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March 19, 2006

Personal Vehicle Diagnostic Code Reader — The end of the 'check engine' blues?


Can it be?

From the website:

    A "check engine" light no longer means being at the mercy of the dealership.

    All 1996 and newer cars use a common set of computer codes called OBD-II.

    Now there's Code Scout, a user-friendly OBD-II reader for your car’s computer.

    It retrieves codes quickly, tells you what they mean, and lets you clear them (and the check engine light).

    For example, if you accidentally leave your gas cap loose, you can reset the "check engine" light yourself and skip the trip to the dealer.

    Or, if a more serious problem occurs, you’ll be armed with the trouble codes and what they mean — before you head for the shop.

    It can even check your car’s emissions inspection readiness.

    Uses 4 AAA batteries (included).


Videre est credere.*


But wait — there's more.

From the website:

    EZ-PC 500

    EZ-PC makes your Code Scout even more effective and efficient.

    This revolutionary Windows-based software enables your Code Scout to interface directly with your computer.

    EZ-PC converts Data into easy-to-read graphs and charts, prints reports, archives data and allows you access to product updates via the Internet.

    Hardware requirements:

    • PC running Microsoft Windows 95/98/2000/NT 4.0/XP

    • 10MB of hard disk space




*Seeing is believing

March 19, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink


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Hi, kindly let us know the total cost of acquiring EZ-PC 500 including shipment to Nigeria - Abuja using one of the international courier and the method of payment to your company. My company is interested and we shall be happy to have one.

Posted by: Kola Agunleti | Aug 27, 2008 1:30:10 PM

There's bound to be one or two geeky people reading this, so they may prefer a "home brew" version. There enough information/links to start building your own PC based OBD tool here - http://www.thinkythings.org/obdii/

Posted by: Graeme | Mar 20, 2006 2:25:27 AM

Hey Mike,

Thanks! I just realized there was an Autozone in my neighborhood about two blocks away. Sure, I was on the committee to keep them from getting a variance and building there -- but as long as its here, I might as well use it!

Didn't realize they actually loan specialty tools as well. Would have saved me money last year when I was working on the serpentine belt and ended up having to buy a second one after I screwed up the first (still FAR cheaper than the mechanic).

Thanks for the advice!

Posted by: clifyt | Mar 19, 2006 7:34:57 PM

In the US, you can get your codes read for free. I had a Check Engine light a while back, called the dealer to find out how much they charged to read the code, and they said it was $75. That was ridiculous, so I looked around and found AutoZone has been doing this for free since May 2002. See http://www.autozone.com/in_our_stores/check_engine.htm

I had the codes read (and reset so the light would go off -- otherwise it stays on, even if the problem that occurred doesn't currently exist), then went home and looked up the pair of returned codes on the web for my model. Both were related to fuel system pressure failures, so I suspected the attendant at my last fill-up (at a full-service station) did not screw the cap on completely, the most common cause of such problems. Sure enough, when I checked the cap, it had been screwed on, but not to the point of clicking. Voila, $75 saved.

Posted by: Mike | Mar 19, 2006 2:03:09 PM

Its a shame that autoparts stores don't rent these things for like $15 (with a $200 hold on your credit card).

I know I've had my Service Engine light on so long that when it stopped lighting up a few months ago, I started to freak out. The light came on at 110k and I know its not even a Something Is Outta Wack error -- its a You Need To Pay Us To Do The Hundred And Ten Thousand Mile Service Check Because if Your Car Is *STILL* Running At This Milage, We Need To Figure Out How To Get You Into A New Car Because We Are Going To Tell You That Its Going To Die.

The service engine warning is the biggest scam in a car...according to my 1996 Saturn Service Manual (you should ALWAYS buy a service manual with every auto purchase -- the factory manual is a lot more expensive, but I 'get by' with the Chiltons most of the time), I know what needs to be replaced ever X miles -- I don't need the service center to do it for me. I'm an idiot when it comes to cars, and it probably takes me 10x as long to fix anything as a 'real man' / shadetree mechanic (us wussyboy computer geeks know when we are outmatched) -- but these things tell you exactly what you need to do and how to do it.

90% of what could go wrong can be fixed for $20 or less (which at the mechanics will be $200 minumum + parts) -- with only a few standard screwdrives, a wrench or two, a socket set and a flashlight.

So yeah, if there was a way to rent this stuff easily, I'd do it in a heart beat. Someone needs to make some money this way. Maybe this is already being done. Time to look into it.

Posted by: clifyt | Mar 19, 2006 1:27:51 PM

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