How To Reset The Check Engine Light?
Nothing strikes fear in the hearts and wallets of car owners as the check engine light. This little light can be cause for great concern. After all, the engine is not only the most important part of a car, it can also be the most expensive to fix.
Once your light comes on, you know there is an issue somewhere. Perhaps you take your car to the mechanic to be checked out. Maybe you are handy with tools and can fix the problem yourself. That’s great-your engine problem is fixed!
But what about that check engine light? If your car is fixed but the light is still on is there a way to reset it?
What is the check engine light?
This light is connected to your car’s computer system. It is designed so that it can recognize when your vehicle is having some kind of mechanical or electrical problem. Once the problem is fixed, the light should go off.
If your light does not automatically turn off it can cause you anxiety every time you turn your car on. More importantly, if your light does not reset it can actually cause your car to fail the emissions test during inspection. It can also fail to alert you to future problems your car may be having.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can try to get your check engine light to reset.
What steps should you try first?
One of the easiest ways to reset the check engine light is to simply drive it and give it some time. Often the car’s computer will automatically recheck the issue by itself. It is a good idea to give your car a few days of normal driving to see if it will reset itself after the internal checks.
However, if after 3 days of driving the light is still on, your problem may not have been resolved and you should return to the auto shop.
Try turning the car on and off
Some cars are designed to reset the original trouble code after the car has been turned on and off three times in succession. So, all you have to do is simply turn your car on for a few seconds, then turn it off for a few seconds. Then repeat these steps twice more. After the third time, drive your car as you would normally and check to see if the light has been reset.
Reconnect the battery
As with many electronics, sometimes you simply need to unplug, then plug it back in to fix the problem. The same idea works here too.
Grab a wrench and pop open your car’s hood. Carefully use the wrench and disconnect the positive power cable from the battery. Let the battery be disconnected for a good 15 minutes.
Next you want to insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the ON position three times. Doing this should erase the emissions data from the car’s memory.
Now you can reconnect the positive battery cable. Start up your car and give it abut one minute. The check engine light should bee reset now.
Use obd2 Scanner
These bluetooth obd2 scanner are extremely useful tools. If you have one on hand, great. If not, they are relatively inexpensive and worth it to purchase one.
Bi-directional scanners are able to give you diagnostic info from your car’s onboard computer system. They can also be used to put info back into the computer system and clear codes. Here’s what you need to do:
- Start by finding the OBD port on your car. It is usually located under the dash and above the foot well. Once you find it, plug in the scanner.
- Once you plug in the scanner, turn it on.
- The scanner automatically begins scanning the engine for error codes. If any codes pop up, write them down. You can check these codes with the manual or online.
- Use the scroll button option to erase the error code. Pressing enter will erase the fault code and reset the check engine light for you.
Other possible fixes
If you have recently replaced some fuses, check them. If you accidently replaced a fuse with the wrong type, it can cause the check engine light to stay on. If you have a bad fuse this could also cause your light to stay on. In this case, the scanner would also be able to pinpoint which fuse is causing the problem. Replace with the correct fuse and you should be all set.
Points to Remember
Your car’s onboard computer is designed to pinpoint problems quickly and before they become huge (and expensive) issues. The engine is a sensitive area of your car, and it is crucial that every part is working correctly.
Most people get anxious when the check engine light comes on. It is extremely important that you do not ignore it or try to reset it without discovering the root cause first. If you are handy with tools and have a scanner, you can probably figure out the issue and fix it by yourself. If not, you will need to take your car to a professional for servicing.
Once your car is repaired, the check engine light should go off and you are good to go. If for some reason the light is still on, there are some steps you can try yourself to reset it.
Some vehicles just need time for the computer to automatically reset. Drive your car normally for a few days and hopefully it will reset by day 3. If not, you can try and turn your car on and off in succession a few times too.
You can also temporarily disconnect the positive battery cable and turn the key to the ON position a few times. Sometimes this resets the data and your light will go out.
If you have a bi-directional scanner you can plug it in to see what the error code is, and then erase and reset it.
Never ignore your check engine light, it is most likely on for a good reason. However, if you have checked your car and made sure there are no more issues, it is fairly easy to reset the light by yourself. You will be back to stress free driving in no time.