How to Use OBD2 Scanners

If you have recently purchased a vehicle, you are probably aware of the OBD2 port that lies underneath the dashboard. With the proper OBD2 scanner, you can quickly diagnose the mechanical problems of your vehicle in the long run.

Furthermore, you can also perform a plethora of tasks like enhancing its performance, and you are always updated on the crucial aspects of your car like its engine RPM, air temperature, throttle, and much more.

You can also check this Informative guide by Republic Lab on best OBD2 scanners available in the market.

Being a new car owner, you are alien on using the scanner described above. In this guide, we will introduce you on how you can use the OBD2 scanner effectively, and also familiarize you in picking the best one. So, let us get into the business right away.

Why OBD2 scanners are indispensable

The vehicle’s sensor will immediately trigger a “trouble code” as soon as it detects a problem.

The OBD2 scanners can read these codes and intimate you on the exact problem. 

After the necessary amendment is done, the gadget will remove the code from memory.

OBD2 Scanner Variants

Before we introduce the proper way to use these scanners, you should pick the right one that will do the job correctly. See, if you can relate to this situation.

You have just got a car, and understandably, you have shelled out a hefty sum. The general tendency would be investing in a cheaper scanner.

Albeit there are the cost-effective OBD2 scanners, but their productivity is minimal. So, it is imperative to understand the difference between the available types. There are two variants the Code Readers, and Scan Tools.

1. Code Readers

These are the ones we were discussing; they are inexpensive and can perform essential functions like reading the codes.

But it will be unable to decode the codes provided by specific car developers, and access certain types of data. Ultimately, it will be of little use for your requirements.

2. Scan Tools

These gadgets are pricey but include a host of features which will help you in the long run. For instance, they can offer complete access to recorded and live data and are capable of deciphering all the manufacturing codes. So, whenever the car requires help, it will provide you with advanced troubleshooting options.

Points to remember before using the scanner

These OBD2 scanners are robust, but you should take adequate safeguarding measures when using it.

You do not want this all-important gadget to malfunction, considering it has such a pivotal role in optimizing the health of your car.

It is always advisable reading the manual of the OBD2 scanner properly. Do not overlook any points. By doing so, you might skip a critical function, and when you need it the most, you find yourself at sea.

The scanners usually come with a 16-pin plug. When inserting it to the OBD system on your car, do so with utmost caution. It should connect without a fuss. Never try to connect it forcefully, as it may cause the pins to break.

Remember to power on your vehicle while using the gadget. You will ruin the OBD2 software if you initiate the scanner without powering on the car.

Using the OBD2 Scanner

Now, that you realize the importance of an excellent OBD2 scanner, let us get acquainted on how to use it.

You can expect to find several models of these scanners, and each of them offers different functionalities. The necessary procedure of using the scanner is rather straightforward, and here is how you to do it.

Disable the power of the car, and attach the OBD2 scanner to the data link connector. As mentioned earlier, it is located under the dashboard.

You need not worry about the connector, as it follows the same standard (SAE J1962). Your scanner is now ready to read the codes generated by the OBD system.

Turn on the power of the car and the OBD2 scanner should boot up instantaneously. Some gadgets require them to instigate manually by pressing the power switch.

Now, you should feed all the car-related information to the scanner like the model of the car, the engine type, Vehicle Information Number, and all the relevant details.

The gadget will then initiate its scanning mechanism and check the diagnostic system of the car. There should be a button, pressing which the process starts.

In case, you find difficulty locating the button, and you can refer to the manual of the scanner. Typically, every code will begin with a letter that implies the system to which the code is referring to.

For example, the letter “P” refers to Powertrain, and it tells you about the engine, fuel system, ignition, emissions, transmissions, etc.

The letter “B” includes information on the power steering, airbags, and seat belts and so on.

The letter “C” refers to the chassis and has information on the brake fluids, axles, and much more.

The letter “U” tells you about the undefined codes which include all the other aspects of your vehicle.

Upon the successful scan completion, the OBD2 scanner should be ready with a plethora of codes, a single trouble code, or nothing at all depending on the diagnostic results.

There is no need to take out a pen and paper to write down these codes. All the information is easily transferrable via Bluetooth to your smartphone or computer.

Now, you can tally the generated trouble codes with that present in the manual of the OBD2 scanner. It should not take long in identifying the meaning of these codes.

In the off chance, you do not find the code enlisted on the manual, search for them online, and you should get them quickly. The role of the OBD2 scanner ends here; you can now turn off the power of your car and unplug the gadget.


Now that you know how to use the scanner, you should feel confident in using it periodically. The gadget is indispensable.

Consider the ordeal, when you had to rush your car to the repair shops, even for a minor glitch, and ended up burning a hole in your pocket.

The OBD2 scanner is your ultimate friend. By using it properly, you can be sure of saving your precious time and money. 

Author: Brandon Park