Many motorists couldn’t care less about how to fix their cars, as long as someone gets the job done. For others, having a check engine light turn on is a sign that they’ve got to get to work. Initially, you needed to be a mechanic with the proper tools to find out what is making that amber glow ignite. At Reggie’s Motorworks in Noblesville, we feel it’s better to be informed before taking your car to a garage, and with newer over-the-counter diagnostic tools, you can be!
The check engine light doesn’t necessarily mean that the motor is the problem, and determining precisely what your car is trying to tell you takes a unique tool. Plugging a code reader into the Onboard Diagnostic II plug-in diagnosis port is the primary way that mechanics interpret the message. Fortunately, vehicle owners now have the option to get a similar component themselves. This is a big help to people who like to take a more hands-on approach to auto repair, but it has other benefits as well.
Computers in cars and trucks aren’t the greatest at conversation. Instead of spelling out exactly what the issue is, the OBD II provides a code that indicates which of the vehicle’s internal sensors detects a problem. For example, the evaporative emissions system monitor, or the “gas cap sensor,” will turn on the check engine light and display a P0440, P0442, or P0445 code to indicate a loose gas cap.
Obviously, that’s a problem you can take care of without needing a mechanic, and it highlights how useful an OBD II reader is. A car can’t go through emissions with a check engine light on, either, so diagnosing the problem first gives you a heads up about an issue you might be able to fix yourself. While these devices can clear troublesome codes, essentially turning off the light without fixing the problem, there are ways to check if certain sensors need to be tripped so drivers can’t use readers to cheat emissions tests. Perhaps the main reason to have an OBD II diagnostic scanner is to know the real problem before bringing your car in for repair. With that information, you won’t be taken by surprise by repair costs and ensure you receive the correct service.