Auto code readers?

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by Gary O, May 3, 2019.

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  1. Gary O

    Gary O Member

    Dec 15, 2003
    Roseville, CA
    Any of you folks you your own code readers on your cars and trucks?
  2. MutinousDoug

    MutinousDoug Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    I used a Scangauge on my 2001 Isuzu Trooper for 15 years or so. It read codes and anything else the OBDC knew about what was going on with the car. When I bought oversize tires it allowed me to calculate the difference and have it display the correct mph while I was driving. It would display any four signals I wanted while driving so I usually showed MPH, MPG instant and Ave and Miles to empty.
    I sold it to the guy I sold the Trooper to so he could tell how fast he was going. I don't need one in my 2017 F150 as it already tells me all that stuff.
  3. 1MoreFord

    1MoreFord Member

    Mar 27, 2014
    Central Arkansas
    I own one but just because it returns a code doesn't mean it's the ultimate answer. It may only be a clue.
  4. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    What are you wanting to do? They vary a lot.

    You can get an OBD II reader that can read/reset some simple codes for under $15 shipped.


    That doesn’t mean for that price you can get the capabilities of tools like the Snap On Solus or Modus and countless less expensive and capable units that have access to Body control, transmission, ABS, SRS controllers, security, etc but they are thousands of dollars more expensive and still can’t do everything.

    There are some fairly cheap brand specific tools you can use with a lap top that can do things like turn off the TPMS on vehicles that the dealerships claim can’t even be done. FORscan for Fords and ProCal for Jeep. Lots of stuff out there just have to know what your wanting and how much your willing to spend.

    There are also Bluetooth scanners that with an app can give you some data on your phone like OBDlink and BlueDriver. If you get one of these, don’t leave them plugged in when not in use or they will kill your battery.

    I keep the cheap ones all over the place because they are handy (and cheap) will get you buy for most things, a trip to many autoparts stores will get you the same thing for free if your really cheap. They just don’t do everything that can be done, they are really just code read/erase devices (and not all of them).

    They keep making things more complex and having everything running on a network of various control modules. It’s not always like the old days where you find a bad part and replace it and your good. In some cases you can have something like a bad transmission, replace it with a new one and if you don’t reset all the adaptive parameters, you’ll burn the new one up in a few miles.

    The goal is to make things so complex people don’t do things for themselves. A number of cars these days don’t even come with a way for the owner to check transmission fluid level. Just a matter of time before you’ll need a special tool to pop the hood.
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
    Demi-human, earlthegoat2 and LoonWulf like this.
  5. hdwhit

    hdwhit Member

    Nov 16, 2015
    Salem, AR

    Dependent upon the year, model and the capabilities of the reader, it can pinpoint the problem or at least give you an idea where to start looking.

    Given what I know about internal combustion engines, I find most OBD code readers to be less than specific about the problem. BUT, if all I have is an OBD code when I take the vehicle to my dealer (or independent garage) then I at least know what the technician knows.
  6. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

    Aug 28, 2008
    SE GA
    I have, use, and generally recommend people just get a cheap code reader that only reads codes and resets CELs.

    I am a heavy equipment mechanic which is NOT an auto mechanic but nonetheless if the problem with my vehicle is beyond the scope of that cheapy code reader then it is beyond the scope of me to properly diagnose what is going on without just blindly throwing parts at it.

    What you need to do to enhance the abilities of your new cheap code reader is to read up on how OBD systems work. Without that knowledge, any higher end code reader/scanner will be completely lost on the average person. The book Automotive Diagnostic Systems helped me out a bunch.

    This will give some insight into that P0171/P0174 “system too lean” codes or whichever code pops up. My favorite is P030x cylinder misfire where x is the cylinder number. BTW, every manufacturer uses a different order for numbering their cylinders. Some like Ford even used different numbering systems for a modular engine than they did for the 7.3 diesel. Fun stuff.

    So many people are so quick to change out O2 sensors when it is rarely ever and O2 sensor problem. The O2 sensor is what SENSES the problem.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  7. total recoil

    total recoil Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Get a cheap one at Wal-Mart for $20. It'll tell you the codes and reset them if you wish. The auto parts stores that give you a free reading will refuse to reset your codes. I hate disconnecting the battery to reset the codes.
    If I can't fix it myself, it goes to the dealer. Having the scanner in the car gives me instant insight into any problem.
  8. doubleh

    doubleh Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    NM-south of I-40
    None for me. On Star will notify me if my wife's vehicle has a problem and I couldn't fix it anyway if it's much more complicated than a flat tire. O'Reilly's will read any codes on my old jeep for free.
  9. Odd Job

    Odd Job Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 16, 2006
    London (ex SA)
    Off topic for THR, sorry.
    Demi-human and edwardware like this.
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