Code reader advice

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15,388
Location
In the shop
Thread starter
Good Evening folks smile I am looking for a code reader as brother asked me about this. I don't know much on the topic; but brother works on mainly GM, Cadillac's. Advice and info greatly appreciated.
 
Messages
1,627
Location
Cincinnati, USA
Depends on budget and whether he wants a traditional tool tethered on a cable or some wireless link to a host, phone or tablet or laptop depending on needs and what he already has vs budget, again. Also depends on his competence to USE the data. Some have more "help" to determine what a code is, and some just tell you and you can google search it yourself and have equally good results if not better, but it's an extra step which some have a mental block against. Again budget, some can do the GM specific codes for things outside the OBDII code set, but what does "works on mainly" mean? A more advanced tool makes more and more sense, the more vehicles you're working on, but paying a premium for GM but also needing others, may or may not make sense. Still comes back to budget. What is his level of repair ability? Paying extra for a reader that tells you that you still need to take it to a shop, isn't always price effective, but if he is one who tries to do EVERYTHING himself, then the savings of not paying shop labor, can buy a lot of scan tool. Does he have anything yet? If not, that tells me a little about his skill level and that he's probably best starting out on a basic ELM327 based bluetooth module, which can be picked up at very low cost, then when he finds deficiencies in that, enough times to warrant upgrading, then he should also have a good idea what more he wants and needs... kinda the same as any tool.
 
Messages
15,388
Location
In the shop
Thread starter
Sir, he does cam swaps and hi perf stuff on GTO's and cadillacs. It's his side job/business. I told him to ask fee mechanic friends of his. I'll pass him your advice Thank You
 
Messages
6,599
Location
Katy, Republic of Texas
A code reader and a diagnostic scan tool are two different things. I have a code reader that cost me ~$10 many years ago. It is great for getting the codes from vehicles with a CEL and allows me to reset it. It only gives me the code, I have to search online for what the code means. It does not let me diagnose and work on vehicles in depth. I was actually about to post a question on what to get in the tools section for what I need (ABS codes, EPB resets, SRS diagnosis, use on multiple vehicles, read live data etc).
 
Messages
92
Location
Va
I would suggest him to try the Torque app if he has an android device. The basic app is free and the pro version is $5 which allows data logging and additional PIDs. The obd2 interface is $10-20 depending on the manufacturer. Look for a elm327 with good reviews. This would allow your buddy to determine if he needs more capability fairly cheap.
 
Messages
6,599
Location
Katy, Republic of Texas
Originally Posted by Strokenmerc
I would suggest him to try the Torque app if he has an android device. The basic app is free and the pro version is $5 which allows data logging and additional PIDs. The obd2 interface is $10-20 depending on the manufacturer. Look for a elm327 with good reviews. This would allow your buddy to determine if he needs more capability fairly cheap.
Even "good" bluetooth ELM can have issues depending on the make. I have 2 of them that I use with the Torque app. First one I got will not work on my '02 F150 or my '12 Scion (Toyota interface). On the Ford, it will occasionally connect, but no data is pulled, on the Scion, it turns the ABS light on and will not read codes. The second one I got works with newer H/K, allows very basic code reading on Scion, but still will not work on older Ford (it did work on an '04 F150 though, even mode 6).
 
Messages
1,906
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
I work on a lot of cars and don't need pure diagnostic OE apps. This has worked great for me: I bought a wifi elm327 unit off ebay for about $7. I installed the "torque lite" app on my phone. Has worked great for seven years so far with frequent use. Do not know the current state of play, but then if you had an iPhone you needed to get a wifi unit and not bluetooth as Apple wouldn't use that specific type bluetooth connection. I keep the elm327 unit in the glovebox and my phone is always with me, so I always have the unit when I need it. As mentioned, you can upgrade the free "torque lite" to a paid version for not much and it adds a lot more capability - but still cheaply.
 
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