Q: 2008 Kia Rond. Warning light for emissions system came on. Safe to drive? What do I do? Just passed inspection in January.

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2008 Kia Rondo - automatic trans. App. 90,000+ miles. A few mos. ago I noticed a plastic bag hanging from area of muffler. I couldn't reach it to pull it off so left it alone. Can't see bag now. Warning light for emissions came on this Friday 4/21/17. Can I still drive it w/o fixing it and will it hurt the car? What is problem? Does plastic bag have anything to do with it? Just passed inspection in January (3 mos. ago). Does repair cost much? Can someone just check to see if plastic bag is twisted around it and pull it off for no charge? I'm on SS and can't afford anything anymore. Please help.

My car has 90 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

HI...If the check engine light, or an emissions warning light, is on, one or more diagnostic trouble codes have been set. The first thing to do, though, is make sure that your gas cap is on securely and that there is no foreign matter stuck between the gas cap rubber seal and the filler pipe. Sometimes if the gas cap is loose, a warning light can illuminate.

If the gas cap is confirmed to be secure (by the way, it might take a drive cycle or two for the light to go off IF the problem was the gas cap) then there has to be another reason for the warning light. Generally, trouble codes will set, and turn the light on, when something is broken or malfunctioning. As far as exactly what the fault is such can only be discovered by 1) downloading the trouble codes (the mechanic has a mini computer to do that); and 2) Actually testing the individual parts identified in the codes to see exactly which one has really failed. Codes are just clues (they don’t reveal "directly" what is wrong with the car) and so actual testing has to be performed on actual parts. A conclusive diagnostic costs $70 to $80. As far as repair costs, the cost to repair is solely dependent on exactly what is wrong. If the code reflects that your gas cap is not sealing (vapors leaking into the air) and the cap itself is defective, the cost of a gas cap is maybe $25. If the code, though identifies a faulty oxygen sensor, the cost is higher. There are thousands of parts on a car and so until the codes are read and interpreted, any cost I could refer to is entirely speculative. With regard to the bag, I think if you call in and ask if there is anyone who happens to be literally working in your area, I’m sure they would help you out. Just keep in mind, though, to perform a full blown diagnostic on any codes that your vehicle is reporting is not a 5 minute undertaking. If you desire a diagnostic, right at your location, to determine why the check engine or emissions warning light is on, please request a check engine light diagnostic and the responding certified mechanic will get this resolved for you. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

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