How Much Should I Spend On A OBD Code Reader ?

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I've been wanting to get one of these for a while, but I keep putting it off. This morning my Jeep was showing a MIL, (Malfunction Indicator Light). But the vehicle operated perfectly normally.

The manual said to see if the light goes out on it's own after a few, "driving cycles". They mention it could be "a bad fuel condition, etc." Whatever etc could be. I would like to get a reader and see for myself. But I've never used one, let along bought one. I know places like Autozone will read it for free, but I would like to get one for myself.

How much do I need to spend to get something halfway decent? Like most tools, the prices run a fairly wide range. Amazon has tons of them. What are you guys using, and are happy with?
 
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The vehicles in your sign with OBD2 are CANBUS so one of those $10 tiny translucent blue ELM327 based dongles on eBay or Amazon should work, IF you have an Android phone. For Apple you'd need a wifi version. There are various apps, don't know if there's one best for Jeep but otherwise, Torque app, NOT anything that comes on a little CD for the generic dongles, do not use that CD at all.

Example:

However if you want the ability to use on pre-CANBUS vehicles, it is hit or miss whether the little blue translucent ones really do, despite many claiming they do. Some have the right traces on their circuit boards but were downcosted and leave off the components to do pre-CANBUS protocols.
 
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You can spend $5.99 for an app (I'd recommend the paid version of Torque (Pro)) on your phone (there are often free versions but will have restrictions) and less than $50 for a bluetooth-enabled OBDII adapter. If you use an iPhone, the options used to be much more limited, i.e. NO bluetooth options, only WiFi or wired. If you use an Android, options are better.

I just recently bought an Innova scanner. I got mine from Amazon and it was originally around $140, as I recall. O'Reilly sells this brand in their stores or you can buy them at Harbor Freight under the brand "Zurich".
 
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A basic code reader you can get for $20 at Walmart,and it will be fine if all you need to do is see the codes and clear them if needed.

For something more advanced, get a used scan tool on eBay. They cost less then their brand new counterparts. I spend $70 a used code reader that cost over $200 new. I needed one to read transmission temperature, which is why I got it.
 
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Jeep/Dodge/Chrysler/etc usually let you see OBD codes on the dash for free!

"Turn the ignition key until the digital odometer displays, repeat three times in succession and then back to “On” (On/Off, On/Off, On/Off, On). At the fourth “On” the odometer will be replaced with codes. If no codes are present then “Done” will appear."

 

billt460

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Jeep/Dodge/Chrysler/etc usually let you see OBD codes on the dash for free!

"Turn the ignition key until the digital odometer displays, repeat three times in succession and then back to “On” (On/Off, On/Off, On/Off, On). At the fourth “On” the odometer will be replaced with codes. If no codes are present then “Done” will appear."

Thanks, I had no idea that feature existed.
 

billt460

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I ended up ordering this one.
I looked at Foxwell devices when I was looking for one. I seem to recall glancing at their documentation (manuals, etc) and the Chinglish was terrible. My concern was that the unit would have a poor user interface as well.

It should be here next week.
Off-topic, but I'm surprised Amazon says it will take that long. I can have that same unit delivered same-day from Amazon.
 
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OBDFusion is the best app out there. It lets you log a bunch of different data streams that you can check in Excel. I've used it for years.
 
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I have the exact Bluetooth device Dave9 posted & paid the $5 or $6 for the full use of the Torque Pro app
 
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Also, the capacity to reset an SRS (airbag light) can be desirable.
Earlier devices and/or lower-cost ones frequently couldn't reset SRS or ABS lights but I also thought that could be a liability issue. Even at O'Reilly, they use a nice-looking Snap-On scanner but they'll tell you it (or they) can't (or won't) read SRS or ABS faults.

On a related note, apparently they aren't supposed to even reset DTC or OBDII lights. Before I had a scanner, I helped our son put a CAI on his car and he started it up before I had plugged the MAF back in, so it threw a code. He drove to O'Reilly, played dumb and asked them to scan it and reset it but they wouldn't. The employee did let him push the button to clear it while he "went to help someone else quickly" 😉.
 
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^^Yup.
When the, "Why should I buy a code reader when the local auto parts shop offers reading service" threads come 'round I often wonder how many trips (time, fuel, aggro) will it take to pay for a reader.

Plus, when you get multiple codes and clear 'em all, it can really help to have a code reader handy to track return codes.

After a neighbor caused a problem (which required driving time to clear completely) I needed to monitor the ever expanding gap between recurrences. He overfilled his oil and driving was needed to clear the cat. Each time I drove it the CEL took longer and longer to return. Finally, it didn't return. Having a code reader with me let me accurately track the CEL and easily saved 20 trips to some store.

And remember, sometimes shops have the cheapest readers imaginable.
An Advance I went to had no reader because it had been stolen and the proprietor wouldn't spring for another.
 

billt460

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I also have an older pickup, (1991 Ford F-150), that precedes the 1996 OBD 2 criteria. But it has a check engine light as well that comes on once and awhile. But it would most likely require a different reader. And I have no idea where the plug is located for it. Perhaps under the hood?
 
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I also have an older pickup, (1991 Ford F-150), that precedes the 1996 OBD 2 criteria. But it has a check engine light as well that comes on once and awhile. But it would most likely require a different reader. And I have no idea where the plug is located for it. Perhaps under the hood?
It's under the dash. You have OBD1 ALDL. You can read the codes with a paper clip.
 
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