Do it yourself
Today’s cars are full of technology. When a sensor detects a problem with this technology, your car’s computer pops a code, and the check engine light usually comes on.
This light means there’s a problem somewhere in the system. But, without reading the codes from the onboard computer, you won’t have any way of knowing where the problems are. You could need a new evaporative canister vent valve, your car could be misfiring, or your car could have one of the hundreds of other issues.
With so many possibilities, you need diagnostics to pinpoint the problem. You could take your car to the mechanic for a diagnostic, but that gets expensive.
Code scanners to the rescue!
These portable machines hook up easily to your vehicle and read the codes that popped. This knowledge is extremely valuable when it comes to fixing your vehicle. Scanners are also affordable. They range in price from under $50 for a basic one to several hundred for one that’ll give you more information about codes, and offer multiple language options.
No matter the model you invest in, here are five great reasons to own a code scanner:
1. Save Money
Diagnostics cost money. If you have to take your vehicle to the mechanic every time your check engine light comes on, that money adds up. Quickly!
Owning a code scanner means you can do your own diagnostics easily. You just locate the OBD II connector. It’s typically under the dash on the driver’s side.
Once you find the connector, plug it in and follow the directions in your scanner’s manual to see what codes have triggered the light on your vehicle.
2. Check for Serious Problems
Sometimes your check engine light warns you of a serious problem. You know, a problem where you shouldn’t be driving anymore without repairs.
Other times, your light means a sensor is out. While you should get those fixed, it may not be something that needs your immediate attention.
Being able to read your own codes will help you determine the severity of the problem.
3. Compatible Across Vehicles
Code scanners are compatible across many vehicles. In 1996, vehicle manufacturers were required to use a standard diagnostic method. This On-Board Diagnostic (OBD-II) system means you can purchase one scanner and use it on multiple vehicles.
Compatibility also means you won’t need to buy a new scanner each time you get a new car.
Many drivers see check engine lights when they’re traveling. Nothing puts a damper on your road trip like a broken down car.
Since they’re fairly small, owners can easily bring code readers along for the ride. Then if your check engine light comes on, you won’t have to worry about tracking down a reputable repair shop to do your diagnostics.
Code scanners offer peace of mind in a portable package.
5. Increase Likelihood of a DIY Fix
Pinpointing the source of your vehicle’s malfunction means you’re more likely to be able to fix it yourself. Some code scanners offer more information than others. But, since the information from different systems is standardized across vehicles, you can use Google and YouTube to learn more about your specific codes.
Has your car been running rough or sounding funny? You can combine any symptoms you’ve noticed with the codes you popped to narrow down your search results.