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OBDII code reader as good as a 6,000 Dealership laptop

My expensive mechanic is trying to convince me that his 6,000 lab-top does a way better job than a OBDII code reader. I got 3 different estimates on what was wrong with my vehicle.(engine light on) The 2 plain old code readers said P0051 (O2 sensor). He is trying to convince me that they are all wrong, I have a serious transmission issue and his codes are only for Toyota and his laptop isn’t wrong nor does it print out a read-out. Any thoughts?

To the first part of your question - no one has any earthly idea what your mechanic uses for diagnostics so no one could say anything for sure. But professional scantoools and generic/basic code readers are not even in the same category. In general, you just said something like, “can the Concorde really get me to Europe faster than my buddy’s row boat” Perhaps you’ve seen too many CarMD infomercials.

“I have a serious transmission issue and his codes are only for Toyota and his laptop isn’t wrong nor does it print out a read-out. Any thoughts?”

This part I can’t comment on because you aren’t making any sense. You seem convinced that you have an A/F sensor heater circuit problem except that now all of a sudden you a serious transmission problem. And the whole thing about “his codes” being only for Toyota also doesn’t make sense. “He” doesn’t have codes. Toyotas will throw codes. Some will be generic OBDII codes (generally P0000-P0999) while others are manufacturer specific. A generic code reader will probably only read P0000 - P0999. A serious scan tool will read those and most everything else - but that too varies.

On eBay, you can buy a $20 OBD-2 to USB cable for YOUR laptop that will include some basic diagnostic software, more than most laymen can use or understand…

Professionals can buy expensive software packages that allow very detailed analysis…

Dealerships have proprietary software that allows them to go where no one else can…

But the OBD-2 codes are the same for everybody. Your transmission is not part of the OBD-2 system…It has a separate diagnostic path…

I never said I have a transmission problem, that’s what the first mechanic is trying to tell me. Keep in mind this vehicle has 80,000 miles and is only 5.5 years old. The fact that he was really quick to take my money for his 10 minute diagnostic check and send me to his transmission specialist just didn’t sound right. That’s why I had two different shops do just a “Code Pull” which is a free way to get an idea what is going on. They pulled the P0051 codes, he said he pulled a P1201 code (fuel injector) then tried to convince me that in a Toyota, that’s a transmission code. I have access to the Toyota OBDII code list, so something just doesn’t sound Kosher. So what your saying is believe every mechanic you see, challenge nothing, and take it up the tailpipe?

nicely said, thanks

I now recall your post about the P1201. Why did you create a whole second post? Why would you write that you have a serious transmission problem without making it clear that you were talking about what someone claimed? And how could I “keep in mind” that it has 80K miles and is 5.5 yrs old when you didn’t give that info in your original post? You’re going to need to be a lot clearer if you want complete strangers on the internet to help you out.

Ok - so you don’t trust what this mechanic told you. Fine. Ignore it and move on. Or if you want to know ask this mechanic what the basis is for saying you have a serious transmission issue. If all s/he gives you is P1201 then just ask - how does an injector circuit problem have anything to do with a transmission problem. Perhaps there is more that they saw on the scantool.

But make no mistake - high end scan tools do a lot more than just pull error codes.

Thanks, this shop that I first went to doesn’t seem to have the best track record in town. I do understand that his equipment is higher-end than an OBDII code reader. Fairly small town, being a single gal with no brothers or dad in the area doesn’t help. I did call him back since your last post and he offered to do a second diagnostic check on it. I just want to see where I stand. I am all for fixing things that are broke, just not up to having my headlight fluid replaced at this time. Thanks for your patience.

I’m wondering if something is being lost in translation on the journey from the laptop guy to what has been posted on here.

The difference between the OBDII scan tool and the laptop/software is much less significant than the ability of the operator/user to interpret the data acquired by either method. (By the way, I don’t know what you mean by “his laptop isn’t wrong”.) I would get a second opinion from another mechanic/shop.

We’re on your side and you can always use this board to get advice/check up on what is going on. Unfortunately it is true that some shops will try to take advantage of people. You shouldn’t have to worry about it, but you do. Trying to get informed is the smart thing to do.

Whenever you come by for advice, start every post with the vehicle’s make, model, year, mileage. Also give info on maintenance items as relevant (e.g. the last time you had spark plugs done, filters, recent repairs etc. Its now always relevant by normally is).

Then give as detailed a description as you can about what is happening. This would include anything funny the car is doing (sights, smells, sounds, what you feel), and anything anyone has done toward the issue - such as what mechanics or anyone else has done. This includes any testing of stuff, information regarding error codes/warning lights, any parts replaced etc.

Then - anytime you come back for the same thing reply to your own original thread.

All of that helps up help you.

Good luck with this.

I’m going to jump in here and try to clarify the OP’s post because it sounds like some missed the points she was trying to make. It does make sense.

“He is trying to convince me that they are all wrong, I have a serious transmission issue and his codes are only for Toyota and his laptop isn’t wrong nor does it print out a read-out.”

Plainly says:

"He is trying to convince me that

  1. they are all wrong,
  2. I have a serious transmission issue and
  3. his codes are only for Toyota and
  4. his laptop isn’t wrong
  5. nor does it print out a read-out."

So that begs the question of why the laptop guy has given one code (as far as we know) and the 2 places afterwards provide something entirely different.

It seems to me there is still some murkiness in the story and the fact the vehicle is only 5.5 years old with 80k miles on it does not give it a free pass as far as any transmission problems.

A couple of years ago my son was having a very severe problem with the transmission in his Lincoln Aviator (known for a fact to be the transmission) and there was not one code present; either with my scanner or the one a friend of mine (lifelong transmission guy) uses.

The OP has not even said anything about any symptoms that may exist other than a CEL being illuminated and one wonders if the laptop guy was trying to gouge the OP then why not gouge them instead of sending them to a transmission specialist?

This brings up the question of why not go to a transmission specialist for an opinion and also the point about who these other 2 facilities are that scanned the car for free. (AutoZone, O’Reillys, et al? )

Hardware wise…you don’t need much to read the codes…A simple computer with a 15yo 486 chip can easily handle this.

The software isn’t too complicated either.

I seriously doubt hi system is much better.

To cut to the chase, what are the symptoms you’re experiencing?

I can guarantee you if code readers did such a wonderful job, then we wouldn’t be spending thousands of dollars to do what could be done for a hundred bucks. It’s all about the software which code checkers don’t have. The only info you’ll get out of them will be generic as to where your “expensive” mechanic obviously has dedicated Toyota software. Which one is more accurate? Obviously the dedicated Toyota software. Every once in a while my MIL will come on on my Astro van. I use my Mac code checker and there’s usually codes for O2 and a P0700 for the transmission. Then I hook up the Tech-2 Which is GM specific and have no P0700 for the transmission. So yeah there are times when code checkers are wrong. Do like others here have advised you and have a transmission shop check it out using a real scanner.