How To Disable Check Engine Light Permanently: The Working Way

How to disable check engine light permanently? The solution is to pull out the dashboard and remove the CEL bulb or cut off the wire that supplies it with power. 

Disable Check Engine Light Permanently

The process involves a few simple steps and requires a couple of standard tools, as we will find out below. We have also discussed ways to reset the CEL and some frequently asked questions to address your pressing queries. 

How Can You Disable Check Engine Light Permanently in Four Steps?

To permanently disable the check engine light (CEL), you must unscrew the dashboard and remove the engine light bulb or diode. Alternatively, after removing the dashboard, you can clip the small wire to cut off the power supply and keep the light off for good. 

Check engine light is critical in ensuring an excellent driving experience and keeping you and others safe on the road. It notifies you of an existing or potential mechanical error so that you can act before it’s too late. In other words, the engine management light serves as an early warning for upcoming maintenance, repair, or clean-up. 

However, it’s annoying when the light refuses to turn off after you’ve fixed all the issues. The most irritating part is that the CEL is sometimes turned on by trivial or occasional problems that you don’t need to address immediately. So, it’s understandable if you have decided to shut it down once and for all. 

The steps to disable the engine light permanently are easy to follow and execute. First, ensure you have these tools handy:

  1. A pair of pliers
  2. Screwdrivers

Proceed as follows:

Note: The amount of work you need to do to disable the engine light bulb for good will vary depending on your car model, make, and year. It’s easy to pull out the dashboard of an older car. Digital modern dashboards can be challenging to remove for a common DIYer, but it’s still doable. 

– Remove the Gauge Bezel

Using a set of screwdrivers, unscrew the screws from the gauge bezel to access the backside of the gauge panel.

Check the steering wheel by tilting it to enable you to complete the task. 

– Unplug the Gauge Panel

Once you’ve successfully disconnected the gauge bezel, it’s time to unplug the gauge panel. Remember to be as gentle as possible not to damage any connections. Otherwise, you may need to contact a professional to fix the consequences.

– Locate the Check Engine Light Bulb and Remove It

You should quickly find the check engine light bulb from the back of the panel. Disconnect it using a pair of pliers. You can also clip the small wire that supplies power to the bulb. However, that will depend on the situation; choose the option that best works for you. 

– Reinstall the Gauge Bezel

Plug the bezel back into position. Switch on the vehicle to ascertain that the management light or CEL is no longer illuminating. 

Plug the Bezel Back Into Position

The steps above are vital to disable the check light indelibly and drive your car without destruction. If you bought your vehicle from a previous owner, there’s a way to find out if they also disabled the light permanently. To do that, hold the trip reset button until it prompts a gauge testing protocol. 

There are several tests you can perform by pressing this button. But you want the ‘management light’ test, which turns on all the bulbs on the gauge panel or dashboard. You should see the test indication under the Select/Reset display. If the Check Engine Light does not turn on, then it means that the previous owner had tempered with it. 

Warning: Considering how vital the CEL is to a car, you should not disable it for good if you plan to sell it soon. Doing so might be a crime and land you in a very complicated legal situation. 

How Can You Reset the Check Engine Light?

To reset the check engine light, you can perform an OBD scan to identify and resolve any issues affecting the engine. You can also drive the car long distances and allow the light to disappear. Others ways to reset the check include temporarily disconnecting the battery.

There are many ways to do this; let’s discuss them below.

Suppose you don’t want to permanently delete the check engine light. In that case, you can reset it to stop illuminating without a valid reason. That is if you have resolved the engine issues, but the light still can’t go off. 

– Use an OBD Scan Tool

To accurately determine the cause of the illuminated warning light, you’ll require an OBD code reader or scan tool. It will help you diagnose the issues, resolve them, and eliminate the CEL without doing something dangerous or unlawful. 

Note: An OBD scan tool only applies to vehicles manufactured from 1996 and later. Cars made before this year will need a specialized scan tool. Some older vehicles may only require an adapter to connect the scanner. 

You’ll often find the OBD connector under the steering wheel column or beneath the dashboard. Connect the correct code reader to your vehicle’s OBD port and read the codes. The codes show what caused the engine management light to turn on. 

Some causes include a defective oxygen sensor, faulty spark plugs, issues with fuse controls, a malfunctioning MAF sensor, and a low car battery. Fix the underlying problems, then reset the codes using the code scanner. After that, the light should go off; hopefully, the engine will not throw another engine light code soon!

– Allow the Check Light To Disappear on Its Own

Driving your car over long distances can reset the check engine light. That is the easiest step you should take when trying to reset the engine. So, hit the road, and after about 50 to 100 miles, any issues might resolve themselves. 

The powertrain control module (PCD) or engine control module/unit (ECM/ECU) controls check engine light. It will turn it off if there is no underlying problem. If that doesn’t work, proceed to the following method. 

– emporarily Disconnect the Battery

You can also use your car battery to provide the engine with the effect of a reset. Open the hood and locate the battery. Using a wrench, remove the positive power cable. 

Wait for about 30 minutes, then turn on the ignition thrice. Now reconnect the battery and wait a few seconds to see if you have successfully disabled the check engine light. 

– Switch the Car on and off Three Times Consecutively

Switching the car on and off three times in a row can also help you know if there are any issues with the engine codes. The only downside with this troubleshooting method is that it may only work if your vehicle has an auto reset on trouble codes. 

But give it a try and see what happens. Insert the key into the ignition and switch the car on and off. Repeat this three times consecutively in sequence. 

– Temporarily Remove the ECU Fuse

Removing the ECU fuse will enable you to disconnect the power supply to the computer. In return, that will cut off the electricity completely. 

Removing the Ecu Fuse Will Disconnect the Power Supply

Warning: You must be careful with this technique, especially if you have a high-tech vehicle. It could cause further system issues and cost you a fortune to repair. 

  • Insert the key into the ignition and switch on the engine without cranking it up. 
  • Locate the light fuse to the ECU on the fuse box. 
  • Pull out the fuse and leave the system for about 15 minutes
  • Turn off the ignition before plugging in the fuse
  • Now turn the ignition on to start the car and allow it to idle for a while. 

That should have reset the codes and switched off the check engine light. If it didn’t, try the following method. 

Note: There is no engine light fuse. So, the ECU fuse is the only one you can remove and will affect the ECL. 

– Delete the Permanent Codes

One last option to reset CEL is to delete engine codes. You can use the OBD scanner tool, but the codes will reappear. The only reliable way to delete the check or clear the permanent codes and turn off the engine light permanently is to fix the underlying issue with your engine that caused the PDTC (Permanent Diagnostic Trouble Codes) and its corresponding DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) to appear. 

After that, give the vehicle enough drive time (up to 400 days!) and reset the monitor that identified the issue in the first place. 

Why Might Check Engine Light Come Back On After Reset? 

Many issues can cause the check engine light to come back on after a successful reset. They include a problematic catalytic converter and MAF sensor, a loose or overtightened gas cap, a worn-out spark plug, and a faulty oxygen sensor. 

– Problematic Catalytic Converter (Cat)

Damage to the cat is most likely to cause the check engine light to turn on. The cat is part and parcel of the engine and plays a critical role in reducing harmful emissions. If your cat has malfunctioned, replace it, and the engine light will turn off. 

– Defective Mass Air Flow Sensor

The Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor helps the engine ensure the correct air/fuel mixture. If this component has developed an issue and it’s not performing as intended, the CEL will turn on. In addition, your engine may fail to start. 

– Resolve Gas Cap Problems

Gas caps prevent fuel vapor leakage from the filler neck, averting an otherwise great source of hydrocarbon emissions. The gas cap in your car can crack and become too loose to perform its job effectively.

Also, an over-tightened gas cap will fail to deliver. Either way, the check engine light will turn on. 

– Check or Replace Spark Plugs

Spark plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles. However, it can still become defective earlier than that and will surely turn on the check engine light.

A spark plug costs between $16 and $100, depending on the car model. That means the replacement cost can be relatively high.

Still, it would help if you tried to replace it as soon as possible to prevent further costlier problems. 

– Defective Oxygen Sensor

The oxygen sensor or 02 sensor measures the unburned oxygen gas in your car’s exhaust system. A faulty 02 sensor can cause problems, including the engine failing to start and will also turn on the check engine light. 

Oxygen Sensor Measures the Unburned Oxygen Gas

These are just a few reasons the check engine light will turn on. Therefore, before permanently disabling the CEL, know that one of the above problems could have turned it on. Once you fix the issue, the light will turn off. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Much Does It Cost To Fix Check Engine Light Problems?

To fix the check engine light problems, you must understand that the cost varies depending on the model and year of your car. The price will also vary based on which issue needs to be fixed. On average, you can expect to pay about $360. The cost can go as high as $3,200 for high-end vehicles. 

2. Can I Continue Driving With the Check Engine Light On?

Yes, but only over a short distance. After that, schedule to take the car for repairs as soon as possible. Failure to prioritize repairs can lead to more costly problems, including the vehicle stopping in the middle of the road. It can also jeopardize your safety and other road users. 

3. Why Is the Check Engine Light Still on After Clearing It? 

Your car’s check engine light doesn’t go off immediately after clearing the computer. It requires a sufficient driving distance of about 50 to 100 miles. 


You now know how to disable the check engine light to eliminate the annoyance permanently.

But it would be fair if we could have a recap of what we have discussed:

  • The only way to disable the check engine light is to pull out the dashboard and remove the bulb.
  • You can also clip the small wire that supplies electric power to the light.
  • The process may be complex in cars with modern dashboards, but it’s still doable.
  • There are several methods to reset the check engine light. Giving your car a good drive is one of them.
  • A faulty oxygen sensor, catalytic converter, and other essential components can cause the engine light to turn on.

Do you have valid reasons to disable the CEL for good? Well, grab the tools and get it over and done with! 


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