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How can I reset my service engine soon light?

Updated on December 18, 2015

Has this happened to you?

I recently had my service engine soon light come on. Nothing can quite compare for me, to the feeling of angst that occurs when this happens. I am always struck with a sense of concern about whether the issue is serious or not. I hate the feeling that I might be taken advantage of by an un-ethical mechanic or service shop.

Here are a few pointers that I learned along the way on my recent "service engine soon" adventure!

Lessons learned - Pointers

So what should you do the next time this happens to you.

1 - Don't feel like you're at the mercy of a mechanic.

I remembered when this happened recently that AutoZone has a free check engine service that they will perform for you. I've found them to be extremely friendly and helpful. They have facilities which are open 24 hours a day so you should be able to find one near you which can accommodate you even if you work odd hours.

2 - Get a test run first even if you end up having the repairs done by a service facility

If you're anything like me, you like having as much information as possible before going in to a service location / mechanic. Having the information provided through the AutoZone check enabled me in this particular instance to perform a relatively minor service myself. When you consider the hourly rate of mechanics these days (at least $70 - $90 per hour) then the effort is many times well worth it. I don't know about you, but that's more per hour than I make! :-(

So how did my story end???

I stopped by my local AutoZone and had them run the diagnostic check. Turns out that I had a bad mass airflow sensor. The new sensor ran me just over $100 and took me about 90 minutes to complete the job. That time by the way included a trip back to AutoZone to borrow a tamper proof star screwdriver to remove the old sensor.

If you didn't know it already, AutoZone offers a free tool loaner program. In my case, I had to run back to AutoZone once I got the air cleaner assembly removed from my engine which provided access to the mass airflow sensor. I just carried the assembly back in to AutoZone and they let me borrow the required screw driver to remove the old sensor and install the new one.

One last pointer - removing the negative battery cable from your battery will reset the service engine soon lamp.

Once I replaced the sensor, the service engine soon light was still on. I learned from the helpful clerk at AutoZone that if you remove the negative battery cable from the battery and leave it off for about 60 seconds that the computer resets the light. Once you put the battery cable back in place and run the car again,... if the problem hasn't been resolved,... the light will come back on. In my instance,... the problem was resolved and I was back in business.

I hope my experience will help you should you encounter a "service engine soon" illuminating for you on your way home.

IT MAY BE YOUR GAS CAP!

Another very common cause for Check Engine Soon lights to come on is your gas cap. Over time gas caps can become worn and don't seal properly. If your onboard computer senses that your gas cap isn't doing its job - your light can come on also. Double check that your gas cap is in place and that it is on tightly. The guys at AutoZone should be able to tell you if it's just a gas cap that's causing your problem. A gas cap purchase after a free checkout from AutoZone is probably MUCH less money than a trip to your dealership.

So did this hub help you or not. Please leave a comment.

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    • profile image

      tom 

      3 years ago

      Fantastic advice! Thanks a lot!

    • profile image

      RA TAVERNIER 

      4 years ago

      So glad I Google's this problem. First I will check the gas cap. Hopefully that will address the issue. If not, I will follow the steps outlined begining with auto zone. Thank you!

      .

    • profile image

      Tom 

      4 years ago

      Thank you, dprice99. I was able to reset my SES lamb. Thank you so much.

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      4 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Stanley - glad that I could help you out!

    • profile image

      stanley 

      4 years ago

      yes you helped me some one ,who said something without all the bull crap

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      4 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Jush - please have AutoZone perform a reading on your car to determine the specific cause that initiated the Check Engine Soon light being displayed. They can help you understand if it's something serious our not.

    • profile image

      Jush 

      4 years ago

      removing the negative battery cable from your battery will reset the service engine soon lamp.

      IT WORKS PERFECT ,THANKS

      I do not know do I need to go mechanic to fix it or not?

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Oscar 

      4 years ago

      Very grateful at learning how to reset the engine light.

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      6 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Anthony - glad that it worked out for you!

    • profile image

      Thi 

      6 years ago

      Thank for the advice.

    • profile image

      anthony 

      6 years ago

      Thx for the advice.I appreciate the time u take to help others. Godbless & all it took was 60 seconds for my c/e light to go off.Thx again ;-)

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      6 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      I am so glad that people are finding this information helpful.

      Austin - I was unaware of the regulations in California. Here in Arizona we are still able to get the readouts performed by Autozone.

    • profile image

      Austin 

      6 years ago

      Autozone doesn't offer SES/CEL readouts in California anymore, due to a lawsuit claiming that "mechanics" can charge for that service and it is an unfair business market environment for a parts vendor to offer it for free, blah blah blah... But call up sears auto center and ask them how much a SES/CEL readout will cost... They're mechanics. ; )

    • profile image

      Erin Y 

      6 years ago

      Thankyou so much for the great advice. I've been a mess all day about my check engine light! But thanx to your words, im on my way to Auto Zone now. :)

    • profile image

      Shawn 

      6 years ago

      Good advice, thank you for sharing!

    • profile image

      jcrich 

      6 years ago

      Thanks dprice99,for the information.You might have just saved me a lot of money and some travel time to boot.I had planned a trip to an auto repair shop, but,will make a stop on the way at Autozone to see if they can scan my Ford V10 engine to see what ses code shows up.It is very possible that my problem may be a sensor such as yours and I may be able to replace it also.If not,the maintenance shop is still there and I do feel that the personnel are honest and wish to be helpful.jcrich

    • profile image

      earl 

      6 years ago

      Thais helped me

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      6 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      I'm so sorry that your problems were not resolved. Did you go to Autozone and try to obtain a service code reading to determine what the onboard computer on your car was trying to tell you?

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      6 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Jeff - the light on your car may be different than mine. On my car (2003 model) and many others, the service engine soon light indicates when the onboard computer senses a potential problem. The problem can easily be identified through obtaining the "service codes". Autozone can help in providing these codes for you. In addition you can purchase diagnostic equipment to pull the codes yourself.

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      6 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Pinoy I'm curious to know of how things turned out.

    • profile image

      ahmed 

      6 years ago

      hi i'm very sad my problem didn't solve

    • profile image

      ahmed 

      6 years ago

      hi, I want to thank you before I do what you said.

      Any way I will make in this advice on early morning.

      And then I will reply my thank for you.

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      6 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      thanks for the kind words Pinoy. You'll have to let me know how it goes.

    • profile image

      Pinoy723 

      6 years ago

      Wow! Great advise. I'm heading to my sister's house now

      to reset the SES light on her car. Let you know soon.

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      7 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      When I need something auto related (service, maintenance or otherwise) I can generally find it there though. Thanks for your comment Alex.

    • profile image

      alex 

      7 years ago

      nice post. Autozone offers so many great things, you just have to be careful not to buy something you don't need!

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      7 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Miranda,

      Glad that I could be of assistance. Nothing like the feeling of not knowing what you're faced with and feeling at the mercy of a mechanic you don't know. Hope everything worked out well for you.

    • profile image

      Miranda 

      7 years ago

      Thank you so much for the information you provided here about resetting the, "service engine soon," light...it really help. I do agree with you that it is so difficult to find an honest mechanic these days. Well, thank you so much for giving out this information to guide us how to better detect the SES light without making a trip to the autoshop :D. Thanks!

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      8 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Jim,... glad to hear that I was helpful. Thanks for your kind note!

    • profile image

      jim 

      8 years ago

      Great advice and it really did work. Thanks for your tireless effort to bring us the information.

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      8 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Glad to provide some help!

    • profile image

      MetalMediSINinjection 

      8 years ago

      good deal!

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      8 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Thanks for your feedback rick81p!

    • profile image

      rick81p 

      8 years ago

      Yes, your advice was so helpful! Also, you're correct that it's so hard to find a good honest mechanic. Thank you so very much !

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      8 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Good luck. I hope that my experience and sharing it here was helpful for you!

    • profile image

      Donf 

      8 years ago

      I'm off to Auto Zone.

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      8 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Glad that the information helped you!

    • profile image

      bd 

      8 years ago

      very helpful thank you so much

    • dprice99 profile imageAUTHOR

      dprice99 

      8 years ago from Phoenix Arizona

      Glad to know that someone appreciated the advise! :-)

    • flread45 profile image

      Frank 

      8 years ago from Montana

      good advise

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