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How to Reset Check Engine Light without Disconnecting Battery?

How to Reset Check Engine Light without Disconnecting Battery

Noticing the check engine light turning-on on your vehicle dashboard can ruin your day, and it is not something that you want to experience. The orange or yellow colored icon lights up when there is anything wrong with your vehicle’s engine system, transmission, or throttle control. If you owned a Ford at some point, you may find similarities between this light and the wrench light.

Resetting the check engine light can be pretty confusing, even for seasoned vehicle drivers. Not to mention, the newer models require you to reset it without disconnecting the battery.

As a vehicle owner, you should know how to apply a check engine light reset in case it turns on in the middle of the road. Check out the entire guide below, along with other info that you may need.

Explanation of the Check Engine Light

Check engine light is a yellow or orange malfunction warning light on your vehicle dash. Like other warning lights, it has specific reasons to be there. When there is a problem with the powertrain, the check engine lights illuminate. The powertrain includes the engine, transmission, differentials, etc.

This system originally started in 1996, when different vehicle manufacturers agreed to use a single common vehicle diagnostic system called OBD-II. The OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostic) system contained a number of specific codes named DTC.

Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) are codes that your vehicle computer automatically generates when any specific issue occurs. You can find the OBD-II beneath the steering column. Anyone with a scan reader can connect it to the OBD port and get the codes. Almost all mechanic shops own one of these scanners. If you don’t know the meaning of any specific code, you can look it up online.

For such an event, the best thing to do at first is to pull your vehicle over to the side and shut off the engine and other functions. It is dangerous to drive with the light turned on. You may need to take your vehicle to a repair shop with a towing truck to fix the issue.

But you can reset the check engine light with a scan tool. But as it won’t actually fix the actual malfunction, the light can return at any point in the future.

Differences Between a Check Engine Light and a Service Required Light

The Check Engine light is a malfunctioning warning light that performs the duty of alerting you of any issue in the powertrain, catalytic converter, emission control system.

For identifying the problem, you can scan the computer system with a scanner tool and get specific check engine light codes that indicate those certain malfunctions.

Meanwhile, a service-required light only turns on when your vehicle requires any routine check-ups or needs oil. It doesn’t illuminate for any issue or so. Although they have an almost similar look, you should know the difference.

On What Occasions Do the Engine Check Light Turns On?

There can be three ways your check engine light can illuminate. Let us elaborate on the topic.

If the light is on and steady, that indicates any minor level issues. Your vehicle computer system takes up even the slightest of malfunctions and quickly notifies you of it. It can simply be a loosened gas cap that the computer interprets as a vapor recovery system spillage.

You can fasten the cap without much effort by yourself, and the light will most usually turn off by itself. We still recommend you get your vehicle checked when you have time.

When you notice the check engine light flashing, it means there is some bigger issue in your vehicle’s emission control or engine systems. Keep in mind that the emission control system works to reduce emissions like its name sounds.

But it works in high heat, which also means that it can result in overheating if its parts get faulty. For a flashing check engine light, be sure to get your vehicle to the nearest mechanic shop for a troubleshooting session without delay. They will also reset the light after the repair.

On rare occasions, your check engine light can light up without there being any malfunction. It is an issue that doesn’t last long, and the light turns off automatically after some time.

No matter the reason, you should never ignore this light or neglect going to a vehicle repair shop. Do not try to get extra mileage in that condition. Keep in mind that, aside from the risk of your safety, even if the issue is minor, your vehicle might still fail in a vehicle inspection by your state.

Problems, such as the consumption of so much fuel, may not be accepted by the inspection. So, it is better to repair them sooner than later. Not to mention, the issue we just mentioned can reduce the mileage of your vehicle too.

Read More: How to reset battery light on Ford F150

What Are the Differences Between a Code Scanner and a Code Reader?

While sounding almost identical, a code scanner is not the same tool as a code reader. It is true that they do have some similarities, but you should also be aware of their differences. They are the same in the following ways-

  • Their overall goal is the same. Reading the codes generated by your vehicle computer system for specific issues is what they do.
  • They both can clear or reset check engine lights with almost the same function and ways. That’s it. That is all they have in common.

Dissimilarities between them

  • A code scanner has much more features compared to a code reader. In fact, the former can be called an advanced variation of the latter.
  • Code scanners have diagnostic methods and a vast database and testing tools to help you troubleshoot the issue. They are absent in a code reader.
  • A coder scanner costs a lot compared to a code reader. While most vehicle mechanic shops own a code scanner, individual vehicle owners often only go for the code reading tool as it is much cheaper.
  • The functions in a code reader are easier to interpret for a novice compared to a code scanner. So, you can go for a code reader if your only goal is to identify the problem, remove the codes, and reset the light.

How to Perform Check Engine Light Reset without Detaching the Battery

Keep in mind that if your vehicle is from before 1996, you will have no other choice than to disconnect the battery to reset the light. For cars after 1996, you need a code reader or code scanner. They are easy to come by in most stores for vehicle parts and such. The following steps will describe the way to reset the check engine light without detaching the battery.

  • Remember when we mentioned the OBD-II system? Well, you can find and access its port under the column of steering. Now, start with connecting the code scan tool or code reader tool to that port.
  • Turn on the ignition switch and shut off every electronic system in your vehicle. That includes the radio, headlights, taillights, etc.
  • Now, press on the ‘read’ toggle on your code scanner or code reader. Doing so will display the DTP (diagnostic trouble codes). There can be one or many codes, depending on the issue. Copy the codes one by one in a sequence. These codes are very important, and you may need them anytime in the future. Not to mention, if you are going for a repair, you can use the codes as references.
  • You can find a toggle titled ‘erase’ or ‘clear’ on your code scanner or code reading tool. Depress it, and the codes will be removed. Now, you have practically completed the process. Since you have cleared the codes, the check engine light will automatically turn off.

Keep in mind that none of these actually solve the actual issue in your emission control system. As a result, while the light is off, for now, it can actually return at a later date. So, repair your vehicle quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost to Repair the Emission System of Your Vehicle?

Depending on the position and extent of the issue, the cost can start from $200 to $560. It may also depend on where you live and which mechanic you are taking the service from.

What Does The EVAP System Do?

The primary reason behind the EVAP system being in your vehicle is to stop the fumes from the fuel system to release into the air.

Final Note

Seeing the check engine light turned on is one of the most annoying things for most experienced vehicle owners. It is because the event is often followed by a hefty sum of repair costs and effort. It is why experts always advise running routine check-ups on your vehicle.

What will happen if you ignore the check engine light? The answer is simple; it can increase the cost of the repair further by worsening the damage. Not to mention, it can also be risky to drive with that. Hopefully, you will be able to reset the check engine light from your vehicle dash from now on.

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