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What are you guys using to read engine codes? Can I use my lap top with some sort of external cable adapter and a software program, or is it done with a "reader" of some sort?
 

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Khaki Nitro Nut
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There are many code reader apps you can use with your phone and an adapter.
For general and ABS codes I have a simple foxwell code reader. Here is a link for it on Amazon.
Here is what I used it for.
 
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here is the one i bought, cheap but won't read ABS codes, but for some reason wont work on my Ford transit motorhome, the chances are that anything you buy now won't work on any newer vehicles, if you spent $100 and used it once, it was still cheaper than going to a dealer
 

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I have 3 such tools. One is a $20 code reader that I got at an auto parts store. It will read and erase codes, and that's about it.

Another is an adapter/app for my android phone. I'm using Torque and an adapter that was linked from their website. I think I paid $25 for the adapter and another $5 to fully unlock the app. It reads codes and provides a 1 sentence description, reports emissions status, shows live data, and a few other things.

The third tool I have is an Innova scan tool that I think I paid about $280 for. It reads codes with 1 sentence description, reports emissions status, shows live data, some simple diagnostics, turn off the "change the oil" light.

I find that I bounce between Torque and the Innova tool. There are some things that one does better than the other (Torque is better with live data, Innova tool has the simple diagnostic functions). It all depends on what I'm doing. I haven't touched the $20 code reader at all since I got Torque.

None of them will do advanced functions such as command ECM diagnostic procedures or change state of various engine functions. You'd have to shell out a whole lot of money for those and is only worth it if you're in the trade.
 

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looking to buy a more Advanced OBD2 scan tool
can anyone recommend something
 

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Approaching the level that a professional auto repair shop would have in their toolbox, there are a couple choices for around $1000. I myself have not used any of these. But, there are a few YT videos out there that sing their praises.

The Zurich ZR-PRO sold at Harbor Freight.
The Autel MaxiSys line of diagnostic tools.

A tool of this caliber is on my own wish list for whenever I can convince the keeper of the budget that I need one :). Personally right now, I'm leaning towards an Autel tool.
 

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thinking of going with the Autel MP808K, just because its bidirectional ?
 
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