How To Use an OBD2 Scanner: Read & Interpret Codes

Last Updated on 21 July 2023 by Lucas

As a car owner, you may have heard of OBD2 scanners but not know what they are or how to use them.

Contrary to popular belief, using an OBD2 scanner is actually quite simple – if you know what you’re doing. With the right tools and knowledge, anyone can learn how to use an OBD2 scanner in no time!

After all, it’s just a matter of connecting the device and knowing how to interpret the diagnostic codes. So don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed; let’s get started learning about how to use an OBD2 scanner today!

Choose the Right OBD2 Scanner

Choosing the right OBD2 scanner for your needs is essential; you’ll want to make sure it has all the features you’re looking for so that you can get the most out of it. There are many different models available, and each one offers a unique set of features and capabilities.

When evaluating models, take into consideration what type of vehicle you will be diagnosing and what specific functions you need the scanner to perform. Consider how often you plan on using it, as well as its compatibility with your car’s system. If possible, compare multiple scanners to find the best fit for your needs.

When choosing an OBD2 scanner, consider what types of diagnostic codes it can read and clear from your vehicle’s computer system. Most models can read Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) from all major systems in a vehicle including engine, transmission, airbag control unit and ABS brakes. Some scanners also have additional features such as oil resetting or programing key fobs which may be useful depending on your requirements.

Make sure to check if additional software is required or included with the purchase of a scanner before making a final decision. You should also examine the display size and resolution when selecting an OBD2 scanner; this will affect how easily readable information is displayed in real-time while performing tests or scans on your vehicle’s systems.

Additionally, look at other advanced features such as live data graphing capabilities or built-in repair tips that could help streamline diagnosis time even further when working on more complicated faults in a system. Taking all these aspects into consideration will ensure that you select an OBD2 scanner that meets all of your needs and provides optimal results during use.

Connect the Scanner to Your Car

Now that you’ve chosen your OBD2 scanner, it’s time to connect it to your car.

Did you know that an estimated 14 billion miles of diagnostic data is collected each day from vehicles around the world?

It’s essential to evaluate compatibility before connecting the scanner, as some cars may not be compatible with certain models. If your car isn’t compatible with the OBD2 scanner, then the connection won’t work.

Once you’ve determined that your car and the OBD2 scanner are compatible, it’s time to connect them together.

Start by locating the vehicle’s diagnostic port, which can usually be found underneath the steering wheel or near the center console. Once located, plug in one end of a cable into this port and then plug in the other end into your OBD2 Scanner device.

Make sure all connections are secure before continuing any further.

It’s also important to check for any errors or problems before proceeding with a scan job. To do this, you’ll need to access codes such as P0455 (which indicates an evaporative emission control system problem).

You can enter these codes into your device manually or use a code reader application installed on your mobile device or laptop computer.

Once all connections and codes have been checked, you’re ready to start scanning!

Read and Interpret the Diagnostic Codes

After connecting your OBD2 scanner to the car, it’s time to read and interpret the diagnostic codes and determine any errors or problems.

To do this, you’ll need to access the fault clearing feature of your OBD2 scanner. This will allow you to clear any stored faults that are blocking normal operation of the vehicle. Once enabled, you can use the data logging feature of your OBD2 scanner to log information about all systems in your car as they’re operating in real-time.

When reading and interpreting diagnostic codes, look for any abnormally high or low readings that indicate a potential problem with one or more components in the system. Make sure to check all systems in your vehicle, including engine performance, emissions control, transmission control, fuel injectors, and ignition systems.

If you find an issue with any component listed above, refer to your owner’s manual or repair manual for specific instructions on how to diagnose and repair it.

Now that you’re familiar with reading and interpreting diagnostic codes from your OBD2 scanner, keep an eye out for any irregularities during each routine service interval for your vehicle. Doing so will help ensure that everything is running smoothly and efficiently at all times.

Understand the Different Modes of Operation

With your OBD2 device, it’s important to understand the various modes of operation – from fault clearing to data logging – so you can keep your car running smoothly and efficiently. Most OBD2 devices have four distinct modes of operation: Mode 1, Mode 2, Mode 3, and Mode 4. Each mode is designed for a different purpose and requires a unique understanding of diagnostic protocols.

It’s important to read the user manual that comes with your device so you can get clear instructions on how to use each mode correctly. Mode 1 is used for viewing freeze frame data which records sensor readings when an error code has been detected. This allows you to quickly evaluate engine performance at the time when an issue occurred.

Mode 2 provides all available information stored in your vehicle’s computer system including live sensor readings and current troubleshooting codes. This mode can be used to monitor engine performance or diagnose problems without needing access to specialised software or hardware tools. Mode 3 is primarily used for diagnostics as it offers a wide range of tests such as emission control tests and oxygen sensors tests that require specific diagnostic equipment and programming procedures.

Finally, there’s Mode 4 which allows users to reset trouble codes in order to turn off warning lights on their dashboard and conduct regular maintenance tasks like oil changes or tyre rotations without having their vehicle inspected by a mechanic every time they need work done. With these four modes of operation at your disposal, you can easily diagnose most common automotive issues on your own without ever having to visit a repair shop again!

Use the Scanner to Diagnose and Fix Issues

Troubleshooting your vehicle has never been easier – with the OBD2 device, you can quickly and easily diagnose common automotive issues in no time, fixing them before they become major problems.

The scanner allows you to explore its various features such as reading trouble codes, clearing codes, and viewing live data so that you can diagnose and fix the issue. Depending on the type of OBD2 scanner that you’re using, there may also be additional features available such as resetting monitors or performing full system diagnostics.

When it comes to troubleshooting your vehicle with an OBD2 scanner, it’s important to read the manual thoroughly before beginning any diagnostics. This will ensure that you understand all of the features of your particular scanning device and how best to use them for troubleshooting purposes.

Additionally, make sure that all wires are securely connected to your car’s diagnostic port before attempting any scans. It’s also beneficial to familiarize yourself with some basic troubleshooting tips prior to using an OBD2 scanner, such as checking fuses or relays first before running a scan.

Having these basics down will help speed up the process of finding and fixing issues in your vehicle when using an OBD2 scanner. With this knowledge firmly in hand and a quality scanning device at your disposal, you’ll have no issue correctly diagnosing and repairing common automotive issues right away!

Perform Regular Maintenance Checks

Regular maintenance checks are essential for keeping your vehicle running well, so don’t forget to check up on it regularly! An OBD2 scanner is a powerful tool for analyzing trends in your car and performing preventative care.

It can be used to detect any faults or problems in the engine before they become more serious, helping you avoid costly repairs. To use an OBD2 scanner, you must first plug it into the port located on the underside of your car’s dashboard.

Once connected, you will be able to access information about your car’s performance and any errors that have occurred. You can then run various tests and read diagnostic codes to determine the cause of any issues with your engine.

Additionally, you can also reset service lights and clear fault codes if necessary. Using an OBD2 scanner regularly can help prevent major issues from arising while also allowing you to track how efficient your vehicle is performing over time.

This data can be used as a reference point when troubleshooting problems or conducting further maintenance checks down the line. Taking regular readings from an OBD2 scanner allows you to stay ahead of potential failures and extend the life of your vehicle overall.


Using an OBD2 scanner is a great way to diagnose and fix any issues with your vehicle. With the right scanner, you can easily identify problems and take corrective action before they become major repairs.

It’s like having a personal mechanic in your pocket! Plus, regular maintenance checks using the scanner will ensure that your car runs as smoothly as possible for years to come.

So don’t wait until it’s too late – invest in an OBD2 scanner today and start taking control of your car’s health!

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