The check engine light is every driver’s worst nightmare. It says something is wrong with the car and doesn’t state where exactly, which makes you even more worried. You don’t know when the vehicle will suddenly stop due to a malfunction, which takes away your peace of mind.
If you live in a state where car inspections are mandatory, your car might not pass, and you’ll not be allowed to drive it until you fix the issues. That’s where an ODB2 scanner comes in. you should have it. What is it?
What’s the Tool?
OBD is the acronym for “on-board diagnostics.” All cars from 1996 to date use ODB2, the second-generation OBD. All vehicles from 1995 to the early 80s used OBD first generation. OBD2 is an onboard computer that provides diagnostic information about your car. You’ll have to plug in the ODB2 scanner to get the data.
An ODB2 scanner is a device or tool that allows you or a technician to access your vehicle data. The handheld device is connected to your car via a cable or Bluetooth. Before, these tools were only available at the workshops. Today, they are more advanced and cheaper, and car owners can own them.
How Does an OBD2 Scanner Work?
Plugging an ODB2 scanner is as easy as plugging your phone into the charger. Once it’s plugged in, you will have to turn it on if it’s battery-powered. Scanners that source power from the ODB2 port turn on automatically when you plug them in. The wireless versions also come with a dongle you can insert into the port and transfer the information to your phone via Bluetooth.
Different ODB2 scanners have different features, even though the readings might look almost identical. Vehicle owners can read and interpret ODB data from a scanner quite easily. You can understand unrecognizable codes from a quick Google search. You’ll need to turn the ignition for the scanner to start working.
OBD2 Scanners Connection Types
When buying an ODB2 scanner, you’ll come across two options, wired and wireless. Let’s discuss them in detail.
A wired ODB2 scanner, also called a handheld scanner, is an all-functions-in-one device that you plug directly into the ODB2 port of your car using the provided cable. This is how the original ODB was built to work. The ECU can show all the issues with your vehicle, but a scanner can only do the functions the manufacturer installed. Therefore, buy a scanner according to the functions you want it to perform.
Mechanics use wired professional OBD2 scanners with multiple functions. They complete everything the ODB2 shows them, but they go for top-dollar because of their limitless capabilities. Unless you want to invest in one, these scanners are not worth buying if you are a hobbyist.
Wireless scanners are a hobbyist’s favorite. They are easier to use, send interpretable codes to your phone, and are affordable. These scanners use Bluetooth or WiFi to connect to your smartphone. Others come with a separate tablet. The advantage of these scanners is that you can get a trouble code and seek assistance from customer service.
The Ancel app on your phone does more than show you some trouble codes. It also provides essential information on how to make repairs and predict future problems. It also erases older codes that have been resolved. A wireless scanner is the most convenient for you if you work from home, and you get to save money and get many functions.
What Should You Consider When Choosing an ODB2 Scanner?
There are several factors to consider when looking for an OBD2 scanner. The most important of them all is what you intend to use it for. The uses will determine the price, and you should also consider your budget. A simpler ODB2 scanner is cheaper and can help manage your check engine light. If you want more functions, then purchase a more advanced OBD2 scanner.
Whichever ODB2 scanner you choose, make sure that it offers fast data transfers, has data storage capabilities and is compatible with your car. A more advanced one should support software upgrades and have user-friendly screens and menus.
ODB2 Scanner Design Types
Scanners come in two different models. Understanding their difference will help you buy the ride scanner. A scanner is a handy tool that can help resolve some of your car's issues by revealing them. Here are two different models.
Scan tools perform more in-depth scans and are much more advanced than basic code readers. The scanners can scan and give codes for your engine conditions, such as fuel pressure, giving you essential information about what could be happening in your car’s engine.
Though scan tools can be more expensive than code readers, they are worth it because they are wireless and offer more detailed information. The Ancel BD200 is an excellent example of a scan tool.
Code readers are mostly handheld, and you can use the buttons on the device to navigate around the LCD screen. The device is connected directly to the vehicle ODB2 port.
If it detects trouble from your check engine light, it relays a trouble code and displays it. That way, you’ll be able to know what could be affecting your vehicle. The Ancel AD410 is one of the best code readers a DIYer can get.
Why You Should Buy One
An ODB2 scanner helps diagnose problems in your car. Having one of these tools will save you money in the long run. If you have a scanner and can identify the issue, you can ask your mechanic to skip the diagnostics step. Diagnostics cause around $100, while a code reader might not cost as much.
If your car was built after 1996, that’s a great advantage as it allows you to utilize ODB2 technology. A scanner will not only help you save money, but you can stop guessing what could be troubling your car and worrying about it. Ancel has several scanners for you to choose from. Make sure to get one within your budget and with the required functions.