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What Is An Automotive Scan Tool
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What is An Automotive Scan Tool

An automotive scan tool is necessary when mechanics try to find an engine problem. Scan tools can access to vehicle's computer. Some can access as far as the anti-lock brake system and airbarg system. And some can not only read and erase codes but also activate individual systems and test them so that mechanic can determine whether or not the system is working well.

Before 1996, each manufacturers had built their own on-board diagnostics system. DLC (Data Link Connector) where scan tools are plugged in have different shapes, even different models from the same manufacture sometimes have different ones. In 1996, they are all standardized which means that DLCs are all the same shape, so mechanics won't need dozens of connectors to hook up.

It has been more than 10 years since then, scan tools have been falling been in price to the extent where Sunday mechanics and do-it-yourself-er can buy them. And if you have a laptop or bluetooth capability mobile device, They work as a scan tool. Only buying an adapter and downloading apps will give you more features and less cost than handheld devices. Handheld devices and adapters are small enough to fit in the glove box of your car.

But what is the benefit of owning an automotive scan tool if you never repair your car for yourself?

Scan tools are not only for reading and erasing codes but also you can see lots of engine's information with it. You can improve fuel economy by using one of sensor reading, watching the reading of manifold air pressure sensor and try to keep it as steady as possible. All readings are more accurate than gauges on the dash, such as coolant temperature, oil pressure, battery voltage and so on. Using with GPS of mobile device, it keeps record of route, time and MPG.

Also, sometimes check engine light comes on for a stupid reason, like loose gas cap. If you have a scan tool you can retrieve the code and fix it yourself. This would have eliminated to go to mechanics and get an advice to make sure tightening the cap after a pump. It is a great save of time and money.

As you can see, using a scan tool saves many hours in finding out the problems and it has many useful and or fun features. It is not bad idea that you keep a scan tool in a glove compartment or placed on the dash as an additional gauge.


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