OBD-II Code Reader

OBD-II is the acronym for “OnBoard Diagnostic Systems” that are found on most cars and light trucks that have been sold since the early 1970s. Manufacturers began equipping new vehicles then with an OBD-II to control engine functions and to diagnose engine problems electronically. This OnBoard Diagnostic System was originally developed to combat smog but since there other uses have been found for it.

Nowadays, when there is something that has gone wrong with your car’s engine, a “Check Engine” light will show on the vehicle’s dash because an OBD-II error code has been found and this is an efficient means to warn you to check your car’s engine. If your automobile mechanic plugs in a OBD-II Code Reader it will read the error code to tell you what is wrong. The code could be signaling something as mundane as a broken gas cap or you need to add more engine coolant. The code can also let you know if there is an oxygen sensor problem and number of more serious problems.

An OBD-II Code Reader costs around $100 and you can plug it in and use it with a notebook or PDA to read the code on the OBD-II system in your vehicle. Certain car owners that are able to do basic engine repairs feel that an OBD-II Code Reader is needed and is an essential high tech device to have at their disposal. These devices are not as highly efficient in detecting code errors as those that are used by professional auto mechanics, but they come pretty close.

You can find the OBD-II Code Reader connector location on your particular vehicle if you go online to the National OBD Clearing House website and look it up. This is an online database that shows where the connector locations are on most vehicles. The code reader is a scanner that uses 5 pins to connect. It will detect and read error codes off of the car’s central computer. These code readers work with almost all vehicles that have been sold within the last 10 years. The OBD-II Code Reader takes the place of the Dwell meter, gap gauge and timing light that had been traditionally used in the past.

The OBD-II Code reader/scanner allows you to see what is working on your vehicle and what is not working. It will check sensor components on the engine, transmission, steering, air conditioning unit, airbags, etc. All of these sensors have codes that can be read by the OBD-II Code Reader. The codes all correspond to certain problems that are detected. They are written as 4 digit code with a letter. For example, the letter C is the code for chassis. The letter U is the code for network, P is for power train and B is for body. Each code typically will also have a P prefix.

The OBD-II code reader is very useful in maintaining fuel emission standards. It is a great diagnostic tool that can help make sure the car is performing up to OEM standards when it is taken in for a smog check. Most repair shops will charge a fee to connect an OBD-II coder reader to your vehicle when you take it in to have the smog check done or to detect the problem when your check engine light comes on. These are devices that are used by professional auto mechanics are highly complex and the mechanic is required to have training on how to use them correctly.

Home mechanics are now able to buy more economical and user friendly OBD-II code readers/scanners to check for the relevant repairs needed on their vehicles. If you are in the market for an OBD-II code reader, look for those that use computer software and are easy to connect to your cars OBD-II system. Also, look for ones that are able to record data that is collected during a test drive.

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