Changing your car’s battery is an easy task. Unfortunately, it can sometimes lead to an immediate check engine light on. It might leave you with concern that what wrong you have done to your engine. So, let’s discuss how to deal with the problem.
Read my guide on car won’t start after replacing battery if your car stalls or won’t start after battery change.
- Check engine light can come on after battery change due to low voltage codes or communication errors. Clearing codes and driving car may make light turn off.
- Weak, dead, or improperly connected new battery can cause check engine light. Inspect battery and terminals.
- Loose, corroded, or damaged battery cables can trigger check engine light by disrupting power. Clean and secure connections.
- Short circuit during battery replacement, by touching chassis, can cause communication failure and turn on check engine light.
- Check battery voltage, ground strap, and cables thoroughly if light stays on.
What You Will Learn:
Why Is Check Engine Light On After Battery Change?
After the battery change, the check engine light can be on due to low voltage trouble codes that are caused by a weak or dead battery.
Sometimes, the check engine light is on and the engine’s computer starts giving trouble codes related to the electric circuit of different engine sensors after disconnecting and reconnecting the battery.
Some random low voltage codes or loss of communication codes (U0100, U0140) can pop up when your disconnect the battery, or the car battery becomes dead and does not supply sufficient voltage to the engine computer and electric circuits of different engine sensors.
For instance, one user found the trouble code P0882 when his car’s battery was dead. The code was related to a lower input power signal to the ECM.
So, in those cases, the chances are that the check engine light resets or goes off automatically after you clear the codes using the OBD2 scan tool and drive your car for a couple of days or complete 10 to 20 drive cycles or complete around 50 to 100 miles of the drive.
Make sure that the engine temperature is close to the ambient air temperature at the start of each drive cycle. If the check engine light after the battery change is still on after several drive cycles, there’s obviously still an active issue going on.
Before trying to fix the check engine light, you can also first try clearing the code by turning the key into the on position for a minimum of 10 seconds before starting the engine. This allows relearning the system after reinstalling the battery.
You could repeat this twice but make sure to end with the key in the ‘ON’ position. You can also first drain the battery by disconnecting the negative cable first for 15 minutes, pressing the horn, and turning on the headlights to drain any electric charge stored in the engine.
After that, connect the negative cable of the battery and do 10 seconds trick of clearing the codes.
Causes Of Check Engine Light On After Battery Change
Check engine light on after battery change is due to the following reasons:
1. Battery Is Weak Or Dead
Check engine light on after battery change is something that could happen if the battery is dead, weak, or the alternator has failed. There are many different things that can go wrong with your battery.
The battery may not be charging properly and could possibly leak. This could cause the check engine light to come on.
How to test?
To check whether the battery is weak, you have to perform a voltage test across the battery posts.
Have someone turn the key and start the engine, while you put the voltmeter probes on the battery posts. If the battery voltage drops below 9.6 volts when trying to start (i.e. when cranking), the battery is run down or defective.
You should note the following things when replacing a new battery to avoid its damage:
- Make sure your car battery belongs to the correct group (the size of the battery). Otherwise, cables may not reach the battery posts. You should also consider the reserve capacity (how long the battery can run the car if your alternator fails) and Cold-cranking amps rating (how well the battery performs in cold weather) of your battery. These factors are usually specified in the owner’s manual.
- There should be sufficient clearance between the bonnet and the replacement battery to avoid terminals shorting/fouling on the closed bonnet.
- Tighten the hold-down clamp securely so that the battery cannot move in the tray. Moreover, overtightening a hold-down can also damage the plastic battery casing and result in battery acid leaking.
- Clean the battery tray of all debris to ensure no sharp objects can damage the plastic battery casing.
- Make sure that new battery terminal posts are positioned exactly the same as the battery being replaced.
2. Loose or Corroded Battery Terminals
If you’ve ever had your check engine light come on after a battery change, it’s likely because your battery terminals were loose or corroded.
While it may seem like a small thing, loose battery terminals can actually cause a number of problems. For one, they can cause your check engine light to come on.
Loose battery terminals can also cause your battery to drain more quickly than it should. This is because the loose terminal connection adds more resistance which results in more voltage drop. This can cause your alternator to work harder than it needs to.
In addition, if the battery acid leaks out, it can corrode the terminals. So, whenever a battery is replaced, ensure the terminals and battery posts are cleaned before installation.
How to fix?
You can use a small wire brush to clean the dust and scrap the corrosion particles. After that, clean the battery terminals with a mixture of water and baking soda. You can also apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the battery terminals.
Also, make sure the battery terminal is fully seated against the post of the battery. I had this problem when I didn’t push the terminal down far enough over the post.
You can use a rubber mallet to lightly tap the battery terminal. If you hammer hard, it could damage the battery posts and cause internal leakage to the battery.
3. Short To Ground
If you mistakenly remove the negative terminal first or install the positive terminal of the battery first, a short circuit might occur at some point in the car.
This happens if the wrench accidentally touches the car’s body in the process of tightening up or loosening the battery terminals.
As a result of a short to ground, the ECM will turn on the check engine light due to a loss of communication between the sensors and the ECM.
Moreover, if the wrench mistakenly touches the vehicle’s chassis while removing the positive terminal first, it will pull a lot of currents and the spark will be hot enough to destroy the battery with a dead short.
How to check?
To test short to ground, take a voltmeter. Connect one probe with the negative terminal of the battery and the other on the engine block or chassis.
If the connections are fine, there will be 0.2 volts recorded on the voltmeter when trying to start an engine.
If you can see any voltage, it means battery ground connections are damaged. You should check your owner’s manual to find all grounded connections on your engine. You have to visually inspect them for any corrosion.
In some engines, there is also a ground strap connection between the car body and the engine. Its ends are usually mounted on the transmission and car body. If the ground strap is weak or torn in any way, it could also car not to start.
4. Battery Cables Are Damaged
Battery cables are the thick wires that connect your car battery to the rest of your car’s electrical system. They are responsible for delivering power from the battery to the starter, alternator, and other electrical components.
Over time, battery cables can become damaged, due to corrosion, loose connections, or physical damage.
When this happens, they can no longer effectively deliver power to your car’s electrical system, which can lead to all sorts of problems.
Also, while replacing the car battery, the wires may chafe, shed their insulation, and contact the vehicle’s body or engine, causing a short circuit. It will also turn on the check engine light.
Can A New Battery Cause A Check Engine Light?
A new battery can cause a check engine light if the new battery has a low charge or the terminals are not tightened properly on the battery posts.
If the battery has a low charge, the ECM will throw low voltage or loss of communication trouble codes that will trigger the check engine light.
Moreover, if the plastic casing of the battery becomes damaged while tightening the hold-down clamps, the acid will leak, and the battery will be dead.
So, if you do install your own battery, make sure that you follow the instructions that came with the battery. If you don’t follow the instructions, you may damage your car.
How can I reset the check engine light after replacing the battery?
You can disconnect the battery and reconnect it after 15 minutes to clear trouble codes and reset the check engine light.
What if the check engine light comes back on after resetting it?
If the check engine light comes back on after resetting it, it’s recommended to take your car to a mechanic to diagnose the issue causing the light. There may be an underlying problem that needs to be addressed to prevent the light from coming back on.
How can I prevent the check engine light from appearing after a battery change?
There isn’t much you can do to prevent the check engine light from appearing after a battery change. However, you can ensure that the battery is properly installed and that it is fully charged before installation. Additionally, giving the car some time to clear the light on its own or manually resetting it can help prevent the light from appearing.
Some First Hand Experiences Shared By Users In Different Communities
Our team conducted research across various online communities, forums, and subreddits to gather user comments and opinions on “check engine light after battery replacement”.
User 1 says:
ust replaced my battery in my 2012 Prius, and boom, check engine light! Initially panicked, but after some Googling, I checked the OBD codes. Turned out to be a simple ECU reset issue. Disconnected the battery, waited 15 minutes, reconnected, and the light was gone. Relief!
User 2 says:
n my 2017 Volvo XC90, after a battery change, the check engine light wouldn’t go off. I was stumped, so I checked online forums. Turns out, it needed a software update. A quick trip to the dealership, and it was sorted without any hassle.
User 3 says:
After swapping the battery in my 2014 MX-5, the dreaded check engine light appeared. I suspected an electrical issue. To my surprise, it was a simple air sensor disconnection. Reconnected it, and the light disappeared. A lesson in double-checking my work!
User 4 says:
Changed the battery in my 2019 Wrangler, and bam, check engine light. I thought it was a serious issue. Used a scanner, and it showed a calibration error with the throttle position sensor. A bit of manual adjustment, and it was back to normal.
User 5 says:
Replaced the battery in my 2021 Acura MDX, and the check engine light appeared. I was puzzled, but then found out it was due to a miscommunication between the battery and the powertrain control module. Performed a system reset, and the light went off.