What to Look For When Buying an OBD2 Scanner?
When looking for the best OBD2 scan tool, it’s important for car owners or professional technicians to consider a couple of important things. Answering some of the questions below would simplify the selection process and would likely help car owners make the right decisions:
Do you want a basic code reader or a high-end unit?
It’s important to take note that a basic code reader has very limited functions. It merely lets users know about a trouble code or a car problem that needs to be diagnosed. This is often preferred by those looking for a low-cost device. One downside with a basic code reader is the fact that it’s designed to work only with the most common car models.
On the other hand, a higher-end unit, mostly preferred by professionals, is less likely to encounter incompatibility issues. Compared to a basic code reader, it includes several advanced functions like:
ABS or Airbag capability — Detects and resets antilock brake systems, airbags, and other systems
On-Screen Definitions — Displays definitions of diagnostic codes right on the screen
Printing capability — Sends results to the printer for physical copies to be produced
Live Data — Shows real-time information about engine sensors and car performance levels. This feature works even when driving.
Data logging or storage – Saves car information in the scanner’s memory so it can be viewed anytime
Retrieves vehicle identification number (VIN) – Displays the VIN of the car. Helps owners easily find out if a car has been tampered or rebuilt
Can your OBD2 scanner be upgraded?
Often, low-cost scanners cannot be upgraded. It’s, therefore, important to invest on the more expensive higher-end units or professional scan tools which give the option to update. The ability to update ensures that the scanner is going to work even with newest vehicles available in the market today. Important note: Each update comes with a price, so it’s always good to inquire beforehand how much it may cost.
Are you likely to encounter vehicle-compatibility issues using this scanner?
As mentioned earlier in this article, OBD2 utilizes five basic signal protocols. Although most manufacturers would claim that their device works with most OBD2 vehicles, it’s still best to double check the tool. This is due to the fact that not all scanners are compatible with all computers installed in cars.
What type of OBD2 scanner do you want?
- PC-based auto scanners make use of the power of the PC to diagnose and troubleshoot issues with the car, truck, or motorcycle.
- Best Obd2 scanner Bluetooth can transform smartphones, tablets, or computers into an advanced scan tool that provides fast and reliable live performance data.
- Handheld auto scanners are handy and powerful units that can be used by mechanics to diagnose engine, brake, and transmission failures. Often, they have clearer information displays and colored graphics. Their kit usually includes a power supply, power and data cable, a battery pack, and more.
Best professional automotive diagnostic scanner : prices fluctuate relatively high for the individual user but the effectiveness of these tools are great, but the cost is quite high and in the range of $ 1000 – $ 4000 full features of a tool usually the auto premium will use this toolkit to meet the needs to start gathering the most accurate and correct and saves engineers time.
Best OBD2 Scanner: This tool meets the basic requirements as well as additional display features or Bluetooth and USB connectivity. The relative scanning speed but often used to check basic features such. Suitable for individuals using amateur and skills as well as basic knowledge about repairing and maintaining a somewhat cars that
Third group is Best OBD2 Scanner for the money: this tool is the group most cost-effective and meet the basic features of a scanner OBD2 scan tool, this product is suitable for individuals who sometimes used to test car features and expected time to put the car in for repair or maintenance.
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The best OBD2 scanner would include most of the characteristics below:
- Capability to provide vehicle data at the fastest time possible
- Compatibility with most vehicles, including pre-OBD2 vehicles
- Easy to use (even for novice users)
- Capability to store or log data
- Usable on different platforms like laptops, tablets, or smartphones
- Designed with a large, colored screen to easily read information
- Small and easy to carry
- Equipped with an alternative power source
- Available in bundles (with adapters, cables, and other useful accessories)
- Designed with wireless capabilities
- Good value for the money
- Has warranty from the manufacturer
How to Choose the Best Obd2 Scanner That Suit for Your Cars?
If you own an older vehicle made after 1996, you could benefit from a code reader to address any mechanical or electrical issues that arise. A basic code reader is fairly cheap; by looking up any codes that appear, you can identify and address a wide range of vehicle problems before they become serious concerns.
If you work on your own or other vehicles frequently, restore older cars, or run any kind of small auto shop, you could benefit from more advanced scan tools that help to guide you in fixing the problem yourself. Most professional auto repair businesses and dealerships have advanced versions that can cost $20,000 or more, but are an immense help to a trained technician trying to isolate and troubleshoot problems.
DIY mechanics are left in the position of finding the model that best fits both their budget and their need. Many auto parts stores will read your codes for free. There is a ton of automotive info to be found online in forums and mechanic blogs. Even a full diagnostic from a professional shop can be a wise investment, provided you don’t need it on a regular basis.
Fortunately there are a number of products available today for various needs. Some are very compact, handy, inexpensive code readers you can easily fit in the glove box or under the driver’s seat. You can usually find several consumer-friendly options specially made for your vehicle. There are now even scanners with mobile capability so you can send codes straight to your smartphone for researching online.
The bottom line is that, even if you have a newer vehicle covered under warranty, the ability to read diagnostic codes yourself can save you a ton of money on repairs, or help prevent a failure that leaves you stranded. Especially since vehicles are always becoming more complicated.
Benefit of OBD2 scanner
In addition to the traditional engine components and parts, modern cars incorporate a significant amount of technology. Computers run many of the systems within today’s cars, and they will usually inform the driver when something is wrong. Typically, the engine light, the brake light, or some other warning light on the car’s dashboard will illuminate to indicate a problem and alert the driver.
In some ways, the increase in computerized auto components makes it easier for car owners to determine what is wrong with their vehicles. Instead of taking the vehicle in to a mechanic and having to pay for a diagnostic, owners can check their car’s systems themselves by using a car diagnostic tool.. These tools or scanners are easy to use and usually come with helpful instruction booklets or software..
This guide explains the benefits of car diagnostic tools and offers some tips for reading the complex codes that are delivered by automotive scanners.
A Standardized Diagnostic Method
Since the EPA’s mandate in 1996, all car manufacturers have been required to meet a set of standards when designing their vehicles’ computer interfaces. This standard is commonly referred to as OBD II, which stands for On-Board Diagnostics, version II. Before the EPA’s decision, auto repair shops had to buy a different scanner and diagnostic tool for each make of car that came to them. Since these tools can be very expensive, mechanics and repair shop owners were unhappy about the lack of a standard, and their voices were eventually heard and heeded. All cars manufactured since 1996 should be compatible with any standard diagnostic tool or automotive scanner. This means that a regular buyer can purchase a scanner and use it on any car belonging to the household, as well as the cars of friends or neighbors.
A Comprehensive Scan of All Electronic Systems
Within the average modern vehicle, a computer (or two or three) is in charge of most systems, including the ignition system, the automatic transmission, the fuel injection, and dozens of other smaller systems and parts. Sensors throughout the car are constantly gathering and transmitting data back to the main computer modules in the car. They allow for careful, precise control of the fuel and ignition, making it possible for cars to be increasingly clean and efficient. The smarter the car’s computer is, the better it will be at timing everything and maximizing power for a safer, cleaner, more environmentally friendly vehicle. Since the sensors are spread throughout the vehicle and are constantly reporting back, they make it easier for the car’s computers to detect a problem and alert drivers before it becomes serious. A car diagnostic tool uses complex codes to communicate with users and to pinpoint the source of a potential issue.
Peace of Mind for Car Owners
With a car diagnostic tool, drivers no longer have to wonder what the glowing engine light on their dashboard means. Instead, they can find out for themselves without needing to take their car to a shop. The engine light comes on when the car’s powertrain control module (PCM) receives confusing data from one or more of the car’s sensors. While the powertrain control module may be able to compensate for the problem and continue functioning normally, illuminating the Check Engine light is the first sign of what may become a more serious issue. With a diagnostic tool, drivers can run a quick check of the systems, receive any problem codes, and interpret them using a special manual to see if the issue is a simple malfunction that can be dealt with later or one that requires immediate attention.
Today’s automotive scanning tools are easy to use. They typically have a module with a screen that can be held in the user’s hand. A short cable is used to connect this module to the car’s OBD II port. This port is located just under the dashboard, near the driver’s side of the vehicle. Once the unit is plugged in, car owners should insert the key and turn it to the first notch, enough for the lights and clock to come on but not far enough to actually start the car. Car owners will need to input the vehicle identification number (VIN) of their vehicle, as well as other information such as its make, its model, and its engine type. Once that is done, they can follow the rest of the on-screen directions to conduct the scan.
Problem Codes That Identify Malfunctions
After the scanning tool is plugged in, users can scan the car’s systems. The diagnostic tool will return any applicable trouble codes. These codes can seem extremely confusing to car owners, but the scanning tool will likely come with a booklet, a manual, or a software CD that can assist users in interpreting the codes. Car owners can also go online and enter the codes to find out their meaning and to see what other car owners have done to resolve the issues. Before turning the car’s Check Engine light off by using the diagnostic tool, users should write down all of the codes that were returned by the scan. This way, they can access the codes easily without having to rescan the car.
Each letter or digit in a trouble code offers users a clue about the cause of the problem. For instance, in the code “P0301,” the first letter refers to the powertrain. The second number might indicate a generic code number or a manufacturer-specific code number. The chart below illustrates how the third number would be read.
In addition to software and instruction booklets, car owners may find helpful advice about trouble codes if they visit some online forums. These forums often have members who are experienced in reading diagnostic tools and in solving automotive issues.
Affordability for Car Owners
Car diagnostic tools and scanners used to be highly specialized. They were difficult to use and were often designed for a particular make of car. The scanner for a Ford might not have worked on a VW,, and vice versa. This specialization also came with a high price tag, making it nearly impossible for the average user to afford a diagnostic tool. Today, diagnostic software and scanners are much more affordable. Some are fairly simple, low-end scanners that return problem codes without any additional information for the user. Others are more complex and offer more detailed descriptions of issues, along with multiple language options for non-English-speaking users. If these options are still out of users’ price range, they may be able to borrow a scanner from a local auto repair shop or from a friend or relative.
Inspection Readiness Options
In some states, cars are required to pass an emissions inspection at certain intervals. If the Check Engine light is on, the car will not be allowed to pass this inspection. Car diagnostic tools often include a special feature called “inspection and maintenance readiness.” If users have resolved the issue and turned off the Check Engine light, they can run the inspection maintenance and readiness tests (I/M tests). This feature allows time for the car’s powertrain control module determines whether or not the problem has truly been resolved. This option is designed to prevent car owners from faking inspection readiness when their car actually has an engine issue. If car owners have run their own I/M tests and passed them, the technician at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will see a clean scan. If the owner has simply cleared the codes without resolving the issue, the technician’s scanner will pick up on the hidden problem and the car will fail inspection.
When the Check Engine light on their car’s dashboard comes on, car owners may feel a number of emotions, including annoyance, frustration, and dread. They may worry even more if their car is due for an emissions inspection in the near future. These negative feelings can be alleviated if owners borrow or buy a car diagnostic tool that enables them to communicate with their car’s powertrain control module and locate the source of the problem. The diagnostic tool or scanner is plugged in under the dashboard. It returns problem codes that can be interpreted using the accompanying software or manual. When properly interpreted, the code pinpoints the source of the issue, saving owners the cost of taking the vehicle to the shop for a diagnostic. Sometimes, the Check Engine light results from a small problem such as a faulty sensor. Other times, there may be a more serious issue and owners will need to take their car to a repair shop. Either way, a car diagnostic tool can save time and provide car owners with peace of mind.
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