OBD stands for On-Board Diagnostics, which is a computer system found in modern vehicles.
Main purpose of an OBD2 system is to monitor emissions and diagnostic related information in the vehicle - which is monitored by thousands of OBD2 sensors. This allows a thorough onboard diagnose of car's health.
Scan tools can provide a plethora of benefits for both home car owners and technicians, because it gives an instant analysis of engine problem.
This saves you time from having to guess or manually search for the fault (DTC) when MIL "check engine light" engages on the dashboard.
This also means a car diagnostic scantool can troubleshoot errors before they escalate into an expensive repair.
When a diagnostic trouble code is detected, the scan tool obd system can provide useful information about engine/transmission (where 90% of faults occur), including a snapshot of the conditions which have lead up to the error or physical condition.
An obd scan tool can also provide real-time sensor readings, letting drivers record and measure attributes like vehicle speed, engine RPM, 0-60/100, torque strength and calculate fuel economy/usage.
To get started, you simply plug a OBD2 adapter or port which is located on the driver side below the steering wheel.
Using the automotive scan tool, or even a simply cheap code reader, one can safely access vehicle diagnostic computer, which is the same information a mechanic sees.
There are two types of scanner tools for cars:
Handheld scantool (and) laptop based obd software.
A stand alone diagnose scanner does not require a PC or mobile Android/iOS apps.
It often has limited functionality, lacks advanced graphs, and not upgradeable.
While car software based OBD solutions require a laptop or mobile phone with an OBD app installed.
The obd scan tool connects to the laptop or mobile device using either ELM327 USB, Bluetooth or WiFi version.
Software based automotive scan tools are most powerful in all categories because they harness the power and upgradeability for future vehicle support.
Laptop based OBD2 software has several advantages:
- Large, easy-to-read screen
- Unlimited storage for data logging
- Wide selection of diagnostic software that can be easily online updated
- Remote data acquisition
- Cost a small fraction of the price of comparable stand-alone scantools
Unless you have a knack for quick plug-n-play handheld code readers, PC based software (like TOAD) can:
- Turn off the check engine light, and erase stored diagnostic information
- Check emissions readiness
- Read and erase trouble codes (generic and manufacturer-specific)
- Display real time parameters
- Record data for later playback
- Plot data in the form of graphs & maps
- Display customizable Digital Gauges
- Serve as a dynamometer
- Provide a drag strip feature
- Analyze and solve engine misfires
- Generate printable diagnostic reports
- Access manufacturer-specific information
- Do lots of other cool and useful things that makes owning a car way more enjoyable and privileged
In our research, none of the stand alone OBD2 car diagnostic scanners available on the market can reasonably compare to the features of software.
But let's be clear, no one diagnostic tool does it all. There is no such thing as "best".
Therefore you may end up playing with more then one scanner/reader.
What else can OBD usage do for you...