Used Car "Reset"

I recently bought a used '09 Camry with 50k miles. A friend said they heard you could improve your mileage/performance by giving the vehicle the chance to ‘learn’ the new driver. You did this by disconnecting the battery for 10 minutes, then re-connecting it, starting the car with all auxilliaries (eg AC) turned off, and letting it idle for 10 minutes. That way, the computers would ‘re-learn’ to idle and could start fresh with the new driver. Any truth to this? (new to Cartalk… thanks for the forum!)

At best, you would make things worse for a little while. At worst, you might create a problem that requires repair or trigger an anti-theft feature on the radio.

Your car’s computer will adjust to your driving style over a short period of time/miles. Don’t worry about it.

Use a different friend for auto advice in the future.

I’ve always had to adjust my driving style to fit my car’s traits, rather than the car adjusting to me. My first car had a worn cluster gear in the transmission and made a lot of noise starting out in low gear. I learned to shift to second as quickly as possible. In my 1978 Olds, when the outdoor temperature is between 30 and 50 degrees, the car runs fine the first mile, then stumbles for half a mile, then runs fine again. When it is either colder than 30 degrees or warmer than 50 degrees, the car is fine. Rather than mess with the automatic choke, I just live with it.

I have heard that computers in modern cars do adjust to the driving style, but I would guess that it isn’t a big adjustment. As another post said, it will adjust without disconnecting the battery. Leave it alone!

That’s just going to wipe out all your radio stations.

Some modern automatics will “learn” your driving style. All you have to do is put it in gear and go.

If you really want to improve your mileage / performance, do all the recommended preventative maintenance, which is more than just oil changes.

You should read this first before disconnecting the battery.


The car will adjust anyway. Don’t waste your time doing this. There’s no reason to assume that putting everything back to defaults will do anything good, and it will probably run worse for a while if you do that.