Do You Need An OBD 2 Scanner?


If you’ve ever been puzzled by the check engine light on your dashboard, you probably took it to a mechanic and felt like you’re being robbed as he took out a little device to tell you what’s wrong. What if you could diagnose your car’s problems on your own? That’s why you need to get yourself a scanner. But first  you should know the difference between an OBD 1 and 2 scanner.

What Is An OBD Scanner Anyway?

It is a device that can further elaborate on the check engine light that is showing on your dashboard. That means it will give you more specific information (using error codes) that you can use to pinpoint exactly what needs to be repaired in your vehicle. This will save you  a trip to the mechanic, because you can go to buy the required parts on your own and only pay for the repairs excluding the diagnostics. Additionally, some people who know a little about cars can choose which repairs are urgent and which repairs can wait. 

What Is the Difference Between OBD 1 and OBD2?

The primary difference between the two types of scanners is that one is older, and thus it is made for older cars. OBD 1 scanners will only be able to diagnose the problems in cars manufactured between 1991 and 1996 – so it is a very specific scanner to get. For vehicles manufactured after 1996, an OBD 2 scanner will work.

Of course, there are other differences such as bluetooth connectivity vs. wired connection, but this is not the most important factor in diagnostics. Nonetheless, keep in mind that OBD 2 scanners are the newer, more sophisticated generation of scanners available at the moment. 

Is It Necessary To Own A Scanner?

While the answer is entirely subjective, we suggest that anyone who has a car that was manufactured more than 5 years ago, to get a scanner. Used and older cars are prone to breaking down or at least showing the check engine light, and many times the problem is not as serious as we are led to believe. It could be the sensor for your rear camera that is making the check engine light show up – and that is not an urgent matter to address.

An Important Note

It is extremely important for people who use an OBD2 scanner to realize that it is only a diagnostics device and cannot help in repairs at all. That means it can only point you in the right direction, but an experienced mechanic will still need to repair the problems you find. It may save you some trouble, but it won’t be able to do the entire job for you. Note that you will also need to understand the error codes that the scanner provides, or else it will just be a string of random numbers to you. Some models provide descriptions to go along with error codes, simplifying the process for a layman. Keep all these things in mind before you decide to buy an OBD scanner, and decide for yourself whether it is worth the investment for you.