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post-autoxray.jpgThere’s nothing more frustrating than seeing that check engine light come on — or experiencing some other intermittant automotive issue — and having to drop the car off for a day or two at the dealer just so they can hook it up, read the code, and charge you $100 for it.  (Trust us — we recently went through just this scenario, and the dealer hit us for $120 before they told us that it wasn’t even reporting an error code.  Ouch.)

AutoXRay feels your pain.  They offer a line of home auto-computer diagnostic tools, but one particularly caught our eye: the EZ-Scan 6000.  The 6000 will read both OBD-I and the newer OBD-II codes as well as codes sent using the Controller Area Network (CAN) protocol — a newer codeset which AutoXRay says will be manditory on all new vehicles beginning in 2008.

The 6000 is a hand-held-sized unit which plugs right into your vehicle’s on-board computer using a special cable.  AutoXRay provides cables for GM, FOD, and Chrysler OBD-I computers, as well as a standard OBD-II cable and a GM-specific OBD-II cable to cover most cars you’re likely to come across.  If you need others, they stock a wide variety of cables which you can order separately.

Once connected, the 6000 interprets the codes and data provided by the computer and displays them on a 128×64 pixel, 8-line, backlit display.  Or, for the ultimate in home auto diagnostics, you can use the included EZ-PC 500 interface and software to display and analyze the codes right on your laptop.  With the EZ-PC interface you can also graph drivability data, archive data, and export it in spreadsheet form.

Most importantly, the hand-held unit provides the meanings of the error codes, which can definitely make troubleshooting car problems a lot easier.

Both the 6000 and the EZ-PC software are internet updateable, so you’ll always be on top of the latest package.  It’s available via a variety of online and brick-and-mortar dealers, and street pricing starts around $550.

EZ-SCAN 6000 Auto Diagnostic Tool [AutoXRay]
Street Pricing [Froogle]


6 Responses to What Does That Check Engine Light Really Mean?

  1. bob says:

    B&B electronics (www.bb-elec.com) offers a few different flavors of scanners that are effective and better suited to the home user than the EZ Scan, which at over $500 is a bit expensive for the backyard mechanic. I’ve used their Auto Tap version 1 product for years. The B&B products use a PC w/ USB, or there is also a palm-compatible version. These come in at $199.95 for generic OBD II parameter support for almost all mfr’s (OBD II is 1996 and newer), and for the advanced user, manufacturer-specific expanded parameter upgrades can be purchased. If you already have a palm or a laptop (this will run on a fairly antiquated machine … a 233mhz pentium running Win98, for example) this is a good option for you. B&B also supports backyard mechanics by sponsoring the OBD II site http://obdii.com/ … I’m not in any way affiliated with this co., but I’ve found their stuff extremely helpful on my 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS and my wife’s former 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix GT.

  2. james b says:

    Won’t most newer vehicles dump the code to the digital odometer or the flash the dash lights – – – – – – – = 43, etc? I’ve done this on a Jeep, and Honda to reset service soon indicator on the Honda, and seen that the Jeep had a downstream O2 sensor error.

  3. KaiserM715 says:

    I own the EZ-Scan 4000 (the same unit as the 6000, less some of the software upgrades and does not include the OBD I cables like the 6000) and have been very happy with it. A little internet searching (eBay…) will get you a 6000 for around $375. For the number of features that you get, the 6000 is a better deal than the 4000 that I have. One thing not mentioned in the review is that the 6000 also includes manufacturer enhanced codes for Ford, GM, Chrysler and Toyota (I purchased the Ford and GM update separately for the 4000), a feature that not many other units in this price range include.

  4. CJ says:

    In the aviation world, the check engine light is the same as the “Master Caution” light. It means there was an electrical spike somewhere and you need to reset the light. Not if it comes on more than once…then there may be a problem…

  5. ABDULLAH says:

    how can i check engine check light without a scan tool for GMC YUKON XL 2003?

  6. ABDULLAH says:

    how can i check engine check light without a scan tool for GMC YUKON XL 2003?



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