purchase the oxygen sensor myself and bring it in with me? I do not expect you to give me a quote, just a range or approximation so I'll know if a quoted price is fair or if I'm being taken advantage of.
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Friday, October 17th, 2008 AT 7:36 PM
Tiny
JNOVACK
  • EXPERT
The O2 sensor cost about 20-30 dollors at autozone the labor rate depends on shop labor rate could cost about 50-100 dollors labor
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Friday, October 17th, 2008 AT 10:35 PM

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