Understanding OBDII Scan Tools for the Beginner

By | May 11, 2020

Understanding OBD II Scan Tools for the Beginner
Using an OBDII scan tool is an easy task and is something almost anyone can do makign it perfect for the home do-it-yourself type of person.

The OBDII port on a car or truck is an easy way in modern times to help troubleshoot a problem any vehicle may have.

Using an OBDII scan tool allows a user to read codes which points to the problem a car or truck is having.
What is an OBDII Port?
The OBDII Port is a direct connection to a vehicles onboard computer.
OBD II Scan Tools for the Beginner
OBDII ports became standard in the automotive industry in 1996 as a way for scanner tools to talk to a vehicles computer and show the errors it was getting.

Prior to 1996, as computer controls became common in vehicles, the ports would vary from car-to-car and have their own proprietary protocols.

OBDII protocols helped to create a standard used across all vehicle manufactures.

For example, the same OBDII error code for for basic engine problems will be the same on a Chevy as it is a Ford or Volkswagen.

Many vehicle manufactures will have extended codes that are car specific but the basic engine error codes are the same across all vehicles.
What is an OBD-II Scan Tool?
The computer used inside a car or truck regulates the engine and other parts but has no direct user interface.

An OBD-II Scan Tool is used to talk to a vehicles computer and display problems it is receiving from the engine or transmission.

The computer that controls an engine displays these problems with codes that are a combination of letters and numbers such a P101.
What is a OBD-II Scan Tool
An OBD-II scan tool can read these codes and display them to the user showing the problem with the vehicle.

There are many types of scan tools depending on your budget from small cheap low-cost units to high-end expensive units.

The difference between the low-cost scan tools and expensive units are added features that make troubleshooting a vehicle easier.

For example, being able to read real-time information or clear codes are added features that may be desired.
What is a Good Scan Tool for the Beginner?
Alost any low-cost OBDII scan tool is a good start for an inexperienced user in most cases.

Buying a low-cost unit is likely the best way to start since they will find most error codes and not break the bank.

For example, the Actron CP9125 is a low-cost unit that is a stand alone tool that is well suited for a novice user.

Read Review Here for the Actron CP9125.

There are also cheap low-cost Bluetooth OBDII scan tools that work in combination with a smartphone or laptop and work very well.

Read Review Here for OBDII Bluetooth Scan Tool.
Once it is understood how an OBDII port works in combination with a scan tool not only troubleshooting a vehicle but other benefits.

Other benefits include an owner who simply wants to know why the dashboard light is on and become better informed before going to a mechanic.

A mechanic can use an OBDII tool to see what the problem is and fix it.



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