How to Use OBD2 Scanner

    Car Diagnostics Scanner

    The best professional obd2 scanner is a lifesaver for car owners. It helps mechanics quickly diagnose and find the root cause of engine problems. It also helps you gain first-hand knowledge of what's happening with your car that triggered the check engine light.

    The OD2 scanner can save you worries, but how do you use one? The process is almost the same across all types of Ancel scanners. The wireless ones are connected differently from the wired scanners. You’d also be required to type car details on the low-budget scanner, while the more advanced would retrieve the info by itself. Here’s how to use one.

    Step 1: Find the Diagnostic Link Connector/OBD2 Port

    Almost all cars from the 90s to date have the port. However, in 1996, a standard DLC known as the OBD2 was created, and all cars produced from 1997 onwards have the same type of OBD2 port. The only difference is where the port is located in the car.

    The diagnostic link connector is a 16-pin connector, and every manufacturer decides where to put it in your vehicle. Therefore, you have to find it. In most cars, it’s situated under the steering column. In other vehicles, it can be under the dash on the passenger’s side or on the center console. If you don’t find the port, check your owner’s manual.

    Step 2: Plug the OBD2 Scanner

    Before plugging in your scanner, ensure your car is off. If you have a wireless obd2 scanner, you must plug in the module. If you are using a wired scanner, the end of the cable must go into the port. After plugging in, check whether or not the scanner can read codes when the car is on or in idle mode.

    Confirming if the scanner should be used when the car is on or idle mode is critical. Some scanners use batteries and don’t require one to turn the ignition to idle mode or on to power them. However, most scanners that require powering work when your car’s in idle mode.

    Grab your car key and turn it into idle mode. Don’t start the engine unless the code reader requires you to. The scanner will turn on for a few seconds. If you use a wireless scanner, turn your phone, or tablet’s Bluetooth and pair the module with the device. Launch the Ancel app.

    Step 3: Feed the Info Requested

    If you use a professional or mid-range scanner, you’ll likely skip this step. These kinds of scanners are built with the capability to read your vehicle’s information without you having to add it manually. However, if your scanner requires you to do that, you must do it for your scanner to give you the correct readings.

    Every vehicle includes a unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which you must enter into the scanner. The scanner will also ask for your engine type and vehicle model. The VIN can be found at the lower corner of the windshield, in front of the driver’s side dash. You can also find the VIN under the hood close to the latch or the vehicle’s front end.

    Relevant:Can I Change My Cars Performance with an Obd2 Scanner?

    Step 4: Allow a DTC Scan to Happen

    All code scanners can read codes, it’s the number of functions that every scanner has that sets them apart. Immediately you feed the info like the VIN and press “enter,” the scanner will start pulling all the trouble codes from your car. The codes will show almost instantly, and you can use the buttons to navigate them.

    There are two types of DTCs.

    • Active codes: These are codes that triggered the CEL and would require attention immediately, failure to which they might become a bigger problem.
    • Pending codes: Pending codes are not critical and will not trigger the CEL but would require your attention. They are from the emission control system but will become active codes and trigger the CEL if unresolved. A reoccurring pending code can become an active code as well.

    Depending on your scanner type, your scanner might reveal all the trouble codes, while some will allow you to choose what you’d like to see.

    Step 5: Understanding What the Codes Mean

    Now that the codes are at your disposal, you are a step away from knowing what could be messing up your car. Using a budget scanner will only show you the codes, and you’ll have to check what the codes mean online. If you are using a mid-range scanner, it will give a brief meaning of the codes.

    The best of them all are the professional OBD2 scanners. They show the exact meaning of the codes in full. However, to understand what they mean, we’ll show you the outline.

    The codes start with letters P (Powertrain: engine, transmission, fuel system), B (Body: airbags, steering system, seatbelts), C (Chassis: ABS, axles, wheels, power steering), or U (Undefined: Issues not in P, B, and C, such as wiring).

    After the letter, there are four digits. The first number can be (0) for generic or (1) manufacturer-specific. The second digit refers to the specific vehicle part affected. The last two show the exact issue.

    Bluetooth Car Scanner

    Step 6: Decide What to Do with the Diagnosis

    No matter how advanced a scanner is, it can only tell you the issue with your car, but not fix it. Therefore, you need to determine if the issues are severe or not. If they are critical, you might need to call for professional help. If it’s a minor issue that you can DIY, such as replacing a part, go ahead with it! However, if you are unsure of what you are doing, seek the services of a mechanic to avoid costly mistakes.

    Step 7: Reset the CEL

    Let’s assume you’ve saved or recorded down all the DTCs, you can use the scanner, if it has the function, to reset the check engine light. To do this, you must erase the codes. It will also turn off automatically if you fix all the issues and drive for a few miles. If you turn off the CEL by clearing codes and don’t fix the issues, the CEL will turn on like you never switched it off.


    All Ancel scanners are capable of reading DTCs. Some of them can also erase DTCs, while some going for a higher price can do more. Whatever you are looking for in a scanner, Ancel has a variety that can meet your demands. Visit their website and make an order.

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