How to Diagnose a Check Engine Light - Everything You Need to Know

17 Jul 2017 06:16 11
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Video tutorial on how to scan and erase your check engine light. A check engine light or also known as a cel for short is a fault with your vehicle’s engine which will illuminate a light on your gauge cluster as shown here. When a fault is present, this light has two modes. One will be solid or stay on all the time or blink. When the light is solid, there is obviously a problem but it’s not an immediate issue. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fixed either as the fault can cause increased damage depending on what it is. For a blinking cel, this means there is an immediate issue where the vehicle should not be driven and the vehicle must be fixed immediately.

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Tools/Supplies Needed:
-OBD2 scanner/code reader

-to determine if the check engine light is working, you can turn the key onto the run position, there is no need to start the vehicle and this will illuminate the whole gauge cluster showing the functioning lights
-if your light does not illuminate, it is either burnt out or someone has removed it
-locate the diagnostic port
-this system has a generalized plug area, usually within 3’ feet or 91cm of the steering wheel, generic plug, and they share the same fault code meaning
-for this vehicle which is a 1997 BMW 540i, the plug is located under the steering column on the left side
-the 1998 Ford Ranger, this also shares a similar area, this time towards the center directly underneath the steering column covered by a cap
-once you’ve located that port, plug in the diagnostic tool
-sometimes the ignition can be left off, put in the accessories position, run position, or the vehicle will need to be running
-I find this depends on the vehicle, the scanner will turn on, but won’t necessarily read the codes which will be promoted with a connection error
-read the vehicle, for this scanner we can press the arrows on the key pad to select the OBD2 scan, press enter and the computer will be scanned for any fault codes
-once the scanning is complete, select the down arrow, and then read the codes
-select enter
-for this specific code reader, the screen will prompt you to selecting what type of vehicle you have so the fault code definitions are specific to this vehicle
-we can see on the top right corner I have 4 fault codes
-we are currently on 1 out of 4 codes
-P0505 which is an Idle Control System error
-P1174, Fuel trim adaptation, additive bank 1 malfunction
-P1175 Fuel trim adaptation, additive bank 2 malfunction
-P0420 Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold Bank 1
-next we can exit out of the fault readings and clear the codes if desired
using one of these tools to scan your vehicle is an assist to help with repairs and doesn’t necessarily tell you the exact fault
-and even if there isn’t a check engine light, doesn’t mean there isn’t an error with the vehicle
-the vehicle’s computer will store the code for a certain period of time, which is a pending code, if the fault disappears the code will eventually erase
-if the fault persists, the will trigger the light
-if you don’t fix the persisting fault, that code will keep coming back
-once those codes are erased, as you can see there is no check engine light

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