Troubleshooting Kia Check Engine Light On

Kia Check Engine Light (CEL) (also known as Service Engine Soon SES or MIL) may sometimes turn on and stay on when driving. This problem can effect Kia models such as:

  • Rio,
  • Sorento,
  • Sportage,
  • Soul,
  • Optima,
  • Spectra
  • Forte,
  • Amanti,
  • Sedona and other models.

In this article, you will learn about the most common reasons why Kia check engine light can come on, and how to use an inexpensive OBD2 Scan Tool to read and clear the codes yourself. 

Kia Check Engine Light Normal Operation

The Check Engine Light should stay on when you turn the ignition to ON position and until you start the engine, after that the light should turn off. If the light continues to stay on, that means there is a problem and you need to get your car diagnosed. 

What does it mean when Kia Check Engine Light comes on

kia check engine light onWhen your check engine light illuminates on your Kia vehicle, it means that the vehicle's Electronic Control Unit (ECU), or computer, which controls many aspects to your Kia's operation, has found a problem with the engine or emissions system.

The ECU stores a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) in its memory, triggering your check engine light to turn on your dashboard. For your Kia, it could mean any number of things - it may be something as simple as a loose gas cap, a problem with an incorrect fuel/air mixture, or something much more severe as an engine problem. You will need to read the fault codes using an OBD-II as outlined in the next section.

How to reset Kia Check Engine Light

The simplest way to reset the check engine light yourself is to use the OBD-II scanner. You can use an inexpensive scanner such as the Autel MaxiScan OBD2 Scan Tool  which is a handheld unit or an ELM327 Bluetooth Adapter and your phone.  The scan tool plugs into the OBD-II port located underneath the steering wheel. This method applies only to Kia vehicles that are the model year 1996 and newer.

kia sorento check engine light problems

Step 1

Locate the OBD-II port under the dashboard.

kia optima check engine light problems

Step 2 

Plug in the OBD-II code reader. 

kia optima rio sportage sedona check engine light problems

Step 3

Turn on the engine. Do not start the car. Scan and erase the fault codes. Codes can only be erased after you fix the underlying problem. 

Reset Kia Check Engine light by disconnecting the battery

Resetting Kia check engine light by disconnecting the battery is not recommended for the following reasons: 

  1. By disconnecting the battery you do not fix the underlying problem that triggered the CEL. 
  2. If the problem is fixed, there is no need to disconnect the battery. CEL should reset (turn off) on its own within a few days. 
  3. This method will not work on many newer Kia cars. 

FREE Check Engine Light/MIL Diagnosis

Many auto repair shops and auto parts stores such as Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone or PepBoys have OBD-II scanner tools which they can use to read your engine trouble codes for free.

Sometimes, the repair shop employee may be knowledgeable enough about engine codes to at least inform you of the area of concern that the code is referring to.

Kia Check Engine Light Flashing

If the check engine light is flashing, it means there is a critical problem that needs to be addressed right away. If this ever happens when you are driving, pull over as soon as it is safe and call a towing company to take your car to a repair shop. When the check engine light is blinking, it is not safe to operate the vehicle.

DIY Cost
15-30
Mechanic
60-110
Dealer
80-120