Most of us are driving around with errors on our car, and we don't even realise it. Mainly because the small niggles don't affect our day to day driving. Focus owners are lucky as they have the "Secret Dash Trick" but what if you don't own a Focus? and you don't have a trip computer?
The easiest way for us on the forums to help you, is if you have an "OBD" Scanner - and you may be surprised that they are DIRT cheap!
OBD is the cars "On Board Diagnostics" system. If there is an error with your car sensor, or another error that you are either well aware of (or perhaps not). then OBD might just save you £60 minimum diagnostics fee with a dealer, and perhaps a whole lot more in repairs...
What is OBD?
On Board Diagnostics has been in use for many years, as early as 1996 a lot of cars have it. From 2001 (Petrol) and 2004 (Diesel) the standard of OBDII came in, and all cars after this time will have an OBDII interface that you can use.
Not only can OBD be used to diagnose issues, but it also allows you to monitor the likes of efficiency in your car. there are so many applications available that will read the data in different ways, if you want an app for 0-60 with BHP readouts - Torque Pro.
If you want an app for your economy usage "Efficiency (Free)" can be your new best friend.
Does my car have OBD?
The requirement is that an OBDII connection MUST be accessible to the driver within 2 feet of the driver position.
The usual location is about knee height and on the right or left side of your knee (depending on the LHD or RHD model you own).
Its normally recessed, and running your hand along the dash you will feel it, it may perhaps be hidden under the steering column, behind a panel (look for a removable panel somewhere around the dashboard at knee height) or behind an ashtray.
There also tends to be one on the bulkhead of the engine compartment. Mst likely under a cover, so check your fusebox, and you may see it.
How do I use OBD?
You can buy a universal adapter that will fit any car with an OBD socket. See below links to a couple of types (Bluetooth) and an example USB version.
Look at your smartphones App Store for a program called "Torque" - this comes in a freeware version and a Paid for version.
Torque allows you to scan for and clear down error codes, also clicking the error code can take you to a page where you can see in plain english - what the error means. It allows you to view live data readings and also map out your vehicles data (downloadable to PC).
Two types of Bluetooth Adapters for sale on ebay:
You can buy a USB version that will plug into your laptop. they tend to come with drivers and applications that you can use to interact with your car's data.
Also, if you purchase a modified ELM 327 cable with a High and Medium speed can bus (click here for more information)then you can use software such as ForScan. This is an excellent piece of software that debugs more than just Ford's but allows you to automatically scan High and Medium speed for errors, view in clear text the errors seen, and reset them in turn. I have used this and find it an excellent piece of free software.
I Forgot when writing this that there is the entirely seperate "standalone" code reader. Its a handheld device that will read the code and control it through a handheld unit, prices for these differ, as little as £10.00 and up to a lot more. You can buy these for an average of £25 - £30 for a relatively branded unit.
Which OBD version do I have?
OBDII is the current standard but there have been other releases before. The older your car, the older the OBD support, so vehicles around 1996 will be OBD 1 and later vehicles 1.5 or 2. Always contact the seller if you are unsure if the device you are looking to purchase is compatible with your car.
Generally speaking, if your car is older than 2004, you will probably have an OBDI device, and not an OBDII device. Again, refer to the seller to identify if this is the correct one for you.
Why should I buy into this?
Combination of an OBD adapter, and software to accompany it, most of the time will come in under £15. For that money, you have a way to track your cars readings, and check all the error codes. A simple problem with a sensor could cost you as little as £60 to diagnose with a dealer, and then whatever ludicrous labour fee's are applicable to resolve this issue. If you are handy with a spanner, or know someone who is, your first problem resolution will only cost you £15 plus whatever cost for the part, any problems after that you are self diagnosing for free.
Providing the members of this forum with error codes means that we can provide you with more accurate details, and suggestions to resolve your problems.
Please note that when you buy an adapter of this nature, there ARE limitations.
These adapters and software combinations cannot diagnose some systems, ABS and Airbag for example, but it can clear there error codes.
Will It damage my car?
Budget OBDII readers can only ever read data from the engine, and switch the Engine Management Light off - 99.9% of scanners on the market will not damage your car. Be wary of buying from abroad, as these may be cheaper still, but these are the 0.01% that may damage your car.
What About Apple?
Unfortunately, Apple is an issue for this sort of task. Apple use a hybrid "bluetooth" stack, which although claims to be bluetooth, its not "bluetooth" by the rest of the worlds description, its more "Apple's rewriting of bluetooth". Its generally seen that Bluetooth adapters wont work with Apple, and you may be better off getting a WiFi adapter and connect to this.
For apple compatible devices though (Wi-Fi or bluetooth)
There's this: https://itunes.apple...d591557194?mt=8
that I have heard of. but they do say if you have a bluetooth adapter, to contact support before hand.
Alternatively, suggestion is that https://itunes.apple... a code reader.is a good tool to use, but again, ensure that they confirm it will work, or at least get refund reassurances.
The most expensive I have seen yet (but best reported on) is REV: https://itunes.apple...avy investment.
So that's it - its a cheap, and harmless way to get information from your cars computer. Whether error diagnostics, or to see how much damage you are doing to the environment, or if you just want to brag to your friends about what your current BHP reads at.
So, I hope this inspires you! Many who buy an adapter never look back, I have yet to come across a single individual who has regretted buying one. But remember, buy cheap but don't expect the world, but these cheap adapters could be more than enough to dig you out of a hole. If you want to buy something better, there are more than enough tools out there that you can look to upgrade to. Scanguage is an excellent device and there are a lot of other handheld units that could improve the result.
If you have any questions, look around the forum, or feel free to send me a PM and I will be happy to help. If there is enough interest, I am sure all of us here will be happy to help you if you need to start a thread.
Please remember, the above links are not recommendations, we are not gaining any revenue from advertising them, but I can say that I own two of them and they work fine for me