What problems can there be with using OBD scan tools

Like in most tools, scan tools are not an exceptional category when it comes to having problems. At any given point, a tool is bound to fail. Most OBD scan tools are known to have some problems. These problems however are not usually open given the several benefits the users get from the OBD2 Scanner.


Looking at OBD I and OBD II tools, the level of experiences may be different depending on the nature of the check engine light fault. It is however notable that most scan tools have the following problems;

Updatability problems

This is not a universal problem though it is seen with most of the Car Diagnostic Tools of the old generation. Because of the compatibility issues, this range of scan tools known as readers will definitely not cover the requisite protocols. This makes them not to be able to scan newer car models.

It is however notable that with lack of updatable feature, the owner or technician may at times be forced to source for an alternative OBD scan tool. This is bound to cost money in terms of purchase of a new scan tool or the consultation of the mechanic.
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Read “The history of the OBD scans tools”

While the cost of purchasing some of the scan tools is relatively lower, it is seen as one of the biggest problem in most of the scan tools. Some OBD scan readers cost higher even if they do not cover the OBD protocols that are expected of them. In this regard, the cost function may even rise when such a machine forces the owner to seek the services of the mechanic.


The use of most of the Launch X431 is rather simple compared to the past experiences. This may be true though the codes as they are referred to are in most cases not easy to understand to a beginner. The need for interpretation of the code meaning which in most cases takes the help of the mechanic could involve the use of substantial amounts of money.

In this case, what is usually believed to be convenient in terms of cost may turn out to be conduit for the mechanic making substantial amounts from the owner without having to sweat. In addition, some of the scan tools are hard to connect given the complicated requirements of the software may prove to be quite inconveniencing if you are not a software Guru.

In most cases, the OBD scan tools are purchased with prior research on the compatibility of the tool.  It may not be easy to know whether the tool will work or not. This is precisely because some of the scan tools promise to code on certain ranges but when put in practice, they fail miserably.


The overall make of most of the OBD scan tools just looks perfect on the outside. However, the differences in terms of features and their covering scope may at times prove to be quite a challenge if you are a beginner.  It is in this regard that OBD tool packages are usually confusing and may make one to purchase an inappropriate tool.

The package issue is also one thing which is at the heart of the OBD scan tool debate. With the several parts in the package, the novice is usually put at a disadvantage if you are not well versed with how the parts work. For instance, if the tool works in the multilingual global dialects, then one has to know at least one. Not knowing this still makes one have the need for consultation.

OBD scan tool problems are not cast on stone and are bound to be corrected if the user is well informed. Most of this is found on the user manual. It is also good to learn how your car functions at the point of purchase because most cars are fitted with the tool at manufacture.


Tips on the OBD scan tool use

Learning how to use an Auto Diagnostic tool is an important part in ensuring that there is always a smooth fault repair process. Despite its importance, so many people are usually oblivious of this fact and end up just purchasing the OBD scan tool from the brick and motor stores or the online outlets and the commencing their use without passing through the learning process.

Such cases lead to some scanning mishaps or misinterpretation of the trouble codes which may have been coded. The user may end up incurring huge expenses which could have been avoided if the learning of how to use an OBD scan tool was taken seriously. Though the whole usage process is usually contained in the user manual, it is imperative to have a second opinion on how the scanner is used.

In this article, we have taken time to take you through a step by step process on how to use an OBD scan tool.  We are glad to have you take the journey of learning a step by step use of the OBD with us.
Check the car OBD compliance

It is important for you to look at the car OBD user manual and ensure that it is compliant with the requirements of the OBD regulations. Professional Diagnostic Tools was basically formed to control the rate of emission in the environment, its sensor based network with high efficiency raters if well used.

The OBD is a computer controlled interface which work with several sensors to give the user an indication on the state of the car engine health. Knowing the coding capacity enables the user to be able to select the relevant scan tool for the given car.

In most cases, cars which are OBD compliant have the tool already within its system and the car malfunction status is detected when the signal keeps giving what is in most cases known as the ‘check engine light’. This is in most cases assign of a fault within the car system and it can be anything spanning from the engine fuel fault, the car temperature status or just something else.

This fault detection usually arise from the fact that the car engine has what may be called the power train control module (PCM) which just guesses through its sensors what the car system ought to do.

The standard procedure with the Diagnostic Tools for Trucks scan process is that the PCM has the capacity to store trouble code data that is detected within the engine. In most cases, the code data deciphering require the service of a qualified mechanic and so you have to pull your car to the next motor mechanic for the trouble code assessment.

However, this is not the case with most of the scan tools of the modern times which have the trouble code directory where the data code meanings can be easily referred.
Plug in the OBD scan tool

The detection of the engine fault through the malfunction indicator light (M/IL) is enough to send you into action. The OBD connector for most vehicles is usually located below the driver’s seat. Using the 16 pin connection cable the scan tool is fitted to the cars diagnostic code port.

When the connection is established, the engine should always remain awake but care should be taken not to turn the key on. The plug in usually allows the OBD scan tool to display certain basic information regarding the car.

If the OBD scanner in question is a Bluetooth one, it will be important to pair it with the relevant OBD interface found within the car on board diagnostic software function. Most of the Bluetooth devices are fast and use a wireless interface. Some of the scans in this category have special software called the OBD wiz and works faster.

The important thing is having a relevant software pairing device in the form of a phone, an iPhone or iPad with the relevant android or iOS applications or windows laptop. These are made ready for pairing by down loading the OBD Bluetooth software relevant for the OBD scan tool in question.

The OBD display gives the driver options to scroll down and choose whether he wants to check trouble codes. The code detection process may take some time. Because some of the new generation OBD scanners are known for their level of sophistication, using them at this level may not be hard.
Select the relevant scroll down key

This option can either be in the form of enabling the car to detect only the codes or in most cases conduct a repair especially when the check engine light function is enabled. in some cases, to correct the trouble codes may require one to complete certain drive cycles till the car engine will detect the the problem has been fully corrected.
Check troble code step 1

Select the relevant scroll down key
Get the code readings

When the selection of the relevant keys are selected, the OBD display has the capacity of showing the codes and their meanings. Some of the tools which are more advanced have several display functions which includes the live data and the freeze data reading. The freeze data are stored data which is in most cases usable later.

The coded data reading is usually displayed on screen of the OBD scan for the mechanic or the user to see. However, in most cases, the new generation scanners have the option of the data being displayed on the screen of your desktop or laptop. The use of the new generation scanners is usually one area where the scan completion process can be well known. Don’t run the risk of wrong fault detection using some old model readers which in some cases masquerade as scanners.
What to do with the trouble codes

When the data has been coded using the do it yourself devices in the market, yet the check engine light trouble sign persists. Checking on any possible fault code sources through the data code readings on the screen is important. In some cases, it is imperative to consult a qualified mechanic top see if the problem could be arising from other areas.

Users may not be aware that the malfunction indicator light may remain on and off to signal some loose connection in some engine area. Though the whole process may cost a lot, the mechanic may have a professional opinion on what is making the malfunction indicator light to persist. Moreover, the mechanic may know how to translate the codes if the tool is not fitted with the necessary code translation guides.

OBD scan tools differ in shape, the amount of data which they can code; the use of the new generation diagnostic scanner may prove to be a convenient affair. Though the other older readers are also usable, it is in most cases notable that they may not cover as much data as the new generation scan tools