Already an affordable option, right now you can save over $25 on this diagnostic code reader from trusted brand Ancel.Getty Images, Amazon
We’ve all been there—that pesky check engine light pops up on your dashboard. Instantly, thoughts of expensive mechanic bills, weeks of it being repaired in the garage, and inconveniences galore flash through the mind. It seems inevitable, right? Well, maybe not.
Your vehicle’s check engine light can come on for a multitude of reasons. Some are far more expensive than others. So what could your vehicle’s reason be? There’s only one way to find out: an OBD-II scan tool.
In 1996, the OBD-II specification was made mandatory on all vehicles sold in the United States. Any vehicles sold after that are equipped with OBD-II ports, typically located somewhere under the driver’s side dash. This is where you plug in your scan tool to read codes, each designating a specific fault read by the vehicle’s computers.
Okay, so you need a scan tool. Which one do you get? Like most things, you get what you pay for. If you’re just looking to read a check engine code, start cheap—these are typically called code readers. If you want to see vehicular data through the OBD-II port, you’ll want to spend some more. For those interested in cheap scan tools, one of our favorites is on sale right now for over 50 percent off.
AD310 OBD-II Scanner
$21.59 (57% off)
- Easy to use and navigate
- 2.5-foot power cable
- Doesn’t feature the functions of more expensive scan tools
The Ancel AD310 is a straight-forward, simple-to-use scan tool that reads and erases codes, displays limited vehicular and freeze-frame data, and I/M monitor readiness. It features everything you need to start diving into a check engine light. The best part? It’s discounted down to just $22 right now. One staff member at Autoweek owns this device and uses it to diagnose his personal cars, and he says it’s never let him down.
Remember, the code reader won’t tell you how to fix the check engine light—the code it reads just directs you to the fault. From there, unleash your mechanical prowess and discover the cause! It could be an easy fix, it could be a tough one; the only way you’ll know is with a scan tool. We already like this Ancel code reader, and the fact that it’s discounted makes it irresistible. Grab one while you can!
Collin Morgan Associate Commerce Editor Collin Morgan is the Associate Commerce Editor at Hearst Autos, where he presents the best gear for your automotive endeavors.