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How to Reset the Check Engine Light on a 1996 Suburban

by Jody L. Campbell

There are a couple of methods to reset the check engine light (malfunction indicator light or MIL) on a 1996 Chevy Suburban. However, the MIL should only be reset once the diagnostic trouble code (DTC) has been identified and the repair corrected. There are hundreds of DTCs and some can be simple problems, like a loose gas cap, or some can be major problems and make the Suburban run poorly or not at all.

Pocket Scanner

Read the operator's manual provided with the pocket scanner. There are several companies and models of scanners. They are easy to operate, but make sure you don't need batteries prior to using one. Most use the vehicle's battery to power the device.

Open the driver's side door to the Suburban and locate the diagnostic/data link connector (DLC). On the 1996 Suburban, it is under the driver's side dash panel between the steering column and the door panel.

Plug the pocket scanner into the DLC.

Follow the directions in the manual to scroll to the clear engine codes. Some models may even have an erase button on the front of the faceplate. Other models use scroll buttons to move the cursor on the menu to locate and erase codes.

Erase the code (again following the self-explanatory directions on the onscreen menu of the scanner). Wait until the screen defaults back to the main menu or displays that the command was sent.

Start the engine to make sure the light went out.

Battery Disconnect

Disconnect the negative battery terminal clamp from the battery. It is the black-wired terminal clamp with a minus sign stamped on the battery housing.

Turn the light switch on inside the passenger cab of the Suburban. This will expel reserve power and erase the memory of the powertrain control module.

Wait 10 to 15 minutes before turning off the light switch and then reconnecting the negative battery terminal clamp.

Start the engine to ensure the light is no longer displayed on the instrument panel.

Tip

  • Resetting the check engine light on any vehicle to pass a state inspection and emissions testing is futile. The equipment used to attach to the DCL will detect the computer is not in "readiness" mode and will fail the vehicle until the inspection and maintenance monitors have communicated to the computer and set back into readiness mode. If the problem has not been addressed, once the monitors communicate to the computer, the MIL will relight on the instrument panel and the vehicle will fail the emissions testing again. Some minor problems (like the loose gas cap) can be fixed by simply tightening the cap and then resetting the code. It will run through several driving cycles for the monitors to communicate to the computer before it gets to readiness mode.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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Photo Credits

  • on board diagnosis connector image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com