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Dealing with the Problem Child

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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Ah, the challenges of dealing with a finicky performance car as a daily driver, touring car, and for one single night five years ago, a race car.

The Cobalt went some 4000 miles with nary a whimper on my trip to Arizona.

It went through wet weather, cool weather, hot weather, dry weather, and a torrential downpour without issue.

The newly repaired chassis and brakes handled mountain passes and miles of shit roads like a champ.

Then I got home, shut off the car, had some dinner and went to bed.

After taking a day to rest, that evening I went out to fire up the car and the engine couldn't even idle, much less rev. The dash was flashing every warning light it had and that was it for the car, it was going nowhere.

My first response was to call in a tow truck and have it taken to the dealership, but then I got to thinking and realized that if the car was this bad, I might not be able to afford to fix it. To add insult to injury, it was probably going to be more than $200 to have it towed there, a good chunk of change to have it diagnosed, and if I couldn't afford to repair it, another $200+ to have it sent back.

What I needed was a way to figure out how far gone the engine was before I spent the money to send it to the dealership.

It was finally time to pony up and buy a code scanner.

I'm not talking one of the fully equipped pieces that cost over $1000. And I'm not talking one of the cheap ones that won't give me what I need to know for under $100. I need something that can do a lot of what a real, multifaceted diagnostic tool can do, but for a lot less money.

I turned to the OTC OBD I & II Scan Tool (P/N 3211).

To find out how well the scan tool worked and what the results of scanning the Cobalt were, check out the Tool Review I posted this week: OTC OBD I & II Scan Tool 3211.

Ryan

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