Anyone who has an engine light come on will no doubt like to know what the problem is.
The standard way is to use an OBDII scan tool which will give the error code, and can then be looked up.
But what if you dont have a scan tool?
Most vehicles have a built-in diagnostic system that can be displayed on the odometer window.
This can change from manufacture make model and year.
Below are the steps I found to check the codes on a 1999 Ford without an OBDII scan tool.
This may or may not work; let me know in the comments if it works for you.
Basically, the odometer button is pressed and held, and the key is turned on to the accessory.
Several tests can be done in test mode by cycling through them, including testing the dashboard bulbs and showing any engine codes.
Dashboard Abbreviations Meanings
- DTC = Diagnostic Trouble Code
- CEL = Check Engine Light
- “P” = Problem Trouble code
How To Read Ford Check Engine Light Without a Code Reader
- Press and hold the reset button for the odometer.
- Turn the key to Accessory.
- Keep holding the button until the words TEST appear.
- Once the words TEST appear let go of the odometer button and press it again to cycle through the onboard test.
- Push the button to dtc, which will give the error code.
Using the steps above works for many Ford vehicles but may not work for all.
If it does not work for you, there are free and low-cost ways to read the engine error codes.
The most common free method is to go to an auto-parts store, such as Auto Zone with many will scan the vehicle for free.
Be sure to call around first as it may vary from store to store but most offer free OBDII scans, in my experience.
If your car or truck is not driveable, most auto parts stores also have loaner scan tools for a deposit; again, call around first.
A very low-cost method is to use an OBDII Bluetooth scan tool that pairs with a smartphone and can read and clear codes.
OBDII Bluetooth scan tools are very low cost, often $10-$15, making them a good low-cost solution.
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