How to Use a Code Reader on a Vehicle

    Auto Code Reader

    You have made a great decision by purchasing the ancel ad410 code reader, which is the first step towards staying ahead of your mechanic when it comes to maintaining your vehicle. Now, the only remaining step is learning how to use the code reader effectively.

    Using OBD2 Scanner is actually very simple, and the tool usually comes with a user manual to guide you through the process. However, if you happen to be unable to find the user manual, you've come to the right place. We'll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to use a code reader on your vehicle.

    What You Need

    First and foremost, there are a few things you will need. Diagnosing issues in your car requires some basic mechanical skills and specialized tools, which are usually only available in a repair shop. However, with a code reader, you can easily identify the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and get a better understanding of the problem under your hood. The other essential item you will need is the OBD2 port, which is available in most cars manufactured after 1996.

    The Process of Using a Code Reader

    Here's the step-by-step process for using a code reader:

    Step 1: Find the OBD2 Port

    Almost all cars, if not all, have an OBD2 port. Most American, European, and Asian popular brands are equipped with one. The only difference is the location of the port in your specific car. The 16-pin connector is typically located on the left side of the dashboard, near the steering wheel, and is usually covered with a flap or door.

    Alternatively, the port can also be located under the passenger side or in the center column of your car. If you're unable to locate your OBD2 port, you can search for it online by typing in your car's make and model along with the year, and you should be able to find the answer. If you still have your car's owner's manual, it can also be used to find the port.

    Step 2: Connect Your OBD2 Code Reader

    Assuming that you have found the OBD2 port, the next step is to connect your code reader to your car's computer. The code reader usually comes with a connector cable or a Bluetooth module, both of which have a 16-pin male plug that goes into the port.

    Once you have inserted the plug, refer to the code reader's instructions in the manual. Does it require its own battery to power on, or do you need to turn on the car's ignition to idle mode? Will it work after you start the engine? All these answers can be found in the manual.

    Step 3: Turn the Ignition On

    Most code readers require you to turn the ignition to idle mode without starting the engine. The screen of the code reader should light up, indicating that the tool has been powered on. A message will appear on the screen.

    If the screen doesn't light up, it means the connection was unsuccessful. Try jiggling the plug a bit to ensure a secure connection. If it still doesn't work, check if the cigarette lighter in your car is functioning. If it's not, it could indicate that the fuse for the OBD2 system is damaged and the circuit has no power. In that case, locate the fuse and try to resolve the issue.

    Learn more: How To Reset The Check Engine Light With Code Reader

    Step 4: Enter the Vehicle Information

    Once you have connected the code reader or scanner to your vehicle, you may be prompted to enter the vehicle identification number (VIN), make, model, and engine type. The VIN is a unique identifier for your vehicle and can usually be found on the lower corner of the windshield on the left-hand side, under the hood, or at the front of the vehicle frame. Some advanced code readers may not require you to enter this information as they can read it automatically.

    Step 5: Get the Codes

    Once you have entered the necessary information, the code reader or scanner will retrieve the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) from your vehicle's computer and display them on the scanner's screen or on your connected device if you are using a Bluetooth-enabled module. The scanner will typically show both active and pending codes. Active codes are responsible for triggering the check engine light, while pending codes indicate issues with the emission control system that may trigger the check engine light if they occur again. Some code readers may display all the trouble codes, while others may allow you to choose which codes you want to read.

    Best Car Scanner For All Cars

    Step 6: Identifying and Interpreting the Codes

    The DTCs are usually displayed as a series of four numbers or a combination of letters and numbers. The first character is a letter that indicates the system in your vehicle that has the issue, and the following numbers indicate the specific area of the fault. Here are some common letters and their meanings:

    • P: This indicates powertrain issues, which could include problems with the engine, ignition, transmission, emission, or fuel system.
    • B: If a code starts with "B," it signifies an issue in the body, such as with seatbelts, airbags, or power steering.
    • C: This implies there's a chassis issue, which could be related to axles, brakes, the braking system, or brake fluid.
    • U: Codes that start with "U" highlight issues that are not specified for P, B, or C, and are considered undefined.

    The numbers that follow the letter have specific meanings as well:

    • First digit: This number indicates whether the diagnostic trouble code is generic (0) or manufacturer-specific.
    • Second digit: This number identifies the vehicle part that has the issue.
    • Last two digits: These numbers provide more details about the exact problem.

    To interpret the codes, you can search for their meanings online or refer to the code reader's manual. Once you have identified the issues, you can reset the check engine light and either repair and maintain the affected parts yourself if you have the necessary skills and knowledge, or take your vehicle to a mechanic for further diagnosis and repair.


    A code reader or scanner can help you identify issues with your vehicle, but it won't fix the problem. It is important to address the underlying issues by repairing or maintaining the affected parts or seeking professional help from a mechanic. If you are looking to purchase a code scanner, you can check out the Ancel website or other reputable sources to find the right scanner for your needs.


    How do I use an engine code reader?

    Connect the code reader to the OBD2 port in your car, turn on the ignition, retrieve the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), and interpret the codes to identify the issues.

    Where is the OBD2 port located in a car?

    The OBD2 port is usually located under the dashboard on the driver's side, but it can also be found on the passenger side or in the center console.

    What do diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) indicate?

    Diagnostic trouble codes are codes that indicate specific issues or faults in different systems or components of a vehicle.

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