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CarMD...real or fake?

Saw the infomercial for this diagnostic tool (CarMD.com) ($160) that claims to diagnosis, give parts price, and estimated repair cost. Is this a real tool or another rip off?

It’s an overpriced band-aid in my opinion. I really took a dim view of them one evening after forcing myself to sit part way through one of their half hour infomercials.

The infomercial is so bad and so misleading it’s embarassing to watch.

+1 for ok4450’s comments.

From what I’ve seen of their commercials, you can get the same service from AutoZone and other car parts places for free.

I agree that the infomercial is bad. Although the product is real enough, a similar tester sells for about $100 at Wal-Mart. Other testers of lesser capability are cheaper. A tester and a Haynes manual are about all a novice needs. You can learn things from cheap sources.

over-priced scan tool save your money

I have one because my SO is a member of that buzz agent thing where they send you free crap in exchange for you reviewing it online. It’s a code reader with annoyances added in for free. As a code reader, it works fine. You get the actual codes, but the annoying part is that you don’t get them until you plug it into a computer and use the CarMD website. And it requires you to input the VIN of the car you’re reading, and only allows you to have 5 VINs active at a time, so using it to check friends’ cars can be irritating.

I wouldn’t buy one, but since it was free. . .

I don’t have one, but Edmunds seems happy with theirs:

Edmunds says it also reads all stored codes, while others they’ve had just report the OBD-II emissions-related codes.

Their ads are extremely misleading if one wants to put it politely. CarMD states that a customer can do their own diagnosis and then have the shop do that repair as per the customer request. NO sane shop should perform a repair based on a customer diagnosis be it CarMD or anything else. That leads to too many problems and I speak from personal experience on this.
Consider the cut and paste comment from a shop owner who went through this exact thing. Also consider the number of people who have been told by this clueless customer that the shop is a den of thieves.

This tool is so misleading it is the biggest headache I’ve seen in this business in more than a decade.
Customer came in and wanted us to install and upstream Air/Fuel Ratio sensor (O2) on his 99 Accord 2.3 ULEV motor in which the customer supplied the sensor from a local parts store. My explanation to the customer was that I could install the sensor, but without warranty. The customer didn’t bat an eye, and said fine. After the installation the customer returned a half hour later with the MIL light on again and his little CarMD in his hand with the same code. The customer (in front of other customers) accused us of never changing the sensor to begin with. I showed the customer the new sensor and told him we changed the sensor with his sensor. Then he said we didn’t install it properly. Now I did explain to the customer that I would be happy to fix the vehicle as we do without a diagnostic charge, and he stomped out of my office. This tool is very misleading and just a major problem to this business.

(As to CarMDs constant references to ASE that means nothing; especially for those who may remember the recent thread about a wheel bearing being ruined by old anti-freeze and which was related to the customer by an ASE shop. No half-knowledgeable competent ASE mechanic would agree with complying with a customer request to do a repair per a self-diagnosis.)

I was recently doing some www shopping and came across an app called “torque”, it is pretty cheap $4-6 and then needs an interface that connects to the OBD II and that sells for $25 on the net. It gives a lot of real time info if needed and also reads codes. I was trying to find the PC version but something else happened and I haven’t had the chance to look again. I don’t have an urgent need, but live in CA where legislators have made it illegal for the stores to read the codes for us free.

I’ve been meaning to get Torque actually. A friend has it on his Android phone and loves it. It’s especially handy if you get the bluetooth OBDII plug, because then you can just leave it plugged in and gather running telemetry on your phone as you drive around.

My diagnostic tool is a paper clip ‘straightened’ into a U. This is connected to the B (diagnostic) and A (ground) terminals of the ALDL. Turn the key to the ON position (don’t start it, just light it up), wait for the handshake code to flash then watch for stored codes eg. code 32 (EGR) is three flashes, pause, two flashes. Simple and cheap - two of the reasons this will probably be the last vehicle I ever own.

That’s OBDI, not OBDII. So your car must be pre-92/96(?)

94 Suburban.

For about $100 a live data scan tool can be bought that gives direct access to the OBD II system. With such a scan tool and some internet searching as much, or more,can be determined by the user than Car MD can give. But Car MD seems to offer a relatively friendly entry into OBD II for the complete novice. It would be advisable to keep a grain of salt handy when reading the recommended repairs and estimated costs, though.