Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

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

P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP)...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...


Related questions

Q: Will a home code reader/scanner let me fix my car?

Aftermarket code readers and scanners cannot, by themselves, be used to fix your car. The scanner is used to retrieve diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) from the various control modules on the vehicle. After using your scanner to retrieve DTCs, you...

Q: Won't change gears p2768

Hello there, this is not an uncommon occurrence. The P2768 code is referencing a fault with the input speed sensor. When this occurs the transmission may suffer during gear changes since the car's computer can not tell it when the...

Q: I have a 2000 dodge ram 2500 and it wont shift gears so I plugged in my code reader to see if it would pull up anycodes vut no pwr

Often, this is caused by a blown fuse in the battery power circuit of the OBD port. It is pin #16 that is B+ on all modern vehicles, such as yours. It appears as though this is fuse #12 on...