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How OBD Scanners Work in Cars

obd scan tool

If you own a car made from 1996 going forward up until today, you might have noticed that the vehicle has some standardized computer systems. The computer systems are responsible for monitoring emissions and electrical sensors within your car as you drive. This has been a major innovation in the automobile industry over the last 2 decades!

However, after recording the information, you will require an On-Board Diagnostics popularly known as OBD tool to retrieve it. OBD scanners can detect problems in your car before you even notice so they can be essential. In this article, we focus on how these OBD scanners work and how they are essential for your vehicle.

How the Scanners Work

If your car is not working correctly, usually there would be a dashboard warning or the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) will illuminate to indicate that something is not right. However, these signals only tell you that something is wrong but do not say what exactly is wrong with your car. That is where the OBD scanners come into use.
By plugging the scanner into your car and reporting a code, the device will give you detailed information on what is wrong. Given that today’s cars are far more involved in both electrical and mechanical systems, it can be hard to detect a problem in your car without an OBD scanner.

What are the different types of OBD Scanners?

diagnosing car issuesTwo types of OBD scanners are available, the “code reader” and the “Scan tool” scanners. The code reader scanners can read and clear necessary codes in your car while the scan tool scanners can perform functions that are more advanced.

It is advisable you have the scan tool OBD scanner because with it you can view both real-time and recorded data. What is more is that the advanced scanners can provide advanced troubleshooting information. Even though most people use ODB scanners to test for emissions, the devices have more uses that include measuring different aspects of your car’s performance.

Using a vehicle scanner

The ability of these devices’ ability to provide accurate information, however, depends on how well you use them. For instance, once you get a code, you must define it correctly. If not careful, you might mistake a P0303 code for a P0455 with the first code meaning that you have a misfiring cylinder while the second one means that you may not have screwed the gas cap correctly.

Why Having a car engine scanner is Important

Regardless of how you want to use your scanner, it is essential that you have one in your car. As aforementioned, the scanner can be very critical in testing your car’s performance and possible troubleshooting problems. Moreover, the scanners are very active and suitable bearing in mind that the cars manufactured in this era are far more complicated.


For cars manufactured from the year 1996 going forward, they computerized systems that have made it possible for the use of OBD scanners. The scanners help to measure the car’s performance, troubleshoot problems and provide you with detailed results. However, you should be very careful while defining the codes while using the scanners or you will end up getting the wrong information. An OBD scanner is one that you should have in your car at all times because you can never tell when disaster will strike.