Cars are so computerized these days they can be complicated. Even mechanics use special code reading devices to diagnose what's wrong.
The new gadgets are called DIY Diagnostic tools. It used to be only mechanics had access to these tools, but now you can get your hands on them, which could save you big bucks or possibly prevent a repair rip-off.
Dan Edmunds of edmunds.com says the code readers may make that easier than ever to hit that mark. From the CarMD to the ScanGauge II, DIY Diagnostic tools are affordable and simple to use.
"The onboard diagnostics port is right underneath the steering wheel below the dash board and the devices will plug in and read the code and display a code number," Edmunds said.
Then you just look the number up online or in the manual and can decide from there if it's something you can handle on your own, or you need a pro.
"Knowing what the code is, in some cases there are some fairly benign codes that might have to do with a gas cap that's loose or got a cut in an O-ring, and you can fix that yourself," Edmunds said.
But sometimes you need to see a pro and at least you'll go with some knowledge about what's wrong.
"The code is a little difficult to decipher sometimes and it doesn't always lead directly to the answer, but if you go to the mechanic at least with some level of knowledge you're in a better positi on."