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Devices help diagnose your car

Devices help diagnose your car

Credit: CarMD

by Terri Gruca

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on June 3, 2010 at 11:49 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 4 at 3:17 PM

Many of us hit the web to try to diagnose our own symptoms, it’s almost that easy to diagnose what’s wrong with your car before heading to the mechanic thanks to several devices. Some have been around for a while, but a few have undergone major improvements.

CarMD is a cell phone sized gadget which sells for around $100. It’s been around a couple of years but has been upgraded to now support Macs as well as Windows PCs, anti-lock braking systems and airbags.

You go to the CarMD web site enter the make and model of your car and up will pop up a diagram showing the location of your car’s computer connection.

Plug the gadget into the car’s computer port which can typically be found in the passenger compartment of every car built since 1996. Then you turn on the ignition. Four beeps will indicate the information has been downloaded.

There are three different buttons a green, a yellow and a red.

If the device is green you’ve got no problems.

Yellow or red and you have a problem. It will then pop up with a code which you plug in online to figure out what’s wrong with your car.

According to Business Week, “The company hopes to assemble a network of mechanics who'll honor the software's estimates.”

One of the photographers I work with, John Fisher, just bought the Scan Guage II. This device can not only diagnose problems with your car but real-time fuel mileage. Fisher said he paid about $160 on Amazon.

Travis e-mailed me to tell me about another system called Car Checkup. This system works similarly to the others and offers a few things the others don't like a way for you to monitor driving habits and trips. This system costs about $150. You can go here to see how it works.

Travis said, "It can record speed, hard braking, hard acceleration and average speed. It's great for business owners trying to track a fleet of employees or parents with new teen drivers." Thanks for the information Travis.

Black & Decker also has a car diagnostic tool called a Smart Scan. I found it on Amazon for about $68. It doesn’t offer all of the information some of the other tools do.

But in any case, all of these at least give you more information about what might be wrong with your car and how much it might cost to fix it.

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