OBDII Scan Tools Can Save you Unnecessary Expenses On your Vehicles


It is my custom that whatever I talk about, i provide the most comprehensive tutorial / details or analysis possible. Today’s article is not going to be an exception. The world is changing, technology is evolving gone are the days when you hit a metal to pop things out, we have tools that can remove the most stubborn etal fittings. In the world of today, especially now that more people are using millennium cars, any mechanic that is not updated with modern trends, no matter how good he might be, will surely lose customers. In a nut shell, am going to discuss OBD2 / EOBD Diagnostic / scan tools for vehicles, its importance and why both car owners and mechanic should have it. Or let me say, at least the car owner or his mechanic must have it as long as you are riding a car that is newer than 1996 and you have exhausted your warranty.

Disclaimer: This article is not published to demean any mechanic out there or take their work away from them. On the contrary, if you are a mechanic and you do not already have this tool, you need to get one asap so as to get your clients using modern cars back. Not everyone is as adventurous as i am and even with those who are adventurous there is not always time to fix ones car oneself. So you will still get your payment and save yourself the troubles and frustration of finding the faults

WHAT IS OBD2 AND ITS USES?

Like I said earlier, If you purchased a car after 1996, chances are it has an OBD-II (On-board diagnostics II) port. Every car or truck on the road manufactured after that point is mandated by United States Federal Law to have one installed. But what is it?

OBD-II is a sort of computer which monitors emissions, mileage, speed, and other useful data. OBD-II is connected to the Check Engine light, which illuminates when the system detects a problem.

Depending on the problem, the light either stays on, flashes, or goes away entirely. Mechanics can use scan tools to make sense of the diagnostic trouble codes, but with the right equipment and some technical know-how, you can too. You can even collect data on other aspects of your vehicle’s performance.

Onboard Diagnostics refers to any vehicle’s ability to register and report issues that may occur, or have occurred within the system. One of its strengths is it can detect problems long before the driver is able to notice any symptoms, such as low-performance, low-fuel economy, and heavy emissions, or before the Check Engine or Malfunction light comes on.

As you would expect, OBD-II is heavily used by professional mechanics, but there are consumer oriented products that can take advantage of its diagnostic abilities.

WHAT IS CHECK ENGINE LIGHTS?

picture of check engine light

When your car’s “Check Engine” light comes on, it’s usually accompanied by a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. The light could mean a costly problem, like a bad catalytic converter, or it could be something minor, like a loose gas cap. But in many cases, it means at minimum that you’ll be visiting the car dealer to locate the malfunction and get the light turned off.

The Check Engine light — more formally known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) — is a signal from the car’s engine computer that something is wrong. The car dealer’s service department can diagnose the problem for about huge amount of money. In Nigeria, some do the diagnosis with as much as #30,000. But there’s a way to preview what the problem might be.

WHAT ARE DTCs (Diagnostic trouble codes)

In a layman’s language, they are simply the codes you get after diagnosing your vehicle with a competent scan tool.Trouble codes are how OBDII identifies and communicates to technicians where and what on-board problems exist. The first number in the DTC indicates whether the code is an SAE generic code (applies to all OBDII systems) or is specific to the vehicle manufacturer.The remaining three numbers provide information regarding the specific vehicle system and circuit. You can get an exhaustive list of trouble codes and their interpretations on google or in this link

Special Warning: If your car has the check engine light and it has displayed an error code, please fix that particular error before another error occurred and get things more complicated. Not all scan tolls are capable of retrieving pending errors and current ones simultaneously. So Please do not ignore the light and codes!!1

WHERE CAN I FIND THE OBD2 PORT ON MY VEHICLE

Before going into a more specific explanation, let me first give you a general way of locating the port on any 1996 manufactured vehicle or newer:

  • You must know the exact make and model of your car. e.g honda accord 2000 model if you are having problem getting this, please check your manual or your seat belt. It will surely be there on your seat belt
  • Now visit www.google.com and type something like this without the quoates “OBD2 port honda accord 2000 model” You will either see a picture or a description explaining how to get to it.

obd2 port on vehicles

The port, also known as the SAE J1962 diagnostic connector, is either white or black, and is usually located behind the dashboard, above the brake pedal. It has spaces available for sixteen pins, but it may not actually have sixteen pins. Pin locations vary depending on the signal protocol supported by the vehicle.

As mandated by United States federal law, the port must be easily reached by the driver. The port allows for a scan tool, or anything else compatible with OBD-II, to be plugged in, and information can be then gained about the vehicle.

NOW WHERE TO GET A GOOD SCAN TOOL, THE TYPES AND COSTS

Am personally going to categorized the availabel scan tools in the market into 3. I will now later talk about the one i bought for my brother. I chose to help him because he and his mechanic hit a roadblock on what was wrong with his 2003 acura rsx. The problem started after he bashed the car and they have changed evrything that could be making a gear not working properly. They were about buying another transmission when i talked to him about getting a scan tool since his mechanic did not have and the only person who has them charges like #10,000 for just diagnoses. With around #26,000(as at then more than a year) we got the one i recommended for him and the tool told us that a solenoid that is supposed to work with the transmission is not working well. we figured out that the solenoid was detached from its plug during the minor accidetn. we only fasten the solenoid and the problem was solved up til today.

CATEGORIES OF OBD2 SCAN TOOLS AND PRICE RANGES

  • Basic / personal / semi-professional: the price ranges from $6 to like $50(this means its very cheap) excluding the shipping. It only read the codes and does not profer full informaion. it also does not profer causes and solution tips. It may not detect all obd2 vehicles as it only recognizes vehicles stored on its databases. It is majorly wired
  • Manufacturers specific scan tools. this means if you use honda, it will only work for honda and acura, if you use toyota, it will only work for toyota nd lexus. It is expensive and the price varies, mechanics or car owners rarely bu it. instead it is bettet to take yout car to your OEM shop than to buy their specific tool.
  • Fully Professional scan / diagnoses tools: this has mid range and expensive prices. It becomes a bit cheaper if you are buying the sensor that uses Bluetooth(like the one i will review) otherwise we are talking in the region of $100(this is only sensor and it is wireless) to like $3000(this is a full suites with huge screen and many other accessories that check engines and other components).

Tips before buying A scan tool:

  1. Make sure it is actually what you need. for example if you want to check transmission issues on a honda and the scan tool species that it cannot check it, then it is not for you.
  2. Every mechanic or automobile electrician who wishes to buy should buy only a tool that supports all vejicle’s engine and that has live updates.
  3. If you need a tool that scan some enhanced codes(which is surely different from Check engine lights codes) ABS, Airbag, serious Transmission problems, you will need a tool that supports same
  4. Avoid the extremly cheap ones because they wont last long.

MY PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION FOR CAR OWNERS AND MECHANICS(who do not have high budget)

   The one i recommend fro car owners and mechanic who wants a professional tool at low price is: BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android. 

  • The Professional OBD2 Diagnostic Scan Tool trusted by mechanics and developed by Professional Engineers in North America
  • Officially licensed and certified for Apple and Android devices
  • The BlueDriver App and BlueDriver Sensor work exclusively with each other to ensure quality
  • As easy to use as a code reader with all the capabilities of an expensive handheld scan tool, plus the benefits of your smartphone or tablet (free app updates, portability, saving data, interactive graphing of live data)
  • Free vehicle-specific Repair Reports drawn from a database of over 4.3 million fixes verified by certified auto mechanics

BLUEDRIVER FEATURES

Read and Clear CEL Codes: Confirmed, Pending, and Permanent for all makes,

Read and Clear Enhanced Codes: e.g. ABS, Airbag, Transmission, etc for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota (more to come),

Repair Reports: Code Definition, Possible Causes, Reported Fixes (Vehicle-specific for each DTC),

Freeze Frame: Vehicle snapshot when a code is stored,

Smog Check: See if the vehicle is ready for a smog test,

Mode 6: Advanced test results (like misfire counts),

Live Data: Graph multiple PIDs or export log to a file

 

best obd2 tool

interface of bluedriver

bluedriver explained

noting the dtc codes

codes displayed

It has the capabilities of viewing confirmed and pending and permanent CEL codes(No low-end scan tool is capable of this feat). As shown above.

It also read every codes available on Ford, Toyota and Chrysler, Gm with promise of more to come.

BLUEDRIVER FEATURES

Read and Clear CEL Codes: Confirmed, Pending, and Permanent for all makes,

Read and Clear Enhanced Codes: e.g. ABS, Airbag, Transmission, etc for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota (more to come),

Repair Reports: Code Definition, Possible Causes, Reported Fixes (Vehicle-specific for each DTC),

Freeze Frame: Vehicle snapshot when a code is stored,

Smog Check: See if the vehicle is ready for a smog test,

Mode 6: Advanced test results (like misfire counts),

Live Data: Graph multiple PIDs or export log to a file

CONCLUSION

Both you and your mechanic can work hand in hand to avoid unnecessary expenses on your obd2-compliant vehicle. For buying guide and help on these tools, you can send me an email at info @ lemmymorgan.com

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