Whether it’s being used by a professional mechanic or a novice, an auto scanner is easy to use and is a handy device to have to assess the condition of your vehicle. These devices can be plugged into built-in info ports in your vehicle and work by determining where a problem has originated. All models of scanners are designed to decode and access the messages that have been transmitted through a car or truck’s on-board diagnostic system.
Benefits and Capabilities of Diagnostic Auto Scan Tools
Vehicles that have been manufactured after 1996 contain computer chips that monitor each system. The computers are accessed via info ports into which an auto scanner is plugged in. A port is usually found under the dash or near the steering wheel, but this varies depending on the vehicle. Some auto scan tools are more complex and have the ability to detect problems in a variety of vehicular systems including the tires, brakes, and engine. These models then connect to your PC and provide specific info regarding where any issues can be located. Scanners can be used on the road, allowing the user to determine whether or not they can continue to drive or whether their vehicle should be towed for repairs.
Buying a scanner can offer many benefits. First of all, it’s able to determine whether or not your vehicle is safe to drive or whether it needs to be worked on. Because these devices are highly portable they can come in handy on cross-country road trips. Additionally, these scanners can also help you to avoid getting taken to the cleaners when you bring your car or truck to a new garage. Knowing what’s wrong with your car will make it much easier to fix the problem on your own if you’re mechanically inclined. If you aren’t, then it will ensure that the mechanic is only charging you for issues that are absolutely necessary to get your vehicle running again. A mechanic will usually charge a large fee just to run their own diagnostic scan, so owning your own scan tool can help you to avoid this additional cost. Last of all, a scanner can be useful if you’re shopping around for a used vehicle. Performing a scan on a used car or truck before you buy can prevent you from purchasing a lemon. If the used car’s problems are extensive and you’re still interested in buying it then you can use the diagnostic readings to haggle your way down to a more reasonable price.
The auto scan tool works by plugging into a car’s data output port. Each car or light truck that was produced after 1996 includes a sixteen pin connector into which the tool is plugged in. This is the exact same port used by professional mechanics. A scanner will alert you to whether a car is safe enough to drive, whether it needs to be towed and whether the condition can cause potential problems for the driver. This tool can be plugged into your desktop computer via USB cable in order to view more specific issues. Some devices come with software programs that include information about how much each type of repair will cost in your area.
Each car or truck is equipped with a variety of computer chips for such internal systems as the brakes, airbags, tires and transmission. If something goes wrong with one or more of these systems then the check engine light will typically turn on. This light can be triggered for a variety of reasons, appearing for something as minor as a loose spark plug or gas cap or something a major as transmission failure or misfiring pistons. The on-board diagnostic system will provide a code based on the problem. These codes are read by the scanning device and then interpreted by the provided diagnostic software program.
These scanners can detect a number of problems and each set of issues or malfunctions will give out a DTC.
Common Diagnostic Codes and What They Mean
A P0100 is a code that deals with the engine’s exhaust, carburetor sensors and intake. If a problem occurs with the oil temperature sensor, exhaust, intake or carburetor sensor it will be labeled with a code that ranges from P0100 to P0199.
The second set of codes P0200-P0299 signifies an issue with combustion cylinders in the engine. This can involve a malfunction of the combustion cylinders, throttle position sensors, fuel injector or turbocharger.
Codes P0300-P0399 will alert you to problems with ignition systems or the engine’s output. This can involve problems with the ignition coils, crankshaft, timing chain or camshaft.
The codes that deal with emissions control and exhaust range from P0400-P0499. This can include issues with water vapor, excess pressure in the exhaust system, gasses overflowing from the engine and overheating.
P0500-P0599 are a set of codes that point to electrical system problems, such as issues with the wiring, fuse box, cruise control, idle control system and power steering.
To Buy or not to Buy
The biggest difference between each scanner model is the tool’s ability to read a large range of codes and the types of codes they can read. This will impact the type of system the tool is able to assess. Some models will only work with OBD codes, while other models are much more complex and able to analyze other systems including airbags and ABS.
Overall, a scanner can be a valuable tool that’s used for assessing a variety of problems that can arise in your truck or car. Easy to use and definitely beneficial to consumers with some knowledge about cars they can be used by individuals of varying skill sets with no problem. Owning this type of tool can save you money and empower you with knowledge regarding the condition of your vehicle, helping you to avoid being overcharged by an auto mechanic. We recommend purchasing a model online for a better variety. Often the typical brick and mortar auto supply store will only carry one or two models.