You are getting ready to go to work and you get in your car to see that there is a warning light on the dashboard. You are familiar with check engine light but you haven’t seen this warning light before. In Situations like this, an OBD or On-board diagnostics tool can be useful. You can use an OBD scanner to pinpoint the exact problem and how you can rectify the issue.
We will specifically focus on the OBD-II scanners. If you have Vehicle prior to 1996 you will require an OBD-I Scanner
There are many OBD-II Scan tools available in the market. It is generally best if you go with Bluetooth based OBD-II scanners.
One thing you should keep in mind that cars prior to 1996 aren’t supported by OBD-II. In such vehicles, you may need other diagnostics devices to find out the codes.
Note that OBD-I scanners are also vehicle specific so you have to check if your scanner is compatible with your car.
On the other hand, OBD-II Scanners are universal and can be used in any OBD2 compliant car. Pricing is another major factor to keep in mind. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on scanner. For a DIY person or a car owner, a good car scanner can be found for less than $100.
If you want to check out ours, we have something called the GaragePro OBD scanner. You can learn more about the features here.
Sometimes also referred to as OBD port, it is generally located under the steering wheel. In some cars, it can also be found under the glove box.
OBD-II port is a 16-pin D shaped socket which sometimes also looks like a VGA port. If you are having trouble locating the data link connector, here are few things you can try.
Line up the OBD dongle to the DLC and connect it. While doing so make sure the ignition is on. There are three lights on most of the dongles-
Now Moving on to the phone.
There are hundreds of OBD Scanning apps available on the app store. Some of them are good at scanning standard (but limited) OBD PIDs, some are good for hobbyists and some allow you to read all kinds of codes in your car.
It depends on your preference and what are you trying to accomplish with the OBD scanner. If you want an app that lets you read all the codes irrespective of whether they are generic or SAE mandated, then check out GaragePro. You can read and remove all types of fault codes from all systems, and also read each code’s description in the app.
If you have downloaded the app, here’s how to use the app-
Like we said, there are different apps for different things you can do with the OBD scanner. You can perform different types of scans using an OBD scanner. You can do a full scan, module wise scan, basic check engine light scan or read the live data as well. It all depends on the problem you are trying to rectify. If there is a warning light on the dashboard, a full scan is the way to go.
Again, if you are using the GaragePro app, then here’s how to use the app to read different kinds of data. If you are using any other app, feel free to go to the next section.
Full Scan– In the full scan, the app will scan each and every module of your vehicle and provide you with data accordingly. Engine should be running in order to get the best results.
You can read the error codes from Engine, ABS, SRS, Airbag, EPS, BCM and other modules. Any problem from any of the modules will show up in the app and you can read the detailed description of the error code, its causes, and possible remedies.
Check Engine Light Scan – This is a basic scan. When you get a check engine warning light on the dashboard, you can run the engine scan to determine the issue. This type of scan is available in almost every OBD app.
Live Scan – Live scan is another type of scan which you can use to identify the issue. Sometimes your car may not be working as it should and you are not able to see any warning lights on the dashboard. So, read the live parameters, and make sure they are in range.
Mode $ 06 – Mode $06 is defined by SAE On-Board Diagnostics Standards and reports on the functioning of various emission control systems and sensors. Normally, this data falls in unfamiliar territories for most technicians, however, this data is an instrumental tool to detect emerging problems like engine misfires. It can be used to –
Mode $06 collects data from various continuous and non-continuous monitors like Exhaust Gas Sensor Monitor, Catalyst Monitor, Misfire Cylinder Monitor, etc. and helps to narrow down to the troubling part, hence eliminating a lot of guesswork.
Smog Check – A car’s emission readiness is checked through OBD scanners in many developed countries. There are various monitors that store a car’s emission check readiness and whether there are any faults that could fail the car in an emissions check. This is quite a useful thing to have, since each emissions check is paid for by the car owner, and if you have to go there again, it’s an added cost for you.
Now you have connected the OBD connected to the DLC in your car. Your phone is also connected to the OBD dongle and you have found the right app for your car.
Different apps will give you data in different ways, and each will have its own depth in terms of what data you can see about a fault code. An example of how GaragePro shows you a fault code.
Error Code – P0183 ( Fuel temperature is high than expected range)
Each error code starts with a prefix letter. There are four types of error code which represents a system in the car.
Clearing the codes is to remove the error codes from your car. This will result in warning lights switching off from the dashboard. But if the problem is not fixed the warning light will come back even after clearing the codes.
Once you clear the code you need to turn off the engine, turn off the ignition and take out the key. Then start the car again and the usual service will be restored.
So there you have it guys, How to Use OBD2 Scanner. Did we miss something? Do let us know in the comments section below.