How To Ask Your Car ‘What’s Wrong?’

Your car is crammed with information. We are talking a literal treasure trove of brilliant details, that can help you maintain your car better. Particularly useful if you’re already a bit of a petrol head with a love of facts. How do you access all of that data? With an OBD2 Scanner.

First though, let’s talk about what an OBD-2 Scanner actually is. The OBD- II is the standardized system that computers in trucks or cars use for self-diagnostics. Handy.

How do you access and the information?

Well, since the 80s, every car has some form of OBD, and before we had smartphones, we wouldn’t really be able to access this stuff before – however that was then. It pays to get the OBD-2 tools compared before you make any purchases, but aside from that, you can use an app on your smartphone via most OBD- II scanners.

Once you have settled on the brand you want, it will be time to install. In general, you will be looking to connect a Bluetooth adapter (to send the information). Then somewhere under your dashboard, there will be an OBD plug, you might need your manual to find it, then? You plug it in. Hook it up to your tracking app, and that is it. You might find that you will need to test a few different apps, some are only available on Android, and others just won’t have the capabilities you are looking for. Once you have found one you like the look of, it’s time to take a little test drive.

What Information Can You Get?

Most OBD-II scanners come with a lot of great tools, there is, however, some difference between a basic code reader and a scan tool. Basic code readers can only read and clear codes, while the advances scan tool will give you live data, recorded data, show you extensive knowledge and provide access to other tools too.

In general, the most useful ones are:

Checking your gas efficiency (allowing you to save money), looking at how you are breaking, accelerating, how much your trips are costing, and even planning how much your trip might cost. How? Well once you have your OBD-II scanner installed, you can hook it up to an app like Dash.

Breaking down all those dashboard lights. Have you ever been driving along and see the light for something ping, and then it doesn’t happen again for a while? Well, having the OBD-II scanner installed means that it will take note of that and tell you exactly what has gone wrong. There is, of course, no substitute for a mechanic, but if you go in armed with some information – the better for you and your car.

Ever parked in a massive car park and spent the best part of the day looking for the car when you’ve finished? Well, this one is super useful – an app like Automatic uses your data to tell you where you have parked, and while it is probably a bit like overkill it can be really useful.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.