The OBD2 or On Board Diagnostics 2 system is mandatory for all vehicles sold
in the North American market 1996 and newer. OBD2 systems give the vehicle owner
or repair technician access to state of health information for various vehicle
sub-systems. OBD2 was a great improvement in standardizing vehicle diagnostics.
As a result of this standardization, a single device can connect to the on-board
computer of any OBD2 vehicle. The OBD2 standard provides an extensive list of
DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) and definitions which are the same in all OBD2
vehicles. We offer manuals on this subject including: "AutoData Trouble Codes
with Probable Causes", item numbers 11340 and 11350, and "1996 - 2006 OBD2 &
Electronic Engine Management Systems, Haynes Techbook Series" item number
Manufacturers including Actron, OTC, Autel, AutoXray and AutoEnginuity all offer
OBD2 code scanners and OBD2 code readers which help the everyday person diagnose their vehicles.
The simplest (and least expensive) OBD2 code readers will simply tell you the
trouble code being set by the vehicle's computer. You can then look in the
user's manual or a repair manual to find the definition of the OBD2 code.
Some codes may be triggered by any number of problems, so it is handy to have a
repair manual with good troubleshooting information to help you correct the
problem. More advanced tools will have the OBD2 code definition right on the
screen, and most tools with also allow you to clear the code. We offer a variety
of manuals including "How to Use Automotive Diagnostic Scanners" 0760328002 and
"Introduction to OBD II" 1418012203 which help give you a more in depth look at how to operate this equipment and get a better understanding of how the communications work between computer and vehicle.
The CAN Protocol (Computer Area Network) is used in some cars starting in
2003, and was mandatory in all USA cars by 2008. If you are working on newer
vehicles, you will want to be sure that your OBD2 scanner or reader is
"CAN capable" or "CAN enabled." Most of the new tools on the market are. A
common question is what is the difference between an OBD2 code reader and an
OBD2 code scanner? Both the reader and scanner will read & clear trouble
codes. The scanner has the additional ability to display, record and play
back live diagnostic data and perform other tests allowed by the vehicle maker.
More advanced scanners have even more features such as graphing &
Using an OBD2 code reader or OBD2 scanner is a simple task that most people
can do at home. With the correct equipment and software, you can drastically
improve the operating condition of your car or truck. Most diagnostic scanners
come with a one year warranty and have technical support numbers that can be
called if you get into a jam. By diagnosing your check engine light right away,
you can avoid serious engine damage and expensive repair costs.