What does this mean?
We are reasonably certain you have an air leak going into the engine, allowing fresh air to bypass the normal air flow path. Generally, this is a simple fix such as a broken rubber hose in the engine compartment. The engine computer needs to know how much air is coming into the engine to know how much fuel to add. When the engine computer doesn’t know, the engine runs poorly. A less common cause for this behavior is an air pump failure. The air pump pushes air into the exhaust (or intake depending on the car), to reduce emissions.
On a scale of 1 to 10, we rate this to have an urgency of 5. Some repairs have very low urgency, and we give those a 1. With these repairs, you can wait for as long as you would like, because it will not ever result in harm to you or your vehicle. These are usually cosmetic damages.
We consider a 5 to be something that will eventually need to be done, but you can likely get away with holding off for a while if other things are more pressing. However, if a repair is close to a 10 (or at a 10), this means you should NOT be driving the vehicle, and should get this repaired as soon as possible.
What happens if I wait?
If you were looking to conserve cash, you could probably wait a few months to get it checked out. If the car starts shaking or if the brakes become hard, you should get it checked out immediately.
How complicated is this repair?
- This job has no tools required, and can be completed by just about anyone.
- This requires a relatively handy person, but little experience working on cars exclusively.
- This warrants an average person who’s done a fair amount of car repair. Think the weekend mechanic who’s done a brake job or two!
- At this difficulty, the average mechanic could do the job, but you wouldn't want to do it yourself without a fair amount of experience.
- This job is very specialized, requiring very expensive tools only a specialty shop has and a high level of expertise.