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Diagnose car troubles with this $46 ODB2 scanner

Normally $66, this might make a great gift for Dad. Plus: a great $10 lantern for emergencies and camping trips.


Well, cheeps, once again you've shown the interwebs how it's done. And by "it" I mean "being awesome." Yesterday you snapped up the Cheapskate Mystery Boxes before the proverbial ink was dry. And many of you who missed out went ahead and donated to The Hunger Project anyway. You get a hug, and you get a hug... hugs all around!

Will there be more Mystery Boxes? One hundred percent yes. Will we do a better job accommodating shirt sizes? Definitely. Will we allow for shipping to Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico? Working on it.

In the meantime, watch for an unboxing video in the next few days! And thank you again for the incredible outpouring of kind words and support.

Ignition, heal thyself

Car scanners have come a long way. In the old days, you'd plug the gizmo into your vehicle's ODB2 port, let it do its thing, then connect it to a PC to see the results. Not exactly convenient.

Today's scanners have their own screens! That means you can instantly find out what caused the check-engine light to come on -- and determine whether it's something that requires a trip to the auto shop.

Sound like something Dad might like for Father's Day? Then here's a deal for you: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Nexpeak Tech (via Amazon) has the NX-501 OBD2 Scanner for $46.19 when you apply promo code NEUSCN04 at checkout. Regular price: $65.99.

This is one of those things that can pay for itself with just one use, because we all know the cost of car repairs. The scanner can not only reveal what error code(s) your car is producing, but also check battery health and reset monitors if needed.

It does all this via a 2.8-inch color screen. It's not a touchscreen, but looks pretty easy to navigate using the accompanying keypad. It's compatible with the vast majority of cars made in 1996 and later.

You can also connect the scanner to your PC (Windows only -- sorry, Mac users) to access Nexpeak's report software.

I'm not really a car guy, and therefore not the best judge of how this compares with the multitudes of similar-looking scanners available on Amazon. But unlike many of the ODB2 dongles that are closer to $20, the Nexpeak doesn't rely on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to connect to your phone, so it's more of a plug-and-play device that's ready to go. And the Nexpeak has a 4.6-star average rating (with reviews that mostly check out, according to Fakespot and ReviewMeta).

So, like a jump starter and tire inflator, this is one of those things you hope you won't need, but probably should have.

Your thoughts?


This little light is collapsible and crankable.


Bonus deal: When the zombie apocalypse arrives, one of the first things to go will be the power grid. That means you'll need a way to generate light. Oh, and I guess some people also like camping.

For a limited time, and while supplies last, the awesomely named ThorFire has this LED collapsible camping lantern with hand crank for $9.99. (Shipping is free for Prime subscribers.) It previously sold for $16.

This little light has a rechargeable battery that's good for up to 4.5 hours of "low-level" lighting or 40 minutes of bright light. But you can also hand crank it to get pretty much unlimited juice.

It can also provide a bit of emergency power to your phone, thanks to what appears to be a standard USB output. (There's some confusion between what's shown in the photo and what some reviewers have experienced. I'm checking with the vendor for clarification.)

For $10, I'd say this is a great item to keep in a glove box, travel bag or zombie preparedness kit.

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter!