Ah yes. The dreaded check engine light. It’s so unsettling for some, that the icon has become carved on a few pumpkins this past October.
But never fear, the On Board Diagnostic scan tool is here!
These tools will help you retrieve information from the car’s computer system. An OBD system can diagnose a problem before the driver recognizes it. Therefore it is an important to keep an OBD tool ready and available in your garage.
Now you know.
However, knowing is half the battle – so it’s important to find the right OBD tool that works for you.
What is an OBD II scan tool?
Before we find the right tool, it is important to know about the two different types of tools that can be used to diagnose a check engine light. Since most modern cars are equipped with a OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics, Version II) using a code reader or a scan tool can help you learn more about your vehicle’s issue. So what’s the difference between the two tools?
- Code Readers – First, we have the The OBD-II Code Readers. These are basic tools that can read and clear codes from any vehicle that has an On-Board Diagnostics, version II. Because these types of readers are usually cheap, they do not have the capabilities to give manufacturer-specific codes and does not give any access to further data. However, if you have the code and know the make/model of the vehicle, you can do a simple google search and find further information about that code (and possibly find solutions online). This type of reader is great for someone needing a “no frills” device that is also cost effective.
- Scan Tools – The OBD-II Scan tools are more expensive but they can offer more information about manufacturer-specific codes, provide in-depth data and provide advanced troubleshooting information. This type of code scanner generally provides access to codes and problems in the ABS system, traction control and other supplemental systems.
Choosing the right tool will help you find the trouble code and narrow down the source of the issue. Remember to be cautious and seek a professional before purchasing parts as the code could possibly be indicating an issue with wiring and not actually the part itself. Modern engines and their on board control systems are best serviced by an experienced and informed mechanic.
If you don’t have access to an OBD tool, not to worry, most AutoZone stores will happily give you a free vehicle reading from their OBD Code reader.
Being able to diagnose the car’s trouble code will at least have you sitting easy on your way to getting the part or finding a mechanic.
Remember, Check engine lights are one little light you don’t want to let shine.