On Your Side
New gadgets to help you fix your car, without a mechanic
There are new gadgets to help you fix your car, without having to take it to the mechanic. Video by tmj4.comvideo
You expect your car to run well--to get you from point A to point B with no problem--and then the check engine light pops up! There are ways you can help yourself figure out what's wrong without a pricey mechanic.
Kenny Wong is pretty handy when it comes to his cars. "The occasional problem here and there causes us to find ways to fix it on our own and not take it to the shop because of the cost of car repairs," Kenny says.
But when his engine light comes on, it may be harder to figure out what's causing the problems. Cars are so computerized these days they can be complicated. Even mechanics use special devices to diagnose what's wrong. That's why Kenny was really happy to discover a slew of new Do It Yourself diagnostic code readers available to regular people like him. "Keeping the code reader around will at least give us a good idea, uh, we can target the area that's malfunctioning."
With a family of 8, he's looking to keep his cars on the road as long as possible, and he's not alone. Dan Edmunds with edmunds.com says the average vehicle in the U.S. is now almost 11 years old.
"200,000 is the new 100,000 miles, especially in a down economy people will keep cars longer and try to save money here and there," Edmunds explains.
Edmunds says these readers may make that easier than ever to hit that mark. From the Car MD to the Scan Gauge Two, DIY Diagnostic tools are affordable and simple to use. "The onboard diagnostics port is right underneath the steering wheel below the dash board and the devices will plug in and read the code and display a code number."
Then you just look the number up online or in the manual, and can decide from there if it's something you can handle on your own, or you need a pro.
"Knowing what the code is, in some cases there are some fairly benign codes that might have to do with a gas cap that's loose, or got a cut in an O-ring and you can fix that yourself," Edmunds says.
However, sometimes you need to see a pro and at least you'll go with some knowledge about what's wrong.
"It's very helpful to us because it gives us an idea about how much we're looking at and how much we have to pay for repairs," Kenny reasons.
Edmunds adds, "The code is a little difficult to decipher sometimes, and it doesn't always lead directly to the answer, but if you go to the mechanic at least with some level of knowledge you're in a better position."
Kenny plans to keep his on hand, just in case. "It would definitely be a handy tool to have around the house in case of future issues."