My husband would like a computer scan tool for checking trouble codes on our 1998 and 1991 cars. I asked the guys at the parts store and they said they had a scan tool for the 1996 and newer cars only. Can you suggest a scan tool that will work on both year cars?

QUESTION: My husband would like a computer scan tool for checking trouble codes on our 1998 and 1991 cars. I asked the guys at the parts store and they said they had a scan tool for the 1996 and newer cars only. Can you suggest a scan tool that will work on both year cars?


ANSWER: Very good question. There are two choices. You can buy a simple scan tool for $80 from Actron for the 1996 and newer and a separate scan tool for 1995 and down model years. The difference in the 1996 and newer vehicles is the generic diagnostic system called OBD2, and most 1995 and older vehicles system is called OBD1. You can go to actron.com and look at the scan tools. I have both of these scan tools, and once my neighbors use them they also go out and buy them. The Actron brand is a quality tool and simple to use. You can also reset the check-engine light (turn it off after the repair). For the professional and semi-professional and car clubs there is a model CP9580 that also is loaded with verified fixes for trouble codes, a big money saver.


 


QUESTION: Since all the radiation happened in Japan, is it safe to order a new car built in Japan? Is it safe for your mechanic to put new Japanese replacement parts in your Japanese car? (No one has addressed this issue at all, since radiation has a very long “half life” and people spend many, many hours in their cars.)


ANSWER: Great question and the answer is both governments have been running tests on radiation on everything leaving Japan and retesting upon arriving in the U.S. I personally have no problem with the cars and/or parts being shipped to us here in the U.S. not being safe.


 


QUESTION: I am interested in a hybrid car and have looked at the Toyota and Honda. A friend suggested I look at the Lincoln MKZ and I wanted your thoughts.


ANSWER: As you know, I drive a different press car every week. I did spend a week in a 2011 Lincoln MKZ hybrid. If someone had told me how good it was I would have had trouble believing them. The MKZ hybrid has to be the best hybrid car I have ever driven. The MKZ is a real four-door car with all the options one could want. Our test car was equipped with leather/suede seating, and heated and cooled front seats with multiple power adjustments. My gas mileage averaged 40 miles per gallon. This is a car with ample power and worth a test drive. Retail sticker price on our test car is $39,270 as a vehicle without ABS.


 


QUESTION: I have a 1998 Pontiac Transport Montana and the ABS, brake and anti slip lights came on about six months ago, and my mechanic said that the repair was very costly but I still had brakes. Although I would like to get that problem corrected the main problem is that my cruise control only works occasionally and I use the cruise control all the time. My question is what is involved with repairing the ABS, and is that causing my cruise control to act crazy? Thanks for any help.


ANSWER: The technician needs to scan the anti-lock brake system and find out what the trouble fault code is and then give you an accurate estimate. The cruise control system should also keep a trouble fault code in memory. Cruise control is affected when the anti-lock brake system has a problem. When the ABS light is on, the anti-lock system is shut down and the brakes will operate.


 


Junior Damato writes weekly about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360.