What is OBD? What You Need to Know

Cars have been using computers to control various systems since the 1970s, and the amount of systems managed by digital computers has skyrocketed since then. New complications come with new technology, meaning the advent of computer-controlled engines and powertrains necessitated a fresh diagnostic system for diagnosing malfunctions. That’s where OBD will come in.

On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) is a system that monitors a car’s computer system and reports diagnostic trouble codes. Devices like an OBD-II code reader can read diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) that the machine stores when something goes wrong. Typically, at least one code is logged whenever the check engine light is illuminated. That’s how OBD helps mechanics and drivers rapidly diagnose problems with OBD-equipped vehicles.

The engine computer, or ECU, uses a microprocessor to read inputs from various engine sensors in real-time, and these readings are used to see how electronically handled computerized transmissions, traction control systems, plus more react to real world driving situations to make the optimal driving experience. When a reading is outside of the expected values, the system logs a DTC which is stored to be go through the OBD port.

Innova Electronic Corporation is a leading supplier of test equipment and diagnostic reporting for the automotive aftermarket, offering high quality products, innovative diagnostics and value to our customers. Distributed from facilities in the U.S. and Canada, all Innova products are researched, developed and designed at the company’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif.

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.


OBD-I identifies the first generation of on-board diagnostic systems, which featured proprietary connectors, hardware interfaces, and protocols. In the event that you were a mechanic who wanted diagnostic information back then, you needed different equipment for each and every vehicle make, or a special OBD-I scan tool that supported multiple protocols and had adapters for each and every make. Irrespective of which route you chose, you needed a lot of tools to work around the many OBD systems.

OBD-II is a more standardized version of this system, making it easy to diagnose issues across different vehicles. Before The standardized OBD-II system eliminates the need for multiple adapters and scanner accessories. Now most OBD-II systems are nearly the same, but there are five different protocols with slight variations. The system was standardized with specifications from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to adhere to California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations.

Whenever a code reader is linked to the port, it is capable of reading the diagnostic trouble codes that are stored in the system. DTCs typically focus on a letter to indicate the system damaged accompanied by five digits to specify the problem. There are codes for the powertrain, body, chassis, and network:

Powertrain codes begin with a P_____. Codes that begin P1____ are manufacturer specific, meaning they’ll indicate various things with regards to the make
Body codes begin with a B_____
Chassis codes commence with a C_____
Network codes start with a U_____
Some code readers will find out the particular code opportinity for you, but if you merely find the code, you may want to look up precisely what it means.

OBD was designed for diagnostics, but additionally it is heavily used in tuner circles by those who find themselves seeking to get better performance out of the rides.

The machine uses your vehicle’s sensors to ascertain whether something has truly gone wrong, however, many sensors may also read real-time information from the sensors. Some companies even make dongles for the purpose of monitoring a vehicle’s system, whether for tuning or monitoring a driver’s speeds. There are also performance tuners, which connect to the OBD port and can remap the vehicle’s software to increase power output among other activities.

Often, performance gains from OBD come at the trouble of other qualities, like fuel economy and reliability.

OBD-II scanners will be the tools that are being used to learn DTCs. The two most typical types are:

Code Readers are basic devices that can read and clear codes from any OBD-II equipped vehicle. They are simply limited by the fact that while they can read codes, they typically provide no additional information, meaning they lack information on manufacturer-specific codes.
Scan Tools are more costly plus more versatile. They provide more troubleshooting information, can be used to diagnose manufacturer-specific codes, and can access live and recorded data.
There are various scanners in both of these types. While a scanner is obviously a good tool for anybody focusing on cars built from 1996 on, not everyone needs the best scanner around. Some are capable of running an emissions test or other automated tests, some can read OBD-I and OBD-II, plus some are dongles that wirelessly hook up to a good phone or computer. Think about what you need from a scanner and get one that meets your preferences.

In case your check engine light is on and you need to determine what’s wrong, come to your neighborhood AutoZone and have about Fix Finder.

Fix Finder reads diagnostic trouble codes from your vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system, and pulls your automobile information and mileage.
This data is analyzed to offer vehicle-specific fix solutions that contain been verified from the records of over 5.5 million ASE-Certified technicians.
AutoZone gives you a FREE, easy-to-read MYZONE HEALTH REPORT, which include relevant codes, and details the action that needs to be taken.