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Automotive OBD II code scanners




 
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Author Topic: Automotive OBD II code scanners  (Read 10535 times)
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W1RKW
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« on: August 20, 2010, 04:40:21 PM »

Question for some of you electronic and auto wiz types.  Got 3 vehicles with OBD2 computers. My wifes car has been throwing codes on and off for the last year and having 'repairs' that don't seem to solve the intermittent  problem so I think the VW dealer is full of BS or just can't get a handle on this problem which is becoming costly. 

Suffice it to say, I'm tired of the mystery surrounded by her VW and was wondering if any of you guys have OBD2 code scanners and which ones you would recommend.

I have a Honda and a Mazda PU truck. I never have the problems that her VW has.  I find it hard to believe that her car which is newer then both of my vehicles has the problems it has.

Anyway, the more ammo I have for dealing with the crooks the better.
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Bob
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WA1GFZ
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2010, 05:06:25 PM »

Bob,
Check local parts dealers. Many will run your code hoping to sell you parts.
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Edward Cain
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2010, 07:26:01 PM »

Bob,
   I have an Actron scanner that sells for about $100. Has worked quite well for me for 3-4 years.

Ed
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flintstone mop
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2010, 07:59:22 PM »

I knew someone with a VW and apparently getting the same thing and she was told when she kept going back to the garage, that the car could not operate with all of the error messages displayed.
She did extensive damage to the engine by not following the oil change and filter change intervals. Not a good track record for the ole VW.
BTW plenty of those first VW's we saw during the 60's here in the Philippines

Fred
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Fred KC4MOP
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2010, 08:09:49 PM »

If this has been an ongoing problem and been to the shop several times before, what did they say the code was it is setting?

Phil
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n2bc
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2010, 08:46:56 PM »

I have one of these:   http://www.scangauge.com/

It can monitor a number of useful values real-time and also read/reset those nasty "Check Wallet" lights.

There is a form of macro language to allow you to brew your own readouts - mostly focused on GM products however.  I used to watch my transmission temp in my old Chevy S-10, but cannot do the same in my new-to-me Jeep.

73, Bill   N2BC
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ke7trp
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2010, 01:18:21 AM »

I work in the industry.  The cheap units that are purchased at most auto parts dealers are bare bones. They tend to just pull codes and clear generic OBD2 codes.  They wont let you view any live data or sensors.  Spending a bit more gets you one that will view freeze frame data (a snapshot as to what happend when the code triggered), read codes and clear codes. You can also view active sensors on the engine such as coolant temp, air temp, ignition timing, knock, throttle position, airflow ect.. ect... You can also view Fuel trim data to see how the car is running.

These scan tools are far more usefull to the hands on type of guy.  They will only read "generic" OBD2 codes however. This means that any manufacturer specific codes that you encounter, will not be displayed. This can be troublesome with todays cars. There are a host of systems per car make that can not be scanned.

The Pro type tools will read the maker specific codes and are generaly licensed PER make or PER car.

There are lots of options now if you have a smart phone. Just type OBD scan tool into Ebay and you will see dozens.  Even types that are wireless and types that have a display so you can monitor any sensor even MPG as you Drive down the road.

Also keep in mind, that most parts dealers such as autozone, will scan your car for free and print out the codes for you. This is a free service they offer and then hope you buy the parts from them. Lots of people do not actualy need a scan tool.

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W1RKW
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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2010, 01:13:27 PM »

The stealer replaced the cat converter on this last go around to the tune of $1000.  I could've sworn that it was replaced last year but they say no according to their records and state they replaced a mass air flow sensor.  Unfortunately, we didn't keep the paper work so I don't have a leg to stand on. 

No Autozone here.  Nearest to 20 miles away so hence the code scanner need.
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Bob
W1RKW
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His fear was when I turned it on for the first time life on earth would come to a stand still.
KC4VWU
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2010, 03:39:53 PM »

What year model is it and what mileage? What problem is it having?

Phil
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W1RKW
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2010, 09:16:02 AM »

Phil,
That's just it. It didn't appear to have a problem performance wise but the check engine light came on. 2004 Jetta 1.8L
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Bob
W1RKW
Home of GORT. A buddy of mine named the 813 rig GORT.
His fear was when I turned it on for the first time life on earth would come to a stand still.
ke7trp
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« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2010, 11:43:17 AM »

Get it scanned..  The check engine light codes are all emissions releated codes.  It could be effecting the gas mileage.


C
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KC4VWU
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2010, 12:54:20 PM »

By what you've stated so far, sounds like it's setting a cat efficiency code. Like Clark said though, you need to have it scanned to know the exact code(s). Cat efficiency is determined by the ECU comparing data from the upstream and downstream O2 sensors.

When I was at Chrysler, the Feds mandated an extended warranty on the cats. Keep all you're paperwork (service orders, receipts, etc.) together and do a little homework searching around on the net and so forth. You may be able to tweak on the service mgr. and get some of the money back; spending that much on a cat and it didn't fix the problem. Make sure the code set has been the same all along though.

Phil
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Pete, WA2CWA
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« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2010, 01:26:19 PM »

My check engine light comes on when it's time to get the oil changed.
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ke7trp
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« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2010, 02:03:18 PM »

THat must be a service engine soon light.  There could be a host of reasons why the light is on. 

Top reasons:

1. Gas cap seal is bad and leaking or cracked evap system line.
2. Bad o2 sensors
3. bad or clogged cat converter.
4. Misfires. Bad plugs, Clogged injectors and or intake is carboned up.
5. MAS flow sensor is diry causing Fuel trims to be at the limits.

C
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Steve - WB3HUZ
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« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2010, 03:22:05 PM »

That light even comes on when you don't put your gas cap on, or don't put it on tight enough.


Get it scanned..  The check engine light codes are all emissions releated codes.  It could be effecting the gas mileage.


C
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W3SLK
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« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2010, 05:39:13 PM »

I had mine come on. The code was for the temp indicator. The dashboard thermometer/indicator worked fine but unbeknowst to me, there was one in the thermostat, buried deep into the engine. That is where the failure occured. My mechanic told me that I could have been wasting fuel because it was not at the proper temperature.
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Mike(y)/W3SLK
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« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2010, 08:26:13 PM »

I have had a cheap and simple Actron and use it. I think it was 60 bucks. Works great. I have used it to diagnose my sons 96 Camry (1996 was the first year for OBD II for most cars) as well as my Maxima and our Chrysler MiniVan. I actually just used it on a trip to NY where I got an O2 code after I hit a bump. Reset it on the spot.
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ke7trp
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« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2010, 08:45:07 PM »

Eitherway.  Most cars on the road today use a closed loop fuel system.  The pump is in tank and fuel is pumped forward through the fuel rails then back to the tank in a loop.  The engines fuel injectors use what they need. The evap system removes fumes and pressure from the tank. Since its closed loop, the fuel is heated as it enters the engine bay and then back to the tank. Also, modern Georotor fuel pumps create one hell of alot of heat. Typical pull is 14amps on these pumps.

This expansion of the fuel is released with a purge valve back into the intake to be burned. Also through a carcoal canister. If the system detects there is no pressure, there must be a leak in the system and the light is triggered.

The newest cars are going to a dead head system.  Fuel is pumped to the engine and does not return.  Some call it a returnless system. This is in use on lots of fords and german cars now.  ITs required for direct injection vehicles.

An easy way to clear the codes is to remove the neg terminal, Then step on the brake pedal a few times. In all parts of the world its mandated that the brake lights work on a car even with no key in the ignition. When you hit the pedal, you drain the caps in the ECU and the codes are cleared. Check before doing this, you might lock out your car radio, reset your alarm and you will for sure loose all your radio station presets Sad

C


That light even comes on when you don't put your gas cap on, or don't put it on tight enough.


Get it scanned..  The check engine light codes are all emissions releated codes.  It could be effecting the gas mileage.


C
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WA3VJB
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« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2010, 11:42:43 AM »

My wifes car has been throwing codes on and off for the last year and having 'repairs' that don't seem to solve the intermittent  problem

We've made friends with an independent shop who really treats us (and our five cars) right.  Only three of the five are OBDII, but all have had their "codes" trigger the "check engine" light.

From all that, I get the sense the majority of them are emissions-related. If you can't wean yourself off dealership repairs, yes, go get you a good code-reader.

But, I highly recommend finding and staying loyal to a well-equipped independent, who might charge as much or more, but gives you the actual repair or advice that it's only a bad gas filler cap (true) that I could pick up myself at PepBoys.

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W1RKW
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« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2010, 03:51:45 PM »

Hi Paul,
I have an independent who I've known for 20+ years. I trust him 100%.  He does work on the 2 vehicles I drive when I decide I can't or won't do the work myself.   Convincing my wife to go to him is another matter.  She's been dealing with this dealership since she was licensed to drive and feels she's being treated fairly and doesn't want to change.  Most of the work she has done I can do myself or have my friend do but she insists on this dealership instead.  But after this last stint with the dealership, I think I may have more leverage to get her to go to my friend for other future work. We'll see.....

I agree that most of the CEL illuminations are emission related so they get you over a barrel. But having the test instrument, even if it's something I can't do will at least allow me to be knowledgeable even if I don't use it much.  To me it's no different spending big $ on a test instrument for radio or a tool for something else even if I don't use it alot.
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Bob
W1RKW
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His fear was when I turned it on for the first time life on earth would come to a stand still.
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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2010, 04:40:46 PM »

I have a 1995 Honda Accord, one year short for OBDII, but it has been the most reliable car I have ever bought.   I have found the original dealer very reasonable for regular servicing so I have stayed with him for the 15 years I have had the car.    My other vehicle, a 2003 Mazda Tribute has been going to its dealer, but it seems like that dealer is getting too expensive, even though I get free state inspection there.    I will probably return to the independent that kept my 1980 Chevy running for 25 years for Mazda servicing.

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WA3VJB
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« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2010, 05:20:22 PM »

Bob I totally understand.

My best friend since high school taught me most of what I know about fixing cars. He's a mechanic hobbyist, licensed racing instructor, EET from Va. Tech. Knows his szht in other words, having rebuilt engines, gearboxes and front ends IN HIS GARAGE AT HOME.

His wife insists on taking her Acura to the dealer for even the simplest oil/filter change @ $50 plus materials and disposal fee.  And he agrees that's a good idea. They'll be married 19 years next month. I was the best man ...

I've tried to buy-into that approach in this household.  I've been changing oil/filter since 1970 or so, setting valve clearances, doing electrical, rebuilding punkins, suspension, etc. Yet, there's something to be said for outsourcing.

The Madza dealership has been okay on big ticket items, like the half-shaft they screwed up and replaced for free. But they nickle-and-dimed us on maintenance and we said screw um.

The independent gets the business now.
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KC4VWU
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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2010, 09:25:08 PM »

Bob,
        You need that code # and it's designation. See if it's on the receipts; should start with the letter "P" and 4 numerical digits after it. If you can at least get the code, you may be able to do a little digging around on the web. Could be something as simple as the ECU needing a flash update. A factory driveability manual would be nice also if the translation is good. When Chrysler had Eagle, I used to cringe when a Talon came in. When a Premier rolled in the lane, I'd go hide out. The Japanese to American translation in those manuals was horrible, although I don't think the Premier was a Japanese build; it was just a turd.

As far as the scan tools go, you can spend as little as $50 and probably as much as $6-7K depending on how in depth you want them to go. Programming "cartridges" for the professional models are usually updated every year, lagging one year behind current models. Last time I checked, cartridges for my Snap-On red brick were over $100 bucks apiece, and there are ones for domestic, Asian, European, troubleshooters for each, and transmission carts for each. I stopped at 1998 and called it a day.

73, Phil
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