What is an OBD code reader and how is it used?
An OBD (On-Board Diagnostic) scanner-reader is a good device to have for your own car or when shopping for a used vehicle.
When the “Check Engine” light comes on in a vehicle, the vehicle’s computer actually stores and saves the data about the problem that caused the light. The data is stored as a unique code that identifies the problem.
A Check Engine light indicates a problem that, if ignored, can cause one of more of the following issues:
- Serious engine damage
- Poor gas mileage
- Vehicle performance problems
- Expensive repair costs
- Emissions inspection failure
OBD code scan devices can assist in diagnosing your vehicle problem code and to turn off the check engine light after the problem has been corrected.
It can also be used when shopping for a used car, if the “Check Engine” light is on, to help you determine the seriousness of the problem.
An OBD code scanner-reader device can be used to read and erase trouble codes, display, record and play back live diagnostic data and perform other tests. OBD-II scanners cover vehicles built after 1996.
Earlier vehicles used the OBD-I standard and require a different scanner device. Make sure you buy the correct scanner for your vehicle. Some scanners will read both OBD-I and OBD-II vehicles.
OBD code readers come in a variety of makes and models. Most will give the specific code that indicates the problem, but will not translate the codes for you since all but a few generic codes are specific to a particular car brand. When you know the code you can look it up on the Internet to determine the exact cause and fix.
Problems can be as simple as a loose or faulty gas cap. Having an OBD code scanner can save you a costly trip to a repair shop, or help you avoid making a mistake when buying a used vehicle.
What are the best OBD-II scanner-readers?
OBD code readers come in a variety of models with different features, capabilities, and prices. Here are the makes and models we’ve determined to provide the best value for your money. All have excellent owner’s reviews and can be purchased at Amazon.