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How To Reset Check Engine Light?

How To Reset Check Engine Light?

If you want to know how to reset check engine light, then you probably fixed the issue causing the check engine light to illuminate.


 

There are many electronic systems in vehicles. One of these systems is the On-Board Diagnosis System (OBD system). This system is responsible for warning you about cars’ hidden problems (i.e., questions that you might not be able to identify by listening to weird sounds of finding physical symptoms).

 

Some of the system warnings include the “check engine light.” The check engine light will illuminate if there is an internal mechanical or electrical problem. It will either be continuously illuminating or flashing. Continuous illumination indicates simple and cheaply fixed problems while shining check engine light indicates severe engine issues that can cause significant damages.

 

Once you fixed the issue causing your check engine to illuminate, the computer will need your help to tell it that the problem is fixed.

 

If you do not reset your check engine light, you will not be able to pass the emission or smog test. Besides, you will not be able to detect new issues happening to your internal system and, therefore, might cause severe damages to your car.

 

In this article, we illustrate four techniques to help you reset your check engine light. Before using any of the following methods, make sure that you first fixed the actual issue causing the check engine to illuminate.

 

1-   Drive The Car, and It Will Go Away By Itself:

 

Many of the vehicle’s internal computer issues can go away by driving the car.

 

The simplest most straightforward way to get rid of the check engine light is to drive it for a little bit, and the light will turn off by itself.

 

Once you drove your car for a couple of days (e.g., usually three days), the check engine light should be gone. However, if the check engine light is still illuminating, this indicates that either the original issue was not fixed or there is a new issue in the car that you need to pay attention to.

 

Again, if the check engine light is flashing, you need to immediately stop your car and request towing to a professional mechanic.

  • Technique pros:

 

  • Getting rid of your check engine light by merely driving the car is the least effort technique.

 

  • Technique cons:

 

  • The check engine light might not turn off
  • It is very time-consuming. It can take days before the check engine light turns off. During this time, other issues might arise. You will not have accurate information about what the check engine light is informing you: is it a significant problem, and I must take the car to a mechanic immediately? Or is it the old problem, and I just need to wait until it goes away?
  • You might drive the car and cause significant internal problems without knowing.

 

2-   Use The “Restart The Car” Technique:

 

Another simple approach to get rid of the check engine light is to turn on and off the car three times.

 

Insert the key in the ignition, turn the car on for a second, and turn it off for another second. Repeat this process three times.

 

Once you turned your car on/off three times, the check engine light should go away by itself. If this technique did not work, keep going down this list and see if any of the other techniques works. Otherwise, you need to take the car to a professional mechanic to check for other existing problems in the car’s internal system.

 

  • Technique pros:

 

  • Resetting your check engine light using the “restart the car” technique requires minimal effort as compared to the other methods.

 

  • Technique cons:

 

  • The check engine light might not turn off

 

3-   The ECM Hard Reset Technique:

 

The ECM hard reset technique involves disconnecting your vehicle’s battery. To do so, you will need a wrench. Follow the following steps:

 

  • Open the car’s hood
  • Use the wrench to disconnect the battery’s negative cable
  • Drain any remaining electricity (e.g., press the horn for 20-30 seconds, turn on the lights)
  • Once you drain the remaining power in the battery, insert the key in the ignition and turn the car on/off three times
  • This should delete the emission and flag data from the internal memory.
  • Wait for 10-15 minutes
  • Connect the battery’s negative wire back.
  • Make sure the battery’s wire is tightly connected to avoid sparking
  • Turn on the vehicle using the key
  • Wait a couple of minutes, and the check engine light should be gone.

 

The success of this technique sometimes depends on the car make, model, and year. Some of the vehicles’ ECM does not depend on voltage.

 

Similar to the previously mentioned techniques, if the check engine light did not go away, you need to try the latest technology. If it also failed, you most likely need to take the car to the mechanic.

 

  • Technique pros:

 

  • If you have a couple of wrenches, you can reset your check engine light successfully (to some extent) for free.

 

  • Technique cons:

 

  • Resetting the check engine light using the “ECM hard reset” technique can reset your clock, radio, and seat memory.
  • It takes time to be done (about 15-20 minutes)
  • It might require a lot of effort, especially if you can not access the battery quickly.
  • You might need to get out of the vehicle, get a little dirty. It is challenging in very cold or sweltering weather conditions.

 

4-   Use An OBD Reader:

 

The last and most successful technique is to use an OBD scanner to reset your check engine light.

 

For this technique, you must have an OBD scanner tool. You can either buy it or borrow it from a friend or a mechanic.

 

Some of the frequent OBD readers include:

  • Kobra OBD scanner
  • Innova 5110
  • NextPeak T501
  • OBD-11 Scanner

 

Depending on the complexity of the OBD reader and the level of information it provides, the price of the OBD reader can range from $20  to a couple of thousands of dollars.

 

Below is a list of familiar OBD readers types:

 

  1. Bluetooth OBD Scanners:

 

The Bluetooth OBD scanners are the smallest and cheapest types of OBDs. To use a Bluetooth OBD, you must have a smartphone and a compatible app.

 

OBD smartphone apps can be paid or free. Usually, paid OBD apps to provide more information and have more capabilities. They can provide live testing and live data. One the other hand, free OBD apps can only read and clear the OBD memory data.

 

  1. USB OBD Scanners:

 

The USB OBD scanners are some of the most common types of OBD scanners that dealerships and independent auto repair shops use.

 

To use a USB OBD scanner, you must have a USB cable, a computer, and software.

 

Similar to the Bluetooth smartphone apps, there is free and paid computer OBD scanners software.

 

Again, paid software provides more capabilities and more details as compared to free OBD scanners software.

 

  1. Stand-alone OBD Scan Tools:

 

Stand-alone OBD scan tools price can range from lower than USB OBD scanners’ amount to a couple of thousands of dollars.

 

Usually, for DIYs, it is not recommended to get the most expensive OBD scanning tool. In other words, if you want to only perform simple tasks like resetting your check engine light, you don’t want to buy a $1,000 worth OBD scanner.

 

Despite the type and price of the OBD scanner, there are specific steps you need to follow to reset your check engine light using an OBD scanner:

 

  • Find the vehicle’s OBD port: the vehicle’s OBD port should be above the right footwell underside the dashboard.

 

  • Plug-in the OBD scanner to the OBD port

 

  • Once the OBD scanner is successfully connected to the OBD port, on the OBD scanner’s screen, click enter

 

  • Depending on the OBD scanner type, you might need to enter additional vehicle-related information (e.g., car make, model, year, VIN)

 

  • The OBD scanner will start scanning to look for error codes in the vehicle

 

  • Once the scanning process is done, the OBD scanner’s screen will display a list of codes indicating the error. Again, depending on the OBD scanner type, some additional information might be displayed (e.g., type of issue, name of vehicle’s part causing the problem, price of components, where to by parts from)

 

  • The level of details in the scanning process can help you decide whether to by a more complicated OBD scanner or not. If you want to go through the details of what are the causes of the problem, how to fix it, expected price, etc., you need to get a more complicated OBD scanner. However, if you plan to use the OBD scanner only to reset the check engine light and other simple tasks, you might not even need to buy an OBD scanner and just borrow it.

 

  • It is essential to take a note of the codes displayed on the screen. If resetting the check engine light techniques did not work, the list of codes can help the mechanic determine the problem having the list of codes can also help you detect any fishing attempts from the mechanic to charge you for non-existing problems. You can also use the codes to look through the manual to get more information about what each system means and how to fix it. This will also give you an idea about how much price to expect.

 

  • Click on “Erase” to delete the codes, and then click “enter” to reset the check engine light.

 

As we mentioned earlier, using an OBD scanner to reset the check engine light is the most successful technique.

 

If the check engine light did not turn off after these steps, you need to take your car to a mechanic to confirm no further issues are still going on with the vehicle. Here, the list of codes you made notes can be handy to help you and the mechanic save time and effort to determine the issues. It will also inform you if the problem that you fixed previously was not appropriately addressed by your mechanic.

 

  • Technique pros:

 

  • It is, by far, the most successful technique to reset your check engine light. Meaning, if this technique failed, there is a problem in your internal parts, and you must take your vehicle to a professional mechanic.
  • This technique will not reset your radio, clock, or seat memory.
  • You will not get dirty to get your check engine light reset. You can reset the light while setting in your vehicle.

 

  • Technique cons:

 

  • You must have an OBD scanner to be able to apply this technique. OBD scanners can be expensive. Many people simply borrow an OBD scanner from a friend or a mechanic.

 

What if the Check Engine Light Returns?

 

Many people complain that the check engine light returns after they use the standard techniques for getting rid of it.

 

Although some of the techniques might fail in resetting the check engine light, using an OBD scanner can reset your check engine light.

 

If you used an OBD scanner to reset the check engine light and the light did not turn off or returned, you still have issues with your internal parts.

 

Again, if the check engine light is continuous, it is not an emergency, but you still need to get the issue fixed. One the other hand, if the check engine light is flashing, it is a sever issue happening to your engine, and you must shut down your car and tow it to a mechanic.

 

Conclusion

 

Before you look for a technique to reset your check engine light, you MUST fix the issue, causing the light to illuminate.

 

Once you confirmed that you fixed the issue with your engine, you can follow the previously mentioned techniques to reset the check engine light.

 

Driving or restarting the car multiple times techniques are the least effort/price techniques. However, they might fail to reset the check engine light.

Using “disconnecting the battery” technique can be successful in resetting the check engine light; however, you might need to get a little dirty to follow it, and it can be challenging if you cant easily access the battery.

 

Finally, using the OBD scanner technique is the most successful technique to reset your check engine; however, you must have an OBD scanner.

 

If none of the mentioned techniques worked to reset your check engine light, then there is still an issue with your engine, and you must get it fixed.