What OBD Scanner Should I Buy

A Comprehensive Guide

With the rising costs of fuel and vehicle maintenance, OBD scanners had come a long way from when it was first proposed and developed. Given the significant number of OBD-related development, it is important to ask the question: what OBD scanner should I buy.To answer this one must first read up about OBD scanners.

What are OBD Scanners?

A standardized self-diagnostic system for cars and trucks, the Onboard Diagnostics (OBD) system is used to scan data from the electronic components and deliver it as a readable output that can be used to report possible issues with the car or truck.

The first generation OBD came out in the 1970’s and to combat the apparent smog armageddon over Los Angeles, the OBD2 protocols were put into place. This meant that there is a single communications system and code designation for all makes and models of OBD2 scanners.

Other than combating the rising smog problem, OBD2 scanners came from the need to comply with the emission standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. These new scanners come with standardized systems and diagnosis methods that ensure that the vehicle is meeting both the EPA and the OEM standards. As of January 1996, all new vehicles have incorporated the OBD2 system with their electronic sensors.

Types of OBD2 Scanners

OBD2 scanners can be classified according to their functionality.

  • Code readers are the basic OBD2 scanner which means that it just reads the data from the sensors and clears them without providing additional information about OEM specific codes.
  • Scan tools, on the other hand, provide advanced information about OEM specific codes and they also come with additional features that you would not normally find with basic readers. Live data can also be accessed with scan tools as well as historical data.

How does it work?

Vehicles equipped with an OBD2 system have a diagnostic connector and an OBD2 device can be connected here and then placed inside the glove compartment or on the vehicle’s dashboard.

What happens during the process is that electronic sensors located throughout the engine, especially the fuel management systems, would give out data that is read by the onboard diagnostic systems.

This data is then read by the OBD2 reader or scanner and then converts it to readable signals or outputs that will help determine what is wrong with the vehicle.

Scanner vs. Reader

In answering the question, what OBD scanner I should buy, it is a bit obvious that it should be an OBD2 scanner since it does have more advanced features and can provide more advantages in the long run.

But what are these advantages and are there any disadvantages?

Advantages of an OBD2 Scanner

  • OBD2 scanners are cost-effective – OBD2 scanners let you know how well your vehicle is performing and send an advance signal if something is wrong. Knowing what the exact problem saves you time, money and the effort to bring the vehicle to a mechanic. Why bring it when you can fix it, right?
  • OBD2 scanners increase vehicle efficiency – speaking of vehicle maintenance, knowing that the engine or another component is about to break down allows more consistent vehicle maintenance; this is where the output display plays an important role. A well-maintained vehicle consumes less fuel and runs better than the average.
  • OBD2 scanners allow for additional savings in the long run – having a well-maintained engine helps keep the vehicle running effectively and it will eventually save tons of money in vehicle repair and maintenance, as well professional fees for automobile mechanics.

Disadvantage of an OBD2 Scanner

  • Some inconsistencies in programming can cause compatibility issues with older vehicle modes. While vehicles made after 1996 are already equipped with an OBD2 system and its related components, this does not automatically mean that things would go smoothly. As with anything technology-related, there will always be an issue or two whenever a new version comes out. Evidently, some of the older OBD2 scanner versions and the devices using the technology have had a hard time receiving data from the onboard sensors and reading them properly.
  • There may be some compatibility between mobile application versions. Mobile applications get updates on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Although most of these updates are based on user feedback, this doesn’t mean that the interpretation of data would be the same. There is a very minimal chance of this occurring on a regular basis for OBD2 scanner applications, but it does come at a disadvantage especially if it gravely affects vehicle performance.

Choosing What OBD Scanner Should I Buy?

A good OBD2 scanner is an investment worth looking into and here are some things that will help answer the question,
what OBD scanner should I buy?

  • Vehicle type – what kind of vehicle is the OBD scanner going to be installed in? There are different scanners for different sizes of vehicles, with each kind varying in the component and software that is used. There is no universal ODB Scanner so knowing the vehicle type is the most important thing to know.
  • Year of make – as stated earlier, OBD scanners come out with different software versions every year and not all scanners can work for this year and that but they do work for vehicles from this year and this. Knowing when the vehicle was made is important in determining which OBD Scanner would work the best.
  • Where the vehicle was made – American-made cars often don’t have any problems connecting with OBD2 scanners, but foreign-made vehicles have had these problems especially since the electronic system was made without having OBD compliance in mind.

Once all these information is ready, additional research is needed to determine which OBD you should buy. This research would be geared towards the different brands and models of OBDs available right now. Features and benefits should be listed dow        ell-informed decision, which would be the answer to the question: what OBD scanner should I buy?

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