Working on today’s modern vehicles requires some specialized equipment. While you can often get around the need for special tools, one tool every do it yourself needs is a code scanner to read diagnostic trouble codes. Although prices have come down, many OBD-II scanners are still pretty expensive. If you only plan to use a scanner for personal use from time to time, you may not need or want to pay a small fortune. Fortunately there are a variety of effective and very affordable code readers for your car, truck or vehicle.
It doesn’t get any cheaper than free! If you know someone who owns a code scanner, you might be able to borrow their scanner or have them scan your vehicle for you. Not everyone has a handy friend but there’s still an option for getting your car’s check engine light or trouble codes scanned for free. Just check with your local auto parts store!
Many well known auto parts stores will scan your car’s trouble codes as a free courtesy service. Many will also provide you with a printout of the DTC codes found and provide common solutions. I’ve even seen some provide printouts with parts quotes and estimates on labor costs.If you live near an auto parts store such as Autozone, Advance Auto Parts, O’riely etc. this may be the only option you ever need. It is certainly a suitable no cost solution if you only have a need to scan codes once in a while and don’t mind the mind the minor inconvenience.
Low Cost Affordable OBD-II Code Readers:
If you ‘re like me you might not like being inconvenienced by not owning a code reader. The free code scanning option at a local parts store is a great feature, but it has its share of drawbacks. You have to drive the vehicle to the store and then you may need to wait until someone has time to help you. If you own multiple vehicles, work on other people’s cars frequently or just don’t like to be inconvenienced by running to your local auto parts store, owning an affordable code scanner is the perfect option. Fortunately there are some great code reader options between the free and super expensive ranges.
There are many affordable code readers available in the $50 to $100 range but even this is too rich for the budget of many shadetree mechanics. Fortunately there are many affordable code reader options available on amazon.com. You’ll find dedicated basic code readers there for under $20.00 and even cheaper! These dedicated code readers are ideal because the don’t require any other device to work. You simply plug them in and go. Browse some of the current selections below:
If you’re looking for something cheaper yet we’ve got your back! One of our favorite affordable options are the cheap, yet effective,wireless ELM 327 Bluetooth/Wifi OBD-II code scanners available on Amazon. These are frequently priced in the $7.00 to $12.00 range making them highly affordable and suitable for everyone’s budget. These code scanners require a mobile device such as an android smart phone or a laptop and free apps or software. Since most of us already own a smart phone, laptop or tablet this isn’t much of an issue. I’ve actually grown to prefer these cheap mini adapters used with a smartphone or table for a variety of reasons. You simply plug the scanner into your vehicle’s OBD-II port and the scanner communicates with your mobile device or laptop wirelessly. They can be coupled with a variety of useful free or low cost apps to do much more than reading trouble codes. In the right situation, with the right app, these dirt cheap mini code scanners offer a plethora of uses. They’re small enough they can be left plugged in or simply stored in a glove compartment when not in use. Many of these scanners can work with an app to store logs of useful sensor information while you’re driving around. This can be a very useful diagnostic tool. They can also be coupled with a tablet to serve as a set of virtual gauges and more! Not bad for less than $10! Browse some of the affordable Elm 327 wireless bluetooth code scanners currently available on Amazon below: