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

How to Find the Keyless Code on a Ford Explorer or Mercury Mountaineer
Many Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers were manufactured with an option known as the Ford keyless entry keypad. Some models refer to it as SecuriCode as well. It...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...

Related questions

Q: Error code SRS system

Hello. The multitude of codes that the engine has leads me to believe that it was subject to flooding or submersion. The connectors and circuits of jeeps usually dry out because submersion is kind of what Jeeps are meant for, but...

Q: CEL transmission slipping

Hi there. You definitely appear to have a voltage issue with the vehicle. From what you are can be a bad connection at the battery, a failing alternator, or most commonly a bad ignition switch. I usually start by checking...

Q: i need to know the key sequence to get the check engine codes

Hello. The old style of retrieving codes was indeed done by turning the key on and off again. However vehiles manufactured after 1996 are equipped with OBD-II diagnostic systems. This means the driver or technician can acess and even control...