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Is the key method the easiest way to turn off your vehicle maintenance required light?
In most cases, yes. It is possible to turn off most any check engine light by opening the hood and completely disconnecting your battery, but that can require – or at least be significantly helped, by having a wrench to disconnect the battery cables. This is a bit more effort so the simple key method is much preferred.
Should I turn off my maintenance required light?
You should, if you've fixed the problem. While a maintenance required light can come on with a false alarm or a minor issue, clearing a minor issue early can lead to reduced downtime and repair bills later. You might also want to know that turning off your maintenance required light isn't permanent – there is a good chance that if there is an issue, your light will pop back on within a few miles anyway. We know! We've done this and been staring at a bright yellow or orange light five minutes later after thinking it was possible the onboard computer was wrong.
Note that your Tundra may not necessarily be smart enough to turn the maintenance required light off by itself. A technician – or yourself, might need to manually turn the check light off with the above mentioned method. You'll also know if you fixed the wrong thing when the check engine light pops on again – or if something else is an issue.
How do I know what a maintenance required light means?
Today's mechanics use fairly simple code readers to tell mechanics what to look for. The plug for the code reader is usually located under the dashboard of the drivers side of the vehicle. In many cases, it is in the open but hidden a bit unless you have your head below the steering wheel. Most anyone should be able to access the black, somewhat trapezoidal plug.
You'll need a code reader too. While there are expensive options, you can get a basic code reader for less than $50. Plug it in, read the code – and you'll know more about what problem your vehicle has.
Note that your code reader can clear the code too. We wouldn't suggest clearing the code on the way to a dealership or service center, as they need to know what the code says to be able to help properly. They are also unlikely willing to drive miles and miles to get it to pop up again.
Can I ignore my maintenance required light?
While we wouldn't ignore it for a long time, you need to consider how your vehicle is really running. We would be less likely to ignore a more specific light, like an oil low or low oil pressure light because your Tundra needs oil to function properly. Ideally, you can get your Tundra some service within a few days of seeing an engine light.
Experienced Tundra owners are also likely capable of noticing their vehicle running abnormally while the engine light is on. Some people somewhat harshly call the engine light the “Idiot light” because you should know what is wrong with your vehicle. To these people we say: A vehicle is loaded with electronics and sensors – far more than a couple of decades ago. Besides an oil change and routine maintenance, it is entirely possible for something to go bad unexpectedly.
What other lights can show up on my dashboard?
The check engine light is intentionally very general but often involves issues with sensors. Hence why you'll need a code reader to interpret the issue for you (if the issue is correct!) - there are often hundreds if not thousands of codes a check engine could indicate.
On the other hand, you could also see a traction control light pop up – or coolant, or oil. These tend to be a bit more serious and probably require some assistance right away. We've had a vehicle pop the oil light on, make a screeching tone, then just stop – thankfully in a fairly safe place to abruptly die. We discovered an oil leak during an inspection the following day.
These lights are also often accompanied by a rough running vehicle. For example, an old vehicle of ours that had some issues with oil would the oil light come on, and shortly after, we'd have a knock in the engine while idling. Lights are smart – listen to them.
How do dealerships typically handle check engine lights?
Dealerships often use code readers as well. In case you are wondering what you pay for – dealerships often charge something, like $75 to $100 depending on the model of vehicle, to plug in the code reader and diagnose the issue. In some cases, you might be able to find a coupon that gets you a free estimate too – which is nice, especially if it turns out nothing is wrong.
Communicate with the dealer regarding how their estimates work and how much you'll be charged. Will the diagnostic fee be waived if you make a repair?
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding