How to Reset Check Engine Light in 2 Easy Ways
If you notice a warning light flashing on your dashboard, do not ignore it. It could indicate that your car is experiencing a system failure. The electrical systems in your car help monitor if your components are functioning properly.
Once the Check Engine Light is blinking, it means that you have an existing issue with the engine or powertrain. This is why it is important to be aware of the indications of your warning lights to avoid more complications. In this tutorial, we will guide you on how to reset the check engine light in your vehicle.
There are two ways to reset your check engine light. The most proper way and commonly practiced is to use a code scanner in order to get the codes. The other option is to disengage the battery and drain the memory of the computer to restart the settings.
The codes will help you identify the cause of your engine problems. If your check engine is still flashing, park your car somewhere safe and address the situation first. Do not drive your car to avoid potential accidents from happening especially since you have no idea what type of problem you are dealing with. Once you’ve determined and fixed the issue, you can start resetting the engine light.
Method 1: Using a Code Scanner
If you are experiencing any problems on checking and retrieving the codes, you can opt to bring your car and have it assessed by a professional mechanic. Your mechanic will be able to pinpoint the cause of your check engine light and fix the issue. You should also inspect your car first including the fluid levels and top it off if necessary.
What You Need
- Computer scan tool or code scanner/reader
- Repair manual with trouble code descriptions
1. Scan The Code
A code scanner or reader will allow you to retrieve the codes and clear the memory. Attach the scanner to the on-board diagnostic connector or OBD-II which can be found below your car’s steering column. Switch on your ignition, turn off all the accessories, and do not start the engine.
Once the ignition is on and the scanner is in place, the reader will connect to the computer. If the connection fails, it may be due to a power loss to the connector. Check your wiring plan to resolve this matter.
2. Check The Error Codes
You can retrieve the codes of your engine by pressing the read button on your scanner or reader. Follow the instructions on the scanner. Once you see the codes, write it down for in exact order for your reference and in case of future repairs.
3. Fix The Issue
The error codes point out which area has an existing problem that needs to be addressed. Although this doesn’t specify the exact issue, however, it is still important to locate the source of the problem. This will prevent you from buying and replacing parts that are not needed.
4. Clear The Error Codes
Hit the erase function on your scanner to clear all existing codes. Once everything is erased, your check engine light will shut off.
In some cases, there are advanced scanners that can record the sensor readings. Therefore, erasing the error codes will also automatically delete the saved files. Other scanners have a "Clear" option instead of the “Erase” button.
5. Drive Your Car
Test your vehicle by driving it around the block. If the check engine light comes back and you still receive the same codes, then there is definitely a problem in your system. You can check your car’s repair manual to help identify the source.
Method 2: Disconnecting the Battery
In the old days, drivers use this technique to reset their check engine light. This option may not work effectively on all car computers. Your vehicle’s on-board diagnostics requires electricity to be able to store the error codes in the computer’s memory.
What You Need
- Disengage The Battery: Use a wrench to remove the positive and negative cables in the battery.
- Drain The Electricity: Press your horn for at least 30 seconds to use up the remaining electricity.
- Connect The Battery: Wait for 15 minutes before you reattach the battery cables. This will erase the codes and turn off your engine light. However, if the engine light is still on, then you need to address your car problem.
- Used Cars - If you are using a used car, removing the battery with a factory installed alarm can also cause certain issues. Your car manual may provide instructions on how to disable the alarm before you disconnect the battery.
- Theft Deterrent Radio - If you have this system installed in your vehicle, once you disconnect the battery, your radio may stop functioning. It may also convert into a self-defense mode. If this happens, you are required to enter a special code for it to work. These codes are often included in the owner’s manual.
- Stored Memory - This is stored in the computer alongside your codes. It includes shift points to control your idling. After you remove and attach the battery, you may experience shifting and stalling issues at first. However, after a few drives, the system will go back to normal.
Other Useful Tips
Observe your car and if the check engine light comes back in a few minutes, hours, days, weeks or months, you need to bring your car to a service repair shop for a diagnostic test. This is an indication that you may have a serious issue in your system or parts. Your mechanic will use a digital multimeter or a computer scanner to check the sensor data.
One important tip you should follow is to fix the issue before you clear and erase the error codes. If you skip this step, you may experience recurring problems or it could also lead to serious damages in your car’s powertrain or engine. Another tip is to follow the diagnostic flow chart to guide you step by step in identifying the root of the problem.
Have Your Car Inspected
As mentioned above, a flashing check engine light means that your car is experiencing a problem and is affecting the performance of your vehicle. It may be caused by a number of factors. You should bring your car immediately to a professional mechanic and have it diagnosed to avoid any serious problems or complications.
This is a common situation many of us face on a daily basis. Getting the root of the problem will help eliminate and fix the problem permanently. Plus, it will keep you and your passengers safe and assured while you are driving around town. You won’t have to worry and be paranoid if your car is working properly.
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