Learning how to clear the check engine light with a code reader will come in handy for sure.
When that dreaded check engine light comes up (and it probably will, sooner or later), you can perhaps solve the problem yourself.
Under the circumstance that the car problem is minor, you can avoid having to make appointments at the mechanics, driving there, losing time, etc.
This article will hopefully show you that the whole procedure is very simple and no more complicated than using a smartphone. On the contrary.
At the end of the article, you can also find a video tutorial or watch it on our YouTube channel.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO CLEAR THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT?
The only thing you’ll need is an OBDII reader also known as the OBDII scanner.
Have in mind that some very basic code readers can only read codes but can’t erase them. So, make sure to acquire a reader that can do both.
When talking about acquiring, there are many types of OBDII readers on the market.
Don’t buy the cheapest ones as they usually have the least options (and quality).
On the other hand, the expensive ones have many options that you’ll probably never use (or shouldn’t use) and are meant for professionals. Buying this for occasional use is sort of throwing money away.
I would definitely recommend going mid-range.
A good example of a decent mid-range OBDII reader is the CG Sulit SC 301. If you’re interested in reading a review about it, click here for the article.
You can also watch a YouTube review by clicking here.
HOW TO CLEAR THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT WITH A CODE READER?
Before we start, I would like to mention that some previous experience with using a code reader is recommended, although not necessary.
If you have no experience whatsoever and this is your first time using one, you can read a separate article on that topic (click here) that will explain and help you learn how to do so. Besides this, you can also watch a video tutorial by clicking here.
1. FIND THE OBD PORT
The most common places for the OBD port are around the steering wheel column or near the driver’s side footwell, near the pedals.
It may be also be located in hidden compartments like under the ashtray, behind various plastic lids, etc.
If you have problems finding it, best look it up on the internet or in the user manual.
2. CONNECT THE OBD TOOL
Insert the OBD connector into the port. Be careful, don’t use too much force so you don’t damage the port.
Wiggle the connector a bit if you have to, so it fits in properly. There must be a good connection between the tool and the port.
3. TURN ON THE IGNITION
Don’t turn on the engine, just turn the ignition until the dashboard warning lights come up.
Most code readers get their power supply from the car and won’t start working without the ignition on.
Some power up immediately and some may have an on/off button. For those who do, first, connect the scanner to the port and then push the power button on.
4. LET THE OBD TOOL PERFORM A SCAN
Usually, the OBD reader will start a scan immediately after it’s connected.
If this isn’t the case, then you’ll perhaps have to enter the code reader’s menu and start a scan manually.
The scan may take some time (usually a minute or two) so have some patience.
5. READ AND INTERPRET THE ERROR CODE
Once the scan is finished, you’ll get a list of error codes. There might be one or more.
After this, you must look up what the error codes mean and properly interpret them.
This is a very important step and a crossroad for further action because it informs you about the seriousness of the problem.
My point is if it’s a bigger issue then the check engine light will soon come back after the reset.
In this case, learning how to clear the check engine light with a code reader won’t help much.
You shouldn’t ignore the problem but solve it as soon as possible.
For easier code interpretation, most OBD tools have a mini code library installed so you can look it up on the spot. The other option is of course the internet.
6. GO THROUGH THE MENU AND SELECT TO CLEAR THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
If you’ve concluded that the error code is not dangerous and is worth clearing, then again access the tool menu and select the option to clear the error codes.
Most tools have the same basic menus so finding the exact command is more or less the same.
Once you’ve selected the proper command, press the confirm button. You may get a question do you want to clear the error code, select yes.
7. RETURN TO THE BEGINNING MENU
Use the escape or return button and go back to the beginning menu (the one which shows up when the reader first powers up).
8. DISCONNECT THE TOOL
Pull out the connector from the OBD port. Again, be careful not to damage it.
When the OBD reader has an on/off button, first turn it off and then disconnect it.
9. TURN OFF THE IGNITION
Turn the ignition key back into the first position or as backward as it goes.
10. START THE ENGINE AND CHECK IF THE LIGHT IS GONE
If everything is OK, once you’ve started the engine the check engine light should immediately go away.
Once the engine gains some temperature, you can start it a couple of more times to see will the check engine light come back.
As you’ve seen, learning how to clear a check engine light with a code reader isn’t that hard at all.
In practice, it takes about five to ten minutes, depending on the OBD tool and how experienced the user is.
Once you successfully do it, you’ll see why people buy these tools and do this for themselves.
Although the reset procedure is easy, I must, once again, urge you to first look up the meaning of the error code and fix the problem, especially if it’s serious.
Otherwise, the effect of clearing the code will be temporary and will not solve the actual problem in any way.
In the end, learning how to clear a check engine light is more or less necessary if you want to finish some DIY repairs properly. Otherwise, you might end up making a successful repair only to drive around with the dreaded check engine light up all the time.
Not critical, but very, very annoying, you’ll agree.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
HOW TO CLEAR THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT WITH A CODE READER?-YOUTUBE VIDEO