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How to Reset the Check Engine Light

Rutuja Jathar
Having difficulty resetting your check engine light? Read on to know the reasons and ways to reset this sensor.
Operations of almost all the modern vehicles are controlled by an electric control module (ECM). Along with all the operations, this module controls the transmission of the vehicle as well. ECM maintains top efficiency of the engine and causes least amount of emission.
There are various sensors and electronic devices which help the ECM system to monitor the emission and engine transmission.
This ECM is equipped with self-testing capacity, which means, when any untimely thing happens to any component inside the machine, the ECM codes the trouble inside its memory and notifies you with a light indicator called 'check engine' sensor. When such scenarios take place, it is very important to reset this sensor.

Check Engine Light Sensor

This is an important sensor which is present in the ECM of the vehicle. This light is also called malfunction indicator lamp or 'MIL'. It is located on the instrument console of the vehicle.
Like 'check engine', there are various other labels used to issue this warning. Previously, this light was labeled as 'trouble' or 'engine', but nowadays, it flashes as 'service engine soon' or 'check engine'.
This 'check engine' light illuminates only when there is some problem in the correct mechanism of the engine. It will either blink or remain steady, depending on the problem. In either way, it is important to get rid of the underlying problems, and thereby reset the sensor.
The flashing of the 'check engine' sensor is the first indication of a false code in the vehicle's computer system. There are hundreds of false codes that contain critical data, which are essential for accurate diagnosis of the problem.
It is important to understand that resetting the sensor can erase this data, which is necessary for a quick and easy diagnosis of the car problem. Unfortunately, there is no one single well-established way of resetting the sensor.

Resetting the Check Engine Light

Most of the time, the technician at the vehicle service station will reset the sensor on his own, without even being asked. But, if your vehicle is on the DIY maintenance, then it is important for you to learn the best and safest way to reset it.

Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

Using an automotive diagnostic scanner is supposed to be the best way to reset the sensor. It is a handheld device, which you can easily connect with your vehicle and read all the computer configurations and diagnostic codes.
Such devices are easily available at less than USD 100. The best thing about these devices is that they can recognize serious problems inside the ECM along with minor problems.

Disconnecting the Battery

Disconnecting the vehicle batteries is also said to be a useful way to solve the problem of check engine light flashing. It is a successful method for older vehicles. However, this method might not be so useful for the newer vehicles, as the sensor starts flashing soon after the batteries are reconnected.
This happens, especially, when the battery is not properly disconnected and the vehicle still bears some traces of electricity. Hence, it is very important to drain total power off the vehicle's capacitor, before removing the batteries and reconnecting them.
However, there are a few things to consider as far as the vehicle's safety is concerned, especially, if your vehicle bears an anti-theft radio system. After you disconnect the batteries, this system can go into the 'safe mode', and you may require a security code to unlock it.
You may also need to reprogram all the station presets. Hence, it is better to take the vehicle to the vehicle service station and discuss with the technician about the state of your ECM and the necessity to reset the light. He would reset it with the help of a check engine sensor code reader.
Most of the service stations reset the sensor at minimal charges, while some may offer you an absolutely free service as well.
Considering its highly complex technical nature, resetting the sensor can be a tad difficult for a novice in car repairing. Hence, it would be good to get it done by a knowledgeable technician. It is the best way to ensure utmost safety of your vehicle.