Whether diesel- or gasoline-powered, a Mazda's fault codes can be accessed and diagnosed with a handheld scanner. This is the most reliable way to find out why the "Check engine" light has become active. Vehicles operate under a standardised On-Board Diagnostic coding system, but currently, there are two types of code available. For automobiles manufactured before 1996, the hardware needs to know OBD-I fault codes. Vehicles after 1996 need OBD-II, and most scanners are not reverse-compatible. An OBD-II scanner will not understand OBD-I trouble codes. So before buying any diagnostic equipment, know the manufacture year. Once that is settled, retrieving the codes is a fairly simple process.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- OBD code reader
Open the driver's side door, and insert the Mazda's key into the ignition. Leave the vehicle off for the time being, but you will be returning to this key later.
Locate the Mazda's diagnostic port. This outlet is the entry point into your Mazda's diagnostic system, and you should be able to find it somewhere under the dashboard.
Connect the OBD-II scanner into the diagnostic port. To do this, you will use the cable attached to the scanner, which ends in a many-pinned plug. This plug should be easy to push into place. If the port resists, push firmly, but do not force it.
Turn the key in the Mazda's ignition and start the car.
Watch the codes appear on the scanner's screen. Many OBD-II scanners will not provide a definition, so you will likely have to write the reported fault code down and look it up. Using Google, Bing or any other search engine, you can find a decoder, such as "Engine Light Help (see Resources).
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