Many of you will have heard of the term ‘error’ or ‘fault memory’. But what is this error memory, and how much would it cost you to have it read out? What do you do if the engine fault or ‘check engine’ lamp is flashing in your vehicle? What about a car code reader, how much does it cost? Would it cost more to read out the fault memory from a workshop? Read on, and we’ll show you all this, and more in this article.
So how much does it cost to read out the error or fault memory? If you choose to carry out a fault diagnosis at a workshop, it can cost between €20–€60. This price includes information on the possible reason for the error, recommendations for corrective action and deleting the error once corrective action has been taken. If the root cause is serious, it must be immediately rectified or else it could cause a serious breakdown or safety risk. Therefore, it can quickly become a costly endeavor. Some workshops will read out the fault memory free of charge if you choose for them to perform the required repairs. You can also read out the fault memory by yourself with an OBD2 diagnostic device that can cost around €20 to €40, and such devices are usually compatible with most vehicle manufacturers and models. There are extremely cheap devices from the Far East that must be avoided because they may be counterfeits of renown brand products and may only work to a limited extent. If you choose a solution that utilizes a smartphone app, you can usually download the app for free on Android and iOS.
What is the data that is collected? How can errors be eliminated? What about a car code reader, how much does it cost? This article will explain how to read out and delete the fault memory by yourself, why you may still need to visit a workshop and an extra tip on reading out the error memory without using any devices!
How Has Technology Changed Our Vehicles?
Technological advances have permeated into our vehicles as well, and most modern vehicles have several interconnected computer systems performing various functions, including comfort and convenience functions such as climate control and infotainment systems. However, just like systems and software on our PCs being vulnerable to errors and freezing, the same can happen with the systems and software in our vehicles due to a myriad of reasons. And, as with all technologically complex devices, it is recommended to run a diagnostic routine and read out the error or fault memory at regular intervals.
There is no prescribed regular interval or ‘one size fits all’ regime for reading out and clearing the fault memory. This means, that under normal circumstances, you need not lose sleep over this task. However, if the dashboard indication lights show that an error has occurred, its best to carry out a thorough check as soon as possible.
Options for Reading Out the Fault Memory
If you’re not sure or are worried about a car code reader how much does it cost, then why not take your car to a garage? The most common way for you, the average car user, to have the fault memory read out is to take your car to a competent workshop. However, there are other avenues available without having to make a workshop visit. such as with dedicated diagnostic devices, laptops and software, and smartphones with mobile apps. You just need the appropriate OBD2 adapter to connect your device to your car. The error codes and conditions are shown on the display once a scan has been run.
If you use a laptop, you will need an OBD2 adapter that is compatible with your vehicle make and model, as well as suitable software. If you use a smartphone there are numerous apps, including free apps that work with a suitable adapter and can be used to read the fault memory. Your smartphone connects to the adapter via a Bluetooth or WiFi connection and allows you to read and delete error messages by yourself.
A workshop offers not only a comprehensive readout of the fault memory with special software, but a comprehensive and professional evaluation of the error data. Based on this data, workshop specialists can conduct an accurate fault diagnosis and identify the root cause of the problem. Sometimes, fixing the problem may require a few simple steps, and if repairs are required, you will receive a quotation from the workshop that includes the cost of rectifying the problem as well as deleting the error codes after rectification.
Let’s Read Out the Fault Memory without Any Devices!
Let us show you a way to read out the fault memory in a rudimentary manner without any device or auxiliary tools required. This way you wont have to worry about any car code reader, how much does it cost, or how to operate them. However, this only applies to vehicles with electronic accelerator pedals, and therefore will work with newer cars that have this system. Since the electronic accelerator pedal is connected to the complex systems via a sensor, the built-in fault memory can be accessed and read out through this method.
You must pay attention to the engine indicator light or ‘check engine’ light during this process, as it will flash in sequence corresponding to the digits of zero to nine, so that the four-digit fault codes can be shown via it. One flash corresponds for one, and ten flashes corresponds for zero.
This is how you do it:
Make sure you have stopped in a safe place where you can work uninterrupted and not cause any disruption to anyone else. Depress the brake and accelerator pedals at the same time. Ensure that the transmission is in D if your vehicle has an automatic transmission. Now turn the ignition key to the ‘ignition’ position. After a short while, the indicator or ‘check engine’ light should flash in the aforementioned pattern and display the codes through this method. If the light flashes continuously, there is no data in the fault memory.
If this is the first time you are doing this, or if you are unsure, it’s best to get some advice from a professional. You should not rely entirely on this method, as misinterpreted numbers can cause you to identify the wrong error, and may have serious consequences in extreme cases.
The Search for the OBD Connection
Diagnostic devices for reading out and deleting the fault memory independently are relatively inexpensive and easy to use even for a layperson. You need to connect the appropriate adapter to the OBD2 socket and run a scan, after which the error messages will be displayed. So where is this port located on your car?
The OBD2 port is not always in the same place on every car. It is usually near or beneath the steering wheel, underneath the ashtray, or near the glovebox or center console. Your car’s manual or an internet search may yield the exact location.
How Does the Error Memory Work
Each control unit in your vehicle contains a fault memory to record the various faults pertaining to the systems under its control. Therefore, diagnostic devices ultimately receive fault codes from various modules. However, fault codes can only directly report electronic errors. When it comes to mechanical defects, sensors can at beast provide indirect clues as to the root cause of the problem.
When evaluation of errors occurs, a distinction is made between static and sporadic errors. If sporadic errors no longer occur after a while, the system automatically deletes them. On the other hand, static errors are stored for longer periods of time and are not automatically deleted.
Why Is the Workshop the Right Contact
Even if reading out errors from the fault memory can be costly at a workshop, a correct evaluation of the root causes behind an error requires specialist knowledge and tools. Error codes only present the type of error. Several error messages may be present at the same time, which would require system knowledge to be effectively interpreted. In some cases, measurements and testing must be taken to ensure that a component is in fact defective, or whether the error is the result of another issue such as a defective connection cable, for example. After rectifying the issue, the expert must delete the error code from the error memory.
It Is Good to Know That Not All Errors Result in Additional Costs
Not every error will have a direct effect on your vehicle’s driving characteristics. However, if it is a serious fault, it could affect engine performance or the functionality of individual systems. In this case, there are emergency programs stored in the system that are automatically activated in order to maintain some functionality of the vehicle. In any case, you will need to consult a workshop for error diagnosis in this situation.
Have the Error Memory Read Out Regularly and Save Costs
If you regularly read out your vehicle’s fault memory, you can identify errors and their underlying defects at an early stage and correct them before greater damage occurs and results in expensive repair costs in the future.
The Same Error after a Successful Repair. What Now?
Suppose a repair has been performed — or a component replaced — but you’re still shown an error message. Annoying right? Well yes, it’s irritating as well as being costly in terms of money and time. This can happen if the replaced part was not the root cause of the problem. For example, if the control unit has not been optimally adjusted to daily driving by the manufacturer, this situation can occur despite the best advice from the workshop. Sensors usually send a voltage signal, the level of which must be between a certain tolerance range and can be interpreted.
Confused? Let’s break it down. Take, for example, the signal from the Air Mass Meter being low, but just high enough to not cause an error. However, the air mass is the decisive control variable for the formation of the fuel-air mixture. This affects the Lambda Probes which also have a tolerance range. Therefore one Lambda Probe may report an error even though others do not show errors and there may not be an overall error generated, as the system may interpret this single error as an outlier. Some of these issues can be resolved by using a car code reader, how much does it cost can vary though.
To avoid errors from this category, you should ask the workshop to always update all control units before performing repairs. The corresponding update is issued by the manufacturer. Another cause of failure can be if cheap online ordered parts were used for a repair. Always pay attention when ordering replacement parts and purchase proper branded items from reputed dealers to avoid prolonged troubleshooting, as nobody expects a new part that has just been replaced to cause defects.