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I just went through a hell of a time trying to diagnose my own CEL. In order...
CEL comes on and off for a few days then stays on for good. Everything seems to run fine.
After about 3 months I borrow an OBD-II from O'Reiley's
OBD-II gave 7 different codes. 4 engine individual cylinder misfire, one generic misfire code, one lean condition code, and one fuel cap loose code.
Replaced 4 coil packs, air filter, cleaned MAF, and tightened gas cap.
Cleared all codes. CEL now off. Seems to run very smooth.
Two days later light comes back on. Still seems to run smooth as silk.
Borrowed OBD-II again (from O'Reily's) and this one had trouble establishing connection. Dinked around with it in the parking lot for a while and found that connection worked best when engine ran.
Cleared error code while engine running. AS SOON AS I PUSHED THE ERASE BUTTON, CAR RAN LIKE CRAPOLA. Instantly.
Drove home and in my driveway, 4 miles later, CEL started flashing.
Called towtruck and a week later he found a big vacuum leak in a fitting behind the valve cover.
He fixed it, cleared the codes and it purrs like a German kitten.
He was a really nice mechanic and a good guy. He only charged me $350, which included the tow.
A few days later I brought him and his wife a Christmas card, a home made loaf of bread and a $40 tip.
I think it pays to have a good mechanic.
 
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