How Many Miles Does It Take to Clear a Check Engine Light?

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Home » How Many Miles Does It Take to Clear a Check Engine Light?

Chances are that you’ve had your check engine light issue fixed BUT the light is still on! And it’s getting on your nerves. Maybe it cost you a fortune.

So why is the light still on?

Here’s something you probably don’t know: after clearing the car’s computer you will need to drive for about 50 to 100 miles.

As you drive your car the computer will monitor all the sensors and register the results.

You can use GOFAR to constantly monitor your car diagnostics. Get a Diagnostics App.

Here are the details:

System StatusExplanation
READYThe Check Engine Light didn’t come on. The system is working properly. Hooray!
NOT READYYour car hasn’t been driven long enough after resetting the codes.
Solution: Keep driving until the system indicates a READY condition.
NOT APPLICABLEYour car doesn't support that status monitor. Simply ignore it.

But hang on a minute, there are other important things to keep in mind. So let’s take a closer look.

What Causes the Check Engine Light to Come On?

To begin with, there are many vital components in your car and if any fail they can cause the Check Engine Light to come on.

Surprisingly enough it could be something as simple as not tightening a loose gas cap after refuelling! Sounds silly? But it’s not.

Sometimes, it could be inadequate car engine oil or a faulty car part that that has triggered the check engine light. Some of the common car parts that may cause the check engine light to come on are:

  • Faulty catalytic converter
  • Faulty ignition coil
  • Bad spark plugs and wires
  • Faulty oxygen sensor
  • Faulty mass air flow sensor
  • Faulty charging system

You can read more about each of these faults and what to do about it on the Check Engine Light page.

Careful: quite often, a faulty sensor could be the cause for your check engine light to be on.

And if you are not careful you could end up spending a lot of money on an expensive car part, only to find out later on that the issue was a faulty sensor.

Sound familiar?

Naturally, when your car has an issue you take it to the mechanic for repair. And that’s understandable.

But here’s the problem: how many times have you been surprised by the news that your car needs an expensive repair while at the repair shop?

What if you could personally check out your car’s problem before going to the mechanic? To always be a step ahead of your mechanic. To actually check if the mechanic is telling the truth?

Here’s the kicker: you can read your car’s trouble codes yourself with GOFAR, a handy diagnostic code scanner that plugs in under the vehicle dashboard.

Understanding Your Car’s Diagnostic Codes

person in garage fixing car

Sensors Can Erroneously Trip

Your car’s computer constantly keeps a record of all the problematic diagnostic codes reported by the sensors.

Here’s a little background about how the sensors work.

  • The computer can only know there’s a problem or a unit is failing when a sensor reports the issue
  • Each sensor reports a specific code
  • If the computer has an error code stored, the check engine light comes on to alert you
  • Each trouble code reported to the computer is registered uniquely and tied to the sensor that reported it.

When a sensor reports a faulty device the check engine light will come on. Even if it is the sensor itself that’s faulty, the light will still come on

The fact is your car has sensors for many components. Sometimes a sensor will fail or get stuck and report a bad code. If your mechanic is honest enough he will tell you that because replacing a bad sensor is very affordable.

Related: Car Warning Lights Resource Centre

To determine whether the sensor is faulty, you can run a little experiment. Clear the codes from your computer and watch to see if the check engine light comes back on.

But a smarter move would be to do your own engine diagnostics using GOFAR, an affordable OBD code scanner that reports over 300 common car faults in plain English.

That way, you will discover why your check engine light is on. Now, let’s look at GOFAR in detail, ready?

GOFAR Diagnostic Code Scanner

GOFAR adapter and mobile app

While at the mechanic, you may have noticed him plugging in a code scanner under the dashboard to read the engine trouble codes from the car’s computer.

Don’t you think it would be great to be able to know what error codes the computer is reporting regarding the check engine light before going to the repair shop?

It is totally doable!

You can get your very own code diagnostic scanner. But not just any scanner – most of them report in tech jargon which can be overwhelming if you’re not a technical person.

All you want is your car’s faults explained in plain English, right? GOFAR does exactly that and more!

Here’s how GOFAR, your little car buddy, will make your life a lot easier:

  1. Alerts you when your car is sick via the app on your phone. The severity of the car error is explained too.
    phone lock screen showing GOFAR app notification
  2. You’ll deal with mechanics knowledgeably because GOFAR explains the 300 most common car problems in plain English.
    GOFAR app easy to understand description of car issue
  3. You can set reminders so you never forget your car’s important appointments. So, you stay covered, stay safe, and avoid fines.
    GOFAR app displaying reminder of car appointments
  4. GOFAR Bonus: A little device that helps you save money on fuel!

If you have a 1996 or newer car model, then GOFAR will work just fine on your car. If in doubt, just run a quick compatibility test.

We bet you’re pretty excited and ready to start enjoying all these awesome benefits. So, snap up your very own GOFAR right away!

Why it’s Worth Getting a GOFAR

First off, here’s what customers are saying about GOFAR.

positive customer reviews of GOFAR app

Next, watch this video to learn the benefits you’ll reap when you own GOFAR.

Easy and Convenient Car Servicing

How to Read Your GOFAR

Step 1: Download the App

The GOFAR app is available on Google Play and App Store. The app is the window to your car’s efficiency, performance, and health.

Once you download the app, it will take you through the setup process with nice, clear pictures – takes a few minutes.

Step 2: Plug in the Adapter

Plug the adapter into the car’s diagnostic port located at the dash. It’s as easy as plugging in a power cord.

Step 3: Attach Ray to the dashboard

Once you place the ray on the dash, connect it with the adapter using the thin custom cable. It’s as easy as plugging in headphones.

Voila! You’re all installed!

Henceforth, you will receive alerts on your phone when there’s a problem on your car. Every 2 seconds GOFAR will monitor your car so you save on fuel, tax, and servicing.

Watch this video to get a broader overview on GOFAR, your car’s little buddy.

How It Works

How to Determine If There’s Really an Engine Problem.

As you now know, a faulty sensor can cause the check engine light to come on.

Since there’s no way to know right away if the cause is a faulty sensor you will need to erase the codes and then see if it comes back on after some time.

If the light comes back on, you’ll need to follow a few more steps to determine whether the issue is a faulty sensor or one of the many causes for a check engine light to come on, for instance, a faulty catalytic converter.

On clearing the codes with the “Erase Codes” function, the system status changes to “Not Ready”.

Drive for 50 to 100 miles (80 to 160 km). Take several individual trips until the system reads the status of all the components once more.

“Several trips” means you shut off the engine and start another trip each time. Therefore, it’s not just 100 miles in one trip. It’s more like doing three trips of about 30 miles each.

Afterwards, connect the scanner again and read the System Status to see if the “Not Ready” condition has been erased.

Diagnosing the Problem

After you reset the codes, either of these two things will happen:

  • If the “Not Ready” status becomes “Ready” and the check engine light did not come back on, then the problem may have been an intermittent faulty sensor.
  • If the check engine light does come back on then the scanner will show you that bad code again. That would indicate you do indeed have a component failure as specified by the code. In that case, at least you’ll know you will be spending money to fix a real problem.

Note that when you turn on the ignition without starting the engine, all the panel lights light up temporarily as a test to see that they are all working.

Let’s Wrap Up

It’s now clear that your check engine light will turn off if you identify the cause of the error and address it.

Sometimes it’s just a faulty sensor that needs to be replaced and the light will go off after some time. And sometimes it could be a faulty part.

Are you sick and tired of the guesswork? And want to be sure what the engine warning light is telling you? GOFAR provides a reliable, safe and affordable solution.

Install GOFAR in your car to receive plain English error codes on over 300 common issues with your car.

You can check whether your car is compliant or learn more about understanding your car engine warning lights on the spot.

Danny Adams sitting in a chair with a laptop

Danny Adams

Co-founder of GOFAR and with a Computer Science background from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Aerospace, Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering (Honours), UNSW. I want to transform data from cars into useful services so -> drivers save time & money -> emissions fall -> Australian roads are safer. So we built an ATO-compliant logbook app called GOFAR. I write to help you understand how to use GOFAR to maximise business travel. Reach out via

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This content is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice from GOFAR. We recommend consulting with an independent legal, taxation, or financial expert to ensure the information is applicable to your specific situation. Please note that relevant regulations and laws may evolve over time.
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