A code reader for cars helps you diagnose problems with your vehicle and saves money on a mechanic’s visit. You can use one to see if your car’s check engine light has turned on and find out what the problem is (it could be something serious like a failed air injection sensor or an octane sensor that needs replacing, or it might just be a warning that you need an oil change). You can also use it to reset codes and test whether the issue has been fixed after a repair.
A code scanner works by connecting to your car’s on-board diagnostic system (OBD) port, which is usually located under the steering column. It reads the codes from various sensors in your car that regulate functions like transmission, ignition and brakes. It then displays them on its screen, with simpler models displaying just the code (for example, P0300 might mean “air injection sensor error”).
Revving Up Your Ride: The Ultimate Guide to Code Readers for Cars
More expensive models will decode the codes for you. For example, it will tell you that the code B0028 relates to a right-side airbag deployment fault and that the code C0045 relates to an anti-lock brake problem. Some will also ask you to enter your vehicle identification number (VIN) before reading the code, and some require you to look up the meaning of the code yourself on the internet.
The Sealey EOBD is simple to operate, with an intuitive colour menu and physical buttons that feel robust and responsive. It has some extra features not available on other readers in our tests, including a dedicated charging and starter test, live data, VIN check and freeze frame. It can also read and reset emissions monitors and evap systems tests, which are useful if you’re planning to take your vehicle for an emissions or smog inspection.