You can also get readouts of the engine's health before a long road trip, check the health of the engine of a used car you are thinking of buying and smog test your car.

Other helpful resources

Finding a good, trustworthy mechanic is sometimes a difficult thing, but there are a few resources that can help in the process.

The popular national radio talk show "Car Talk" has a database on its website called the "Mechanics Files" of 16,000 mechanics that have been recommended by the Car Talk community.

The website Angie's List also has an extensive database of mechanics that have been rated by its users.

And if the aforementioned CarMD or similar devices are out of your price range, many auto parts stores will provide a free scan of your vehicle should your "check engine" light come on. Just call the stores in your area first to see if they offer such a service.

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