T he $100 H ack T hat L ets Y ou T alk to Y our C ar ’ s C omputer
Buy an OBD-II Scanner!
Your car is your baby — until it's not. When things go downhill, they go downhill fast, and it usually starts with a warning on the dash and the most inscrutable light of all: the "check engine" light. Is the car about to blow up, is there a bad oxygen sensor, or is the gas cap loose? Who knows? The same light is used for each and every one of these issues, and for many people, this small light means a $100 trip to the garage to have a mechanic read the codes and diagnose the problem.
Once you find and purchase the right model, all you do is plug it in and follow the directions. We have found that the BlueDriver LSB2 model works well with most cars; plus, it uses your smartphone as the display screen. You can find it on
Amazon here: Amazon.com/BlueDriver-Bluetooth- Professional-iPhone-Android/dp/B00652G4TS.
This tool will allow you to dive deep into your car's electronics and even get real-time engine data while it is running. On the simple level, you can wipe out the service light and, with some models, even reprogram replacement keys! I just bought my daughter a 16-year-old Land Rover, and the check engine light came on ominously a week after purchase. I ordered an OBD-II reader and —
Quit wasting money! For just a little bit of time and a one-time $100 purchase, you can read the codes, figure out if the light is indicating anything serious, and resolve the warning yourself. All you need is an OBD-II scanner. Go online and do some research on the make and model of your car to see what scanner other owners have used successfully. Each make and model has a proprietary computer on board, so not all OBD-II readers work on all cars. Keep in mind that fancier cars by Land Rover and Mercedes require special readers, so be sure you choose the right one. While you’re online, do some research on
shazam! — it was just a bad seal on the gas cap causing a pressure deviation. I cleared it out, and she kept on driving.
If you’re wondering what to do once your scanner reads
the code, simply go back to the internet, plug in the code, and find the crowdsourced wisdom. If it's a big deal, then you can take it to the shop.
common car problems and how other owners solved them without going to a mechanic. You will be amazed by what you find.
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