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'Saved me a lot of gas and worry': This $17 scanner can spare you a trip to the mechanic — and it's on mega-sale

What do you do when the 'Check Engine' light comes on in your car? A lot of people just ignore it; after all, that sensor is notorious for lighting up for no reason. On the other hand, it could indicate a problem, so you should probably head to the nearest auto parts store and use their OBD scanner. Or you can buy one for yourself, like this pick from Motopower.

Learn what those pesky dashboard lights mean with this easy-to-use scanner, compatible with almost all vehicles made after 1996. Remember that you need to be an Amazon Prime member to take full advantage of the discounts!

Save $10 with code and Prime
$17 at Amazon

It has quadruple discounts — one because it's on sale, one for Amazon Prime members, a 10% coupon, and then another 15% off with the promo code MPOWER66. The savings are bonkers (and the lowest price on record) and a deal you should absolutely take advantage of.

OBD stands for "on-board diagnostics." It connects to your car's computer system and can read the internal codes to diagnose problems. It can be something as simple as a gas cap that's not screwed on correctly (which does throw up a code), or something as complicated as a failing engine thermostat. In other words, it's important to have one; it'll keep you knowledgeable about your vehicle and the repairs it might need.

It pays to have an OBD scanner — sometimes literally. We all know the stories of unscrupulous, wallet-emptying mechanics, so it pays to know what kind of issue you're dealing with before dropping your car off for repair. Crucially, you don't have to be a gearhead to make sense of what the OBD scanner tells you. It also supports six languages, including German, Dutch and Spanish.

OBD scanner against a background
Having an OBD can be a BFD when it comes to saving you a pricey trip to the mechanic. (Amazon)

With over 27,000 five-star ratings, this gadget is doing something right.

"I purchased this to save myself a time-consuming trip to my mechanic to find out why my check engine light was on when my car was running just fine," related this driver. "Turns out, it was just the gas cap. I took the cap off and it wasn't dirty or damaged in any way, so I just gave it a few more clicks when turning it to put it back on. Then I cleared the code and, so far, it has not come back."

"Worth every cent," echoed another user. "I bought this to help address an 'engine code' on my 2016 Chrysler Town & Country van. It showed a 'low voltage' message and I was able to purchase and install a new battery, thus saving a trip to my mechanic."

Another motorist praised its no-brainer user-friendliness. "This device made me informed, saved me a lot of gas and worry. ... The device is spot-on with code reading, is easy to use, and was clearly made well. It’s not the most pretty device, but it gets the job done."

Here's a rather obvious, if unfortunate, one: "It doesn’t work unless your car battery is working, so that’s a downside," shared one shopper.

Another reviewer cautioned against using it in the cold. "My only complaint is that the display responds slowly in the cold. This is not unexpected for LCD [readers], but has a bad side effect. When the LCD is not responsive, and the reader shows a screen for a second and then clears it, sometimes it is not readable at all. Would be better if all screens required a key press to dismiss."

Not sure what to do about that check engine light? Verify whether it's just a faulty sensor or a serious problem needing a visit to the car doctor. 

Save $10 with code and Prime
$17 at Amazon

Older car? Consider giving it an inexpensive upgrade:

If your vehicle pre-dates CarPlay and Android Auto, this transmitter makes it easy to listen to your favorite tunes wire-free. It also gives you two USB ports for device-charging. 

Save $9 with coupon
$17 at Amazon

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

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