It’s important to remember that OBD-II generic information is a small but very useful slice of the whole engine and vehicle pie. It’s great to be able to identify the general cause of an illuminated check engine light, but additional diagnostic information and testing are often needed to truly nail down the problem. For the price, these tools are magnificent.
If considering a pre-owned or lower-end scan tool, be sure it’s compatible with CAN, a newer communication protocol, and does most of the things mentioned in my description of generic scan tools. Don’t come home with just a code reader.
Brad Bergholdt is an automotive technology instructor at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Calif. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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