Simple trick to turn off check engine light — explained
The ‘check engine light warning’ is most times disorientating. It could mean anything from a simple malfunction to a severe problem. Nonetheless, there is a simple trick to turn off the check engine light.
All you need to do is to turn the ignition on and off. Doing so resets your car’s electronic control unit. The only time the trick would not work is when the engine’s problem is severe to the point where a reset cannot fix it.
This article expounds on the factors that make your check engine light turn on, how you can reset your engine to get rid of the warning and what you need to do for the cases where the trick does not work.
Why is the ‘check engine light’ on in my car?
The ‘check engine light’ usually does not imply a severe problem with your engine. Simple things like a loose gas cap can cause the warning light to pop up. However, it would be best if you were weary of the warning, as it could mean that the internal engine components of your vehicle are failing.
There are many reasons why the ‘check engine light’ can be up. Here are a few common issues that bring about the warning:
Faults from sensors and modules
Modern cars now use a lot of technology to make rides easier and safer. These technologies utilize many sensors to execute their functions properly. Occasionally, these sensors may develop faults or have a simple issue that can cause the check engine light warning to pop up.
Fuel/air imbalance issues
A vehicle needs a proper ratio of fuel to air to work correctly. If there is an imbalance in this ratio, the control module will notice it and cause the check engine light to alert you.
The control module in vehicles also monitors the runnings of the ignition system. A fault with ignition always delivers a check engine light as the control module will turn it on to alert you.
A problem with the transmission affects tailpipe emissions. It is from the emissions that the control module often gets to detect a problem with the transmission and relay the warning via the check engine light accordingly.
Generally, engine problems trigger the check engine warning light. If you have an engine problem, the only time the warning will go off is when the problem is gone. Sometimes, you may see the check engine light after an oil change, or if the oil level is simply too low to lubricate the metal components of the engine.
Can I drive with the check engine light on?
You can drive with the check engine light on, depending on the scenario. However, it is best to reset the engine so you can enjoy your ride somewhat.
If the problem is hinged on malfunctioning sensors, driving with the check engine light on can be a chore. For sensors connected to technologies based solely on safety, the warning can be accompanied by the safety mode being turned on, which limits your drive until you either reset your engine or fix the problem. Other times, the sensor’s response system would disturb your ride until you do the needful.
How do I reset my engine?
An engine reset is a simple trick to know how severe the problem is causing your check engine ‘light to appear. Most simple issues of this kind are easily fixed with this trick.
All you need to do is to place your key into the ignition and turn it on for about one to two seconds before turning it off for another one to two seconds. You would have to repeat this step up to four times, or the warning light to disappear.
If you were driving before the warning light suddenly showed up, you would have to park first and wait for up to ten minutes for the engine to cool down and reset before starting the vehicle again.
If the check engine warning light is still on after using this trick, the problem is severe. At that point, you must take your vehicle to the mechanic as soon as possible for repairs.
Can I manually reset the check engine light?
You can manually reset the check engine light, but only if the other method above does not work and you are sure there is no serious underlying issue you need to address; otherwise, it will not work.
Before stopping to manually reset the check engine light, keep the light under observation. Sometimes, simply driving would clear the warning light. If you keep seeing the light after three days, consider manually resetting it.
Here are two ways to manually reset your engine:
Disconnect the battery
All you need for this procedure is a wrench.
The first step you will take is to prop open the hood. Use the wrench to disconnect the positive power cable to the battery. Leave the battery disconnected for a little over 15 minutes. Then, insert your key into the ignition and turn it on three times.
The check engine light would be gone because disconnecting the battery for that long clears the emissions and readiness flag data from the car’s memory. Therefore, when you reconnect the positive battery cable and turn the key in the ignition, the check engine light will not glow.
However, if you see the light still on, your vehicle needs urgent attention, as the cause of the warning is too severe to ignore.
Use an OBD scanner
The OBD reader or scanner is a diagnostic device for cars. It reads error memory and data, enabling you to know where the problem originates. You can also use them to switch off the check engine warning light.
First, plug your reader into the OBD port in your vehicle. You can find this port on the underside of the dash area just over the foot well. Some cars require you to remove the door on your fuse box to gain access to this port.
After connecting the reader, press the enter button to turn it on. The device will scan your engine for error codes and display the ones it finds. You can note the error codes, so you cross-check them online or in the code reader’s manual to understand the problem better.
Now, you erase the error code by using the scroll button to find the option for erasing the code. Pick that option to erase fault codes. Erasing the fault code would also cause the check engine light to go off.
If the light doesn’t go off, take the vehicle to your mechanic to look at the engine and repair the malfunctioning unit. You can also use the information you gleaned from interpreting the error code to have a fair idea of the problem and possibly do something about it.
Does the check engine light turn off by itself after repairs?
The check engine warning light is supposed to go off after the malfunctioning part has been repaired. However, there are times when the light sits still even after the issue has been taken care of.
A simple reset usually gets rid of the warning. If the warning stays on and refuses to go after a reset, it could be a wiring or electrical problem. You must take it back to your mechanic to reset it or correct the issue.
How much does it cost to remove the check engine light?
Removing the check engine warning usually costs nothing, as you can do a simple reset yourself. It only becomes costly when you need repairs before the warning light goes away.
The amount you would spend removing a check engine light depends on the repair needed. You could spend close to $4,000 or more repairing severe engine problems before the light goes off.
How long can I drive with a check engine light on?
Driving with the check engine warning light sometimes poses a problem to your ride. The light eventually leaves on its own on some occasions, but in cases where it stays uninterrupted for three days and more, it should be investigated urgently.
Driving with a check engine light on for several days is not advised, as your engine may deteriorate while you ignore the warning light. We recommend that you get your vehicle checked as soon as you notice that a reset is not working and the light has been on continually for more than 24 hours.
Is it illegal to remove the check engine light without repairs?
Forcefully removing the check engine warning light despite an obvious engine problem is considered fraudulent activity. Some drivers do this to scale their MOT examinations whenever they intend to wait to repair an issue.
The act is wrong and punishable by law when caught. It would be best if you carried out repairs before taking the MOT examination, no matter the fault.
The simplest way to turn off the check engine light is to reset the engine by turning the key in the ignition three times. Knowing how to reset an engine is a trick you should keep handy. It would save you a lot of inconvenience from uncomfortable rides due to the error message causing the vehicle to enter the limiting safety mode.
If the problem that caused the message to appear is severe, the warning will not turn off until you get repairs. Nonetheless, endeavor to investigate and know why the warning light is up, ensuring that you repair even the slightest fault before it gets out of hand.