Everything You Need To Know About OBD


Modern vehicles’ superior electronics go far beyond the easy car mechanics almost all of us was raised with. Now, OBD, or on-board diagnostics, diagnoses nearly every issue within your vehicle. Whether your engine is running low on oil or a spring has gone out of place, the OBD steps directly into diagnose the problem.

Onboard diagnostics provide near-universal codes, allowing users to comprehend what’s going wrong in their vehicle. By understanding the differences in OBD versus OBD II and the several code readers available, you can address almost any issue that arises in your vehicle.

Innova Electronics understands that our customers’ exact needs are critical in delivering a quality automotive diagnostic tool. To guarantee delivery of high quality, precision tools, our engineers perform rigorous testing on-site at our state-of-the-art facilities.

For over 15 years, Innova’s nationwide network of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified repair technicians have developed an intensive database for diagnosing over 3 million possible automotive issues for any foreign and domestic car, light truck, van, SUV or hybrid vehicle.

All Innova products are supported by unmatched technical assistance from a staff of all ASE certified technicians. The same qualified technicians who help design our products, are available to answer customer questions from application to installation.

At INNOVA we recognize the importance of understanding the economic and environmental issues that face drivers today. Our OBD2 products can diagnose issues that lead to excess emission output before the problem begins. All our facilities have been designed with optimum energy efficiency in mind; decreasing overall energy consumption by 25% in 2012. Additionally, we have dedicated teams around the globe committed to discovering new and innovative ways to ensure automobile efficiency.

All the tools currently offered come equipped with BlueTooth and Wi-Fi and are compatible with FREE downloadable RepairSolutions2 app to your cellphone or tablet. The app allows the user to get the right parts with fixes that have been verified by professional technicians, as well as how-to videos to watch, should you choose to repair the problem yourself. Each automotive fix is further backed with support by the company’s ASE-Certified Customer Support team who are available six days a week if you need additional assistance.

What’s OBD?
OBD means On-Board Diagnostic. It’s the standardized system that allows external electronics to interface with a car’s computer system. It has become more important as cars have grown to be increasingly computerized, and software is among the most key to fixing many problems and unlocking performance. Visit: www.innova.com

OBD has existed in various forms a long time before anyone ever uttered the words “infotainment” or “connected car.” It came into being generally because of two factors: The necessity to regulate emissions, and the mass adoption of electronic fuel injection by automakers from the 1980s.

Unlike carburetors or previous mechanical fuel-injection systems, electronic fuel injection (EFI) requires computer control. Like its predecessors, EFI regulates fuel flow in to the engine, but it does so using electronic signals rather than mechanical bits. That created the first major need to place computers in cars.

Several automakers introduced computer interfaces because of their own cars prior to the 1990s, however the push to standardize didn’t commence until 1991, when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated that cars bought from California needed some form of OBD capability. However, CARB didn’t issue standards for the systems until 1994. Referred to as OBD II, that standard was implemented for the 1996 model year and continues to be in use today. Previous iterations of OBD were retroactively classified OBD I.

Just about any new car bought from the U.S. within the last 20 years follows the OBD II standard. OBD II cars have a port – usually located under the dashboard on the driver’s side – that devices can plug into and hook up to a car’s computer. Companies have plenty of ideas about what you can plug into that port.
As the name implies, diagnostics are the primary reason for OBD. Whenever a car’s sensors decide that something is amiss, they trigger a message known as a “trouble code,” which might manifest as a “check engine” light or another warning on the dashboard. OBD scanners can check these trouble codes to ascertain exactly what’s wrong, and clear them from the computer’s memory once the problem is fixed.

The trouble codes are just that, though: Codes. Rather than a diagnosis like “loose gas cap,” you will notice a string of letters and numbers that is incomprehensible with out a reference. Trouble codes focus on a letter and include four or five numbers, which together point to the precise subsystem and what problem it is experiencing.

Some OBD scanners come preloaded with definitions for these codes, but otherwise, you’ll desire a list like the the one which can be found on OBD-Codes.com. Remember that in addition to the generic codes that apply to all cars, individual manufacturers have their own specific codes. Finding these can be a bit trickier, as don’t assume all manufacturer is entirely comfortable with the thought of releasing those to the public.

OBD for performance
Diagnostics may be the most important function of OBD equipment, but these tools can also be used to make your vehicle go faster.

Several aftermarket brands offer both OBD II data loggers and performance tuners that access critical vehicle systems through the dashboard port. Data loggers may be used to track more mundane things like fuel economy, nevertheless they can also record things like lap times and power output. Professional racers rely upon this data to see how they perform over a track and tweak their cars, why shouldn’t you?

Some companies also offer performance upgrades for specific vehicles that remap or alter software to unlock horsepower. Since modern vehicles are so reliant on computer controls, software changes can be as effective as bolting on a fresh air intake or exhaust system. It’s worth noting that these upgrades may have negative effects in other areas – such as reliability or fuel economy – and could void the factory warranty. Check before installing.

OBD Dongles
Automatic OBD II plug
Automatic OBD II plug
Not everyone gets the wherewithal to try to fix their own vehicle or upgrade their performance. Recently, companies have tried to exploit OBD II to get more mainstream applications in the form of “dongles” – devices that plug straight into the OBD II port and connect wirelessly to a network.

Dongles are occasionally issued to customers by insurance firms as a way to achieve discounts. This generally involves using data pulled from the car’s OBD II link with analyze driving habits and award a discount for low-risk behavior. Allstate’s Drivewise program, for example, talks about speed, how quickly the driver brakes, the amount of miles driven, so when a person drives.

Other devices – such as Verizon’s Hum – allow telematics features, similar from what some automakers offer through subscription services. When paired with a smartphone app, Hum provides vehicle diagnostics, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, geofencing, and speed-alert features for parents seeking to keep teen drivers on a brief leash.

When contemplating one of the devices, it’s important to remember that the physical separation in the middle of your car’s computer and a network that might contain malware is the first line of defense against hacking. Plugging anything into the car’s OBD II port compromises that barrier giving an external device usage of your car’s systems.

Regarding telematics devices that send data across a radio network, the network connection itself can be considered a second point of vulnerability. Exactly like any other connected device, there is no guarantee of invulnerability to security breaches.

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