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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Toyota Corolla Codes PO171, PO441, or PO455

Yesterday, I had another experience with a customer owning a Toyota Corolla getting the rapidly popular PO171, PO441, and or PO455. This was a favorite customer of mine. She’s been bringing her car in to Nilson Brothers Garage since shortly after I came to work here in 1976. Imogene is in her eighties now with a 2009 Corolla which she had told me would be her last car.

Imogene pops open her driver’s door as I approach and eases out of the car carefully. She only puts about two thousand miles a year on her car, so I haven’t seen her since the end of 2010. She’s one of those people that tests your ability to take verbal jabs. When she finds out you can, she’ll fire a few over your bow at a moment’s notice. This was my moment.

“Wow, Bernie… you managed to keep the weight off. Your face looks gaunt. Eat a sandwich for God’s sake.”

I laugh because when she saw me back in 2010 I’d just lost the fifty extra pounds I had been hauling around after the Achilles Tendon injury I had in 2007. Her first statement back then after I’d been gaining the weight gradually was:‘You look kind of bloated. Do you have a water retention problem?’ Then in 2010, she wasted no time after seeing my drastically trimmed down form to offer me her doctor’s phone number to get checked out for cancer. If anything on me is out of place I can rely on Imogene to point it out to me, including but not limited to smudges, faded work clothes, or even my normally close cropped hair touching my ears. Imogene probably weighs around a hundred pounds and can’t be much over five feet tall. I don’t fire rounds back anyway. I don’t talk back to my elders. Besides, she’s funny.  :)

“It’s staying off too, Imogene. It takes too much torture to get the weight down. What brings you in today, fluid and tire pressure check? I haven’t seen you for a while.” She usually comes in a few times a year so I can check her car’s vitals out. It’s a free service I do for any of my customers uncomfortable about doing it themselves, mostly so if they’re lax about doing it, I won’t get blamed.

“My check engine light came on yesterday. You can do the other stuff too though. I spent some time with my daughter in Arizona so my little Toyota didn’t get out much.”

I had a half hour before my next appointment so Imogene has chosen the right time to drive in. “I have the heater on in the office. Go on in and I’ll check things out for you.”

“Don’t get grease on my seat,” she reminds me on the way to the office.

I smile while putting my seat cover on and my floor protector down. Yeah, that’ll happen. If I ever got grease on her seat, Imogene would make sure she lived to a hundred or my expiration date so I would be dutifully reminded of my carelessness. Plugged into my notebook computer scanner interface, the infamous PO171 (lean system, bank one) and PO441 (evaporative purge flow) show up. I’ve seen these before. I quickly print out the Tech Service Bulletin for Imogene to take with her to the dealer, and check her fluid levels and tire pressures.

In the office, Imogene’s staring at my family picture from Christmas. Uh oh… it’s the one with my black eye from playing basketball I got according to my family just so as to ruin the holiday photos. She does a deliberate pirouette finger pointing at the picture. She was waiting for me, the little…

“Joyce finally clocked your disrespectful ass, huh?”

Why fight it. “Yep, I nagged her once too often at Thanksgiving and she tuned me up.”

Imogene chortles appreciatively. “Okay, so what’s wrong?”

I hand her the printout. “Bad news is you’ll have take this in to the dealer and get the Engine Control Computer replaced. The good news is they’ll probably give you a loaner and it will be free. I’ve already had two other customers with the same thing. Toyota took care of them right away.”

“Damn! I hate going over there.”

“I could do it for you. The cost would be astronomical, but I’m here to please.”

Imogene heads for the door. “I’m old, not stupid. Don’t retire.”

“I’ll make a note. Nice seeing you too, Imogene.” And it was.

Here’s the PDF link for the Tech Service Bulletin for any of you folks out there with a 2009 Toyota Corolla: 

12 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Great story, man. I had a Corolla for a while. Good car but at the time I was looking for something with a bit more engine so I didn't keep it long.

BernardL said...

Thanks, Charles. Imogene is one of those characters that make it worth being in the service business. I drive back and forth to work in a 1999 Toyota Corolla. I like it a lot, especially the 27 mpg. It has plenty of power for me. I got it for $125 because the owner didn't want to fix the valve and fuel problems. Saint Joyce drives our 2011 GMC Terrain SLT. I'll have to do a blog on that one. We got the 2.4L four cylinder engine in it. The power is great, and the gas mileage is consistently over 25 mpg. It's only the second new vehicle we've owned, and the GMC has been a pleasure so far. At least that's what I hear since I don't get to drive it except on service days, when I get to change the oil and filter, rotate the tires, wash and wax it, and spit shine the interior. :)

raine said...

Imogene sounds like a sweetheart. :)
Take good care of her!

BernardL said...

She is, Raine, and as the Gatekeeper here at the Nilson Brothers Garage Twilight Zone, I've known her most of my adult life. :)

Rick said...

This is a great story! Love the way your books are on the sidebar. What I really admire about you is your single-minded focus. Like Don Pendleton.

BernardL said...

Thanks, Rick. I don't know if I could ever write a long running series like Pendleton. I was always partial to the 'Destroyer' series. Sapir and Murphy really churned them out, and the element they always had amidst the violence was humor. I try to blend the humor in too. :)

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD! POOR LITTLE OLD LADY!
You sent Her to The Dealer to be ripped off for $1000.00
You are some Mechanic, Her problam was 95% probability A LOOSE GAS CAP!

BernardL said...

It's too bad you don't know how to read with comprehension, Anon. It was a recall and the dealer did it for free. She stopped back in the shop last week to thank me and to say hi. Next time, read a little more carefully... or slowly. :)

Michika Atieno said...

I also own Toyota premio and toyota corolla, well based on my experience these cars are best cars. My top 3 Japanese car brands are Toyota, Nissan and Honda!

EAGLES NEST said...

Thank you so much for this great story. Just came across this blog while trying to get some enlightening about my 2005 Corolla, as I am sitting in the mechanics office. I was handed a paper with the codes P 0171, 0101,0441, 0455. These are not new codes, except that I have changed, cleaned, serviced everything I have been told is wrong. The codes keep coming back. Winter again with the resufacing codes again. Any ideas? Besides get a new car? Thanks so much and may our new year bring us lots of loving, caring mechanics.

EAGLES NEST said...

Thank you so much for this great story. Just came across this blog while trying to get some enlightening about my 2005 Corolla, as I am sitting in the mechanics office. I was handed a paper with the codes P 0171, 0101,0441, 0455. These are not new codes, except that I have changed, cleaned, serviced everything I have been told is wrong. The codes keep coming back. Winter again with the resufacing codes again. Any ideas? Besides get a new car? Thanks so much and may our new year bring us lots of loving, caring mechanics.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Eagles Nest - your Corolla comes under the same TSB as in the post I wrote. You can find it here - http://www.toyotaparts.metro-toyota.com/ENGINE_SERIAL_NUMBER_LOCATION_T-SB-0301-08.pdf