In the 21st century, with the advancements in technology, almost every task can be automated and controlled by high functioning software. From your battery power toothbrush to surgical and construction equipment, everything is automated. However, one thing you blindly rely on, in your everyday routine is your CAR!
You can’t afford your vehicle to break down in the middle of the road when you are getting late for work. But don’t worry, technology has all the answers and solutions to your worries.
Computer based software and devices in an automotive specialty are being used extensively for maintenance, and regular examination for vehicle’s condition and this practical usage of the computer in automotive diagnostics revolutionized this field.
The central assortment purpose in most automotive has been primarily the car laptop, which even the infamous onboard diagnostic scans can analyze.
Different software is implied for vehicle scanning based on their ability and efficiency to diagnose the faults or concerns precisely and accurately. With every passing year, this software is becoming more and more user-friendly and easy to understand and operate.
Some of the basic features of computer-based diagnostic tools and scanners include the ability to edit the data codes to enhance vehicle’s performance. Codes can easily be altered by computers and employed accordingly. The engine performance can also be boosted by a calibration method.
All you have to do is use the engine performance enhancing software and boost your automotive engine work. Another amazing feature is the ability to program and reprogram your car’s engine. You can also reprogram the manufacturer’s codes by using car’s computer or external PC.
These features come handy for those vehicles whose engine needs code renewal from time to time.
How can this Software be put to work?
There are so many approved applications which might be installed on a laptop for an automotive, diagnostics purposes. These applications could be downloaded or may have to be bought from the car related websites, or wherever they’re offered with a purchasable budget.
By putting this software system on the PC, the user has a prospect of virtually saving many thousands of bucks. Once the put in software system has been run and discovered, the automotive engine should be connected to the PC with the available USB cable.
This cable helps in smooth transfer of codes information to the PC screen connected to the automotive.
At the click, wherever the pointer points to many areas of the display options, a prompt menu pops up. This menu can often be scrolled either up and down or sideways by the keyboard. This helps in making a selection.
The next step is to prompt the scanning method with the assistance of the software; the scanned knowledge is typically displayed on the screen. The scan method during this procedure could be quite slow and in some cases, not cowl the total automotive, as in that the case of the OBD two.
When the info starts trickling in, the user must analyze it, to assist the method of automotive repair. This can be done more appropriately if the software system is additionally enabled with a comprehensive knowledge fault code directory for the automotive being inspected.
The use of laptop scanning has not gained significant ground within the automotive repair business. Except for the vast usage of the automotive ADP system, there are some of the factors why this methodology has not been very talked-about.
These include the installation cost as the software system programs employed in this methodology illustrious is considered extremely expensive. Moreover, the mechanic outlets which might afford them pay direct and keep the costs high, so interference standard people from victimization them.
While the OBD II scan tools might not demand abundant technical know-how from the user, laptop software system might not be effectively used if they aren’t well versed in computers. There are few other applications out there in the market which are meant for sharing by many users, and some cars might not even be compatible with some of these applications.
It’s clear that they work on 50 to 90 info codes.
OBD – Onboard Diagnostics is a self-diagnostic and reporting system which is used by onboard computers in cars and trucks. This standardized diagnostics system is specifically designed to look for the health of your vehicle and gives you a detailed analysis of its functioning.
This OBD system was first designed by California Air Resources Board, also known as CARB, and its specifications were developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers SAE before implementation.
OBD is an automotive term which describes a vehicle’s ability of self-diagnostic and confirmation. By this system, the vehicle owner or mechanic can get the insight about the health of the vehicle and get the way into vehicle’s subsystems.
OBD II systems use code designations, communication protocols, and connectors which are same for all manufacturers, allowing OBD II scanners to access all the data. OBD II code reader and the Onboard diagnostic device is used to detect the vehicle’s faults no matter how gigantic the vehicle may be; it works right!
To avoid any damages and chaotic situations, in January 1996 it was implemented that every model of the vehicle was to be fitted with a built-in ODB-II system to ensure the vehicle’s safety. Keeping this in view, all the vehicles and light trucks in America which are built and sold after 1996 are OBD II fitted.
OBD II Scanners are divided into two basic categories according to their programming, and you will find either one of the two in vehicles all around the world.
- Code readers
OBD II code reader area unit is characteristically cheap, unadorned devices that may browse and clears codes from any vehicle that’s equipped with OBD II. They’re easy to control and code simply.
However, with this simplicity, they need bound limitations. These devices have some inherent limitations therein they usually lack any data on manufacturer-specific codes and supply restricted or in most cases no access to alternative information.
- Scan Tools
OBD II scan tools area unit is relatively expensive, as it offers a range of various options. Scan tools could give additional access to or data concerning manufacturer-specific codes, give in-depth, customizable access to measure and recorded information and supply advanced troubleshooting data.
The practicality of associate OBD II scanner depends on whether or not it’s a basic “code reader” or an additional advanced “scan tool.”
Basic code browsers will solely read and clear codes, whereas advanced scan tools may also read live and recorded information, give in-depth information bases, give access to bi-directional controls and tests, and alternative advanced practicality.
All OBD II scan tools supply some basic practicality, which incorporates the flexibility to browse and clear codes. These scanners may also supply the flexibility to envision unfinished, or soft, codes that haven’t activated the check engine lightweight nonetheless, and supply access to a wealth of data.
Information from nearly each device that gives associate input to the aboard laptop or PC are often viewed via associate OBD II scanner, and a few scanners may also found out custom lists of parameter IDs (PIDs). Some scanners additionally give access to readiness monitors and alternative data.
Since OBD II systems area unit standardized, OBD II scanners area unit comparatively easy to use. All of them use an equivalent connection, which is defined by SAE J1962.
Primary scan tools operate by inserting a universal plug inside the OBD II diagnostic connector in a vehicle. Some advanced scan tools also include keys or modules that augment the universal connector to access or interact with OEM-specific information or controls.
The whole process of setting your OBD II scan tool might be like fitting an elephant into a box with the jam-packed engine and all. Then you may find the installation of those scanners far more difficult and tricky than you have anticipated.
But there is nothing to worry about as we will explain to you the step by step guide and all the basic information you need to know.
Some key points to keep in mind beforehand for your safety may be, the use of a protective piece of clothing – like for all the cases within the garage, the OBD II procedure has a high chance to expose the user to numerous flying and vaporized objects during fitting. These might not be good for the skin and even the user’s eyes, so protection is a must for your safety.
While working with engines, the exposure to acid spills has a high risk as it involves acid-lead batteries and interactions with it are very common. One should take the safety measures by securing the body with an anti-corrosion material.
In addition to that, the usage of gloves and safety glasses is highly encouraged to facilitate precautionary measures in mitigating the risks to hands and eyes. You have to watch out for various risks.
Burns and fireplace breakouts are quite common during the OBD scan tool setups. For starters, make sure that the positioning of your body conforms to the user tips arranged to get into the manuals.
Use of tools, as a result of the engine space, wherever the OBD II is inserted is sometimes a charged space, make sure that you have got all the mandatory tools to be able to add the realm. Additionally, make sure that the tools aren’t left haphazardly within the engine compartment.
Get to grasp the codes beforehand, the OBD II scan tools offer the user numerous codes and coming back to grasp them prior will facilitate one to develop a transparent strategy on the way to get the codes. Additionally, make sure that there are no errors in the course of reading, and know the tool itself first before even getting started on yours and your vehicle’s safety.
Although the automobile garage is sometimes the foremost applicable place, the do it yourself (DIY) obsession has opened the homes for the employment of OBD. You have to make sure that the place wherever the tool is supposed to be installed, is well ventilated and open enough to scale back the danger of you posing for any serious, life-threatening situation.
The OBD II scanners are found to be important based on their properties. They help alter the modification of units and enable the motorcar power off time to be modified and adjusted. OBD II also facilitates in putting off the printer header and allow the efficient and effective display of OBD data.
One of the most important features is its ability to display scanned information and check for scan memory without distortion. It also facilitates the easy up gradation of OBD II software.
If you own a car that was built after 1996 and you want to do any work on it, either to save money or just because you enjoy getting your hands dirty, then an OBD II scanner can be a valuable addition to your toolbox. However, it doesn’t imply that every ‘backyard’ mechanic should head out and drop $20,000 on a high-end scan tool from Snap-on or Mac.
Do-it-yourself mechanics have a lot of less expensive options to explore, so you’ll want to check them out before you make a purchase. For instance, a lot of parts stores will check your codes for free, and you can find a lot of diagnostic information for free on the Internet. In a lot of cases, that might be all you need.
If you want a little more flexibility, there are some cheap scan tool options you can check out. Dedicated code readers that also provide access to PIDs are one option to look at, and you’ll be able to realize an honest one for below $100 usually.
Another possibility, notably if you’ve got an honest humanoid smartphone, is associate ELM 327 Bluetooth scanners, that may be a cheaper path to primarily an equivalent operate. So you have plenty of options available in the market to choose from and make the right call for you OBD/OBD II Scanner.
TOP RATED OBD II CAR SCANNERS
Although a wide variety of scanners is available in the market there are some scanners rated best of all based on their convenience and efficiency. Some of the high functioning scanners are described below.
Main features of Autel’s MaxiScan MS300 include simplicity, durability, and reliability for a longer period as it comes with a warranty. Due to its handy operating system, it is easy to use by care owners, and they don’t need a mechanic’s help. It has been reviewed and graded as a superlative tool by both mechanics and casual vehicles owners.
The MaxiScan can process thousands of Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) issued or assigned by almost all the automotive manufacturers and display them on Display Screens i.e. LCD screens.
For a complete and correct diagnosis of your car’s problem or vexation, this MaxiScan works best along with its portable and easy to understand manual. It can easily be ordered online from amazon.com with a price ranging from 15 to 35 USD.
The device contains two buttons, one for reading and other for clearing the codes. Other characteristic features of the device include:
- CD catalog comes with the device which contains more than 7000 Trouble codes and their descriptions
- In case of any problem, it recovers the prime Diagnostic Trouble Codes and lookup software, primarily assigned by the automotive manufacturers and displays it on PC or Laptop screen
- LCD screen with backlight and a multilingual descriptive menu with DTC definitions and a standard 16-pin OBD II Connector. Which makes it easy to read with no additional cable required.
- It has the capability of retrieving Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of all the vehicles designed after 2002 and support a specific mode 9
- It also supports all the latest OBD II protocols along with Controller Area Network (CAN)
- It can be used as a scanning tool for almost all the U.S, European & Asian manufactured vehicles as OBD II is specifically installed in all U.S cars sold after 1996.
This is an advanced version of all the other diagnostic tools being offered by Innova and is a little bit expensive than other OBD II Scanners. But it has a user-friendly interface and is facile to operate because of its elaborative display.
It also provides a Quick Reference Guide and online support to the users.
Innova 3100 has a backup power bank which provides the ability of analysis even without being connected to the power supply of the vehicle.
- Instantly identifies the problems for a lit emergency Engine light of all the foreign or local manufactured cars, SUVs or even Light trucks.
- It works for most GM, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota vehicles and removes the ABS light troubles.
- It contains a LED display and patented all-in-one screen for drive cycle verification and readiness check.
- To confirm repair completion, it automatically refreshes the data after every thirty seconds when connected to the vehicle
- Off-car review and analysis is also possible due to the backup memory of storage battery
Another OBD II Diagnostic Scan tool from Innova is Innova 3030. This tool is a technologically advanced version of all Scan Tools as it is designed for the professionals and those who are interested in discovering more and more about the Vehicle Care and Maintenance.
This proves to be a perfect tool for those who are in love with their cars and would do anything to ensure its health and safety.
Keeping in view the targeted audience, its complexity permits some cool features along with some limitations like a transmission or analysis can’t be done without any basis and from scratch.
The device has an understandable interface with a simple display screen with displays 25 points of relevant information when every is in use. The “check engine” light’s root source identification is as easy as ABC for this Innova 3030.
- It is proved to be the perfect entry-level diagnostic and scanning tool for engine and vehicle maintenance, identify and remove the Check Engine and ABS lights
- It is compatible with a wide range of vehicles whether be it hybrids, domestic, foreign cars, SUVs, minivans including ABS identify and remove coverage
- It’s genuine patented screen display is a cherry on the top with the all-in-one back-lit display. It has a display ability of a maximum of 25 different notifications at one time.
- When connected to the vehicle, it can automatically refresh the data after every thirty seconds, which helps in keeping track of repair completion.
- Its most amazingly advanced feature which makes it superior to other scanners is the addition of upgradable USB cable
Another model of Innova Scanners is 3040 Scan Tool which, due to its reasonable price, impressive diagnostic capabilities and simplicity to operate make it most liked diagnostic scan tool by car owners.
Like Innova 3030, Innova 3040 not only refreshes the data after every half a minute but also prevents generation of false positive signals. It’s large and readable LCD provides a multilingual medium for its diverse customer base.
The language can be selected from a range of English, Spanish, or French. It provides durability for a long span by its USB Upgradation facility by which the device can be updated whenever needed.
- Like its predecessors, it has the efficient Check Engine Light or other warnings readability for all the vehicles, SUVs or minivans marketed after 1996.
- It can resolve the engine warnings with great precision and efficiency
- It can not only view and present the live but also the freeze frame data
- Automatic data refresh mode after every half a minute while being connected to the vehicle makes the repair completion verification feasible.
- Upgradable Internet USB feature ensures it will work on vehicles for many years to come
- Multilingual on-screen display, definitions, and interface can be selected from English, Spanish, and French
An OBDLink SX USB technology is being used by mechanics all around the world several years now. This diagnostic ScanTool simply connects the vehicle’s onboard computer with a Laptop or PC or a tabloid with the help of a USB Cable.
It is considered to be a simple and reliable diagnostic Scan Tool by Mechanic Community and is capable of diagnosing issues in all the vehicles fitted with OBD II after 1996. This works in a way where the system is being operated by your PC or computer screen.
It identifies the problem, and after repair, the emergency or Check Engine Light can easily be turned off by OBDLink.
- Windows PC, Tabloids or laptops can easily be turned into professional-grade automotive scan tools
- Limitation of this technology is that it is not compatible with Apple & iOS devices
- With all the technological advancements and scan tool available, it is possible to identify, monitor and resolve any “Check Engine” trouble by yourself from your laptop.
- It saves not only money but also the time expense with is done by taking your car to mechanics
- OBDwiz Software also offers the free License Key to all the users.
- It provides not only a solid 3-years warranty but also software upgrades from time to time.
- It can be operated on every car, light trucks made in the US but have a limited application for hybrid or electric vehicles.
More About OBD II Scanners and their Function:
OBD Scan Tools are being widely used and are proven to play a vital role in vehicle maintenance and health. Poorly maintained vehicles cause not only performance problems but also a serious environmental concern. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for implementation of the environmental regulations.
And OBD scan tools are being specifically reinforced as per EPA regulations. For vehicle safety and health permits on OBD II scanner is a must and has been in practice for a very long time.
Other than the environmental concerns and regulatory aspects, OBD Diagnostic Scan Tools are also the basic pillars for accident prevention due to engine failure or roadside mechanical errors. If properly fitted and functional OBD measures are taken seriously, most of the life-threatening situations can be avoided.
As OBD scanners provide a time to time vehicle maintenance facility, a tremendous cost cutting, and time-saving can be ensured which is bound to go wasted in a can of mechanic visits and car repairs which surely is a drain at owner’s pocket. These OBD Scanners clearly indicate the problems or faults and gives specific suggestions and measures to be taken which save from consultancy cost and same can be used for repairs.
Before buying any Car Scanner, first, you should be aware of the OBD II protocol which is supported by your vehicle. In other words, the basic knowledge of your vehicle’s OBD II protocol is needed to choose any Diagnostic Scan Tool. And for that reason, the ODB systems provide the vehicle owner or even repair technician information about the status of the many vehicle subsystems.
The OBD II code readers are a perfect choice for an on-board diagnostic device utilization to detect automobile faults. So, if your car is any model of late 1995s or 1996 onwards, there is a 90 percent chance that it already has a built-in OBD II system.
There are certain ways by which you can confirm the presence or absence of an OBD system inside your car. Firstly, if there is a Connector (a multiple ports looking interface) anywhere near your engine or second of all, if, beneath the engine hood, there is a sticker or an engraved carving saying “OBD II Compliant”, you can take a sigh of relief as both of these parameters confirms the presence of an On-Board Diagnostic systems.
This OBD II supplies an extensive diagnostic DTCs which means a single device and analysis the onboard computer in any vehicle.
ODB-II is further categorized in two models namely, OBD-2A & OBD-2B. OBD-2A is generically located in diver’s compartment, between the steering column and vehicle’s centerline. Whereas ODB-2B is likely to be found attached to the device panel and accessible from the driver’s chair or the Co-driver’s chair or through the peripheral regions.
OPERATION PROTOCOLS of OBD II
For an OBD II interface to operate, certain protocols have to be followed like any other technology. In the case of OBD II, five signaling protocols are devised and most of the automotive implement only one of the 5 designated protocols.
These protocols include SAE J1850 VPW– used by Ford manufacturers, the SAE J1850 PWM – used in Common Motors vehicles, ISO 9141-2, for bidirectional series communication without extra handclasp signals and ISO 9141-2 which is majorly used by Chrysler primarily, Euro, and Asian automobiles. ISO 14230 KWP2000 is used by Asian manufactured automotive.
Bosch invented an ISO15765-4/SAE J2480 protocol for motor vehicle and commercial control.
So, no matter what signaling protocol is used by your vehicle, OBD II will provide easy access to the engine control unit’s data and will come in handy while troubleshooting engine & maintenance problems of a vehicle.
Of all the above-listed protocols, the SAE J1979 serves as a basic standard for parameter identification numbers as it defines a method for demanding a diverse diagnostic data and a list of standard parameters that might be obtained and monitored from the Engine Control Unit.
These parameters are also known as “parameter identification numbers” i.e. parameter IDs or PIDs which are stated in J1979.
OBD II PIDs can be consulted for all the information including a list of all the designated PIDs and their definitions. Automotive manufacturers tend to use some additional proprietary PIDs in addition to those already listed ones.
The main purpose of these PIDs is to give the user access to real-time performance & functioning data along with the identified DTCs. Individual manufacturers often enhance the OBD II code set with additional proprietary DTCs for better diagnostic scanning.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about OBD
Hundreds of questions arise every day, in the mind of a vehicle owner regarding OBD and we assure you those are well justified. Many general concerns raised by OBD users in the form of Query are elaboratively answered in this FAQs segment.
We understand your concerns, and for your facilitation, we have prepared a list of most common inquiries. Have any confusions? Stress no more and Consult right away!
Some of the most asked questions are discussed below…
- WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING AN OBD II TEST & HOW WILL IT EFFECT MY VEHICLE?
What OBD II does is, it identifies and pinpoints the vehicle problem by issuing specific diagnostic codes which can easily be read and interpreted by the mechanics, technicians or anybody having basic knowledge of OBD II.
This not only saves a significant amount of time and money but also provides the owner, early warning alert which proves to be a faster and more effective way for repairs. Other advantages include a quicker inspection and identification of the emission problems.
Early diagnosis at a stage where maintenance is less expensive and perhaps even under the vehicle’s warranty is extremely beneficial for the health of your vehicle. Proper and time to time management provides a long-time effect of vehicle’s life.
- WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE EXISTING TREADMILL TESTS & THE OBD II?
The treadmill tests are the tests which measure the total concentration of gas emission through vehicle’s exhaust pipe and provides a general ratio of gas emission without any specific information.
Whereas, an OBD II Test is an electronic test to clearly indicate the possible problems with the vehicle. It uses a reader (hand-held) device which is fitted into the vehicle’s computer via a port or a jacket mounted under the dashboard or near driver’s seat.
In the case of any deterioration or failing the vehicle starts to exceed the permissible emission limits which are instantly identified by OBD II and communicated through signals for immediate measures.
- HOW DOES THE OBD II SYSTEM NOTIFY THE DRIVER OF A PROBLEM?
How exactly OBD II notifies, the driver is a very interesting question. What happens is, as soon as OBD II identifies a problem, it sends a signal to the driver by illuminating dashboard signs of “Check-Engine” or “Engine-Service-Required”.
Then with the help of an OBD II Scanner, these diagnostic codes are decoded, and the actual problem is detected enabling an early necessary repairing rather than a more serious one later.
- IF MY “CHECK-ENGINE” LIGHT IS ON EVEN WHEN MY VEHICLE IS RUNNING FINE, WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT IT?
You may experience this problem when your “Check-Engine light starts illuminating, but you don’t feel any significant difference in your vehicle’s performance. There may be many causes for this sort of situations including E-Check Test failure or a display fault.
But it is highly recommended to take your vehicle to a mechanic and get it checked. Otherwise, you can drive the vehicle under normal conditions and see if the problem automatically rectifies itself and the light stops blinking. It even after a week or so, the light doesn’t turn off, your vehicle needs a detail diagnostic scan for sure!
Do not delay, take some time out to take your car to an experienced technician before it’s too late.
- SHOULD I GO TO THE DEALER TO GET MY CAR WITH OBD II FIXED?
It is not necessary to go to your car dealer just to get your OBD II care fixed. May trained and equipped technicians are perfectly capable of scanning and repairing car issues with the help of diagnostic information provided by your car’s OBD II systems.
OBD II systems are devised to facilitate vehicle owners to get their car fixed in a cost-effective and accurate way without going all the way back to the dealers.
- WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE IMPACTS OF OBD II ON AIR POLLUTION?
Automotive Industry is considered to be the world’s leading contributor towards air pollution, and it is exponentially expanding with every passing minute. The comparatively newer eco-friendly models of vehicles are being designed to decrease the overall impact of Air pollution, but they are still in pilot phases.
A poorly maintained vehicle, whose engine is not working on maximum efficiency, exhausts more amount of poisonous gasses as compared to a maintained one. OBD II specifically caters and analyses the problems related to the emission components.
By doing so, it ensures the maximum engine efficiency hence keeping the emission rate in check. This not only improves your vehicle’s engine performance but also has a very positive influence on the environment.
- IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A VEHICLE TO FAIL AN OBD II TEST? WHAT MAY BE THE FACTORS INVOLVED?
Yes, that’s completely possible for a vehicle to fail an OBD II Test. Which calls for a massive maintenance and repair of the concerned vehicle. Many factors may influence the failure of an OBD II Test including a Malfunctioning Catalytic Converter or fuel system, a faulty Gas Cap or an incorrect ignition timing.
Broken air injection system, contaminated engine oil, or a misrouted vacuum lines can also be a contributor to the failure of OBD II.
- CAN An OBD II SYSTEM BE MODIFIED, DEACTIVATED OR REPAIRED IN CASE OF ANY ACCIDENT?
There are very strict regulations regarding emission-related vehicle modifications. If the modification or repair has the slightest chance of changing a certified configuration into an uncertified one, that modification will be called tampering and considered illegal.
Thus, the repairs or modifications of this sort will end up the accusation of Federal offense for both the owner and the repair facility. The illegal modifications like overriding the OBD systems with the help of uncertified computer chips or high-tech devices will strictly be considered tampering.
Except for the illegal purposes and methods, OBD systems may be repaired back to the original certified configuration with the “certified performance chips” etc. for genuine and legal reasons.
- HOW CAN I ENSURE MY VEHICLE’S PERFORMANCE AND CURTAIL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS?
Latest vehicles are being produced by using advanced automotive technologies and procedures. Up-to-date and upgraded OBD systems provide the basic engine functioning guarantee but along with that routine maintenance and constant monitoring of the “Check-Engine” Sign is also highly recommended.
Some important tips to curtail environmental impacts of Automotive are as follows:
- Don’t forget to Turn off engine before Re-fueling
- Ensure that the Gas Cap is securely Tightened
- Try to minimize your vehicle usage by Carpooling, Walking or Riding a Bicycle to work once a while
- Encourage the use of Public Transport
- Try driving as little as possible and encourage combined trips
These will not only save you a fortune but also contribute a lot toward minimizing Vehicle Pollution.
Stay Healthy, Stay Safe and Let your Vehicles Enjoy the Same.
For further description or information, you can also check out these easy to understand Youtube videos below:
How to Install & Pair the Device with Bluetooth:
What are your questions about OBD II readers, scanners, codes… or anything else that comes to mind about this topic?
Write your reply below… 🙂