You can find simple code readers at Harbor Freight Tools but be sure they're for OBD1 cars. Most are for the newer models with OBD2 or the even newer CANBUS systems. Those won't talk to your car. Also be aware most code readers only access the Engine Computer, not all the other computers on the car. For those you need a full scanner. A lot of mechanics, including me, bought the Chrysler DRB3 because with an additional plug-in card it will access all emissions-related stuff on any brand of car sold in the U.S, but again, only on '96 and newer models.
You might also look on eBay. If you're going to work on more cars in the future, invest in an inexpensive scanner, but remember, most of what works on one brand won't work on others, and what works on a '94 or '95 won't work on a '96. I have a Monitor 4000 that works on Chryslers, Fords, and GMs with one cartridge, up to '95 models, and with another cartridge will do Chrysler automatic transmissions. I also have a Chrysler DRB2 but those only work on Chryslers from '83 through '95, and you need many different cartridges to cover all the years and models. I suspect you'll find them now for less than a hundred bucks because mechanics are constantly trading up and getting rid of the older stuff.
Simple code readers tell you the fault code number and that's all. You still have to look up the description. The better code readers give you the description, but remember, they only tell you the circuit or system that needs further diagnosis. They never tell you to replace parts or that they're bad. A scanner does all that, but for multiple computers, plus they display live sensor data the computers are acting on in real time while you're driving. They're "bidirectional" too meaning you can talk back to the computers and command them to do things like turn on the radiator fan for troubleshooting and things like that. Having a code reader is like having a shopping bag. You have something, but you don't have anything in it.
Monday, December 16th, 2013 AT 10:12 AM