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General Articles - Product Reviews

CEN-TECH? OBD II Code Reader

Article written by Moab Man

Date Added: 05/27/2007

If you are driving an OBDII vehicle, you have most likely found the accompanying check engine light to be both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing is that the diagnostic capabilities of this system are quite smart and can make problem solving simple and straight forward.
The curse on the other hand? We know the light is on and there is some kind of problem, but what is the ?check engine? light trying to tell us? To find out we can always make a run down to most major auto parts stores, and they will use their scanner to read the codes for free. Of course this only works if the vehicle isn?t dead as a result of the ?secret code? behind the check engine light.

There is always the poor mans method of cycle the ignition this many times, honk the horn, and flash the lights? or something to that effect. This will work but requires the careful counting of light flashes from the ?check engine? light followed by a search to decipher the codes flashed.

Eventually, you will find these methods of extracting codes to be tiring. The idea of $100-$300 for an OBDII code reader is too much to spend for most of us, but what would you say to spending $40?

At our local Harbor Freight store, we stumbled upon a CEN-TECH? OBD II Code Reader Item 94168. The unit is universal for OBD II vehicles, easy to use, straight forward, and includes a book of standard trouble codes.

Follow along as we try it out.

First locate your vehicles OBD II port and plug in the CEN-TECH? OBD II Code Reader.

**Don?t connect or disconnect the CEN-TECH? with the ignition on or the engine running.

Plug in the CEN-TECH? and wait for the LCD display to read "OBD II."
Now turn the vehicle ignition to ?ON,? press and release the ?READ? button one time, and wait while the LCD will display ?Link??

**DO NOT start the vehicle.

Once the CEN-TECH? is finished reading the codes, it will display them on the LCD screen. The top line displays the trouble code. The second line displays which trouble code you are viewing of X codes. Simply lookup the code in the supplied manual, and see what your error is. In our picture the P1492 code is a Battery Temperature Sensor. The second line of the pictured display is telling us we are viewing the first code, and there was only one code read/stored.

Now that we know what needs correcting, turn the ignition to ?OFF? and disconnect the CEN-TECH? to make repairs.

With the offending sensor replaced, connect the CEN-TECH?, turn the ignition to ?ON?, and once the connection to your vehicles ECU is established press the ?ERASE? button one time. The LCD display will then display ?ERASE?? To confirm that you do want the codes cleared, you will need to press the erase button one more time.
Once your vehicles ECU is cleared, the unit will display ?DONE!?

Final Thoughts

The CEN-TECH? unit does not offer the bells and whistles of the higher end units, but for forty bucks you can?t go wrong. Overall we really liked the simple two button unit, and it has made trouble-shooting multiple codes a breeze.

For those of you trying to cheat the system, we must point out this is a diagnostic tool. Using the CEN-TECH? to simply clear the codes of your ECU will not correct a problem. The check engine light/trouble code will return once the computer senses the problem.

Our Thank You's!

We would like to thank Harbor Freight for another fine tool at a reasonable price.

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