Car code readers may be referred to as car diagnostic tools that are designed to report any ongoing issues in a vehicle. They are hand held devices which are plugged into a particular port present in majority of the vehicles. Cars manufactured before the year 1996 did offer support for OBD1 code readers while the ones manufactured after 1996 now use the advanced technology of OBD2.
Car code readers are very handy car diagnostic tools and every car owner should have them at their disposal. Some details that might help you understand the benefits you may experience through these code readers are discussed below.
How Does a Car Code Reader Work?
Different kinds of computer controls are being incorporated in cars since early 1990s. The cars of the current age use highly advanced computer technology that controls every little aspect of the vehicle. As far as their OBD standard is concerned, majority of the cars out there today support OBD2 as it is a more advanced and effective technology.
The computer installed in a car is also known as its Engine Control Unit. All the important parts of the car are normally connected to the ECU. They keep on transmitting different kinds of signals to the ECU in order to ensure the fact that everything is working properly. In case there is some sort of issue in the engine or some other part of the car, it would transmit an error signal to the computer, letting it know whatever is wrong with it. Resultantly, the computer informs the car owner by making use of some kind of indication like switching on the check engine light.
So in case the check engine light on your car gets on, you need to plug a car code reader into your car. When you plug it in, it would transmit a signal to the car’s ECU, carrying a query about what is going on with the car. In response to that signal, the car’s ECU would provide it with the necessary information on the error code that is being experienced. So ultimately, the car code reader would display the error code on its screen, informing the owner what is going on with their car. The advanced models of car code readers also provide a few details on the description of the error code and recommendations on how to resolve it.
Using a Car Code Reader
When you have to use your car code reader, the first thing you need to do is to spot the OBD port in your car. It is normally present under the dash board on the driver’s side. If you are driving a vehicle older than 1996, there is a good chance that your OBD connector port might be present in the hood someplace around the fuse box. In some rare cases, the port may also be located behind the driver’s seat or the ash tray.
Once you have found the OBD connector port, you need to plug in your car code reader. It is important to make sure that the connections between the code reader and the port are established properly. Majority of the code readers come with battery packs but some of them also require the car’s engine to be turned on. So now you need to turn the code reader on using the appropriate power source.
After turning the device on, you would be able to retrieve the error codes on whatever is going wrong with your car. The most basic models offer information on the error codes only but the advanced models in this regard might be helpful in offering you a few solutions to the ongoing problem as well.
Car Code Reader Limitations
A car code reader is a great device as it offers you information on what error code is being experienced by your car. But in majority of the cases, this kind of information is not sufficient enough to extract any value out of it. All you get is the error code and you have to take it from there on your own. So if you are planning on buying the most basic and inexpensive model of car code reader, it may not do you a lot of good. So the better choice in this regard is to lose your pocket strings a little and get a model that tells you more than just a few error codes.
Reasons why purchasing a car code reader is a good choice
Having a good car code reader can do wonders for you. It can save you a lot of trouble by warning you about the condition of your car before its too late. A few different reasons that might convince you why buying a good car code reader is a good choice are discussed below.
Easy to use
Making use of a car code reader may appear to be something complicated but as a matter of fact, it is very simple. All you need to do is to plug it in your car and it would come up with a few details on what exactly is wrong with it.
Saves you mechanic trips
The advanced models of car code readers usually offer you a good deal of information on what’s actually going on with your car and what needs to be done in order to get it fixed. So when you have such a device at your disposal, you get to learn what’s wrong with your vehicle and in most of the cases, you could resolve the issue on your own, thus saving yourself from a trip to the mechanic.
Saves you a good deal of money
The fact that buying a car code reader of your own might cost you some money might be holding you back. But when you think about it, you come to learn that it ultimately saves you a lot of money by keeping you on top of the exact condition of your vehicle. Using a car code reader, you might be able to keep track of your vehicle and its overall performance. Whenever you find something to be a little out of track, the car code reader enables you to find everything about it, thus allowing you to do something before it turns into a big issue.
Tells you what to expect
When something goes wrong with your car and you take it to a workshop, you are entirely dependent upon the mechanic when it comes to diagnosing and curing your car. Especially if you are one of those people who do not know a lot about cars, having a car code scanner might prove to be really helpful for you. Using this device, you may find out a few details on what’s wrong with your car. So when you take it to the workshop, you would not be clueless about what’s going on. In other words, you would be pretty aware of the situation and the mechanic would not be able to trick you into paying more than you are supposed to.
Helps you keep you check engine light on track
Check engine lights are designed to inform the car owners about any ongoing issues that might be causing the car to perform improperly. So in case your check engine light pops up, the best course of action is to plug your car code reader into the vehicle and see what’s wrong with it. On the other hand, if you do not have a code reader, the substitute would be to take your car to a workshop where you would be billed at least a 100 dollars.
How can a Car Code Reader Save You Time & Money?
Car code scanners are devices that help you out in keeping up with the overall well being of your car. So whenever you feel like something unusual is going on with your car, all you need to do is to plug the reader in and it would generate information on whatever it is that is out of proportion.
This is much better in comparison to being unaware of the problem till you absolutely have to deal with it. So if you think about it, it not only saves you a lot of trouble but also allows you to save some time and money as well.
When you know about what’s going on with your car in a timely fashion, you can do something about it before the minor issue turns into something major, requiring you to indulge a number of your resources into it.
Things to consider before buying a car code reader
Before you actually buy a car code reader, there are a few things that you need to understand in order to make the right choice according to your requirements. A few of these things are discussed below for your convenience and understanding.
Get the right type
A car code reader may be found in the following three types:
- Basic car code readers
- DIY Car code readers
- Professional grade car code readers
The basic ones are cheap but they do not get you a lot of information on what is wrong with your car. So it is recommended to buy an advanced model as it gives you reasonable details on the problem and the probable solutions.
Check your car’s port
Before you buy a car code scanner, it is important for you to make sure that your car possesses an OBD port. If it was manufactured after 1996, you are good to go because the US government bounds the car manufacturers to install this kind of port in all cars manufactured after that year.
Check out the compatibility
Different car code scanners offer different compatibilities. Some of those offer USB connectivity while some connect to your smartphones through Bluetooth. You need to figure out the best suited model and then go for it in order to have a convenient experience afterwards.
Check out the mobile applications
There are different mobile applications available on the marketplace for connecting different kinds of car code scanners. Some of the scanners even have their own apps. Buying such a model would be a good choice as it would allow you to conveniently connect your phone to the code reader.
Check out the reviews
Before buying the model you are considering, it is recommended to check out the reviews posted by people who have been using that model for some time. That way you get to have an idea about the actual quality of the product.
Consider the price tag
It is advisable to compare the prices of different models in order to make sure that you are not overpaying for the purchase you are about to make.
How to use a car code reader
Before you use your car code reader for the first time, it is important that you get an idea about how to use it. Dealing with the computer of a car is always a sensitive job. Therefore it needs to be taken care of while taking the right precautions. A basic run down on how to use a car code scanner is listed below. It may vary from one model to another but the theme is usually pretty much the same.
- First of all you need to spot the OBD port in your vehicle
- Once you have found it, make sure that it is compatible to your device
- Now connect the car code reader into the port
- Some readers require the car’s engine to be turned on. So do that and switch the device on.
- Initiate a scan and if everything is right, it would come up with the necessary results on the condition of your vehicle.
Other things to understand
A few other details that might help you improve your experience with your new car code scanner are listed below
- The basic car code readers may help in reading the warning codes.
- Sometimes they also help in clearing the codes in order to reset the engine’s check light after resolving the issues
- Some car code readers display the error code only while others may also exhibit a few other details on the issue faced by the car
- If you are planning on buying a cheap car code scanner, bear in mind that sometimes they come across different kinds of compatibility issues. They also have a tendency to work with certain vehicular models as well. So the best course of action is to spend a few extra dollars to a good product rather than gambling your money for nothing.
- Different car manufacturers sometimes have different kinds of error codes. Therefore it is really important that you are absolutely sure about the legitimacy of the warning code before you take some actions to get it fixed.
Consider the OBD communication protocols of your vehicle
Different cars may have different protocols when it comes to OBD communications. There rarely is a chance that a car may have entirely different protocols but it is always good to make sure of that rather than risking any problems for later. You can search the make and model of your car on the internet in order to get some details on its OBD communications protocol. After you are sure of that, you can easily plug it into the vehicle and check out the ongoing issues.
In the light of the arguments given in the sections above, it may be concluded that car code reader is an extremely handy device that can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. But if you want to make the most out of this purchase, it is important to do it right. Otherwise you might only be giving your money away for nothing. Keeping that in view, it is highly recommended to purchase an advanced model rather than going for the most basic ones.
So when you are planning on buying a new car code scanner, the first thing you need to do is to figure out if your car supports it or not. Majority of the cars have an OBD port installed into them but it never hurts to check it out in order to be sure. It is also recommended to check out the compatibility and the software choices of the model you are planning on buying.
Go through the reviews for different products and check out their price tags as well. That way you would be able to make the best choice when it comes to buying a car code scanner.
Before you use the car code scanner on your vehicle, it is important to learn all about the requisite SOPs as well as the basic instructions on using this device. This is really important as dealing with a car’s computer can always be a tricky and sensitive job and you do not want to mess it up by making poor decisions.