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Old 10-04-2006, 09:30 PM   #1
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OBD-II recommendations

I'm looking for any recommendations / reviews of OBD-II scanners. We are in the market to buy one for doing our own diagnosing so we can test and repair our 2003 GMC Sierra ourselves. Recently, I experienced severe "check engine light" sticker shock when I was charged $100 by my dealership to reset the light and to tell me that the check engine light was on because the fuel cap was not securely tightened.

I did a quick search on Google and have noticed that the prices of the scanners have dropped and the models are more user friendly -- some even have cables for downloading updated vehicle or new vehicle information from the internet -- but am not sure which model to purchase. One model I was looking at is made by Actron, the CP9175 model:
http://www.actron.com/product_category.php?id=249

I'm not sure that we need all the bells and whistles of the more expensive models (i.e., > $300) but would like to hear what others have to say from their experience.
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Old 10-04-2006, 09:50 PM   #2
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Make sure your 2003 vehicle is truly OBDII and not KAN, the changover is in your model year range. I bought a Kal-Equip OBDII scanner to check codes and to turn the light off for about $150, several years ago.
If you want to go crazy getting a scanner that will do everything but make you a cup of coffee, they are over $5,000, and you can hook them up to the internet and update them as new info becomes available for them, usually at around $300-$500 per update.
Now that you know why you paid $100 to find out you left the gas cap loose (someone has to pay for that $5000 scanner), you can get a reasonable good scanner that will read KAN diagnostics as well as OBDII for around $300-$400.
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:09 PM   #3
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I just bought one and haven't had to use it yet. It was at Wal-Mart for a little under $100. Seems to have some of the bells and whistles, and you can update via the internet.

http://tinyurl.com/zgnw6
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:48 PM   #4
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Harbor Freight usually has an OBD ll on sale periodically for about $35. I bought one and it works well. It comes with a code book.
Some vehicles also have the ability to show the error codes on the speedometer readout if you move the ign. key on/off rapidly 3 times.
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:50 PM   #5
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Hi, maybe you spent $100.00 for nothing. Check Engine light on, don't panic. If it is still running good, let it go for a while. Later Fords, and I would think G.M. also, for the gas cap concern, will reset itself after what Ford calls three normal drive cycles. [provided you reinstalled the gas cap properly] But will leave the light on for more serious problems.
Scan tools don't fix cars, mechanics do! If your scan tool gives you a code for EGR Valve, you don't replace the EGR valve. All it's telling you is there was a malfunction of the EGR Valve. It could be a number of problems: EGR Valve Sensor, Thermal valve, vacuum lines, carbon blockage, and any other thing involved in this system including the EGR Valve.

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Old 10-05-2006, 01:15 AM   #6
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Bob is correct .The scantool just gives information and helps to direct you
towards a problem .The data stream that high end scantools use like the
genesys I currently use with the Kan protocal updates as well as up to date
software,is the key .the data available shows cylinder misfires ,history files
evap emissions ,trans shift data ,converter lockup ,O2 sensor switching counts ,lots of valuable info .some scantools are code readers only ,some
are more sophisticated ,try to buy one with some decent data stream
capability and the updates for Kan ,they will cost more ,but worth it .
an example Bob has referenced with regards to EGR valves would be
say Toyota vehicals set a EGR code for insufficeint flow ,sometimes on
older corollas or tercel 1500 4 cylinder engines ,the EGR passage is carboned
up ,plugged ,or a 98 camry 2.2 4 cylinder ,the EGR transducer commonly is
bad and causes no EGR flow ,happens on alot of toyota models .So get a
manual also and study up ,get the info ,as the knowledge is key to effectively
service late model vehicals .

Scott of scottanlily
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Old 10-05-2006, 04:59 AM   #7
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I've used the Actron code scanner and have been very pleased. Pep Boys sells them as well as many on line sources.
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Old 10-05-2006, 05:46 AM   #8
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has anyone figured out how to connect a vehicle to a PC yet?

i know the cables are available obd2 to serial port.

how about software?

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Old 10-05-2006, 05:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john hd
has anyone figured out how to connect a vehicle to a PC yet?

i know the cables are available obd2 to serial port.

how about software?

john
I have experimented with it, and it's pretty cool, although the program is kind of complicated and pricey, although it may have just been that one program. You can get model specific reprogram kits and tweak you car while driving it, using your laptop. This seems more popular with the "tuner" crowd, it allows them to get every horse out of their Hondas and Toyotas.
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Old 10-05-2006, 05:56 AM   #10
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OBD-II recommendations

I'n in agreement with ROBERTSUNRUS. The computer turns on the CHECK ENGINE LIGHT, but, you must keep in mind that the computer turns on that light based on the information it has to work with. Years of dealing with Electronice has taught me to reseat (unplug and replug) first. After that troubleshoot to determine if its a relaxed pin in the computer connector not making good contact, the associated sensor connector, a broken wire, a broken vacuum line, cracked hose barb carbon in the wrong place etc.
Automotive Electronics have brought us better control and monitering of the engine along with better fuel economy, but has also brought us a different set of problems to deal with, the sort of problems I've been deling with for 30 years +.
All my equipment is old, 91 Olds, 84 Camaro and 90 GMC van. I have the OTC 2000 (OBD I). They are really inexpensive.
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Old 10-05-2006, 06:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS
Hi, maybe you spent $100.00 for nothing. Check Engine light on, don't panic. If it is still running good, let it go for a while. Later Fords, and I would think G.M. also, for the gas cap concern, will reset itself after what Ford calls three normal drive cycles. [provided you reinstalled the gas cap properly] But will leave the light on for more serious problems...

Haha! I already know I spent $100 for nothing! But wait! It was a learning experience. Now I have started to learn about OBD-II technology. This post is the next step in my learning curve. Soon I will have my own OBD-II scanner and can do the diagnosing/testing/repair work myself!

With regards to your comment about "letting it go for awhile"...I'm not sure I would do that. Even if the truck is still running well, you still don't know what is happening under the hood so you could be further exacerbating the problem by letting it go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS
Scan tools don't fix cars, mechanics do! If your scan tool gives you a code for EGR Valve, you don't replace the EGR valve. All it's telling you is there was a malfunction of the EGR Valve. It could be a number of problems: EGR Valve Sensor, Thermal valve, vacuum lines, carbon blockage, and any other thing involved in this system including the EGR Valve.
I understand that. IMHO, an OBD-II scanner is a must-have tool for the modern home mechanics tool box especially now that prices have dropped.

I noticed that the Actron CP9175 model has an option for the internet cable (for $20) but I didn't realize you had to pay so much for the downloads. If the industry has already adopted all the codes then I would think just having two things is all I need:

1) a base model which spits out the code (and resets the light)
2) the requisite factory service manual.

But then, what about the problem that doesn't occur unless you are moving at 30 mph? Hmmmm, I'm thinking it might be nice to have the feature which records key diagnostic information to review later after I do the test drive.

So many options to chose from!
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Old 10-05-2006, 06:29 AM   #12
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As far as "letting it go for a while", if there is a major fault with the system that will cause further damage, the MIL will start to flash. If it does this, the problem needs to be repaired ASAP.
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Old 10-05-2006, 06:36 AM   #13
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I have a 2005 GMC Yukon XL 2500 with the 6.0 liter. I am always playing with the settings on the engine and very frequently set off the "check engine" light. I bought an OBD scanner at Wal-Mart for $68.00 about a year ago, and have used it about ten time myself and for friends on several occasions.
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Old 10-05-2006, 06:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
As far as "letting it go for a while", if there is a major fault with the system that will cause further damage, the MIL will start to flash. If it does this, the problem needs to be repaired ASAP.
Yeah, I hear you...I know I have serious issues going on. I'm looking with anticipation to buying the scanner which will help me diagnose why when I first turn the truck on, there are multiple warnings:

1) the "key in ignition" chimes go off for about a minute;
2) the check engine light is always on and flashes intermittently;
3) the brake and the ABS lights are now on continuously.
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