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:
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.
When 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.
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.
Locate the OBD-II port under the dashboard.
Plug in the OBD-II code reader.
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.
Resetting Kia check engine light by disconnecting the battery is not recommended for the following reasons:
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.
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.