Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Question about computer diagnostics (related to Saturn trans question)

Okay, basic question: Are there different types of diagnostic equipment? In other words, is the diagnostic computer that my local Sunoco guy has going to be any different than the diagnostic at a transmission shop? I need to get my Saturn SL2 scanned while the “service needed” light is on. The transmission place I want to go is like 30 miles away, and the light may go out by the time I get there. Can the Sunoco up the street do the same thing? Lot easier for me to run up there whenever that light kicks on, and apparently it needs to be scanned when that light is on in order to be accurate. I don’t mind going to the one further away, I just can’t afford a wasted trip.

They’re all the same. It reads a stored code. Save your time and money.

Not true. Some can only read generic powertrain codes, while others can read specific manufacturer codes for everything else in the car and can see live and recorded sensor data. Some cost $50, some are $500 or more.

I have 2 that I personally deal with. I have a $500 Mac Tools code reader which will pick up OBDII codes along with the generic transmission codes. It will not, however pick up Manufacturer specific codes. All this thing really does is read codes and capture little to none live data. I usually use this first unless I am troubleshooting. This is where I turn to my other, which is a scanner. Its a Snap-on MODIS. With all my attachments and software I have right at $10,000 invested in it. This thing obviously does more than just read codes. With the scanner, I can actually test drive a vehicle and shift the transmission back and forth by pressing a button. I can raise and lower the Pressure control solenoid, lock the torque converter, scope components and even flash the computers with updated software. For you though, I would first take it to the Sunoco guy and see if he gets any codes which might have been stored in the computer. If you’re still having issues then you might have to give the trans shop a visit.