Recently I have had some warning lights appear on my car such as the following shown below. Garages often charge £25-50 to do “diagnostics” in order to find out the problem with the car. Often this will just involve plugging in a fault code reader and reading any reported faults, something you can do yourself. Actually, checking fault codes on a car is very easy.

Engine Warning Light
Engine Warning Light

There are two very easy ways to read the car faults. You can either purchase an OBD2 fault code reader, or an OBD2 adapter.

What is OBD2

OBD (On-board Diagnostics) are used for vehicle self diagnostics. There are numerous different versions and slightly different standards best explained here. Many cars are OBD2 compatible and you can usually find out if your car is compatible by looking for an OBD2 port or searching online. On my car the OBD2 port can be found below the air-con controls.

Corsa OBD2
Corsa OBD2

If you buy the handhold scanners, they come with a screen that will display information on the fault. These are available on eBay and amazon and seem to go for about £20. I opted for a bluetooth adapter version which can be found on eBay and amazon for about £10 and can sync up with mobile apps such as Torque for android. I purchased the full version but the free version can also read and clear fault codes.

Bluetooth OBD2 Adapter
Bluetooth OBD2 Adapter

The app allows you to read fault codes from your car and also clear then if you think you have fixed them. Many car parts are inexpensive and can easily be replaced yourself. In my case I had a problem with a spark plug misfiring and replaced the spark plugs + coils fairly easily following an online guide. By not paying the garage prices I saved myself over £100. The image below shows the torque interface. After pairing the adapter with the phone (no password required for the adapter I purchased) you can view real-time information or check for faults.

Torque Pro
Torque Pro

The OBD check fault codes button will search for faults taking about half a minute and report error codes (mostly with descriptions). If the error codes do not have descriptions you can probably find them here. Look online for information on your fault and the most probably causes and you can either buy parts and try and fix the issue yourself or take the car to a garage if the problem is harder to resolve. Either way you should have saved yourself on a hefty diagnostics fee.

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