FAQ: What Is An OBD-II Code Reader?
Until recently, an OBD-II code reader tool code reader was not typically found in the do-it-yourselfer's tool box. For working on 1996 & newer vehicles, however, it can be really useful.
An OBD-II code reader is an electronic device that allows you to plug into your computer's OBD diagnostic port and access technical information. Check out the other Frequently Asked Questions for more information on OBD.
The reader allows you to view any stored diagnostic trouble codes (DTC's), which aids in troubleshooting problems with cars and trucks.
OBD code readers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some work in conjuction with a laptop computer and software. In those cases, you basically get a cable and software. In other cases, the unit is handheld and does all the same functions, but in one neat, portable package.
The features of each OBD code reader depends on the make and model. However, it is common for most readers to have:
- LCD screen readouts
- View diagnostic trouble codes (DTC's)
- Ability to reset / clear DTC codes
- Get "snapshot" data so you can view what was going on when the code was triggered
Higher-end OBD code readers can have more advanced features such as:
- Languages other than English
- Code definitions right on the unit
- Display freeze frame data
In addition, some manufacturers sell performance chips/tuners that include the OBD code reader feature.
OBD-II code readers vary in price. They range from an affordable price ($85) to many hundreds of dollars, or more.
Examples / Photos
Links / More Information
If you're interested in getting more information on OBD-II code readers or are interested in purchasing one, check out complete list of Frequently Asked OBD Questions, and also the ads throughout this site.
Some brand names of OBD readers are Equus, Actron, Innova, etc.
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