Step by Step Guide on Using OBD2 Scanners

scanner tool for car

Using an OBD2 scanner isn’t the most complicated task in the world, but it’s understandable to feel confused when using one for the first time. After all, there are many different settings and functions that you can use.

If it’s all new, it may take some time to understand what everything on the device menu is and how to use the OBD device to its full potential.

To get a handle on how to properly use an OBD2 scan tool, here’s our detailed guide on how to use an OBD2 scanner at home.

Step 1: Plug Your Scanner into the DLC

Every car manufactured over the past 25 years has what’s called a DLC, or Diagnostic Link Connector. This is a 16-pin plug that is where the cable of your OBS2 scanner goes.

The DLC plug can be found on the inside of your car. Normally it is installed on the left side of your dashboard, but the location can vary depending on your car model. Look for a flap that covers the connecting plug.

If you can’t find it, consult your car’s owner manual to find its location.

After your OBD2 scanner is plugged in, turn your car into idle mode, or turn the ignition. Your scanner should now give you a notification saying that the connection is being made.

Step 2: Type in your Car’s VIN

Your car has its own personal Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN for short. The VIN can be located on a sticker near the driver side’s door.

Once inputted and confirmed, make your way to the OBD2 scanner’s menu.

Step 3: Select a Car System

Now that your OBD2 scanner is connected to your car, it is up to you to select a system to diagnose. When you do so, the scanner will display pending codes and active codes (otherwise known as stored codes).

An active code is one that activates the check engine light, whereas a pending code can indicate something like an emission control system failure.

Keep in mind that a pending code can turn into an active code if the issue is repeated or detected twice or more often in a row.

Step 4: Understanding Error Codes

One of the most important parts of using an OBD2 scanner is learning what error codes mean. When asking is it worth buying an OBD2 scanner, this often depends on your ability to properly identify and respond to error codes.

Luckily, the language that OBD2 scanners use is easy to decipher. Every code starts with a letter that is then followed by numbers. First you have to understand what each letter means.

P stands for powertrain. It refers to the engine, ignition, transmission, emissions and fuel systems.

B stands for body. It refers to seatbelts, steering and the airbags.

C stands for the chassis. It refers to brake fluid, the braking system and the axels.

Finally, U stands for undefined. This can refer to any aspect of the vehicle that isn’t covered by the previous three categories. If you encounter a U error code, this may be one of the times when you are better off taking your car to a mechanic for more in-depth diagnostics.

As for the numbers of the error code, this is where you will need either a notepad or a really good memory. Write the numbers down and then refer to the user manual of the scanner to find out the code and exactly what it refers to. Then you will know exactly what issue your scanner is telling you.

Once you’ve done all that, you’re done learning how to use an OBD2 scanner all on your own. It’s recommended to keep on using your OBD2 scanner on a regular basis to get more accustomed to the menu as well as getting better at reading error codes.

As you keep on detecting car problems, feel free to invest in other DIY equipment to help you fix car problems on your own. This will save you a ton of money over time as you’ll end up avoiding having to take your car to the shop for problems that are quite simple and easy to solve by yourself.

Getting Your Very Own OBD2 Scanner

read obd codes

Now that you know how to use an OBD2 scanner, you’re probably thinking to yourself that it isn’t that complicated after all. With this new information coming to light, you may feel motivated to finally buy your own scanner for yourself!

There’s just one issue: which one do you get? There are so many scanners available on the market today that just selecting one can be even more difficult than learning how to use one!

If you want to know what is the best OBD code reader or scanner, look no further than Ancel.

Ancel is well-known for making some of the best car tool scanners. Ancel is a great choice for a variety of reasons.

For one thing, many of their scanners do not break the bank. If you think buying an OBD2 scanner is going to set you back a ton, think again. Many of their flagship models are highly affordable. Their prices will have you wondering why you didn’t get an OBD2 scanner sooner.

The Ancel AD410 and the Ancel AD530 both have great car compatibility, high-quality screens and the ability to make almost any DIY job much easier. They provide a lot of value in terms of functionality, and for the price, they’re definitely some of the best options you find anywhere. Plus, they’re under warranty, so just in case something goes wrong you’ll be covered.

how to use a code reader


There you have it. Using an OBD 2 scan tool is as easy as following all of the steps above. Then you’ll be able to use it to diagnose your own car problems and potentially save yourself a pretty penny from not having to go to and from the auto shop.

Good luck fixing any problems you may have with your vehicle and enjoy using your new OBD II scanner!

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