Get obd fault codes through ChipTuning
The Check Engine Light (which is actually the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or MIL) alerts you when an emissions-related problem occurs with the engine control system or emission controls on your vehicle. Depending on the nature of the problem, the Check Engine Light may come on and remain on continuously or flash.
Some intermittent problems will make the Check Engine Light come on only while the fault is occurring (such as engine misfire). The Check Engine light usually remains on once a fault has been detected, and will remain on to remind you that a problem has occurred that needs to be investigated.
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An illuminated Check Engine Light can be annoying because you don’t know what’s wrong, and whether or not the problem might be a serious one or just a minor fault. There is no way to know what the problem is until you plug a scan tool into the vehicle’s diagnostic connector and read out the code(s) that turned the light on.
If no other warning lights are on, and the engine seems to be running normally (no unusual noises, smells, vibrations, etc.), you can assume the fault that is causing the Check Engine Light to come on is probably minor and won’t hinder your ability to continue driving. But if other warning lights are on, you should probably stop and investigate the problem.
When the Check Engine Light comes on, a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is recorded in the powertrain control module (PCM) memory that corresponds to the fault. Some problems can generate more than one trouble code, and some vehicles may have multiple problems that set multiple trouble codes.
CHECK ENGINE LIGHT ON SETS TROUBLE CODES
In most older vehicles (those made before 1996), disconnecting the computer’s power source or disconnecting a battery cable erases fault codes and turns off the Check Engine Light, at least temporarily. If the problem persists, the code will reset and the Check Engine Light will come back on. But on many newer vehicles, you do NOT want to disconnect the battery because doing so can wipe out the computer’s memory settings. This may affect the operation of the transmission, climate control system and other functions.
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In 1996 and newer vehicles, a scan tool or code reader must be used to erase codes and turn the Check Engine Light off.
If your Check Engine light is on, you need to read the code(s) that are causing it to come on with a code reader or scan tool. Plug the tool into the 16-pin OBD diagnostic connector (usually located under the dash near the steering column).
When the ignition is turned on (don’t start the engine yet), the tool will communicate with the PCM. You may be asked to enter the year/make/model and VIN code of your vehicle if the scan tool does not automatically recognize the application. Choose the READ FAULT CODE option on the scan tool menu, or press the button that allows the tool to read the codes.
The tool will then display a number and/or code description that corresponds to a particular fault code. The letter “P” is the designation for Powertrain codes (which includes all of the engine controls, related emission controls, catalytic converter and fuel tank vapor control system). If there are more than one code, the codes will be listed in numeric order.
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TIP: Write the code(s) down on a piece of paper before you erase them. You may need to refer to the codes again later if the same problem keeps returning. Erasing the codes will turn the Check Engine Light off, but sooner or later the codes will likely return and turn the Check Engine Light back on again if the problem is still there.
UNDERSTANDING DIAGNOSTIC TROUBLE CODES
A misfire will cause the Check Engine Light to flash while the misfire is occurring. A misfire that occurs in a given cylinder will also set a P030X code where “X” will be the number of the cylinder that is misfiring. For example, a P0302 code would tell you cylinder number two is misfiring.
Remember, the code does not tell you why the cylinder is misfiring. You have to figure that out by performing other diagnostic tests. The misfire might be due to a fouled spark plug, a bad plug wire, a defective ignition coil in a DIS ignition system, a clogged or dead fuel injector or a loss of compression due to a leaky exhaust valve, leaky head gasket or worn cam lobe.