You may be worried as to why your gas gauge is moving erratically instead of passing the rightful information on your speedometer. The erratic movement suggests it needs a reset., but how can you get that done?
Frankly, you can do this yourself without the help of any mechanic. Though every car has different steps to approach them due to the car make and model, they all involve the same procedure.
Insert your key into the ignition and turn it ON. You should get your car parked on a very flat surface to make the fuel in the tank be at level. First thing first, get your owner’s manual handy. This will help you follow through with your car make and model if they differ from what will be treated here.
In this reset process, we are to embark on works for digital gauges and also needle gauges. Whichever your car is.
- Press the “Trip/Odo” button to switch the Odometer into “ODO” mode. The button can be found on the dashboard, though, it might be located in a different area depending on your car model, so, check your manual to locate it.
- Switch the car key to the OFF position, keeping it at the ignition because you’re going to turn ON and OFF the car during this resetting process.
- Press and hold the “Trip/Odo” button and turn ON the car. Hold the button for about another 2 seconds after you have turned on the car and released it.
- Again, press and release the “Trip/Odo” button 3 times while holding it down the third time. Make sure that the Press and Release you’re doing is done within 5 seconds. On the final press, hold the button for about 4 to 5 seconds until the Odometer shows the car’s leveling information, and then release it.
- Press and hold the “Trip/Odo” button again till the Odometer says “1.” This signals the starting point of the reset process. Don’t release your hand when this happens, keep holding it while the fuel gauge resets.
- Once the reset process is complete, release the “Trip/Odo” button. The Odometer will go back to normal when the reset is complete. At this point, you have successfully reset your gas gauge and you can turn the car off and get your key out of the ignition.
When to Reset the Gas Gauge Needle
You should also reset the speedometer if the needle got stuck at “Empty”, no matter the level of fuel level you have. Turning your car OFF and ON will temporarily solve it but it will resurface. Therefore, reset it.
If your needle is stuck on “Full,” it’s another sign that you need to reset the speedometer needle. This indicates an error with the fuel gauge sender.
Diagnosing and Fixing Fuel Gauge Problems
- Check your vehicle and replace any faulty fuse.
- Turn your car ON and OFF several times and observe if the needle makes any movement. If the needle doesn’t move after this, it’s an indicator of a faulty fuse that needs replacement. Check for the fuse and replace it. The fuse box is located in the engine compartment or behind the driver’s dash often labeled as “instrument panel” or “illumination.”
- If you can’t locate the fuse box, get your owner’s manual to locate it.
- Use pliers to remove the fuse and replace it with the same amperage.
- If the needle isn’t still working after replacement, that’s an indication of an electrical fault.
- Check and clean off corrosion on the sending unit’s ground connector.
- You can locate the sending unit on the outside of the fuel tank underneath the car, it’s just a small sensor that directs the fuel gauge what to display. Observe the ground connector (this is where the grounding wire connects with the sending unit) for any corrosion from rain, snow, or salt. You can remove the wire by just twisting off the nut that holds it in place with a plier and then brushing out the build–ups.
- Using a wire brush or sandpaper, remove the corrosion until the connectors are clean and neat.
- After that, attach the wire firmly back by looking at the circular terminal over the connector and tightening a nut on top of it.
- Test the fuel gauge sending unit with a multimeter set to ohms.
- To do this, disconnect the grounding wire (the large wire protruding out of the middle of the unit) by driving out the nut that holds it with pliers. Now place one multimeter probe on the sending unit terminal (where the wire connects) and the other probe on the grounding wire.
- Move the float (which is like a piece of foam on a thin metal rod attached to the sending unit) up and down with your hand and check for any change on the multimeter.
- While reading the multimeter for any change, move the float. If nothing happens, then the sending unit is faulty.
- Reattach the wire to the sending unit once you’re through.
- If the sending unit is faulty, you will need your mechanic to fix it.
- Test the sending unit’s grounding wire with jumper cables.
- To do this, remove the nuts that hold the sending unit to disconnect the wire from it. Then fix the negative jumper cable to the frame of the car and the positive cable to the sending unit’s grounding terminal (the point where the grounding wire connects to the sending unit).
- Should the gauge work when the jumper cables are connected, this shows that the sending unit’s wire is faulty
- Take your car to the mechanic for proper diagnosis and fixing.
- Replace broken wires on the fuel gauge sending unit.
- You will need to locate the sending unit on the outside of the tank and observe the wires around it. If they’re damaged or broken wires there, they will require replacement.
- If it needs electrical work and rewiring, it‘s the best idea to consult a technician to do the work.
- Confirm that the wiring behind the gas gauge is securely connected.
- To check this, you will remove the dashboard and check behind the instrument cluster (the group of gauges and displays on the dash). At the back of the gas gauge, there’s a wire that connects it, check if they’re loose, and tighten the nut holding them. If the cables are damaged or broken, you will need your mechanic to have them replaced.
- Depending on your vehicle model, you may need your owner’s manual to identify which dash to remove and how to remove it.
- To remove a Dash, disconnect the battery and all internal dash wiring before unscrewing the bolts to get the dash out.
- If the sending unit, wiring, and fuses are all in good condition but the gauge still moving erratically, you will need to replace the gauge entirely.