$10 car diagnostic tool

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/01/10-car-diagnostic-tool.html

Sweet! Except that “universal” means that it supports all the standard codes in OBDII.

Which in my experience means that most of the time, the vendor is using a custom code to represent whatever problem, and this device won’t understand it.


Torque works well, too. Bluetooth OBDII dongle required.

I have Torque actually. It’s fantastic for pretty graphs.

But as far as reading VW error codes, I’ve never had it produce anything meaningful.

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I’ve found that Porsche wants a specific reader too. You can clear codes with a Harbor Fright unit like this, and it’ll tell you generally wtf but often the manufacturer has model specific codes.

Carly is my reader of choice.

It is not going to be able to do most of the Mercedes functions. But that is a very good price for a general duty OBD2 scanner.

Completely agree. I have just found that general purpose ODB2 readers aren’t all that useful to me (so far).

My experience is that a generic ODB reader should give you any manufacturer-specific codes as numeric codes, and then a Google search for “ODB” + the number (and optionally the manufacturer) should tell you the rest.


$20 bluetooth scanner + $5 EngineLink app gives me everything I need. This combo has worked great for every car I’ve tried it on.

Most of the time getting the engine codes is the easy part. Figuring out WTF they mean is tougher. Also need a reliable way to clear the check engine light which some scanners won’t let you do.


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Ha, I put this in my Amazon shopping cart last night and didn’t bother to check out yet. It was $10. I just went to check out, and now it’s $60! Boingboinged?

I would have got it at $10 just for the connector.

I just ordered this one, hoping for the best:

Torque worked very well for my Plug-in Prius; in 2013 I used it for quite a while with an old Nook Color tablet running Cyanogenmod and mounted (for very loosely defined values of “mounted”) in the glovebox.

OBDCII reading is only half of what I need to do, though. This tool looks good for my less technical friends and family but I need to write to my car’s computing infrastructure, which means I need a keyboard, so I use a laptop and a USB-connected ELM327 dongle.

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