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Trouble code reader - Where/what to buy?

beaver5beaver5 Posts: 10
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
I keep reading about the trouble codes that are captured by the cars system when it experiences problems and that you need a "trouble code reader" to display these codes.
I have tried to find them at the local auto parts
stores but they do not seem to cover my 2000 Grand Prix GTP.
Can anyone tell me if they have used one of these
"trouble code reader" for this year of Grand Prix and what brand, price and where they obtained it?


  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    and there are a slug of readers out there, starting in the $US 150 to 200 range. has some reviews of units on their website. if you have to, you can even order one there....

    the concept that most intrigues me, and those readers should start on sale about now, is the car card module that clips onto the OBD-II plug and can also serve as a logging module. these are in the $US 130-170 range, and come with software and a cable for connection to a Windows computer for reading it all out. this is also reviewed and linked at batauto. this essentially replaces what was a $US 5000 plus dealer service tool that some dealers had and some didn't for less than 1/40 of the cost, so everybody can have one. it's the size of one-third of a Baby Ruth candy bar and is the real deal.

    I have some medical stuff coming up sometime after april starts... I have built a standard OBD interface to a cheap used laptop, but I am considering one of the car cards once I get past the cardiologist.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    So where has all this gone? Give us the lowdown on the OBDII project. I want to hook up my old Tandy 386 to my cars, and do it the "easy" way. Does your cardiologist use an OBDII reader? (:o]
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    but I haven't found/taken the time to hook up and go around the interstate rings and see how the BR OBD-II wire-module-wire-laptop looks. I will check to see if the laptop's DC power jack works today, it surely doesn't charge the batteries so parts of the power supply may be roached.

    if it's really screwed up, I may just test the interface with the work laptop, but don't tell anybody :-D

    tests this weekend, if the weather stays nice on sunday. I have the joint cat-proofed enough so if I get my call to be roto-rootered for day after tomorrow, I can relax and go for it, and the radio rebuilds are basically done, so I have time in my life. there is also Linux software for the BR module on www.sourceforge.

    I have lost track of the 0patience-reviewed logging module, but as of what I saw a month ago, they should be shipping now. problem is, having forgotten the name, I can't chase it further. didn't see anything the other night that met the spec on batauto.

    as for my cardiologist... no, nothing portable :-D
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    CarChip review article
    I am not that great of an article writer, so be kind when you speak of the article. :)
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    in general, 0patience, I find all the information on batauto clear, concise, and non-confusing... so the occashunyl myszpellung we all make is not a big deal... not many of them either.

    when I get home tonight, I'm bookmarking.

    looked down the detailed info of the car chip, and it DOES run on windows 95, so it would be useful with my floor-sweepings eBay laptop, and any 386 or higher laptop with w95 should work.

    again, I check out my laptop on the 12-volt cable when I get home.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    Many thanks to both of you!
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    1) my oldie is a 486sx/50. enough power and to spare.

    2) unfortunately, the DC input requires another Compaq dongle that produces 18.5 volts. they don't even tell you in the service manual what polarity. typical go-it-alone compaq. if you can find 'em, they are $200.

    so I will play this weekend with, uhhh, ahem, another laptop availiable to me that has good batteries and NT on it. if it's really cool, I will probably get a $30 120V converter. just paid my taxes, and have a line on a non-working signal/one CX7A transciever I ought to be able to fix, so that thins out the mad money quite a bit. CX7s are mighty touchy when sick, it is said, so it might be a real project.

    another alternative would be a PDA that has a serial port and runs on WinCE, assuming you can get the software into it, and it runs. an earlier version of the BR software was once said to run on a compaq PDA, mostly. don't know if the Linux stuff will run on the Sharp Zaurus PDA, which is Linux at its core. batauto has reviewed units that run on Palm OS. I have read many confusing things about whether Palm's change to using Jot handwriting software means the Palm OS goes away... Palm implies the basic system won't change.

    your newer breed of doctors uses Palms all day, so I would personally not expect anything that connects to one to be busted by Graffiti II... any more than any other change breaks things in this computerized world.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    Most of the handheld based scan programs we deal with use either Palm's handhelds or Handspring's handhelds.
    The bad thing about dealing with Palm is they have a minimum price that we aren't allowed to sell for less.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    Palm OS has a big embedded base, mostly of big spenders and big account approvers. while they had a run of lousy hardware and had to do a lot of warranty replacements a year or so back, and while Palm like everybody else has financial issues, they have separated off the OS into PalmSource and have done a tubload of contracts into high-end cellphones, medical centers, and so forth.

    Palm is the best thing to come out of 3Com since its founders invented the Ethernet
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    no codes, no reason to clear 'em, and the BR-2 interface for laptops logs the ISO codes for things like speed, engine load in percent, 0-2 sensors, rpms, airflow volume, etc. just fine and plays 'em back nicely in real-time on the windows software on a 486sx-50 laptop with 16 Mb. or as step-by-step. I built mine as a partial kit, and no issues... saving only $20 off a prebuilt and packaged unit, which in the end would have been a tad cheaper... but then, I just bid and won a very sick signal/one CX7 ham rig that was a RPA to keep working in the early 1970s when those ultra-cool rigs came out at Ferrari prices, because fixing electronic stuff is easy as breathing for me.

    a 386 might have enough juice to run the windows software (needs w95 or higher), or alternatively run the DOS software. I didn't get the windows logfile read by the DOS stuff in a very quick and distracted trial (80 degrees and soooooooo beautiful today...), but the file is small, you could transfer it by floppy to another machine. you don't have to have a powered interface to replay logfiles, so you can do it on anything handy running windows. I did a 15-minute runaround drive over some 8 miles, and the file was under 27 Kb in size. logging and display are a function of the laptop; the interface separately is powered per OBD-II spec in "start" or "run" off the car.

    you can put "markers" on the logfile where you want when recording it. if you as the driver are the only one in the car and want to pull down the logfile menu bar, mouse to it, and click to set another one when the car is running, you surely deserve to run through the barbed wire fence and into a tree... because you surely will. so markers (aha! here the gas pedal seemed to become useless for a few seconds, I will tag the conditions!) are only useful IMHO if you have a buddy riding shotgun to key 'em in.

    fully assembled, the new BR-3 unit is $80 postpaid US... that's the one that covers the 2000+ fast ISO code communication speed.

    the BR interface, like most affordable ones, does not have manufacturer-specific codes for things like A/C and so on, just the ISO-published ones. but that's enough to find an engine issue or some of the major transmission/engine combo issues where there is an ISO code.

    you have to download the 2+ Mb windows zip file or the 400 Kb dos zip file yourself, but us DSL users don't complain about downloads any more ;)

    it'll do fine for me. if you envision working with a lot of cars, and you have creepy machines that do wacko things at inopportune times and need logging all the time so you can trace back and see when something falls off the scale, the CarChip plug-and-forget logger unit might be more apropos at $140, $180 with extra memory. I have not worked with one, 0patience has...
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    My Tandy classic collector's item 386sx20 runs Microslop Windoze 3.1x and thus is out to lunch on this job assignment. I know it will run my Craftsman multimeter readings, and have already installed the software. I may look harder at the CSK Autozone readers. (:o[
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    CSK does have a handheld two or three line display OBD-II reader on sale for $129.95. don't know if those log readings over time, I would bet it doesn't.

    but check out everything availiable to you and make the right choice for your situation. I don't gain anything by recommending big hammers if what you need is a jeweler's screwdriver. even if you need a big hammer, I still can't win a thing.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    my underlying DOS was, like, 6.2x when I quit upgrading it. These old machines are rather large and cumbersome. I need to start buying laptops with an eye toward the old ones retiring to the garage! My desktop PCs are all pretty large and spread out with peripherals. And don't forget, swschrad , we all win big as a result of these Edmunds interchanges. I surely have, and I recognize it. And I do understand your underlying message that you are not selling products or services. I'm not either.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    best of all the standalone dos versions (no squirrelly disk compression software at all.) I think the dead end was dos 8.x underneath windows me.

    as for the desktops... I have two 17-inch monitors hanging off "friskyclone" right now, with "fsckingclone," the linux machine only having one, and "frankenclone" anchored to the stereo for digitizing my old LPs. that leaves the former frankenclone, an 800 MHz athlon, alone and waiting for a new OS and purpose.

    all my non-portables since the 286 have been "frankenclone" computers... built stealthily with parts of dubious origin; fired up at midnight in a show of sparks and arcs, they lurch across the room..... >:-D
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Posts: 1,518
    I plotted at length to get a computer in congress with my stereo system for magic wanding vinyl LPs and reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes (etc.) into CDs. One day at a superb AAFES Exchange, I was smitten by an XL-R5000 JVC. It slid so easily onto a shelf, and required no spouse enraging wire harness or floor cluster to accommodate batches of entangled paraphernalia. I bought. It continues to work beautifully. Get one, you'll like it!
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