How to clear the check engine light

Warning when there is something wrong with your car is one of the most fabulous functions that your car is equipped with. You will be informed when your car undergoes minor problems like a faulty gas cap or serious problems like a misfiring engine through the check engine light. This light automatically comes on when the car’s engine computer senses malfunctions. But even when technical faults have already been tackled, the light may not turn off itself. That’s quite bothersome and distracting as if it keeps turning on so you have no idea of the next time your car “goes down with sickness”.  To avoid this occasion we would take the distinct pleasure of guiding you on how to clear the check engine light in this article.

What could cause the check engine light to come on?

As mentioned above, the check engine light will come on when your car is in the state of being unhealthy. Normally you will take your car to a mechanic to find out what the problem is. But it’s also a good idea to check on the problem yourself before driving your car to a repair store just in case you have to pay for unnecessary costs of repairing. For this reason, we add this part to the article before walking you through some ways to clear the check engine light. According to CarMD, an automotive telematics company, there are 10 common occasions when the check engine light gives you a warning sign:

+ Your ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) need replacing.

+ Your oxygen sensor(s) should be replaced.

+ Your catalytic converter(s) should be replaced.

+ Your ignition coil(s) should be replaced.

+ Your evaporative emissions purge control valve should be replaced.

+ Your mass airflow sensor needs replacing.

+ Your evaporative emissions purge solenoid needs replacing.

+ Your fuel injector(s) should be replaced.

+ Your thermostat needs replacing.

However, according to the chief automotive engineer for the Auto Club of Southern California, Steve Mazor, there are occasions when the check engine light just simply comes on without serving the warning purpose. It could be the change in humidity or other factors that cause it to turn on and in such cases, the light should go off after a while.

How to clear the check engine light?

Based on our experience, there are 5 ways you could follow to put your check engine light into the reset mode.


  1.       Use an OBD2 Scanner

For those who don’t know what OBD is, OBD stands for on-board diagnostics, which is a computer system built inside your vehicle. It takes the responsibility for tracking the performance of your car and then using the data it collects to regulate the car system or warn you of the problems your car is facing. Therefore, using an OBD2 scanner is one way that helps you to turn the engine light off.

Of all the 5 ways to clear the check engine we are going to present, this is the simplest and fastest one as it only takes you a few seconds to complete. To reset the check engine light with an OBD2 scanner the first thing you need to do is to get to the car’s steering portion where the OBD connector is located (for most cars) and connect it to the scanner. After that, turn on your car’s ignition. At this point, a connection has been established between your car and the computer so you can look for the trouble codes by pressing the “read” button on the scanner. After the shooting problem code process is completed, you will have to use the user manual to determine what the problem is and deal with it. Once the problem has been addressed, press the “Erase/Clear” button to erase the error from the scanner and switch off the ignition. As a result, the check engine light is cleared. To be cautious, you can repeat the process again to see whether the light is still on or not.


  1.       Apply the battery disconnection technique

The next tip on how to clear the check engine light is to use the battery disconnection technique. You don’t need to pay for a scanner if you don’t have one. However this trick may not work on some car models.

To apply this technique the first step you need to take is to eliminate the negative car battery terminal. After that, turn the lights on or press the horn for about 20-30 seconds to make sure that there is no electricity left in your car’s capacitor. If you fail to do this, the check engine light is still on. Once the electricity is disconnected, leave your car alone for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure that the battery is completely disconnected. After the waiting time passed by, get your battery reconnected tightly and crank your engine up. If your car doesn’t have serious problems or it doesn’t store problem codes, the light should be off. But if the light is still on, you should not turn away from this as it will cost you loads of money if you ignore the light.


  1.       Turn the ignition on and off

This could be considered as the most conventional way when you wish to clear the check engine light as we usually try turning one machine on and off as a temporary fix when there is something wrong with it. You may claim that this is the simplest way out of five presented ways to reset the check engine light. But we would like to say that by the word “simplest” we imply that it helps you to take the stock of the situation.

As easy as it’s named, all you have to do is to grab your key, put it in the ignition and turn the ignition on and off. Remember to give about one-second break between each on and off turn to apply this technique efficiently. After a while of repeating this action, if the light is off, there is no need to worry about maybe it’s just the sudden change of environmental elements that turn the light on. But if the light is still on, there’s definitely something wrong with your car. You should use the scanner to deal with the faults or have it checked by a professional.


  1.       Let it go off itself

This is the most effort-saving tip you can take out of 5 tips on how to clear the check engine light. If the detected problem has been solved and the light is still on, just stay chilled and do nothing with it. Leave it alone in about a three-day time. Your car may need time to refresh after a time of treatment. The common example for this case is usually the problem with the oxygen sensor. After this minor glitch is eliminated, the electronic control unit will update the status of the censor and as a result the check engine light is set off. Once the update process is done, the light will automatically go off. Of the worst case scenario, the light-on thing doesn’t stop, you had better apply some of the tricks above or get a mechanic to look at your car. As we have said, procrastinating on facing the warned problems could lead to bad results.


  1.       Take out the fuse and then put it back

The last tip we would like to give you is to take the fuse out of the engine control unit then put it back. If you do not know where the engine control unit is located, you can look it up in the repair manual. However there is a setback to this method. This trick may work on some old cars but with new cars it hardly takes effect. So you should take a glance at your car’s condition before applying this technique.

Author’s view

That’s all we want to say in this comprehensive guide. It doesn’t matter how many tricks you use but you always have to keep in mind that before applying the above techniques on how to clear the check engine light to reset it, you have to check if there is any problem facing your car not. If there is, do not ignore it but to deal with it or else you will not like what’s to come.

FAQs

What to do if the check engine light comes on again?

We have somewhere mentioned the answer to this question in this article. After the light comes off and it comes on again a few days later, you should immediately take your car to a mechanic or use a scanner to fix it as there is surely something wrong with it.

How long does it take for the check engine light to clear?

Normally after all the problems have been tackled, the check engine light will go off after 10-30 successful cycles. In other words, you should drive your car 30 to 100 miles to make sure that the light has been reset.

How can I clear the check engine light without using a scanner?

The check engine light is on mostly because there is something wrong with your car so if you know what the problem is and fix it and drive your car for above recommended distances then you will not need a scanner to clear the light.

Will the check engine light reset itself?

It will, on the condition that the problems that have been warned have been dealt with and you give the light a fixed amount of time to reset itself (We have mentioned the needed time in the previous answer).

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