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Resetting the Computer on a Chevy Silverado in Five Easy Steps

Forget about the engine – computers have become the lifeblood of the modern automobile. Computers handle everything from managing engine performance to maximizing fuel economy to governing the infotainment system. The Chevrolet Silverado is no exception: its computer allows this workhorse to be as practical and effective as it is. Therefore, resetting the Computer on your Chevy Silverado can sometimes be a necessary task.

Occasionally, you might need to reset the computer in order to erase any stored codes and restore optimum performance. Though it might sound daunting, resetting the computer is actually something that can be done at home. You’ll need nothing but a code reader and a few minutes of spare time.

Read on to learn more about what the in-car computer does and exactly how to reset it on a Silverado. And if you’re looking for more information on your Chevrolet pickup, check out our articles on the Best Programmer for Chevy Silverado & Chevy Engine Problems Fixing Tips.

Photo Credits: Your Best Digs.

The Automotive Computer: a Crash Course

The automotive computer is the central network that governs your vehicle’s sensors, emissions and safety equipment, and even engine performance. The heart of this complex system is the engine control unit, or ECU. It’s also referred to the engine control module or ECM. Both the ECU and ECM are terms often used interchangeably.

Because of how reliant modern cars are on computer power, the ECU is the brains of your vehicle. Without a functioning ECU, a modern car or truck would be like a dead cell phone, good only as a pretty paperweight.

The closest most of us come to seeing the ECU in action occurs when the check engine light comes on. When this happens, your ECU has learned that a particular component is no longer functioning properly. The ECU stores the resulting code and illuminates the check engine light to alert you of the issue.

When To Reset the ECU – And When Not To

The primary reason to reset an engine ECU is to restore the vehicle to the factory computer settings. A hard reset like this will clear out any learned memory about driving history. Yes, really – the ECU is aware of how you’re driving and is taking notes. These computers can pick up on your driving style and adapt certain parameters accordingly so that your vehicle is operating most efficiently.

Another instance in which resetting the ECU may be beneficial is immediately after tuning your engine, in order to give the computer a blank slate from which to begin compiling performance and driving history.

If you’ve replaced or repaired any engine or emissions sensors after period of procrastination, you may also want to consider a reset. Doing so would, in a sense, let the computer unlearn any adjustments it made to compensate for the faulty component.

When wouldn’t you do a reset? After an engine tune, when your check engine light comes on, or if your vehicle isn’t running well. After all, the ECU is just a messenger – it doesn’t actually cause any problems. It merely monitors and records the performance of various sensors and components and, when it recognizes an issue, alerts the driver by means of a warning light. The codes it stores are actually the key to tracking down what the issue might be and which components are at fault. Resetting the ECU would erase these codes, though they would eventually return after a certain number of drive cycles.

Resetting the Computer on a Chevy Silverado

As we mentioned, resetting the Silverado’s computer isn’t a difficult task. You’ll want to budget about 10 minutes in total, though it may take experienced hands less than that. Other than pen and scrap paper, the one thing you’ll need before attempting this project is a quality code reader that can plug into your truck and tap directly into the ECU.

Step 1: Turn key to on position

First, put the key into the ignition and turn it to the on position, which is three twists to the right. Don’t actually start the truck.

Step 2: Locate the port for the OBDII reader

The diagnostic link connector, or DLC, is the front door that leads right into the digital innards of your Silverado’s computer. It’s found under the driver’s side dashboard, usually just to the left of the steering column. This special port is also known as the OBDII port, with OBDII being the universal standard for automotive onboard diagnostics since 1996.

Step 3: Plug a code reader into the DLC

Once you’ve plugged in your code reader to the OBDII port, you’ll be able to immediately view and navigate the available ECU management functions.

Step 4: Navigate code reader to Read Codes

With the help of the navigation arrows on your code reader, scroll through the menu until you find the Read Codes option. Select it and jot down any codes that may be stored. 

Step 5: Clear codes

Revert to the main menu and scroll through the options until you find the “Erase Codes” option. Select this option to clear out the codes and erase the computer memory. This eliminates any data that had been stored since the last reset. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

how to reset Computer on Chevy Silverado

Question: Why do I need an automotive computer for my Chevy Silverado?

Ans: The Engines might propel your truck from here to there, but the computer ensures it gets there smoothly, efficiently, and cleanly. Without the computer, modern vehicles would not be able to function the way they do. 

Question: What does the vehicle’s engine computer do?

Ans: The computer is the brains of your truck. It controls sensors from a variety of different systems and monitors and stores their resulting data. The computer, or ECU, stores and uses this information to track and manage engine performance, emissions output, and fuel efficiency.

Question: How do car engine computers work?

Ans: The same way any computers work – with sensors, internal storage, wiring, and computer chips. The engine and emissions systems use wires or sensors to relay information back to the ECU, which then stores this data internally using a hard drive. When an issue with a system crops up and a component is performing outside expected parameters, the ECU notes this and alerts the driver with a check engine light.

Question: How often do automotive computers go bad?

Ans: Rarely. ECUs are built robustly to endure the stresses of everyday driving, including bad weather and extreme temperatures. Most car owners will never encounter a bad ECU – but if it does fail then an expensive trip to the dealer is in store.

Question: What are the benefits to resetting my Chevy Silverado’s computer?

Ans: It should be reset after tuning your engine or repairing an issue. While you can reset the ECU to eliminate a check engine light without actually repairing your car, the light will return within 150 or 200 miles of driving. For that reason, repair the vehicle properly using the engine codes as a guidepost to pinpointing the precise issue.

How to Reset Your Car’s Computer: See the Complete Video


Your ECU is the brains of the modern automobile. It governs the systems that enable your vehicle to deliver the performance and efficiency you’ve come to expect of it.

Occasionally, you’ll need to reset your ECU in order to keep your truck performing as flawlessly as it did when new. With the five easy steps outlined above, you’ll have no issue resetting your Silverado’s computer in order to ensure many more miles of trouble-free motoring.

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