How to use an OBD-II or OBD2 code scanner and auto diagnostic tool


Don’t you hate it when that check engine or service light comes on your car?  Most people think that means it’s time to take the car to car dealer and that means it’s going to result in an expensive repair.  This is not usually the case.  Nine times out of 10 the reason why your service light or check engine light comes on is for routine maintenance that could be as simple as an oil change.  And you don’t need to go to your car dealer to have an oil change.  You can go anywhere you want or even do-it-yourself.

Car manufacturers, however, have put these missed the little programs in your car’s computer nowadays were it automatically pops up a check engine or service engine warning on your car whenever they think that you should go and get a routine oil change or service.  This is because it drives more people back to the car dealer which results in more expensive repairs and many times more unnecessary repairs that results in more money to the car dealer and to the manufacture of the parts. 

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Well, you can nowadays easily purchase and OBD-II (also referred to as OBD2) scanner that you can easily hook up yourself to your car and figure out exactly what is going wrong with it or if it’s just an old change or something like that that needs to be done or updated.  Many oil change places will not update or clear out your computer so that it knows that you had to roll changed at all.  This can then easily result in an erroneous code popping up on your dashboard.

Once you have purchased any OBDII code scanner (the much all fall the same directions or instructions) you basically turn off the car and apply the parking brake.  Then you connect your OBD2 scanner to the cars data Link connector which is usually under the dash.  Turn on the OBD-II scanner and turn the ignition key to the on position.  Then you press the read button on the code scanner.  The OBD-II scanner will then retrieve all data from the vehicles computer.

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Now, you can select the trouble codes on the screen of your scanner to see what is really wrong with your vehicle.  Some scanners are more advanced and will actually tell you what the trouble codes are and others will just give you the codes and you have a separate book where you will look up these codes to find out what is wrong with your vehicle.  If you’ve just had your oil changed and they were unable to reset or erase the trouble code that’s popping up the service light or check engine light on your car you can actually easily erase this with most OBD2 scanners.

OBD-II (2) code scanner diagnostic tool

All OBD2 code scanners come with a user manual build a more in depth than this and you can actually track the performance and output of your engine and vehicle.  You can get your VIN number and other pertinant data right from the code scanner.  So now you know how to erase erroneous codes so they don’t annoy you on your dashboard.  And you aren’t limited to just the car dealer for service.  At $50-$100 OBD two scanners are definitely well worth having.

More great articles and posts from that you will want to read:

1.  Headlights and their importance to your night time driving safety.

2.  All about road hazard warranties and what you need to know!

3.  What is headlight cleaner?

4.  Removing paint scratches from your car.

5.  Headlight cleaning and restoration – save big and do it yourself (DIY) !

6.  The DIY guide to replacing worn headlight bulbs.

7.  GM service bulletin on headlight oxidation.

8.  How to save big on car and truck parts

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13 Responses to How to use an OBD-II or OBD2 code scanner and auto diagnostic tool

  1. Thomas D. on April 12, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Great. I got one of these OBD2 decoders for Christmas from a relative and it didn’t come with a manual. I tried what you said and it worked. I was able to erase the annoying service reminder light. Thank you for the great how to article.

  2. Fred Thomas on April 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Can you use these OBD-II code readers to erase a airbag warning light?

  3. Dolly Quinton on April 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Are these code scanners or OBD2 diagnostic tools easy to use and something even I (a woman) could use? I have a Ford Explorer (my friends refer to it as the exploder) that has a service or check engine light that comes on quite often and for no reason at all. The ford dealer mechanic told me there is a glitch in the electrical wiring and that this will keep happening until I replace the entire wiring for the vehicle. The ford dealer wants $3500 to replace the wiring. Since there is nothing else wrong with it I figure a $100 OBD-II diagnostic tool would be a great investment (besides I only paid $3200 for the truck).

  4. Amy on April 19, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Can you use these OBD-II code readers to erase a airbag warning light?

  5. Kinet Kipmo on April 21, 2010 at 2:11 am

    Very interesting. I was wondering how to get rid of those check engine and service lights. Thank you.

  6. Tiffany on May 2, 2010 at 7:25 am

    wow.. I really enjoy reading your posts. great. now, i just need to find a good service mechanic that will work on my car and motorcycle for cheap…

  7. Cornelius C. on May 7, 2010 at 4:11 am

    I’m not much of a blog reading person, but I just wanted to tell you that I’m really enjoying what you’ve written so far. Please keep up the good work! Great info on code scanners and such. One can really learn a lot from this blog!

  8. Buenos Dias on May 13, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I have been looking this for a long time, thanks for sharing. Now, the question is why if cars are so advanced nowadays can I not just hookup my computer via usb and clear out or check any engine codes? Does anyone know if this is possible to do?

  9. Cynthia Porter on May 18, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Can I buy one of these OBD 2 scanners used through Craigslist or Ebay? Will a used one be reliable and work good for me? Also, can a girl with no automotive experience use one?

  10. Patience Zammiello on September 24, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Can I just hook up my home computer to the car’s computer? Where is the USB port on my car?

  11. Rufus Schweyen on September 28, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Do they make OBD II diagnosis tools in different languages like Russian?

  12. Edwardo on November 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Is there an instruction book somewhere on how to use the OBD2 unit I bought from a guy outside of Dollar General. I think he stole it from the Wal-mart and it doesn’t have the instructions. I need the instructions manual. Can someone here mail it to me for free and pay for the shipping too? That would be great.

  13. car owner on November 1, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Where can I get one of these wonderful OBD2 scanners and which brand do you guys recommend?

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