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Depends on your bang
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Posted by Ari [Email] (more from Ari) on Fri, 29 May 2009 06:53:23 Share Post by Email
In Reply to: ODB II code readers, Allen in N.O., Thu, 28 May 2009 12:06:04
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Code readers fall into two camps - those that just read codes, and those that provide real-time readout and recording.

If you just want to read codes, I go for the cheapest and simplest. I've got an Actron CP9125 - it reads out one code at a time, is very small, and DOESN'T have built-in code-to-clear text capability. And that's just fine. I can look up a code in a table, I don't need to spend money for the tool to do it for me (and spend for the larger screen, etc.) I'm going to be doing other work in the manual to figure out what's wrong. However, you can get them with lots of those tables stored, the capability to show multiple codes at once (I don't mind hitting the button a few times). If it is for your own 'consumer' use, hopefully you won't be using it every day, so a few extra button presses are fine. If you're using it daily, then spending extra $$ makes sense. There was a sale at Amazon, and I got it for $30. Good deal.

When it comes to real-time readout/recording, the sky is the limit. My choice is whatever one I can borrow from someone that already bought one. I think you need to get one that stores the data and can be read out later - unless you have a driver, it's not a good idea to be trying to read the thing while trying to get full open throttle. Yes, if you're just monitoring one parameter while driving (e.g. temperature) and can pick the time you watch, different issue. But recording and later readout is good.
Some can only be read out into a computer, usually a PC. Not a bad option.

But remember that the baud rate (rate of data flow) from the OBDII isn't very fast, so you don't get a high update rate on parameters. For stuff like coolant temp, no big deal. If you're monitoring air mass flow, you need to keep the throttle at a setting for a few seconds to make sure you capture that data point.

You'll pay $100- $500 for a unit that records (data logging). Nice toys, but again, what do you want to do? Simple read and clear? Data logging is good for figuring out tough problems, but how often will that be? Only you can decide. Do you want to be the guy with the cool tool folks want to borrow, or can you find the guy with the cool tool to borrow the few times you need it?





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