How to Reset Your Car Computer Without Disconnecting the Battery


You’re driving along, minding your own business and enjoying the open road, when suddenly you hear what sounds like an angry hornet trapped inside your car, except it’s not coming from outside – it’s coming from underneath your steering wheel! Don’t panic! Your car might have malfunctioned in a very common way called limp mode, or limp home mode, which means your car isn’t running as smoothly as it should be.

What Is The OBD-II Port?

The OBD-II port is a standard on all 1996 and newer cars, trucks, and SUVs. This port is used by vehicle manufacturers and authorized service technicians for accessing on-board diagnostics (OBD) and troubleshooting.
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In most cases, you can reset your car computer without disconnecting the battery by following these steps:

  • Shut off your car.
  • Turn it back on again.

Let it idle for 10 minutes or so. If that doesn’t work, try this: With your foot off of the accelerator pedal but with your car in gear (not Park), turn off your engine for about three seconds then restart it again.

Where Is It Located?

The car’s computer is typically located in a plastic box that is usually mounted near the passenger side of your engine compartment. This box is usually labeled power distribution box or computer. If you are unable to find this box on your vehicle, you can also look for a car battery charger. The location of your car battery charger will be next to or underneath the passenger side of your engine compartment.

  • You’ll need to open up your power distribution/computer box and locate a black square wire with a white stripe running down it – this is called a maintenance free fuse.
  • Next, find an appropriate screwdriver and remove any screws that are holding this wire in place.

Safety First

In order to reset your car computer without disconnecting the battery, you’ll need a set of jumper cables. You can purchase these at any auto-parts store and they should cost you between $8 and $15. Jumper cables are typically used for starting cars that are dead, but in this case you’ll use them for about five minutes. In order to carry out this procedure, follow these steps:

  • Turn off your car and remove the key from the ignition so it doesn’t start while you’re working on it.
  • Open up your hood by removing any screws that may be holding it closed and making sure there aren’t any wires or anything blocking access.

What Will You Need?

You will need a Phillips head screwdriver, an old toothbrush or some other soft brush that can get in between tight spaces, and a set of jumper cables. You’ll also want to be sure your car is off and parked on level ground. If you’re doing this while it’s warm outside, leave the windows down.

  • Remove the computer cover. Most computers come with a cover that can be lifted off or removed by removing screws from underneath it. Be careful when opening it as there may be fragile wires or connectors inside.
  • Locate the battery terminals behind the computer. The terminals should resemble two metal posts with black plastic caps over them and should have a cable running from each one connecting to something on the inside of your car’s engine bay.

Start The Car

  1. Turn off your car and remove the key.
  2. Open your hood, locate the battery, and disconnect its negative cable from the battery terminal with a wrench (typically located next to it).
  3. Wait five minutes or so before reconnecting the positive cable back onto the terminal.
  4. Reconnect the negative cable back onto the terminal and close your hood.
  5. Turn on your car and wait for a few seconds while it resets itself before you drive away

Plug In The Reader/Scanner

  • Plug in your reader or scanner.
  • Wait for your reader or scanner to find your car.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Once connected, read and follow the prompts on your screen.
  • Acknowledge all warnings and requests for information before continuing.
  • The system may ask you what year make, model, and engine type you have.

When you get through this part of the process, it will ask about other specific items like what kind of transmission do you have, how many miles are on your car (or kilometers), etc.

Follow The Onscreen Instructions

  1. Turn your car off and set the parking brake.
  2. Open the hood and pull out the protective cover for your battery cables.
  3. Find a Phillips head screwdriver and remove the negative battery terminal from its post by turning it counterclockwise with your fingers. Make sure that you don’t touch any of the exposed metal on this terminal or on any other part of your car’s engine block, as you may get shocked!
  4. After removing this terminal, wait three minutes before touching anything else in order to avoid electric shock, then put it back in place and tighten it with a Phillips head screwdriver if necessary.


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