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We're starting to see these more and more commonly at retail, and something like this tugs at my admittedly-irrational desire to own gadgets. I've always thought it would be cool to be able to determine the reason for the Check Engine light without having to make a special trip to the dealer.

However, the simple fact of the matter is that I don't see that light very often; but beyond that, I don't have any idea how well these scanners-for-amateurs really work. I'm also a bit skeptical that the manufacturers of these readers have databases sufficiently comprehensive to identify the seemingly zillions of possible error codes from all the OEM's.

So, back to my original question; does anyone own a code scanner/reader, and if so, how useful has it really been for you ?? I'd also like to determine if the $30 thingamajig at Costco will do the job for an idiot suburbanite like yours truly.....or does one really need to spend >$100 on a pseudo-legitimate instrument to ensure one gets the info one wants/needs ??
 

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:popcorn:
 

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well you have the basic readers that will read a code- and tell you what the code is (OBDII- 96 and up). these wont clear the code.
then you have the ones that can read and clear the code.
then you have the ones that can read and clear and capture data.
then you have the real fancy units that shops use.
the cheapies can be anywhere from $30 to hundreds.

I personally bought software for my laptop. It was about $130-$150 for the software- this version is the universal- for all makes and models with OBDII.
(OBDII has a set of codes- many shared by automakers--- then some automakers have specific codes- witch can be read- but you have to figure out what they mean).

the software arrives with a USB cable and the OBDII plug.
I bought it because- here in California- AutoZone used to be able to scan you car- even LOAN you the tool (I did 'rent' it once to scan by light)...
but in the past 2 yrs-- I think it was dealers/shops sued Auto Zone- saying that they were not an auto repair shop- and should not be clearing codes etc...
well auto zone lost---- and now here they cant read your code- or loan you the tool-- but they can sell you one.
So I bought the software. I have already used it to scan mitsubishis, Mazdas, Buicks Lucerne Suzukis, Isuzus, Chevrolet (Traverse, Trailblazer, Impala, blazer, S-10's).

The software is able to read and clear codes. It can also read PENDING codes that have not caused the light to come on.
But the software can also graph temps, rpms, speed, air flow, and a bunch of other things that Ive yet to use.

Recently a buddy and his 2005 Mazda- light came on. Read the code- P0128-- (I know this code real well- as I got it on my Trailblazer when the thermostat began to fail).

I told him what it was--- and I said-- go for a drive.
while the laptop was hooked up- I was plotting the data. (temp, rpms, and speed).
I told him- I suspect this is what we will see.....
we will see that your temp drops when you easily coast- in gear- or neutral...
when you accelerate- temp rises- or when we come to a red light temp rises..

sure enough thats what happened... he asked how I knew....

I said- your thermostat has failed in the open position....
its always circulating coolant...
when youre coasting- and the engine is revving very low--- youre getting lots of air thru the radiator- and the engine is working very little-- so it cools.
if you stop- no airflow thru radiator- and temp increases.
if you accelerate- engine works hard with some airflow- but you normally see a little spike in temp.
he replaced the thermostat- problem solved.. (hed been told to change the temp sensor).

this is the software I bought... (note there are several different versions).
http://myscantool.com/
someone else can chime in on what they use... but im happy with this one.
so here is an image I took- of data gathered from my 2010 Traverse (screen shots).
This was a cold engine start- with other data included...

 

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I like rbarrios software although you need to carry a laptop to read in-transit data. I think it has a lot of the features that some of the more expensive scanners
 

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I have a Dash Hawk that I used to do a crank relearn on my G8 when I tuned it.

It allows you to see just about anything you want to see. It's also a data logger.

Pretty nice tool. Plugs right into the OBDII.

Chris
 

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My DashHawk is in my G8 98% of the time. It's really nice to keep a close eye on some of the temps as the heat has hit NJ as of late. I should try checking out the Enclave temps as well. I am sure that the temps probably climb pretty well with some bumper to bumper traffic moving a 5000# beast.
 

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I use a scanguage in every car and love it
 
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