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Home Blog Reader views: OBD scanners
Reader views: OBD scanners

Reader views: OBD scanners

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It’s my view everyone should own an OBD scanner, and you can read why on Motofomo. My readers by and large are of the same view, as you can see here:

Michael Haworth I run one and use it on most trips to monitor transmission temp, exhaust gas temp, and DPF status. I often tow offroad and I adjust my throttle according to these temperatures.

Noreen Reeves 2011 FJ Cruiser….and I go 4wding. First week I dungled/crimped the first muffler off the manifold and it thru a code P0430. Replaced front n back O2 sensors and still code. So we’ve agreed it’s the crimp in the muffler (O2 in not equalling O2 out). 300k and 9 years later its still throwing the same code, but I cancel it with an UltraGauge. It can wait till the vehicle needs a new exhaust. Was glad I had the UltraGauge last year…160km out of Exmouth WA heading for home, vehicle thru a different code and went into limp mode. Limped 30km into phone reception and sourced the code (throttle body actuator power supply…later diagnosed as d.e.a.d.) which helped the roadside assist/towie cos we could limp drive it onto the tilt tray. In 40deg heat, a lot easier than pinching it!

Richard Archer I run an EDS on my 2007 TDI Jetta, as it has sticking variable vanes on the turbo, and will go into overboost limp over 2000rpm on the highway, which is usually when overtaking uphill. A quick reset as I drive, and it comes back to life. It does mean I stay at 104km/h on the obd gauge to keep it at bay. The speed readout is also absolutely gps accurate, so I can leave it in always. I monitor intake air temp, coolant temp, boost pressure and speed on the screen at all times.
I’ve read about the special code that allows me to buy a Jaycar reader and Torque Pro and let me look into my FZJ105 Cruiser, but haven’t bothered yet.

Matthew Perkins I run a Nissan Consult (ECUTalk) in my Patrol. I use it constantly. It’s helped me pick up when my injector pump had died, and also for testing/optimising of boost and EGT (in combination with boost and pyro gauges).
I can’t even begin to count the number of errors that have come up – some that are actually nothing – and clearing them off the dash and having the peace of mind to know what they were. It’s also allowed me to pull myself out of “limp mode” when one error came up that was a roll on problem from the IP going.

Tim Beevor I have one to adjust my tire sizes, transmission shift points, and deactivate the electronic swaybar disconnect so I can run it off whenever.
I’m still looking for one that turns off the ESC and Brake Lock Differential – But I can cut a wire or pull a fuse to achieve that

Peter Heuke I had a cheap Bluetooth unit for a few years.
It helped with a few diagnostic jobs that the dealers were happy to throw parts at, but not actually fix.
Really came in handy when the mother in law came to visit over Christmas. Her car would randomly go into limp mode due to an intermittent sensor issue. No one could spare the time to fix it and she was driving from Brisbane to Perth, not a trip you want to do in a car that struggles to do 80km/h.
So I bought a good OBD2 tool, taught her to read and clear codes and sent her on her way.
It only played up twice on the trip back west. But 5 minutes and the code reader and she was back on the road again.

Phil Gaukroger Scangauge on a 200series which was throwing turbo codes whenever I towed the caravan up a hill – rather dangerous situation but being able to clear the codes kept me rolling. (both turbos since been replaced). It also threw an EGR code and another code in low range once. Unmodified vehicle. Would never travel without a code reader.

Simon Brace They’re so cheap, I have a Bluetooth ELM327 from eBay which was about $12 which connects to the torque pro app which was $5 on the play store.
$17 in total for a well featured scan tool, you’d be mad not to.

Carl Turps Using a $30 delivered iCar 3 obd wifi dongle with the dashcommand app when using my iPhone or iPad. Pretty much lives in the bottom of the glove box for helping other people now.
Another $30 Bluetooth dongle from eBay. That I use to talk to my Android stereo. Using the torquePro app.
Neither I have found where I can modify settings. But great for resetting codes. Had an auto code on the beach when I overloaded reverse. Couldn’t snatch it out of the hole. And it had a big fat 200series.
Reset the auto code. A light tug and it popped out.
Discovey2 – I used a Nanocom. If I ever buy another landrover. It will be the first thing I buy. Can do more than the generic $5000 snap on scan tool. That most mechanics have.
Can also change a heap of settings. For example the annoying auto lock after 8kph.

So a lot of postivie stories, but there’s some negatives too:

Brad McGrath hate these things,
Customer comes in says “it was code Pxxx, but I cleared it”
yeah well you just cleared the freeze frame data too and you’re now expecting me to diagnose it blind.
Go away and drive it until the code sets again, then leave it the fuck alone and book you car then. oh and did I mention leave it the fuck alone and done clear anything.
Also, a lot of those generic scanners will only display OBD2 codes and not manufacturer specific codes.
Lost count of the number of people who come in and when you grab a real scan tool they say “there are no codes, I already scanned it” The dumbfounded look on their face is priceless when they are shown the list of codes.

Stephen Hall Know people that are roadside assist contractors and they hate people that have these and don’t know what they are doing. Get a call out for whatever light and get there to see customer with one of these things going through the codes not knowing what or how to do anything when they get the info and then contractors are getting second hand or half of the story and having to work out how or why the issue arose in the first place.
Yes that are good if and only if you know what you are looking at or have an understanding on how to read the info they are pushing out. I think many people get them thinking its an easy fix when it’s not always the case.

Robert Pepper Automotive journalist specialising in 4X4s, sportscars, camping and future tech.

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