Sunday, January 01, 2017

The service light, OBD-II, and the quest for a tool, part 001

About every 5K miles the service light goes on in my Volvo. In many Volvo's it can be reset using some combination of pressing the odometer reset and the brake (or something like that). However, in my model (I'd find out why later) the service light can only be reset using the OBD (On Board Diagnostic) II interface. It's probably not a big deal for most people who take their cars in for service, the person doing the service usually will have the OBD tool to reset the light. For me, most of the basic maintenance (oil change, spark plugs, air filter, etc.) is done with the help of a very knowledgeable family member and of course we can't reset the service light. The light bugs me, every time I start the car the light stays on for a couple of minutes. Some people have suggested disabling the light by taking apart the dash and removing the bulb (danger, no thanks) or putting a piece of black electrical tape over the lit up "service" word so you can't see it (lame). Inevitably I'll need to grovel to the Volvo dealer or independent shop and ask them to reset the service light. I'm usually met with varying degrees of interest in helping. In some cases they're happy to reset the light and in others they give me a hard time and want to charge or have some other excuse to not do it. One approach that is sometimes helpful is to buy an oil filter then ask for a light reset after. That way they don't feel like they're doing something for free. But recently, even this approach is not working and I've been getting denied.

So, I finally decided to put in a genuine effort to get an OBD-II scanner and reset tool of my own. Pretty exciting eh? Little did I know what an effort it would turn into... stay tuned for part 2.

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