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How to Clear OBD-II Codes

by Richard Ristow

Onboard Diagnostic (OBD) allows cars to sense a malfunction and categorize it. The OBD-II edition of the system is standard for cars manufactured since 1996. The car's computer senses a problem with the motor and activates the "Check Engine" light on the dash. Anybody with an OBD-II scanner can hook up to the car's computer and read this automated diagnosis. Clearing the code after the repairs is highly important. Not doing so will leave the "Check Engine" light on, even if there is nothing wrong.

Hook an OBD-II scanner to the car's diagnostic port. This outlet is on the driver's side, under the dash and usually near the steering wheel.

Turn the scanner on.

Turn the car on.

Wait for the trouble code to appear on the scanner.

Press the "Clear" button on the scanner to clear the code.


  • The shape and configuration of the OBD scanner changes by brand, so not all buttons are in the same place or layout. If there are any issues of concern, consult your specific device's owner's manual.

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About the Author

Richard Ristow has written for journals, newspapers and websites since 2002. His work has appeared in "2009 Nebula Showcase" and elsewhere. He is a winner of the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling Award and he edits poetry for Belfire Press. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and has managed an automotive department at WalMart.

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