Can One Code Reader Be Used For Cars And Trucks

heavy truck scan tool

As a car owner working as a light or medium trucker or even hauling goods from state to state in an 18-wheeler, you are truly living on wheels. Many truck owners wonder whether they can use the same code reader for their cars and trucks.

Some code readers are made for cars, while others are for trucks. A code reader that can scan truck and car computers can be great, but do they even exist? In this article, you’ll find out whether it’s possible to have a do-it-all code reader.

Can One Code Reader Read Truck and Car Computers

If you have one OBD2 code scanner, it will work for both petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. The only difference is the codes specific to the diesel or gasoline-powered engine type. All trucks are diesel-powered. But can a code reader read the truck’s computer as well?

Yes, you can use a code reader for both trucks and cars if you buy one that is designed to read petrol and diesel-powered systems. Some code readers and scanners are only built for cars, while others work for trucks and cars. Most semis come with a 9-pin connector port, even though some still have a 16-pin connector. Most light and medium trucks use the normal OBD2. You can use your car’s code reader to scan the smaller trucks.

However, most high-end diagnostic tools have adaptors to work on OBD2 and 9-pin connector ports. If your truck uses a 9-pin adaptor, find out the color of the port. If it’s green, it's faster, and black, it will be a little slower. The Ancel HD3300 is a heavy-duty scanner capable of scanning truck and car computers.

How Does the Scanner Work for the Truck

Basically, using a scanner or code reader on a truck works the same as reading codes from your car. The only difference is the type of connector port used in the car. Some code readers come with the 16-pin cable, and you must order the 16-pin to 9-pin adaptor separately to scan your truck. However, if you have a lighter or medium truck, it probably comes with the standard OBD2 port, saving you the stress of getting an adaptor.

Once you have the adapter, connect it with the 16-pin cable from your scanner, plug the green head into the connector, and you can get trouble codes from your truck. It will also work with a Bluetooth module if you connect it to the adapter. The code reader is capable of reading fault codes and performing advanced diagnostics.

How to Use the Code Reader

Sometimes you are hit with the check engine light and wonder if you should pull over and call for a tow truck or keep driving to your mechanic. You fear the unknown and don’t know if the engine will die when you are in the middle of nowhere. It would be worst if you were in the middle of Route 50 and your truck’s engine suddenly malfunctioned.

A code reader will certainly not be your best friend on a lonely 290-mile road, but it can help you avoid taking the lonely stretch in Nevada when your truck or car has some underlying issues. Not even the most experienced mechanic can tell the problem with your truck’s engine unless they run a code reader on your vehicle.

A code reader will not fix the problem, but it will help find it. You can resolve some of the minor issues and keep driving. The code reader will also inform you about the severity of some issues, and you can share those codes with your mechanic. Severe issues mean you should avoid driving to prevent the worst from happening to your truck.

Steps to Scanning Your Truck or Car

A code reader is essential, but having it and not knowing how to use it is as good as having none. Here’s how to pull codes from your truck or car using your code reader.

  • Step 1: Find the Diagnostic Link Connector/Port If your car was manufactured in 1996 and after, it has an OBD-2 connector. If your truck was manufactured after 2016, it comes with a 9-pin plug under the dash. If you can’t find the connectors, check your owner’s manual. If you don’t have it, check where your vehicle model’s connector is located via the internet.
  • Step 2: Connect Your Code Reader to the Connector Your car or truck’s ignition should be off when plugging in your code reader. If you are connecting to your truck, first connect to the adaptor and then plug it into the connector. With the cable plugged in, turn the ignition to idle mode. The code reader’s screen will light up as well
  • Step 3: Enter the Information RequestedYour car or truck has a unique vehicle identification number (VIN). A more advanced scanner will identify the VIN by itself. For a cheaper one, you’ll have to enter that data manually. The code reader may also ask for your engine details and model type. You can find the VIN on the lower corner of the windshield.
  • Step 4: Get the Diagnostic Trouble Codes Once the information is entered, the core reader will begin sharing DTCs from your truck or car computer. It will show active and pending codes. It’s the active codes that trigger the check engine light. Pending codes, on the other hand, display info from the emission control system. If a pending code occurs more than once, it triggers the check engine light.
  • Step 5: Identify and Interpret the Codes Now that the codes have been displayed, you can use the scroll keys to scroll through the menu. You must be able to interpret the codes to be able to identify the problems within the systems. Every code starts with a letter followed by four digits. The first letter could be one of the following: P, B, C, or U, which mean powertrain, body, chassis, and undefined in that order.The first number can be manufacturer-specific or generic, the second represents the vehicle part, and the last one points out the exact issue. You can find out on the web what the code means. You can also use the manual that came with the code scanner.


Modern code readers are more advanced, and with the right extension adapter, you can use it to scan your truck. However, one scanner that’s designed for both trucks is the Ancel HD3300. If you are a car and truck driver looking for a convenient and affordable all-rounded scanner, this is the best option.

Step by Step Guide on Using OBD2 Scanners How to Use a Code Reader on a Vehicle