2003 Volvo V70, Check Engine Lamp with EVAP code
Mark: Hi, it’s mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So, we’re going to talk about a 2003 Volvo V70, this is a unique vehicle and there was a problem with the check engine lamp. What was going on and why did this car come to your shop?
Bernie: Well it came to our shop for a couple of reasons. First off, the check engine lamp was coming on and going off so that was a concern, there was a few other things like a turn signal handle was broken, the vehicle was just overdue for a service and needed a good inspection, there were a couple other issues, some clunks and noises and things. So we did the inspection, looked over the other items and then proceeded to look at the check engine light issues.
Mark: So I imagine you probably stuck it on the computer, what’d you find when you scanned the vehicle’s computer?
Bernie: Yeah, so the first step in any check engine light diagnosis is to plug in a scan tool and what we found is just one trouble code stored which is a P0442 which is an EVAP system leak and it’s defined as a small leak. So there are several different EVAP system codes and the sort of major ones that go off, a 442 is common for a lot of cars. It indicates a small leak in the system. There’s another one, I think a 455 if my memory serves me is a large leak. I might be wrong on that one but anyways, it’s a P0442 on this vehicle.
Mark: Ok, so what the heck is an EVAP system? Some sort of evaporative system I’m assuming and why would a leak be a problem?
Bernie: Yeah exactly, well EVAP does refer to evaporative system. So what happens with gasoline of course, it evaporates and the hotter the air temperature the easier to evaporate. So it was found early on, like you know, decades ago that evaporating the gasoline fumes were a huge, huge cause of air pollution, especially in places like LA where the airs stagnant and there’s a lot of cars, so just simply the act of filling up your vehicle all those vapours that tend to escape, that actually contributes a huge amount to pollution. The cap should keep that vapour contained and not allowing it to escape to the atmosphere is the whole purpose of the EVAP system. It’s complicated. There’s a lot of parts and pieces, there’s not only the fuel lines but there’s a separate set of lines to keep the fuel vapour contained, there’s a sealed gas cap and then there’s pumps and systems to test and make sure that there’s integrity in the system so it’s not actually leaking. So yeah, the other problem too is that when gasoline is evaporating, it’s actually your money going up into the atmosphere. So if you can keep the gasoline fumes contained, you’ve got more gasoline to run and better gas mileage.
Mark: Ok, so is this system difficult to test and diagnose?
Bernie: EVAP systems can quite honestly be a pain to diagnose. A lot of little lines and a lot of pipes and things like you know, the fuel filler pipe can develop a little leak or a hole, the gas cap can not seal properly, I mean that’s actually a pretty simple one but sometimes finding it can be tricky. There are pumps that fail, there are hoses, there’s lines, there’s little valves and things so there’s a lot of little tricky bits but you know, but an actual leak can be sometimes difficult to find. So we have a number of tests and things that we do but they’re not often the easiest diagnosis to do on a car and sometimes they take multiple steps to find the problem.
Mark: So what did you find that was causing the check engine lamp to come on?
Bernie: Well on this Volvo there were a number of possible causes and common problems but what we did find and this our first step and there’s only a few days ago that we did this, we haven’t heard back from the customer yet, but what we found, it’s the simplest thing. The gas cap actually was badly cracked, the seal on the gas cap. So at this point I’ll just share a couple of photos. There’s our Volvo V70, getting a bit on in age but still in great shape and that’s a V in Volvo generally indicates a wagon, whereas the S model, it’s the same car but a sedan. So there’s our gas cap. So there’s the new cap and there’s the old one. Now you can seen that orange piece on this new cap, that’s the seal, on the old one it’s black and unfortunately this picture looks dark on my screen, I hope on yours it looks better, but you can …
Mark: We can see the cracks
Bernie: Yeah, there’s a very large crack right here, you can also see a bunch of smaller ones and as it kind of fades into shadow around here. The whole seal is cracked so this would be a perfect cause of a leak. I mean, it’s not completely missing, but it’s enough to cause the leak under some circumstances. So there’s our gas cap, this is like you know if you own a car and the check engine light comes on, one of the first things to do is just make sure to check your gas cap because they can often you know, not be fitted properly or someone at the gas station whether it was you or someone who’s filled it may have forgot to put it on. Sometimes that happens. So I mean, it’s always good to look for the simplest things first as long as the gas caps on and with the check engine light, what’ll happen is the vehicle runs a system of tests and it’ll happen under certain conditions. So when the problem occurs, it will set the light on but if it does the test and the problem’s not there after say two drive cycles or three depending on what the issue is and the light goes out. So that’s why the light will come on and off.
Mark: So just to be clear, this isn’t an un-drivable situation with the gas cap leaking like that, it’s just not necessarily very good for the environment or for your pocketbook but the car is still drivable, is that right?
Bernie: Oh yeah. One issue that people have and they’re smart, the check engine light comes on, people start freaking out, “oh my god, I’ve got to do something” I mean they’re checking their oil and doing things and 99% of the time that’s not relevant. The thing to remember, the check engine light is an amber coloured light. It’s not a red light. Red lights are usually immediate attention lights on a car. Amber lights are you need to do something soon but not right away and if the lights on and it’s solid you’re ok. The key thing with the check engine light is if you engine performance changes especially if it’s running rough, like it’s misfiring and shaking and the check engine light’s blinking, that requires immediate service. You don’t want to drive the car very long like that. You still can but be very gentle with it because if the light’s blinking that indicates an engine misfire that can damage the catalytic converter. So it’s, all this stuff is programmed in, it’s universal from car brand to car brand. So again, that’s where you want to be careful with the check engine light, if it’s on and you know, there’s no performance difference in the engine, you can drive the car but t’s a good idea to look at it to find out what the cause is.
Mark: So these Volvo’s have been around for quite a while, do you work on a lot of them?
Bernie: We do work on a lot of them and they’re fairly reliable cars, probably a few more issues, you know go wrong with them than say Toyota’s but it feels like I sound like a broken record when I talk like this, so but you know yeah, generally they’re pretty reliable cars. I mean this one’s, it’s 2017, 2003, 14 years old, it’s got pretty low mileage but yeah the car is great. This is a new client to us and we can see the transmission had been replaced recently and that’s one problem with a lot of Volvo’s, the transmissions go bad. So you know good thing to watch for and they are expensive to repair on these cars but other than that they’re pretty decent cars.
Mark: So there you go. If you are looking for service for your Volvo in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, you must book ahead or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel Pawlik Automotive Repair, thousands and thousands of visitors, hundreds of videos on there. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark.