How to use an OBD2 scanner for a car and what opportunities open up with it

OBD2 scanner for a car

A modern car is not only mechanics, but also a huge number of electronic components. They control the operation of various nodes and systems, monitor their status, register and record deviations in work. Reading these parameters allows for complete computer diagnostics and troubleshooting.

In order to diagnose auto malfunctions, special equipment is needed. Previously, each manufacturer offered their equipment for these purposes, but with the introduction of the OBD2 standard from about 2000, many universal OBD2 scanners appeared on the market. You can read more about these OBD2 scanners on


Multi-brand adapters plugged into a standard OBD2 connector support working with many brands and models of machines. Special software for them contains in the database both standard error codes that are universal for most cars, as well as branded ones that are unique to individual brands.

In addition to reading error codes, modern OBD2 scanners offer some options for tuning the car’s on-board electronics. If you can read errors, almost any cheap scanner can, but for advanced work you need professional-grade equipment, which is much more expensive.

Key features of OBD2 scanners

The main function of any OBD2 scanner is to connect a car to the on-board electronics to read errors, decrypt them and delete them after troubleshooting. Also, these devices, regardless of class, can read from the engine ECU and display the current parameters of its operation.

Using the OBD2 scanner, you can analyze the entire on-board network completely, as well as individual systems (for example, ignition or fuel injection control). It is possible to monitor in real time such indicators as the number of engine revolutions, speed, oil and antifreeze temperatures, oil and fuel pressure, pressure in the intake and exhaust manifold, air flow.

You can also monitor the operation parameters of the fuel system and ignition, such as the ignition timing, mixture enrichment indicators, fuel combustion, throttle position, etc.

Some of the indicators of computer diagnostics using the OBD2 scanner are easy to understand even by inexperienced motorists. Others require a deeper understanding of the process, as referring to a malfunction of one system may indicate a malfunction in another. For example, too high a temperature at the inlet can talk about problems with filters, and the injector, and the cooling of the internal combustion engine, and its oil system.

How to use an OBD2 scanner for a car

To use the OBD2 scanner, you must first connect it to the OBD connector of the car and connect it to a computer, smartphone or tablet. To connect to a car without an OBD2 connector, you may need an adapter.

Work with the scanner is carried out in special programs. For Android, the universal application for scanners on the ELM327 is Torque. For Windows, you can use OBD Auto Doctor. Professional scanners often work with proprietary software. The same Launch works with proprietary utilities, tied to the serial number of the device.


Simple adapters, like the ELM327, do not require additional investment. You can work with them immediately after connecting, the user gets access to all menu options supported by his diagnosed machine. But Launch EasyDiag or Launch Pro X431 need to register and purchase databases of cars of interest. The cost of the base for one brand is several tens of dollars, so if you need to be able to examine cars from different manufacturers – you have to fork out.


Delphi DS150E © Drive2

Launch EasyDiag version 2.0 OBD2 scanner could be unlocked using pirated methods. After such a procedure and installing a modified (hacked) proprietary application, it turned into a complete analogue of Launch Pro, which has about 200 brands of cars in the database. However, it is discontinued, and the new version 3.0 is already protected from hacking.


Using the main menu items of the program, you can read various indicators, scan errors, delete them (for example, turn off the Check Engine light). These options are available on virtually any scanner, even cheap. Professional devices also allow you to change the settings of the on-board electronics, attach nozzles and other electronically controlled engine components, and attach new keys.

Some devices (such as Launch Pro) can also change the value of the VIN code, chassis number (this may be illegal). In some cases, a flashing of the computer and other elements of the “brain” is available, but this is rather the exception for some cars (like Ford Kuga and Focus 2). Typically, such manipulations require special programmers.

If you just want to examine your car, diagnose it for malfunctions, or see if there is a problem with a car bought in the secondary market, in most cases the budget ELM327, used in conjunction with Torque on a smartphone, is enough.

Owners and masters of service stations and car services professionally working with cars of different brands, a budget scanner is not enough. It is advisable to acquire Launch Pro, Delphi DS150, VAG-COM (for VW, Audi, Skoda, etc.) or the like, with licensing bases and support. It would be even better to buy two devices at once (for example, Delphi and Launch) in order to minimize situations when one of the adapters point blank does not want to work correctly on the client machine.