Yes, most auto parts stores will read codes free, CEL coming on even once means there is for sure at least on DTC code in memory, but computer sets codes all the time without turning on CEL, so you could have some history codes that may be helpful.
Another option is a Bluetooth reader
All new cars and trucks sold in North America since 1996 had to be OBDII(OBD2) compliant.
OBD = on-board diagnostics, pre-1996 is OBD or OBD1, 1996 and up OBDII
You can buy Bluetooth adapters(they are OBDII only) that plug into the OBDII connector under the dash, they get power from the connector.
You can then read codes or watch live data with engine running and while you drive on a smart phone or laptop, assuming they have Bluetooth, the live data can be helpful with problems
The adapter runs from $20-$90 and the "app" is usually free, but check first, sometimes the adapter is cheap and the "app" costs.
I don't know of any that are better or worse, just read reviews
It is not a bad investment since it works on any car or truck made after 1995
Google: obd II bluetooth
Last edited by RonD; 10-23-2014 at 10:32 PM.