My Rule-of-Thumb Guide Before Buying an OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter

My Rule-of-Thumb Guide Before Buying an OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter

Anyone who is curious and would rather learn how something works than let someone else handle the job needs a scanning tool of their own. An OBD2 adapter lets people see what is happening in their entire car. Sensor readings, parameters of engine running and various other functions of the car can be examined by analyzing real time graphics created by an app.

A lot of people assume that an OBD2 adapter is costly and has no financial value when compared to the price. That annoying light on your dashboard prompting you to check your engine can be cleared with one of them. A little fault like a malfunctioning filter or headlights that need changing can be the reason for that pesky light warning.

In the long run, you will end up saving money that would have been used to visit the mechanic to discover the problem. After discovering the problem with this tool, you can go ahead and save even more money by making little changes by yourself from detailed online tutorials.

If you really enjoy enhancing the performance of your car and enjoying it to the fullest, an OBD2 adapter is for you. There are different types of OBD2 adapters one of which is the OBD2 Bluetooth adapter that is the focus of this article. You should not blindly go off and purchase the first one you see. You should be aware of all the qualities to look for in one of them before purchase. This step by step guide will give you the necessary information about OBD2 adapters and help you buy the right one for your needs.

What is an OBD2 port and what are its uses?

OBD is short for On-Board Diagnostic System and the OBD2 is the second version of the system. OBD2 was made in the USA to ensure all vehicles passed requirements for long term car maintenance and emission standards. Car manufacturers originally designed individual signals and systems to follow the practices required by the law for monitoring of pollution and performance of engine. Eventually, a standard emerged and this is the OBD2 of today.

The OBD2 is needed as a standard for vehicle manufacturers to follow in order to meet up with emission standards which are always growing. The OBD2 is a general inspection and diagnosis technique that ensures vehicles are operating according to the set standards.

Since the OBD2 was implemented in 1996, any car that was built after January of that year have the system. A good number of vehicle manufacturers incorporated the system into their products in 1994 but those were largely partially compliant. Only car built in 1996 and after that certainly have the OBD2 system.

To measure the OBD2 output in any vehicle is not difficult as the connector is usually easy to access in the car. From the seat of the driver, the connector can be found close to the ash tray or beneath the dash board. Checking the output of the OBD2 helps a great deal when warning lights to check the engine come on or the car has some general issues with driveability.

The device will make data available that can diagnose and effectively locate the faulty point in the car. This means that you get to save the time and the money that would have been used in locating the problem at a mechanic shop. Such scans are also used to provide precious information in the case where a used car is to be bought.

Difference between basic scanner and Bluetooth adapter

In a lot of cases, the OBD2 basic scanner and OBD2 adapter are considered as the same thing. They are really not and this is not confusing. There are some clear characteristics that set them apart from each other.

Trouble codes from a vehicle can be read with a basic scanner and afterwards, they will clear. The Bluetooth adapter will also do the same work. The difference between the two is that apart from this basic function, the Bluetooth adapter has many more capabilities.

With a simple button click, the Bluetooth adapter can make a large amount of knowledge available. This means that more information about the issue in your car is made available. A Bluetooth adapter will not only provide wider knowledge, it will also make available different suggestions of ways to solve the problem according to the code error.

A costly scanning tool also has the option to print out the performance data and diagnostic information from the scan on your computer. According to the brand of the adapter and the type of software in play, the adapter might be able to show graphs of performance so that analyzing the levels of emission and the performance of the engine is simplified.

OBD2 code readers are definitely less expensive than the upgraded Bluetooth adapters. This, however, does not mean that the basic scanners are lesser in status. It depends on the user’s level of experience and some other factors. The OBD2 Bluetooth adapter is the preferred scanner of choice here and we will be looking at its inner workings, why it is preferred and how to choose the best one for different requirements.

Reasons to choose a Bluetooth adapter

As earlier mentioned, using and OBD2 device to scan for possible problems that cause the warning check engine lights to come on, is very important. Because of the variety of car sensors installed in vehicles of today, detecting emission, transmission and car engine problems is possible with OBD2 adapters.

From inception and introduction till date, the features and powers of OBD2 scanners have increased tremendously. One of the most remarkable is the Bluetooth feature and this is why the OBD2 Bluetooth adapter is our choice. The Bluetooth adapter is preferable because:

  • Speedy data processing and portability: the Bluetooth adapter manufactured today are done so in a very compact and portable fashion. Added to the compact size are the features that make the adapter the best choice for drivers who use their vehicles a lot and might need to check on the go. Because the data processing on the Bluetooth adapter is very fast, users are able to check and review data in real time and quickly too.
  • The convenience of compatibility with many devices: whether the device has iOS, Android or Windows interface, is a phone tablet or computer, the Bluetooth adapter is the best tool to communicate easily with many devices. This eliminates the need for pesky wires when a driver wants to quickly check what the problem might be. Such convenience is exactly what a lot of people need and are looking for.

The simple way Bluetooth adapters work

OBD2 Bluetooth adapters are not only fast, portable and convenient, the process of operation is quite easy. The following steps will direct on how to operate one.

  • An application or software has to be downloaded on the computer or smartphone you intend to use for the diagnosis. Oftentimes, the Bluetooth adapter will provide this application or software. You can check availability of apps or software’s with the Bluetooth adapters manufacturer.
    It is important to note that some OBD2 Bluetooth scanners are made to work solely with iOS while others are specifically designed for Android.
  • The OBD2 Bluetooth adapter will then be plugged into the DLC (Diagnostic Link Connector). This step should be done with the ignition of the car turned off.
  • The ignition of the car should be started without fully turning on the vehicle. At this point, the OBD2 Bluetooth adapter will begin the scanning process on the car.
  • The results of the scanning process can be viewed as soon as the OBD2 Bluetooth adapter and the laptop or smartphone have established a connection.

Who should get a Bluetooth adapter?

The OBD2 Bluetooth adapter is recommended for professionals and amateurs alike. Professionals can use it to read OBD2 errors and Original Equipment Manufacturer quickly. Bluetooth adapter come with more sophisticated features that can be very useful to every mechanic’s work.

Amateurs can get handy information like fuel economy, temperature and engine speed of the car from a Bluetooth adapter. Although the data might look complicated, it is easy to understand. This will serve as a directive guide for them when analyzing car problems.

Crucial considerations before picking a Bluetooth adapter

  • Compatibility with devices: before picking out your very own OBD2 Bluetooth adapter, you have to consider its compatibility with your device or devices. Many of the devices manufactured in this time and age have Bluetooth compatibility.
    Regardless of this convenience, it is always safe to check if the devices you own can communicate well with themselves. Although a lot of Bluetooth adapters can work with different operating systems, some of them are specifically designed for iOS devices while others are made for Android devices.
  • Compatibility with vehicles: besides device compatibility, similarity of the Bluetooth adapter with the make and model of your car is important. Ideally, every car that has been manufactured from and after the year 1996 is supposed to be compliant with OBD2 technology. This means that if you just bought your car recently, Bluetooth adapters manufactured today should work on your car.
    Even if the car you purchased was an older model or a used car, it is probably not older than 1996 if it is not an antique. It is, however, not wise to assume that your car will be compliant with OBD2. You can confirm this by checking the car manufacturers website for information about the make and model of your vehicle.
    You can also request for information from the manufacturer of the Bluetooth adapter device.
  • Features: different Bluetooth adapters possess a variety of features ranging from helpful information to unnecessary facts.
    According to the level of professionalism of the user, the type of features the adapter has should be selected carefully. An amateur might need more basic help than a professional mechanic and so depending on your level, there is a Bluetooth adapter specially suited for you. Knowing the features you require will aid in picking out the right device.
    Some Bluetooth adapters with less important features are less expensive and can be your choice if you only want a device that can read trouble codes and clear them after. A professional will need a more sophisticated Bluetooth adapter.
  • Price: the market for OBD2 adapters is an expansive one like most markets and has numerous manufacturers making and selling their devices at different rates. Although every OBD2 device can read car error codes, the differences in their models lie in the features a model carries.
    Because of this, not every adapter does the exact same thing as the next. Cheaper models often only connect to one operating system, medium priced models often connect to just two and the expensive models can usually connect to all operating systems. If you are going to be changing your reading device any time soon, then this is a consideration to brood over that affects the price of the model you choose.
    People generally assume that the more expensive product in a variety of offers is the best option but this is not entirely correct.
    The devices that carry more features will naturally be more expensive but this does not make them the best.
    You could find the features offered on one Bluetooth adapter are not really important for you and are only available as a marketing scheme. Picking an OBD2 Bluetooth adapter should not be based on the price tag but you should be smart with deciding which device is best suited for you and your needs.
  • Details for apps: the Bluetooth adapter is the working device but the app or software used with it is in control of explaining the data from scanning. It would be impossible to see the results of the scan without using an app or software.
    This is an important consideration because a lot of manufacturers are not bothered with developing a distinct app to go with their device. Some manufacturers, however, do this. A distinct app will work well with the device for which it was designed for.
    This app will have very high accuracy and the ability to harvest data that could easily be missed or excluded from the diagnosis.
    A manufacturer of OBD2 adapters will not usually be the best choice to manufacture apps as well and so the apps might be very accurate but could lack some extra features that third part app designers will include. Third party will be designed to work with many Bluetooth adapters. They can usually be installed easily and quickly and generally have accurate readings.
    The reading might differ if used on the same car but with different devices but the results will be close enough to identify the issue with the car. You can choose between free apps, that will allow you make basic readings, or paid apps that might be expensive but lets you read upgraded codes.
  • Warranty: when the choice between OBD2 Bluetooth adapters comes down to one with a warranty and another without, the one with a warranty should be selected if the prices for both devices is almost the same.

The choice for a lifetime warranty should be grabbed with both hands if offered. Bluetooth adapters are very valuable tools for a mechanic shop or a dealership for used cars. Your device should last a long time and a lifetime warranty guarantees it will always be repaired if it goes faulty so it can serve you well.

Different OBD2 adapter manufacturers have a limited warranty offer on their products. The time frame for this is not fixed and varies from one manufacturer to the next. Bluetooth adapters usually prove to be durable but in the case of one going faulty before you have had the chance to use it properly, the option to change it is great.

It is better to have a warranty than not to have one at all so consider this and the type of warranty available before purchase.


One very important fact is that every OBD2 device, including the Bluetooth adapters, will OBD2 codes generated by cars only. There are two important things to keep in memory.

Firstly, Original Equipment Manufacturer specific codes are generated independently from OBD2 codes and so an OBD2 adapter will not be able to read them. The help of a professional mechanic with the correct reader will have to be enlisted in the case of persistent issues with Original Equipment Manufacturer specific errors.

Secondly, an OBD2 adapter does not permit resetting of car warning lights like airbag sensors or ABS brakes. This job is for an Original Equipment Manufacturer specific diagnostic instrument to handle.

Car lovers have the opportunity to select from a wide variety of adapters today. One must really be familiar with the available devices and features to successfully select the perfect OBD2 Bluetooth adapter. The job of the Bluetooth adapter does not stop at information production for the owner of the car, expensive charges from visiting the mechanics shop can be avoided with these handy tools.

My Rule-of-Thumb Guide Before Buying an OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter
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3 Responses to My Rule-of-Thumb Guide Before Buying an OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter

  1. I’ve tried 3 different obd2 Bluetooth adapters on eBay. They all promote themselves as different. But I found they will all report exactly the same information inside any obd application.

    Also Bluetooth is 2x faster then obd2 wifi adapters. While USB is 2x faster then Bluetooth.

  2. Only two kinds exists…..

    The prohibitively expensive ones that can read all the data and codes and cost thousands and are subscription based so only dealerships can afford them.

    Then there’s everything else in the consumer market, that does nothing more than read the same generic data the vehicle feels like giving you combined with a third part app of your choice to interpret that little bit of basic data to see Trouble Codes and clear the check engine light.

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