Steve Saunders Goldwing Forums banner

auto related / OBD2

1378 Views 16 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Hanko
For those who do auto work I have a question . I am thinking of purchase of a OBD2 scanner/reader . I wonder what you folks might be using for home use and are you happy with it . I cant afford high end for sure but I dont want to waste a hundred bucks on somthing thats only going tick me off with its results .
So I guess I am wondering if the 200-400$ range will get me a tool thats useful .

I am currently working on a 98 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo . This car is dead in its tracks . Otherwise I could take it to work and have it coded with a Snapy-on versys scanner .

thanks for your thougts
Not open for further replies.
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
I have a $75 scanner I picked up at local auto parts store, The cheaper models will typically only display the error codes not the full description but that is fine, the code can looked up online or in book (comes with). It also allows you to clear/reset the error codes after parts have been replaced. Most auto parts stores will scan for free but I like the convenience of doing this at home and feel its worth the cost.

I am not sure it will fix your Jeep but it may point you a direction. So far my error codes have been O2 sensor related and it worked well to detect this.

I have one I use at work for quick scans instead of getting my blood pressure up using Honda's POS system. Got it from MAC for about $70 and it does give a description and also the freeze frame data.
The less expensive are fine. If you get the code the parts store can print out the details if you need guidance. I think the one my dad had was under $100.
The cheap code scanners are good enough for home work and as Dave says, a quick scan. Be advised of two things.
1) Most generic scanners will only read engine codes. You may have to go to a dealer for trans codes, bcm codes, air bag codes, etc. Most dealers will scan for free or a basic minimum. To verify some codes, diagnosis is required and will cost you. (egr and evap leaks come to mind) But they are only going to "free scan" the areas available to independent shops.
2) The rational behind the code is the ultra important. There are at least 5 codes I know of for a rear 02 sensor. To determine if it's a sensor problem, you need to know what the ecm is looking for, and how to provide it. That's where your online research comes into play.
If you think you are going to buy a scanner, tell the repair shop what part to replace, and NOT pay diagnostics, you can forget it.
If your just puttin' around the house, they are a useful tool.
See less See more
I've been tempted to buy the scanner adapter for the iPhone4.
I use the Innova 3140 Pro. Cost arround 350.00. It does readiness codes, live data, dtc codes and a host of other informative programs. It does OBD 1 and 2. Very helpful tool and for the price it has paid for itself
First of all, be aware that these scanners will not work with most European vehicles. Many of those have their own system, and you have to take them to a dealer. Just another way to rip off customers. MB is the worst.

Second, there are a LOT of codes. Even with a decent code reader and a service manual (an absolute must) it will not necessarily tell you what the problem is. You may get a code that says a certain cylinder or cylinders are misfiring. That's it. You will have to figure out why. The codes will rarely tell you what parts need to be replaced. For that you need a very expensive piece of diagnostic equipment (several thousand dollars) and the vehicle manufacturers specific software for your vehicle. I have had the check engine light come on in my '01 Chevy Malibu several times, and would get a meaningless code that showed that one of several dozen parameters had been exceeded. In every case the light went out when the system was reset, and never came back.
See less See more
It needs to read realtime data, so you can see temps, sensor voltages, o2 voltage for rich/lean conditions,etc..
A few years ago I purchased an Innova Can ODB2 Scan Tool (3100 model). While it does not do ODB1 it does a great job reading Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC's) including Manufacturer Specific DTC's, Freeze Frame Data, Real Time Data, Recording and Playback of Real Time Data, Indicators showing if various Test have been completed.

It came complete with the PC-Link kit allowing me to download the data from the tool to the PC and generate reports. The Link Kit also gives you the ability to update the tool with the latest DTC codes and Manufacturer DTC codes..

I have recently seen them offered at Walmart for under $100. It is the same unit I paid over $200 for and I now see it comes with the PC-Link Kit.

The 3140 also reads OBD1 codes and comes with all the various adapters for the older non standard interface. At Walmart for $199

The 3160 can also diagnose ABS codes. At Walmart for $199.... on sale

Its worth a look.

See less See more
Thaks folks for the input . I did know/recall seeing scanners in Wally World but will take a look . I have had several folks mention the Innova line .

As to my problem at hand on the Jeep I spent a little quality time with it today . I have found what I believe to be the problem . Its where one of 32 pin connectors plug on to the PCM . SO now its off to figure where to buy a plug assy with a complete new harness attached . LOL
lets see if this comes thru . it looks like this :

thats not a photo of my bad one .
See less See more
I hope everyone understands that the generic code readers, up to $5000 dollar scanners will not tell them exactly what the problem is. Capabilities are nice, sure. But they only give you a direction to start looking. I say this only because I have a large number of people that stop in thinking exactly that. I have to tell them plugging in my scanner does not do anything like that. It is not made with any magical nor mystical powers. It still takes a good technician to figure out many problems.
This mornings problem vehicle is just such a beast. 07 Escalade comes in with full tank of gas and gauge reads empty. Gauge sweeps when started which means the problem is not with the gauge assembly. One would think immediately fuel sending unit. Right? Nope. The signal wire from the pump to the pcm was rubbed through from the rear of the front driveshaft, along with 2 other wires. This wiring loom was still factory secured, but had enough slack to occasionally touch the driveshaft. 100,000mi later, no more gas gauge. Repair wires, and zip tie the loom back further away from the driveshaft.
I also know there are many resourceful people on this board that are seemingly capable of mystical feats. So please take no offense. Just making sure nobody is under the illusion that a scanner will point directly at the cause of a problem. OP seems to found this is the case for this problem so far.
See less See more
If you would like to research scangauge II, you will see it is very nice at $150. I use it on a Toyota Prius, Honda CRV, and GMC Envoy. You can clear the codes and several other uses also. The data that can be shown with the programmable x-gauges is worth the money alone!
When my Chev PU check engine light came on I bought an Innova. It's the one that reads obd 1 and 2. It was kinda spendy but I figured I'd try and get a decent one if I was going to spend money. I plugged it in and it said it was an O2 sensor. So I bought an O2 sensor and the light went out. Didn't even have to install it! Isn't life great sometimes? It's been about 3 years now and the sensor is still sitting on the shelf. Now when the light comes on I fill it up with some decent gas and put my foot into it once in a while and the light goes out. I guess I drive like an old man.

Anyway, the cheap way for you is to quickly turn the key to the on position then off three times. (Not start just on.) The battery light should start flashing any codes. Three flashes, nothing, two flashes, nothing, 5 flashes = code 325. It works in a pinch but still easier to buy a scanner so make sure you get it right. Spend just enough to get one that you can clear the codes as not all will. The check engine light is the only one that will never burn out.
See less See more
Twice before I had a scanner, and the check engine light came on, I disconnected the battery for about 15 minutes. This resets the computer. If the problem was temporary, the light won't come back on.

All this is one of the reasons I love old vehicles. You can check anything with a simple multimeter. And you won't find 32 pin connectors on them. My old Fairlane must have about 20 twist on wire connectors (wire nuts) on it. Runs fine. The biggest problems I've had with my 1200LTD were electrical, and had something to do with connections to the main ECM.
I do understand that any scanner/code reader is not going to tell me to go buy part# XXX and install to solve a problem . I dont want to spend a $100 to buy a unit that does OBD2 when $150 will buy one that does OBD1/OBD2 . Again if $200 will do engine and ABS thats good as well . I have a price limit in mind and will just have to sit and think it over as I read so much gobildy goop and decipher all the sales hype .
The good thing is this time some good old fashion searching has found my immediate problem . So the rush to buy anything is past . Which is Ok cause thats money saved for the NASSIR trip .
I do thank you for your thoughts and will be looking about but with a lot less need to have today .
OBD2 became a standard in 1996. If you don't have any vehicles that are more than 16 years old you probably won't need the OBD1 setup.

Like any good piece of test equipment it will help point you toward a problem, it is up to your troubleshooting skills to isolate the problem to the cause.
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Not open for further replies.