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Bull or No Bull: Micro Mechanic is supposed to say why the check engine light is on!

Posted at 4:54 PM, Jul 19, 2018

Don't you wish you could find out why exactly your check engine light comes on BEFORE going to an auto shop for answers? Well, the Micro Mechanic is supposed to diagnose the problem and tell you how much the repair will cost, but is it "Bull or No Bull?"

The claim is that you simply plug Micro Mechanic into the vehicle's diagnostic port, and the device will send you a Bluetooth message instantly with the code of what exactly is wrong, so you know how severe the problem is. Plus, it will explain how the codes work and how much it should cost for the repair. You'll need a smartphone, a free app, and the device.

So, we took Micro Mechanic to experts at Mazvo Auto Car Care Center in Phoenix to see if it works.

Owner Shahe Koulloukian had a car in the shop that failed six codes, and we wanted to see if the Micro Mechanic would detect them at all. 

The instructions show a few app options to download, and how to install the Micro Mechanic. The first app, whether using Wi-Fi or not, would not connect to the Micro Mechanic device installed in the car. 

We tried a second app. It asked for so many details about the car. Anyone who does not know their vehicle from the inside out would have to use the owner's manual to input the information. The app also didn't have the specific selection for the type of engine in the car we used for the test, a 2015 Audi. The overall setup process was overwhelming. Koulloukian had to help by explaining what each prompt was asking for. One instruction called for the Micro Mechanic device to light up green when it's installed, but there are no lights on the device.

Both apps we tried, two out of nine that are compatible, had resources for what the codes meant, but we were underwhelmed by the performance.

After the app and device synced, it showed the vehicle had nothing wrong. It showed over ten codes with the word, "passed." All six codes that failed when diagnosed by the mechanic were included in the Micro Mechanic's wrong reading. I heard firsthand. That car was in terrible shape. There is no way it would have passed emissions.

The Micro Mechanic also did not offer prices for what a repair would cost because there weren't any failing codes, according to the incorrect device.

We bought our Micro Mechanic at Fry's Electronics for $21.61. We asked Koulloukian where it ranks on our "Bull or No Bull" meter, and he chose, "BULL!"

Koulloukian shared that there are other similar devices out there that work in selecting and reading code, or reason why the check engine light is on and can be a helpful resource. However, he has experienced that the diagnosis of the device is not as thorough and isn't always accurate. A customer could go into the shop, says the code that a device claimed needed to be fixed, get that repair and leave without fixing a problem at all. You can create more problems and dish out more cash for having to go back and get the correct code fixed.

When your check engine light comes on, Koulloukian said to listen to your car and feel how it is driving. Sometimes you may have a gas cap that is loose, and once it's tightened, the check engine light goes away.

Koulloukian shared that these devices are also unreliable if they truly run on a Wi-Fi connection. A check engine light can come on anywhere, with or without Wi-Fi.

Also, Koulloukian mentioned that auto shops can explain what a code means for free, though that still doesn't diagnose the problem. Koulloukian said most auto repair shops offer a diagnosis at a fee of $85. Once it's diagnosed, if the customer wants the shop to make the repairs, the diagnosis charge can be waived or put toward the cost to fix the vehicle.

Here are some more of the claims:

  • Works on all vehicles 1996 and newer
  • Any problems found in simple, easy-to-understand way on your phone
  • The free downloadable diagnostic app included- compatible with iPhone and Android devices
  • A pocket-sized scanner that stores easily

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