Obd2 scanner [A quick overview: which is best?]

What do you know about car diagnostic tools? How well do you even know the operations of the Obd2 scanner inside in your car? Find out below!

Have you ever heard of an Obd2 Scanner? Do you even know if there is one in your car? After reading this article you will have answers to these questions.

And don’t worry Naijauto.com will give you a quick overview of the Obd2 scanner and its various operations along with all the important details you are supposed to know about it. So, read on!

1. History of car diagnostic tool

A car diagnostic tool refers to a vehicle’s diagnostic system that is capable and responsible for generating reports about the current condition of the various vehicle’s parts. In these modern times, most vehicles now come with an on-board diagnostic system.

The history of these On-board diagnostic systems dates back to the year 1968 when the first of its kind, on-board computer diagnostic system was introduced. It was featured in Type 3 fuel-injected models of the Volkswagen vehicles rolled out at that time. In the year 1978, these onboard computers especially the Datsun 280Z types, started appearing more on major consumer vehicles. The main motivation behind this appearance and adoption was the need for tuning the systems responsible for fuel injection in real-time.


Car diagnostic tools have gone through 50 years of development

In the year 1980, the control module for the engine (ECM) on the car assembly line was tested by General Motors by implementing a kind of proprietary interface and a protocol. This diagnostic link for the assembly line (ALDL) protocol broadcasts at a 160bits per second which was implemented on most 1980 model California vehicles and later in the year 1981 and later for the rest of the U.S.A.

It can be found in most cases that the control module for the engine (ECM) will be made to show trouble codes used for diagnostics (DTCs) in the form of flashing patterns on the Indicator Lamp (MIL) showing malfunction or engine lamp indicating a need for an engine check. The development and evolution of these systems continued over the years. And in the year 1991, the board handling air resources in California (CARB), made a new requirement which was stating that basic OBD capabilities must come with newer vehicles that will be sold in the state of California.

2. The birth of car scanner

After the introduction of the onboard diagnostic system, different standards were also introduced to be able to have specific pinout and connector for each type of onboard diagnostic system. Some of these protocols were ALDL, M-OBD, OBD-I, OBD-1.5, OBD-II (Obd2), etc. The OBD-II standard is a clear improvement over the initial OBD-I standard in both standardization and capabilities.

A car scanner is a combination of diagnostic tools in a vehicle that can read and generate visual reports of a vehicle’s performance and other statuses. A car scanner reporting system can be in the form of an integrated display on the dashboard of the car or just a mobile phone app that connects with the rest of the vehicle’s OBD system using USB, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth connection medium to link with the vehicle’s OBD2 engine management system (ECU).


A car scanner reporting system can be in the form of a mobile phone app

All the car scanner tool does is to get fault codes (OBD), sensor data, car performance measurements and lots more in real time.

3. What is Obd2 Scanner?

It is a type of onboard computer system that is standardized for self-diagnostics as well as reporting in trucks and cars. As you must have seen earlier in the introduction, this Obd2 scanner is a system that grew out of regulations made by the board responsible for Air resources in California (CARB). It’s being implemented with the Automotive engineer’s society (SAE) developed specifications.

The OBD2 scanners implement the OBD-II standard which is better than the former OBD-I standard because it uses the same connectors, code designations, and communication protocols even if made by different manufacturers. The year 1996 was the first year that all vehicle models were required to have OBD-II across their boards. This was possible because of the standardization of the OBD-II system that made the connectors cross-compatible.

3.1. Obd2 Bluetooth

Bluetooth can be seen as the most widely adopted OBD2 connection medium by various car owners and drivers. Some argue that they prefer connecting via Bluetooth because of the ease in establishing the connection compared to other means like USB or Wi-Fi. And the fact that connecting via Bluetooth makes it easy to use mobile phone apps which are readily available in thousands on various online mobile app stores. Another point to note is that Bluetooth comes with most old and new mobile devices thereby increasing the convenience of running these diagnostic apps with almost all smartphones.

3.2. ELM327

These days, vehicle manufacturers are bounded by law to provide one or more interface for connecting diagnostic equipment any of the cars they produce. A smart device or PC cannot directly use any of the several standards of data transfer available on the various interfaces provided by car manufacturers. This is what gives rise to the ELM327 chip.


This is a naked ELM327 working - sexy huh?

This ELM327 is designed to serve as a bridge between a standard serial interface and the On-board diagnostics ports (OBD ports). The ELM327 can interpret and automatically detect 9 OBD protocols. It is very much customizable and has lots of features that make it easy to connect to the OBD engine management system in any vehicle.

4. Best automotive diagnostic scanners

Among countless car diagnostic scanners on the market, which type should you trust for your beloved vehicle?

The table below shows some of the best automotive diagnostic scanners that we know of, going with the general rating from experienced drivers and readers online:

Best automotive diagnostic scanners
OBD2 Scanner  Specialty Rating /5 stars
ANCEL AD310  Budget  4.5
Launch Creader 6001  Budget  4.6
FOXWELL NT301  Budget  4.7
Autel AL519 AutoLink  Budget  4.7
Actron CP9690   OBDII & OBD2 4.8
Autel MaxiDiag MD808  All Rounder  4.8
Innova 3160g  All Rounder  4.8
BlueDriver Bluetooth   Bluetooth 4.9
Launch X431 PROS  OBDII & OBD2  4.8
Autel Maxisys Pro MS908      ECU Coding  4.9

The Best OBD2 Scanner of 2018

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5. Obd2 Connector

The OBD-II or OBD2 diagnostic connector implements the SAE-J1962 specification. This specification presents two (type B and type A) standard hardware interfaces. Both of these interfaces are female with (2x8) 16-pin, D-shaped connectors and the 2 rows of pins in these two have a groove between them. Although, the groove of the type B interface has an interruption in the middle of it.


24V Vehicles uses the type B (OBD-II) interface while 12V vehicles use the type A (OBD-II) interface

The reason for this is to make sure a type B socket (female) doesn’t allow a type A (male) interface to be inserted or plugged into it but a socket of type A (female) will allow the insertion of a plug of type B (male). You might be wondering what makes the type A different from the type B in particular? Well, Vehicles of 24V uses the type B interface while vehicles of 12V use the type A interface.

6. Obd2 Adapter

There are several Obd2 adapters on the market today but the OBDLink adapters and Kiwi adapters are the best as recommended by Obd experts like OBD Auto Doctor. The OBDLink and Kiwi adapters have been known to have the best compatibility and performance with various vehicle models and they always come in high quality and impressive standard.

Anyone shopping for an OBD2 adapter should be aware of cheap clone adapters which seems to be currently flooding the auto parts market. These fake OBD2 adapters will sometimes not work with some car models, and they quickly get broken. Some of the best obd2 adapters out there will fall in any of these categories; BLE adapters (Bluetooth), Wi-Fi adapters, USB adapters. You can research online for the best Obd2 adapters out there for your car or ask your local expert.


There are a variety of Obd2 adapter for you to choose from

7. Conclusion

At this point, we believe you now know what an Obd2 scanner does in your car, don’t you?

Imagine how difficult it would be if there was no way to know if anything was wrong in a modern vehicle considering the volume of integrated parts that they come with. That means one would have to manually check the fuel tank, check the wheels, check the tires, and even have to completely dismantle the vehicle in order to have access to some inner parts to understand what is going on.

All these hassles are being prevented and simplified by the Obd2 Scanner system. The scanner already has the necessary sensors and systems put in place to track, monitor and generate reports which a driver or car owner can easily access visually by any provided display medium or with a smartphone device. How cool is that? Getting the best Obd2 scanner and adapter for your vehicle will really help you gain more insight as to your vehicle's real-time performance, as well as help you learn more about the most beneficial and effective maintenance measures that help the car.

If you are still confused, you should understand that we cannot tell you everything about an Obd2 scanner all in one article like this. So, we advise you make further inquiries online, invest more time for Car Maintenance topics or talk to your local mechanic for more enlightenment.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our amazing huge collections of New, Tokunbo, and Nigerian used cars for sale in Nigeria.

Oluwaseun Solomon

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