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Why Everyone Should Own a Basic Automotive Scan Tool

Why Everyone Should Own a Basic Automotive Scan Tool

Automotive scan tools are sold everywhere online and everyone should own an automotive scan tool. Less than a decade ago scan tools were expensive and uncommon. Even cheap scan tools used to cost hundreds of dollars and then you had to purchase expansion credits or cartridges to unlock certain makes, models or extra parameters such as ABS codes. The old scan tools used to also use AA batteries and would drain them quickly. Modern cheap automotive scan tools are better in every way. They don’t require batteries and simply get power when plugged into your OBD2 port. The cheap sub $50 scanners can read some live data, read generic engine codes, and tell you if your car is ready to pass or fail inspection. The information a basic automotive scan tool provides can help save you hundreds of dollars in car ownership over the years.

How can an automotive scan tool save you money

For certain things an automotive scan tool can save you a trip to the mechanic shop. Let’s say you get a check engine light. Scan your car and get a code P0441, which means the “evaporative emission system has an incorrect purge flow”. You cross reference the engine code with your year, make, and model on Google. Then you see that the most common cause for that engine code on your car is caused by a loose gas cap. You tighten your gas cap, delete the code and it doesn’t come back, then you have saved yourself a trip to the mechanic. If the code does come back, then you need to have your car properly diagnosed and have your evap system tested by a mechanic.

Tolima's Auto Engine Code

An Automotive Scan Tool isn’t always going to solve all your car problems

Automotive scan tools can be very handy this way, but it is not going to tell you always what is wrong with your car. Like that p0441 code, it states something is wrong with the evaporative emissions system. Does that mean that you start replacing random parts on your evap system? Sometimes you will Google your year, make, model, engine code and you won’t get any solid information, because it is not a common pattern failure on your car. You might not have the tools to change the part yourself. Or you will get conflicting information from the search results. The scan tool will only help you narrow down certain problems. It is not a problem solver if you don’t have the knowledge or equipment to test confirm and repair. That is where a trusted and experienced mechanic is still very important to have.


Which Automotive Scan Tool is right for you?

There are so many models of scan tools available on Amazon or your favorite auto parts store. Some can give you anti lock brake system, transmission, and suspension fault read outs, which can cost a bit more. Those scan tools are more suited for weekend mechanics or shade tree mechanics who have a more knowledge and experience fixing cars. Basic scan tools are best for people that aren’t mechanically inclined to help them understand what may be wrong with their car or to tell them if their car is ready for state inspection. Below are some cheap basic scan tools that are rugged and we have had personal experience with. Automotive scan tools are cheap investments that can help you save money in the long run.

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