How to Reset Check Engine Light Without Scanner

Check engine warning light is something that most car owners have encountered at some point in their lives. When this warning light comes on on your dashboard, it can cause anxiety and stress, as it signals an issue with your vehicle.

Once the check engine light appears on your dashboard, you should look into it and find out what caused the light and have it fixed as soon as possible.

After the issue is resolved, the next would be to reset the car’s computer so that the light can go away. Therefore, how do you reset the check engine light without a scanner?

How to Reset Check Engine Light Without Scanner

To reset the check engine light without a scanner, you can:

1. Disconnecting Your Car’s Battery

This is the common and easy way of resetting a check engine light without a scanner. Disconnecting the battery for 15 to 20 minutes will have the system reset and the light gone.

However, if you wish to use this method to reset the check engine light, follow the steps below:

  • Locate the vehicle’s battery.
  • First, disconnect the negative (black) terminal of the battery by loosening the nut on the clamp and sliding it off. Ensure it’s secure and doesn’t touch any metal parts.
  • Wait for about 15 – 20 minutes to allow the vehicle’s capacitors to discharge fully.
  • Reconnect the negative terminal.
  • Start the car and see if the Check Engine light has been reset.

While this method can reset the check engine light, it also clears all other stored data in your vehicle’s computer, including radio presets and clock settings. Therefore, you need to set the radio again as well as your power window, etc.

2. Complete a Drive Cycle

Many modern vehicles have a built-in system that monitors various aspects of the engine and emissions system to determine if there are any issues.

A drive cycle is a series of vehicle operating conditions that ensure the proper testing of emissions systems. It includes various driving modes like acceleration, cruising, and idling, providing a comprehensive assessment of a vehicle’s emissions performance under normal driving conditions

To reset the Check Engine light, you can perform a “drive cycle” by following these steps:

  • Start your car and let it idle for a few minutes.
  • Drive at a speed of 45-55 mph for about 15 minutes.
  • Slow down to 20 mph and drive for another 15 minutes.
  • Come to a complete stop and idle for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 at least two more times.

If there are no issues detected during this process, the Check Engine light will reset on its own.

It’s important to note that this method can take some time, and may not work for all vehicles, as it depends on the specific drive cycle requirements programmed into your car’s computer. Also, you may need to drive up to 30 – 100 miles before you can be able to complete a drive cycle and the light off.

3. The Three Times Method

One of the simplest ways to reset the Check Engine light without a scanner is by using the “Three Times Method.” You don’t need to be a car technician expert to be able to do this. All you have to do is follow the procedure below:

  • Start your car and allow it to idle for a few minutes.
  • Turn off the engine.
  • Turn the key to the “On” position without starting the engine
  • You should see various warning lights on the dashboard, including the Check Engine light.
  • Turn the key back to the “Off” position.
  • Repeat steps 3 and 4 two more times.
  • On the fourth time, turn the key to the “On” position, and the Check Engine light should flash and then turn off. This indicates that the reset is successful.

Be that as it may, it is important to note that this method doesn’t work for all vehicles, but it’s worth a try if your car is compatible.

Meanwhile, you can also reset the check engine light without a scanner by addressing the underlying problems that caused the light to come on in the first place. You need to identify the issue to be able to have it fixed.

If you don’t have a scanner or code reader, you can often determine the problem by checking your owner’s manual for common reasons for the check engine light to come on such as a loose gas cap. You can also visit an auto parts store or repair shop that offers free code scanning services.

Once you’ve identified the issue, have it fixed as soon as possible. This may involve simple maintenance or more extensive repairs, depending on the problem.

When you are done fixing the problem, drive your vehicle for a few days to ensure the check engine light does not come back on. If it remains off, you have successfully reset the light by addressing the issue.

Final Thoughts

You can easily reset a check engine light without a scanner by either disconnecting your car’s battery for 15 – 20 minutes before reconnecting it back or by completing a drive cycle whereby you drive in different drive modes for about 30 miles – 100 miles to allow your car’s computer to perform a self-diagnostic and rest the light when the diagnosis is completed without finding any fault.