What is an OBD2 Scanner?

Onboard Diagnostics II (OBD2 or OBD-II) is a standardized system which is used by onboard computers in trucks and cars for generating reports and carrying out self-diagnostics. All cars which have been manufactured since 1996 in the U.S. and 2003 in the UK have these standardized systems built in which continuously monitor emissions and electrical sensors whilst the vehicle is in motion.

This information is recorded, logged, and made available to OBD2 automotive diagnostic tools, which can extract it. When extracted, this data can then be interpreted and used to diagnose problems before the driver gets the chance to find it. OBD2 is an important addition to any vehicle and can be used to quickly get to the bottom of a vehicle’s problems.

#1: Different Types of OBD2 Scanners

There are two main types of scanner – the basic code reader and the scan tool. The code reader does exactly what you think, it reads codes, whereas the scan tool lets real-time data be viewed, recorded, and interpreted, in addition to providing troubleshooting information.

OBD2 scanners are most widely used for emissions testing, however, a Diagnostic Scanner has uses and applications pertaining to many different aspects of a vehicle’s performance.

#2: What Does an OBD2 Scanner Do?

The overall functionality of an OBD2 scanner depends very much on whether it is a scan tool or a code reader as above. Code readers can only read and clear codes, whereas the advanced scan tools can do so much more with its advanced functionality.

Because OBD2 systems are all the same, the scanners themselves are very simple to use. OBD2 scanners are “plug in and play” bits of kit which can be inserted into any vehicle. All OBD2 scanners use the same connectors, and the scanner works by simply inserting the universal connector into the vehicle.

#3: Choosing the Right OBD2 Scanner

An OBD2 scanner can easily be a valuable addition to your car, but this does not mean that you should go out and spend thousands of dollars on a high-end one. If you own a car which was manufactured after 1996 in the U.S. or 2003 in the UK, an OBD2 scanner is a very worthwhile addition to your car.

As with any sort of product, there are both cheaper and more expensive options, with the more expensive options offering more features and flexibility. To get an idea of what’s available, visit the Scan Tool Center where you can learn more about this fantastic piece of vehicular technology. We also recommend visiting your local mechanic instead of trying to do it yourself, as OBD2 scanners are rather complex and you will want it installed properly.

OBD2 is a standardized system used by the onboard computers of all vehicles. Prior to OBD2, there was OBD1 which did not use the same communication protocols, connectors and other specifics between manufacturers. OBD2 came along to rectify this, unifying OBD between all vehicle manufacturers and making it a much simpler system, which could be applied to all vehicles.