The check engine light will come on when a vehicle’s computer receives an error from the engine and will store the code.
Reading the code will point to the problem the car or truck is having.
These codes are called OBD2 or On-Board-Diagnostics, which are built into all vehicles 1996 and newer.
There are some cheap ways to see what is happening, depending on your situation.
How To Check Your Engine Light Code on a Budget
- Free Testing at an Auto Part Store
- Buy a Low Cost OBDII Bluetooth Dongle
- Vehicle Built-In Diagnostics
Some auto parts stores will do a free test on your car or truck and tell you what the code/problem is.
Not all do this, so be sure to call ahead first. Also, obviously, the vehicle must be running to drive to the location.
OBDII scan tool at one time cost thousands of dollars and is only used by professional mechanics and dealerships.
There are now many low-cost solutions, from stand-alone units to dongles that work with a smartphone.
Small OBDII Bluetooth scan tools pair with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop and will display any problem an engine is having.
this is a very good option to troubleshoot a vehicles by reading and clearing the error codes for very little cost, often less than $15.
Many cars and trucks have built-in diagnostics that will flash the error code in a series.
This is the hardest option and requires flashing codes for the year and model of the car or truck.
Every manufacturer does different things, so one car might have in-depth built-in diagnostics while another none.