I had to really think about the old times I had check engine lights, before I owed an OBD2 scan tool. It was a very long time ago, and had a DTC presented itself, I would drive over to a friend’s house to borrow their scanner to pull my codes.
In my younger days I had always seen the OBD2 scanners featured near the registers at the auto parts stores and always that they were a tool for the professionals. With price points starting at $100 and up, to use once or twice a year, it simply wasn’t on my Christmas wish list.
At some point though, my friend moved away and my closet buddy with a scanner was a few cities over, and thus it was time for me to scout and purchase my own rig. This coincided with that stint where AutoZone was not reading codes for free for liability reasons, which now they are back to it.
These were pre-amazon days, so I just did a search at on Autozone and Kragen’s websites and saw they had something for about $35. Entry level, code reading and clearing, as well as readiness monitor display. This was the ticket I thought. Hit the Kragen’s, and came home with the BOSCH Automotive Tools OBD 1000 Diagnostic Vehicle Scanner, commonly known as the Bosch Pocket Scan.
So for what it was, and the price, I was satisfied. I already understood that I wasn’t getting a super professional handheld, but was just going to be able to read my code, Google my code for research, and then clear it. However, this was better than waiting for a friend or visiting the auto parts store, or worse, paying a mechanic or dealer to tell me what the sitch was.
The unit is bare bones with just 2 buttons on it (Read & Erase), from which you will have to read the included booklet on first use to figure how to make those pushes go up and down, side to side and such.
Easy as it seems, you get a check engine light, you plug this guy in, you read the code. From there you search your code and car on Google and see what the most common reason for the code is, and how to fix it. If you are not certain it is a failure, but maybe an indication of pre-failure, you can clear the code and cross your fingers it wont come back.
Another cool feature on this unit is the readiness monitors. So one of the first things that the technician will do at a smog shop, is check your readiness monitors. This is a cluster of sensors on your car, that report a simply Yes or No on whether the car has sufficient data to run the smog check. We all know that you cannot smog with a check engine light on, but even with no presence of a light, you must also have sufficient data for smog testing.
This little unit has made sure that I am always ready for my smog, and helped me pull codes from time to time as well, not to mention all the family members who think a check engine light means go to the dealer.
So the question is would I give it as a gift? Would I recommend to a friend? Would I buy it again? I would recommend to friends and family, I would give it as a gift, but I would not buy it again. While it is an awesome unit, for myself and others in my boat, I would recommend a OBD2 Bluetooth which would open up more options for data logging and similar features. These setups are only about double the price and give you 10X features and 10X fun. You can see my article about that here. But for the average Joe, this guy works great for what it suppose to do.
Currently this unit is only $47 on Amazon, still well worth it if you consider not having to rely on a shop or parts store for DTC reading and clearing.