Check engine lights and code readers
I write a lot about check engine lights. It is a huge subject. Every week, it is the most sought after repair that our shops do.
A code reader, called a scan tool, can very an incredible amount. I have seen a universal scan tool for $29.95. The enhanced scan tool the Mercedes uses is about $18,000. The BMW scan tool is about $10,000 with a $1,200 a year up-date fee. Between the two shops, I have over $60,000 worth of scan tools. To put it simply, the amount of information you can extract from the vehicle. Tony from Transmission told me the last week, “I work for scanners”
The government has legislation that dictates that emission related trouble codes must be available for a generic scanner. For us in the business, it is like putting together a jig saw puzzle upside down only getting the generic trouble codes. The better scanners (enhanced) give us such a better look into what it really having a problem. With most new vehicles, a generic scanner does not even know about the body ECUs (computer)
Using the Mercedes scanner, it will tell you the model of car, VIN number, miles driven, left or right steering, transmission, engine, electronic stability, brake assist, ignition, airbags, all door lock and window motors, radio and heater functions with even more codes. We can check each component in the system. It will even tell us if a defroster flap actuator is stiff or blocked!
On newer vehicles, there is a communication process call a C.A.N. It stands for central area network. Enhanced scan tools can tie into this network, generics usually don’t.There is a whole world of difference between scan tools. It takes lots of training and experience to be able to scan and intrepid the reason your check engine light is on. In our shops, we have only the best technicians scanning and interrupting the vehicles. With this information, choose carefully when your check engine light comes on.