What Is a Car Scanner?

A car scanner is a device that allows you to read and interpret error codes stored on your vehicle’s computer. This information can help you troubleshoot problems, allowing you to solve the problem without paying an expensive auto mechanic for assistance. Car scanners are a great option for DIY auto repair enthusiasts and can be purchased at most auto parts stores.

A common misconception is that a car scanner is solely for professional mechanics, but modern diagnostic devices are engineered for accessibility, providing user-friendly interfaces and clear instructions. This democratization of vehicle diagnostics helps the average car owner understand and maintain their vehicles better, fostering a more informed relationship with the car itself.

Car code readers connect to your car’s OBD socket (or EOBD on European cars) and communicate with the vehicle’s onboard computer. They can retrieve error codes, and some can also monitor real-time data, like fuel efficiency or coolant temperature.

Navigating Automotive Issues: The Power of Car Scanners in Diagnosing Vehicle Problems

Some models allow you to access enhanced OEM codes, which provide greater detail on how the manufacturer designed the system – for example, a fault code such as P0301 indicates a misfire in cylinder 1, while a code such as B0028 could indicate a failed airbag deployment. Other functions that can be found on more advanced diagnostic scanners include technical service bulletins, module testing, and graphing.

We recommend the Ancel MP690310, which can be used with or without a smartphone app and quickly retrieves fault codes. Many reviewers are happy with this budget model, especially if they are looking for a simple scanner that can be left plugged in to display ongoing engine performance (although some say it doesn’t always translate codes).

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