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There are few things more annoying than when the dreaded check engine light shows up on your dashboard. That simple little light means that there’s a problem somewhere in the vehicle, and it could mean a trip to the shop, lost time at work or school, and a large repair bill. Fortunately, there’s a way to diagnose the issue before you get your car into a garage: hook up a diagnostic device.
Driving Smarter: Exploring the Latest in Car Diagnostic Devices
A car diagnostic device allows you to communicate with a vehicle’s onboard computer (also known as its computer system or computer controls) and read error codes. It will typically display these error codes in a human-readable format and give you an idea of where the problem might be. It might also describe the code and even suggest a few possible fixes. Higher-end scanners might also include “Freeze Frame” data, which provides a snapshot of what was going on when the code was first triggered.
Keep in mind that the diagnostic tools that you can buy for your home are essentially the same ones used by professional mechanics. Most of these will allow you to decipher almost any standardized error codes that are found in most modern cars. However, some can only decipher those codes that are related to the engine, and others will be able to access information about all of your vehicle’s systems. The best model for you will depend on your needs and your skill level.