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Auto Code Reader for all shade tree mechanics?

14 years ago

My newest, a 2005 Chevy Colorado with very low mileage, just over 10,000, came up recently with a "Service Engine Soon" (SES) indicator on the dash read-out. This was just before its 4th "birth day" so clearly out-of-warranty regardless of the low mileage.

Now even though I did not notice any driveability problems, I had to be concerned, something may get worse, and I can not pass NJ Auto inspection with that indicator lite.

So, I took it to the dealer and about $270 later I had a new Oxygen Sensor ($100 parts + $160 labor + tax) and the SES was no longer lite. I think I also got a quick overall inspection, which is worth something given they have all the GM notices and warnings. They found nothing else needing attention - thankfully.

Well, the above makes me wonder about buying a Code Reader, I could have changed the O2 Sensor myself and saved the labor charge, and I think I could have purchased the sensor from NAPA for less than the dealer parts charge.

I see in Harbor Freight a OBD II Code Reader With CAN for $40. So, if it could have put me onto the O2 sensor it would have paid for itself 4 times over with the one repair just completed.

Now I know HF sells "junk" or at least "you get what you pay for" so my question is more the subject of this post than how good is the HF tool.

Is a Code Reader something today that every shade tree mechanic (DYI'er) should or must have?

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