Put simply, VAG-COM VCDS is a product that can help you to drive more safely while improving fuel efficiency and saving money on expensive repairs and services.
Essentially, VAG-COM VCDS is a diagnostics tool you can use to check over your car and find faults and issues. It works just like a professional mechanic – except you don’t pay $250 an hour for the privilege!
Let’s take a look at how it works and why you should care…
What is OBD?
OBD stands for ‘On Board Diagnostics’. That means that it’s an ‘on board’ readout telling you a car’s health. Your average car has a ton of normal on-board diagnostics, some of which are exposed to the average driver, others of which are used primarily by technicians and mechanics.
The most basic example of OBD is your ‘check engine light’ – sometimes (lovingly) referred to as an ‘idiot light’. The simple role of this light is to flag up a problem so that the driver knows that not all their systems are running as they should be and that there is an issue they should potentially get checked.
Today though, OBD is generally a more regulated subject. In other words, most car manufacturers will conform to the same standards so that the information remains universally available and accessible. What this means for instance is that a mechanic can look for signs of malfunction in a Toyota or a Ferrari and not have to learn completely new things for each car.
This is also good news for car owners though. It means that something like VAG-COM can be used in order to flag up problems so that they know what is wrong and what they need to do to get their car functioning properly.
Cars will now conform to OBD 1, 1.5 and 2 depending on how recent they are (there’s also OBD-IIA and OBD-IIB). OBD 2 improves on OBD 1 in terms of its capability and standardization. They will also include a simple port (diagnostic connector) that allows a mechanics and car owners to quickly get all the information they need to make repairs and to understand what might be wrong with the vehicle.
This goes well beyond the ‘idiot light’. Instead, you’re now getting a single port that can be used to learn what specifically is wrong with any given part of your car. This information is then given in the form of a 4-digit ‘Diagnostic Trouble Code’. The codes are preceded by a letter: P for engine transmission (powertrain), B for the body, C for the chassis and U for the network.
Just like your computer can give you an ‘error’ code then, so can a car – thanks to OBD.
How VAG-COM Works
So what VAG-COM does is to provide you with 17 different car-manufacturer approved software applications as well as a device that can be plugged into the OBD diagnostic connector. The device then communicates via Bluetooth with your PC in order to pass the Diagnostic Trouble Code over to the software.
That software is important because it’s what allows you to get some actually useful information from those codes. Instead of being given a random number that you’d then have to Google, you’ll instead get useful information and you’ll know whether you need to change your brake pads or swap out the alternator.
This package is actually capable of reporting on over 17,000 different codes to make sure you can fix your car no matter the problem.
VAG-COM is named after Volkswagen Group, as originally the package was designed for use primarily with Volkswagen vehicles. Today though it can work with Volkswagen, SEAT, Mercedes, Toyota, Ford and any car in the world. That’s because it also works as a generic OBD2 scanner.
The original VAG-COM device came from RossTech and cost over $600. Today you can get VAG-COM from third parties for much less – but it’s important to make sure you still check that the package can do everything you need. The Total Car Diagnostics VAG-COM is an excellent package that keeps prices down without compromising functionality. Be very wary of VAG-COM devices listed on eBay for $10!
VCDS meanwhile is short for ‘VAG-COM Diagnostics System’.
Should You Get VAG-COM?
So the big question is this: do you really need VAG-COM? And is it a good use of your hard earned cash?
The answer is going to be yes to both questions for most people. That’s because VAG-COM stands to save you a large amount of cash and should be a very smart investment.
What’s more, is that VAG-Com can help you to avoid accidents, it can help you to ensure your car is running as efficiently as possible and it can even help you to be kinder to the environment. That’s because it makes checking your car over so much easier.
Whereas in the past, you might have had to take your car to the garage and spend a lot of money to have your car checked, you’ll now be able to run a quick diagnostics check at home on your own and it won’t cost you anything. The result is that you’ll do it more often, meaning you’ll flag up more problems and you’ll keep your car more finely tuned.
Likewise, it will avoid you making unfortunate mistakes like switching out your battery when actually it was the alternator causing the problem all along!