Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. Can I Fix My Car with a Home Code Reader/Scanner?

Can I Fix My Car with a Home Code Reader/Scanner?

CodeReader

Most cars today (anything manufactured after 1996, actually) have an onboard computer that stores trouble codes when something goes wrong with a major component in the engine, transmission or emissions system. By connecting a code reader/scanner to the OBD II connection under your dash, a mechanic can “pull the code” and determine what’s going on with the car. Can you do the same thing?

The actual situation

First, understand that, yes, your home code reader/scanner will most likely let you pull the trouble code (in most instances). However, that’s about all you can do, other than clearing the code and resetting the computer to see if the problem happens again.

If you really want to fix your car, you’ll need to know what that trouble code means. While you can use the Internet for some research, there are thousands of possible codes, and many of them are pretty general. They don’t tell a mechanic exactly what’s wrong and what to do about it. It’s a diagnostic tool, not a cure all.

Add to this the fact that all automakers have proprietary codes that can’t be read with a generic scan tool. These can only be pulled and read at an authorized dealership (even parts stores and lube shops that offer free code pulling won’t be able to tell you what these are).

Can you fix your car with a home code reader/scanner?

It’s possible, but you’d need to have some mechanic experience yourself, and access to a database of pretty specific information, as well as possibly access to manuals specific to your vehicle.

For most people, a home code reader is only used to clear the Check Engine Light to see if it comes back. If it does, they take it to a shop. It might be better to skip this purchase and focus on fixing the problem with your car.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222...
The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
P0291OBD-II Trouble Code: Cylinder 11 Injector Circuit Low
P0291 code definition When your vehicle’s PCM registers the P0291 code, it means that a voltage reading came from the fuel injector circuit – for cylinder number 11’s fuel injector –...

Related questions

Q: Load on truck's engine causes loud knocking noise

Hello. It sounds like there may be a problem with the piston or the valves in cylinder 5. Loose rod bearings to the piston can cause a knocking noise and/or a misfire condition. A worn out piston can also cause...

Q: Q: ABS light error codes

Hello. The ABS fuse will be located in the central junction box inside of the engine bay. It is likely that you have a short somewhere that is causing fuses to blow or interrupting another circuit. Your particular vehicle may...

Q: The code reader for my engine light says P0306P. What does the second P mean?

The P means powertrain. The second P is not normal and may just be the scanner you are using. This vehicle does not use the second letter P. I would disregard it. As far as the P0306 it indicates a...