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Scanners vs code readers

I am a BYM. Repair and maintenance now has gotten to a new level since I started fixing my own cars.An example: The check engine light.This trouble code could lead you down a multitude of avenues of repairs.To diagnos the trouble code correctly you need tools, and that is my question. Scanner or code reader?

I’m looking at two instruments at the present time. They are:

1) EQUUS 3140 Innova Diagnostic code scanner or,

2) Auto-tap scanner.

I’d appreciate any advice you can give me on this problem.

My question is, am I wasting my time and money on these two?

What would you suggest?

Thank you for your answer in advance.


I posted a question about a firm called CarMD,didn’t get much response. What I think is important in a code reader is for it to include access to a data base explaining the code and what you can do to resolve the code,so thats what I would be looking at in regards to a simple code reader.

In regards to a scanner,it is very hard to replace the capabilities that the scanners the manufactures specify for their cars (the type the mechanics at the Dealers use called “essential tools”) Things have gotten better with aftermarket scanners,they approach the capabilities of "factory spec. scanners,like the GM Tech2, they support BCM ,ABS,and security system diagnosis,but they are pricey.

In a perfect situation I would want a manufacture spec scanner (like a Tech2 for GM) and access to all updates.

I don’t know anything specfic about the products you mention,it appears to be a area I should investigate.

A code reader is just that. It will display a code and maybe the definition or meaning of the code. A true scanner allows real-time monitoring of the engine management system. So for example, you get a code for an O2 sensor that’s slow to respond. With a scanner, you can bring up a graph that displays the cross-counts of the O2 sensor, and from this you can determine if the problem is with the O2 sensor.

I’ve been using the AutoTap software package for over seven years. And this product performs the same functions that the dealers scanners perform. And if want to get into real diagnosing, this product provides the most bang for the buck.