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How to Use an OBD Automotive Diagnostic Tool

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How to Use an OBD Automotive Diagnostic Tool

car diagnostic tool

If you are reading this, you have definitely just invested in an OBD automotive diagnostic tool, or are considering doing so. Here is how to use an OBD automotive diagnostic tool.


To get started, you need to plug in the OBD scanner, which is easy – just find the OBD-II connector under your dashboard.

Then switch on the ignition without starting your engine.

Most automotive diagnostic tools then ask many questions. It is important to enter the right data, since this then impacts their ability to identify the problem.

A series of messages will then appear on your screen, asking to indicate the make and model of your car, as well as the power of your engine and the serial number (VIN).

Check all of this information carefully before proceeding, as it allows the diagnostic tool to identify your vehicle.

If you’re looking for an OBD diagnostic tool, you can buy one on Amazon:

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These tools are great to have when working with a diagnostic tool:


You have just entered the various information: then let the tool perform its diagnosis. Perhaps one of the first suggestions is to run a scan for trouble codes, do it immediately.

Depending on the tool you have, different options are available to you. Some of the (more expensive) models have an on-board system, which scans for trouble codes and then tells you what the code means. The more affordable models tell you a code, and then you have to look up the meaning of that code in the documents provided. You can also look up the meaning of the codes on the internet.

Allow the tool to continue its diagnosis: in some cases, it is able to resolve problems it has just identified.


We have described the options for basic scanners above, but there are more expensive models that give you more options for more in-depth research. For example, some models display a detailed menu when you leave the scanner plugged in.

In this case, you will be able to browse the codes identified by the scanner, which will give you even more information about the problem encountered, all in real time.

Finally, professional scanners also provide mechanics and technicians with various graphics combining the information transmitted by different sensors at a given time.

This allows them to determine the origin of the failure and its origin; so they can resolve it quickly. These options are only present on the more advanced models, however, to get the most out of them, it is also best that you are able to understand the different graphics.

Overall, using auto diagnostic tools is still fairly straightforward. All you have to do is connect them and then follow the instructions on the screen.


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