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You have an engine light on or flashing and don't know what to do? Your Escape/Tribute/Mariner is OBD 2 compliant and the computer (PMC) has detected an error that needs to be addressed. Some issues are more serious than others and the only way to find out what the problem might be is to ask the comupter. This is done with an OBD 2 code reader. They can be purchased of $30 - $1000 or you can take it to a mechanic or most auto parts dealers will read them for free in hopes you will buy the parts needed there. If you get the code read, you can GOOGLE the code and find out exactly what your issue might be.

Example: Type in "Ford trouble code 1402"

Result: P1402 EGR (exhaust gas recirculator) metering orifice blocked

You could try to clean the EGR valve, replace it or atleast know what should be done when it goes to the mechanic so they don't sell you on alot of other crap.

Now you know what's wrong without even openning the hood, and you can be an educated consumer or DIY mechanic!!!

A good Article explaining what it is.

Since the late '70's early '80's vehicles have been equipped with sophisticated electronics to control vehicle emissions and performance. Through the years several systems have been used, and keeping up with the differences from year to year was a real chore, to say the least. Multiple scanners that attached to the vehicles on-board computer systems were needed, and it was not uncommon for the scanner to become obsolete from model year to model year. These were the days of the "pre-OBD I "(On-Board Diagnosis-First design) systems. Beginning in '88 CARB (California's Air Resources Board) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) required vehicle manufactures to include a "self diagnostic" program capable of identifying an emission related fault in the On-Board Computer systems. The first generation of On-Board Diagnostics came to be known as OBD I. The CARB conducted studies on the OBD I vehicles and found that the system was not capable of detecting an emission related component unless it had failed. The components that had not failed completely were unable to set a DTC. Also, it was found that some systems not being monitored had failed and yet the vehicle would pass an Emissions Test as the failed part would not be a factor unless the vehicle was being driven or under a load. The CARB and the EPA passed new laws that would address the problems found during the OBD I case study. These new laws and requirements are known as OBD II. Since mid-'94-'95 some vehicles were equipped with the second design, OBD II systems. In '94-'95 only select models were equipped with this new system, and in '96 every vehicle sold in the United States were equipped with the OBD II system. You might be asking, ok, so what? Well, this was the single and largest improvement made to diagnosis and repair of the On-Board Computer systems since their introduction. The DLC (Data Link Connector) that a scanner attaches to, is virtually the same for every vehicle, and the "Generic" DTC's (Diagnostic Trouble Code) are the same for every vehicle. The terminology was changed to terms that would be used by all manufactures. Before this, the computer (PCM), for example, could have been called a Processor, ECU, Control Module, ECM, etc. To know what the name of a part on a specific system was called or how it functioned, or was located, was tough when you worked on multiple vehicle models.
Do you remember the early home computers? The box that connected to your TV set and allowed you to play games and do light bookkeeping? Then the 286, 386, 486 computers each being a little faster and better than there predecessor? Look at the OBD II system on your vehicle the same way, faster and "smarter" than any other system used in computer equipped vehicles. This is good news for everyone. The vehicles perform better (fuel economy, performance, longevity) and the "self-diagnostics" are simply amazing. If 20 years ago someone would have told me that the on-board computer would be able to tell me that the fuel cap was loose or that a specific cylinder was misfiring I would have laughed.
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