Getting your very first OBD2 scanner can feel a bit overwhelming with all of the options and menus that it has. However, the truth is that learning how to use an OBD2 scanner is easier than learning how to drive a car – that means that anyone can do it once they understand the basics
If you’ve just purchased your very first OBD2 scanner and need some extra assistance, or you’re looking for a little advice to help you out before you jump in and buy one for yourself, here’s a simple guide on learning how to use an OBD2 scanner on your own.
What is an OBD2 Scanner
OBD stands for On Board Diagnostic. An OBD scanner is therefore a scanning tool that can analyze your vehicle and scan it for any issues. It then reports back the issues to you in the form of an error code.
If you’re wondering what is a OBD code reader as well, it’s another car scanning tool like an OBD2 but typically with less functions.
OBD2 scanners are the current universal tool used to scan, analyze and diagnose modern car models. All modern cars around the world made in the past 25 to 30 years are capable of having an OBD2 plugged into them. This is why you can take your car into any mechanic chop shop and have them plug in the same kind of scanning tools into your car.
Before OBD2 scanners, there were of course the original On Board Diagnostic tools, now known as OBD1. OBD1 scanners went obsolete in 1996 when all car manufacturers began implementing a standardized system that allowed all cars to be scanned using the same technology.
OBD2 is not only more universal but also offers more detailed diagnostics information as well.
Is it Worth Buying an OBD2 Scanner
Many people ask if owning an OBD2 scanner is worth it even if they have zero experience with car mechanics or any kind of DIY projects. The simple answer is yes, buying an OBD2 code reader or scanner is always worth it because they add so many conveniences to your car maintenance you probably don’t even know you’re missing out on.
While the technology that goes into an OBD2 scanner is complex, using it from your side of things is simple. OBD2 scanners these days have easy to read interfaces and are simple to plug into your car’s DLC port located underneath the dashboard.
Plus, OBD2 scanners aren’t even that expensive. Many great ones cost under $50 and will end up saving you hundreds or even thousands in the long-term if you use them often enough.
How to Use an OBD2 Scanner
Once you’ve purchased your scanner, using it is quite simple. The first time might seem a little confusing but once you know how to connect, where it plugs into and how to operate the menus, you’ll soon become a natural at it.
The first thing you need to do is connect your OBD2 scanner into your car. Your vehicle will have what’s known as a DLC plug or Diagnostic Link Connector. This plugs into the cable with 16 pins that comes attached to your scanner.
Once the scanner is connected, you will want to turn it on by holding down the power or enter button.
Keep in mind that you may have to input your vehicle’s unique VIN or Vehicle Identification Number the first time you plug it in. The VIN number can be found on a sticker near the driver’s side door.
When the OBD2 scanner is on, it will begin automatically scanning your car’s systems for any issues.
Keep in mind that you are also welcome to plug your OBD2 scanner into the internet to download any updates for it. You can do this by going to the official website of the scanner, looking up the exact model you have and checking for any firmware updates that have been released since.
Once the OBD2 is done making its scan, it will probably present you with some codes. Each code is either going to be an error code or a DTC of some kind (Diagnostic Trouble Code).
The most complicated aspect of using an OBD2 scanner is understanding these codes, but luckily there’s already been a lot of internet research done into them.
While you could check your scanner’s owner’s manual to look up the meaning of each error code, you might have better luck searching them online. Any error code that you receive from your OBD2 scanner has already been discovered and added into an internet database somewhere. That takes a lot of the pressure off you.
Find your error code, read its definition and then you can use it to figure out what exactly is wrong with your car. Depending on the severity of the issue, you can perform your own DIY fix or choose to take your car into the shop.
Depending on the nature of the error code, it could be identifying a problem with the car’s power, the car’s chassis or the internal body.
Remember to clear any reported codes once you’ve identified or dealt with the situation so that your code reader will turn off the Check Engine Light signal.
What is the Best Car Scanner Tool
If you’ve been convinced by this article that OBD2 car scanners are not only affordable but an amazing piece of technology that’s not hard to use, you’re probably wondering which one you should get for yourself.
For affordable car scanning tools that offer all the functions you need, Ancel cannot be beat. Their OBD2 readers are the best in their price range and will level up your DIY car maintenance instantly.
If you’re looking for the best OBD II scanner at a great price, try the Ancel AD310. This scanner comes with all the necessary features you need in order to read CEL codes from your vehicle. Plus, it comes at a great price!