ODB code reader?

zzeasyAugust 10, 2006

Anybody own one? Are the cheap ones at all useful? I see Harbor Freight now has one on sale for $34.99 and wondered if it would be handy to have around? Thanks.

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Sorry dyslexic fingers! OBD card reader!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 9:34AM
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There's an old story about Abraham Lincoln that goes something like this:
Every morning a train would pass by, and could be seen from his bedroom window. There was also a dog that could be seen every morning, chasing the train and barking ferociously. Mr. Lincoln would stand at the window each day and watch this scene with fascination. One morning his wife asked what his fascination with the dog was. He replied "I'm just waiting for the day when that dog catches the train, because I wonder just what he intends to do with it!"

The moral of the story is that a code reader will read codes, but the codes are useless in the hands of a man who knows not what they mean, nor what to do about them!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 11:28AM
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Well Golly. Am I glad I logged in here at the Cars forum to get today's pearl of wisdom!

How do you know that zzeasy isn't a master tech that is inquiring about the quality/operation of a low end tool before spending his money on it?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 12:36PM
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Well thanks for the vote of confidence, sdello! And you are closer to correct than delbert is, as well as better at reading a question. In any case I just wonder what prompted delbert's comment- did I give him a "bad answer" on another forum? - did my question convey total ignorance on my part? - did he just want to demonstrate his knowledge and interpretation of old homilies? In any case I apologize since I now am deviating from my practice of only trying to post constructive and useful messages on the forums.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 1:26PM
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zz: I too try to post only when I have something useful to add to the discussion. I have noticed, however that on this forum there are number of "interesting" posters. It's pretty easy to separate the knowledgeable from the otherwise, and sometimes it's almost entertaining.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 8:15AM
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When you first posted about a code reader, there was no real reason for me to respond. Code readers are the most basic of tools. They have little practical use IMO, because just pulling a code does not make a diagnosis. It will tell you the affected system, or circuit, but only by chance does it equate to a component failure. Then when you changed it to "card reader" I figured I really didn't know exactly what you were referring to because I buy factory scan tools for as many vehicle makes as I can afford.

Aftermarket scan tools are normally in the $3000, to $5000 dollar range for decent ones. But in order to truly work at the same level that a dealership does, a tech MUST HAVE the dealer tool. Anything else will have holes in their vehicle coverage. Holes could be anything from two way communication between the scan tool for commanded tests, and solenoid operation, to data parameters that are available but simply are not included in the aftermarket tool. Some times a hole can be a complete system for a particular vehicle, such as the ABS system, or Airbag system. Many times a scan tool will advertise it has enhanced data, which means it has some of the manufacturer specific data that is not obligated by OBDII regulations. But if it has ONE piece of data more than generic OBDII, it can be called enhanced even if the factory tool has 300 data paremeters.

Card readers, like the PDA setup I linked to are generally equivelent to an aftermarket scan tool. They are better than nothing for about 60% of the possible repair situations you could find yourself encountering. They are in no way a viable option for a true multi-line master tech. In five years my scan tool "collection" will exceed 100k in value, and I will be far from having everything.

Here is a link that might be useful: A

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 4:00PM
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Still love your posts John G. Well, sdello if zzeasy was a
master tech.he or she wouldn't ask that question. They would know. Do you really think a 34.99 code reader is any good ? I have a 300.00 code reader that does the same thing but a little more. Now if you want to spend money get a code " puller " John G. knows what i mean. You get
what you pay for. You will love G.M. you can get one code
and it could mean 6 differenet problems. Do you know what
triggered the first code in the first place and what codes
were triggered after that and what is the real code that caused the first problem ? It's called false codes. domino
effect. bottom line ZZ don't waste your money if you don't know how to interpet the codes, not read them but really know what triggered this code after you eliminate all the others that mean nothing.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 10:59PM
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I had my "Check Engine" light come on about a year ago and the truck was misfiring. But where? My neighbor has a scan tool and he plugged it into the truck. It read "misfire cyl 8". So when I pulled the coil pack I noticed it was fried.
My neighbor has one of the better quality scan tools. He paid about $250 for it and he says it covers the things that will generally go wrong. It doesn't cover transmission codes or anything like that, but he says it's useful tool as opposed to the cheap ones that just post code numbers and you have to decipher them. This one tells you in English. I replaced the coil pack and he plugged in the reader again, reset the engine light and the scanner also looked for "pending codes" which there were none.

So in my opinion, if you're going to get a code reader, at least spring for one that tells you what's wrong in a manner that you can read. Is it anywhere near what John has? Not even close! But for general repairs at least you have some info as to what's going on.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 8:05AM
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to the guys how have the codes and dont know what they mine go to obd-code.com its all there i dont know about abraham lincoln but it will tell you what your codes are

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 6:24AM
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