OBD2: what it is used for?

OBD2: what it is used for?

Surfing various automotive forums on the Internet, you can often find the name of OBD2. What is OBD2? Does it allow a vehicle owner making a self-diagnosis of a vehicle? Does it allow you removing engine errors? Or does it allow a car keeping on the movement when the car’s computer is against it?

OBD2 (On-Board Diagnostic level 2) is the second level on-board diagnostics. OBD1 interface was emerged in the early 90s (as a requirement of California authorities). The purpose of introducing a common standard was the ability to quickly diagnose the problem, which can affect the increase in emissions of environmentally harmful substances out of the car. Therefore, the standard diagnostic connectors OBD2 appeared. In the US, on-board diagnostics became obligatory from 1996. The EU first introduced it as a standard for petrol engines (in 2001) and, later, for diesel engines (2003).

What is diagnostic connector used for? First of all, we are able to decipher the error code of the engine. This will greatly facilitate the implementation of necessary repairs or will provide an opportunity for independent remedy. We also have the ability to clear the error either before or after the repair. For example, in some vehicles the transition of the engine in an emergency mode often causes various breakdowns. The car starts to work “dirty”, operating around 2000 rpm.  Removing errors may allow you getting out of safe mode if the breakdown does not start it again. This will be useful when we are on vacation abroad, where it can be problematic to find a mechanic.

In addition to engine diagnostics, we can read a range of data that teaching us economical driving. We will have access to a very powerful computer, which shows us the fuel consumption per hour (or average consumption), the fuel pressure in the injector rail, lambda probe operation, the temperature of the engine. Reading individual parameters depends on the car specification and the software used.

To guarantee the accurate operation, we need a proper software and OBD2 diagnostic scanner. Most scanners work on the basis of ELM327 chip. We also have a variety of scanners that work via USB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. They have different rates. They have similar principle of operation, only a way to connect with our devices is different. More expensive models are often more stable and have circuit breakers. The circuit breaker is a very handy thing. If we want to keep the scanner in our car, there will be no risk of discharging the battery. On the other hand, this risk is small in daily vehicle usage, because the current consumption of the scanner is minimal.

A USB scanner can be connected only via a computer with Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. Keep in mind that in this case the software is the most expensive. Scanner itself is cheap, but the software itself will be too costly. This is an additional expense. Free demo version is often truncated, and it is almost impossible to learn something from it. The most popular programs are PCMSCAN, Dash Command, and ScanXL.

A Bluetooth scanner is the most versatile. It is not connected only to iPhone, because Apple uses a different Bluetooth protocol, and only Wi-Fi version will work with it. This diagnostic device works with Android, Symbian, Windows Phone, as well as the PC (which has a Bluetooth receiver). It is worth to use the Torque for Android. It will cost several tens of dollars (in Google Play store). Some car radio (for example, Parrot) can be in touch with a scanner via Bluetooth and display the information on your screen.

A Wi-Fi Scanner is the most expensive solution, which may be suitable for iPhone. It also works with Android gadgets. The scanner creates its own Wi-Fi network. The disadvantage of this solution is that you cannot simultaneously use the Internet on your phone. The most popular applications for iPhone are Dash Command, OBD Doctor, and OBD Fusion.