You’re driving your car, not a care in the world, and all of a sudden, the engine check light comes on! If you’re like most people, you have no idea what it means, only that there’s something wrong. Several component failures can trigger the check engine light, some more problematic than others. For example, it could be as simple as a loose gas cap or faulty sensor, or something worse like a catalytic converter problem.  Read on to find out how to reset engine check lights and what it actually means.

What is the check engine light?

There are several electronic systems in vehicles, including the OBD (On-Board Diagnosis) system. The purpose of the OBD is to warn car owners about potential problems. One of the OBD system’s warnings is the “check engine light.” The check engine light is in the dashboard area and will illuminate if there’s an electrical or internal mechanical problem. Depending on the manufacturer, check engine lights are either amber, yellow, or orange. The light will either be continuously lit (often a sign of a simple, easy to fix problem) or flashing (indicates a severe engine problem – pull over if this happens). Once you’ve addressed the issue, you or your mechanic will need to reset the engine check light.

What problems can occur if the engine check light isn’t reset?

The check engine light points you in the direction of the issue, something that shouldn’t be ignored. While it’s important to reset the engine check light, this shouldn’t be carried out until an experienced technician has fully diagnosed and repaired the problem. While it’s okay to operate a vehicle if the light is steady, if you know of any potential issues with your car, you should have it checked out before you reset the engine check light.

Will check engine light reset itself?

The check engine light will reset by itself after the vehicle has been repaired with most models. The problem is that these processes can take a long time because the vehicle carries out a lot of checks with every cycle. A cycle occurs when the vehicle is started cold, driven until it warms up, and then turned off again. If you’re certain the problem that caused the engine check light to come on is fixed, the light will reset after 10 to 20 cycles.

How to Reset Engine Check Light

Because vehicles typically have different types of computers and every situation is different, there’s no one way to reset the check engine light. Even so, the following methods work for most situations, including the following.

Check Out and Resolve the Problem

Common problems that can turn on the check engine light include a sensor failure, a loose gas cap, spark plug problems, a dead battery, or a catalytic converter failure. Identifying and resolving these issues is often enough to reset the check engine light. The best thing to do to make sure it’s not a sign of a significant problem is to have the vehicle checked out by an auto mechanic.

Use an OBD-II Scanner

Vehicles produced after 1996 have an OBD-II (onboard diagnostic system) that requires an OBD-II scanner to read it. Commonly used by professional mechanics, the OBD-II scanner offers the safest and easiest way to reset the check engine light. Most code readers allow you to reset the check engine light, however, this doesn’t mean the underlying problem has been fixed (meaning the light may come back on down the road).

Disconnect the Battery

The battery disconnection technique also referred to as a “hard reset” is another effective way to reset the check engine light. Disconnecting the battery is also one of the older, more traditional method that doesn’t require much technical know-how.

Contact us today if your car is displaying the check engine light. We can help diagnose and reset it for you.

Leave a Reply