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Thread: Choosing OBD2 USB scanner

  1. #1
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    Choosing OBD2 USB scanner

    I'm trying to choose a USB based OBD2 scanner. The big names seem to be OBDpros and the ElmScan 5. To my undiscerning eye, they seem to be identical, except for a 40 dollar price difference. Are they the same box? If not, how do they differ?

    Finally, I'm having a hard time understanding what exactly to expect from the scanner. Having never touched an OBD2 scanner before, understanding what people mean by "enhanced information" vs "standard codes" is a bit difficult. What I need this for is to understand what the check engine light is trying to tell me. I have a variety of cars in the family that I would like to be able to use this on: a 1996 dodge ram, 1996 dodge intrepid, 2005 dodge grand caravan, 2005 Hyundai Tuscon, 2004 Mercury Mountaineer, and 2008 Pontiac G6... From what I've gathered, they should all use OBD2. What I haven't been able to gather is what software to use to give me good information about what the scanner spits out.

    The hope is that the scanner would be able to connect to a front end in the future - but that is a distant future.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Constant Bitrate joeyoravec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmmd01 View Post
    Having never touched an OBD2 scanner before, understanding what people mean by "enhanced information" vs "standard codes" is a bit difficult.
    Emissions related live data is standard. It would include engine rpm, engine coolant temperature, oxygen sensor voltages, manifold pressure, lots of other stuff. See here for industry standard live data: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OBD-II_PIDs

    Other things are more complicated because the techniques to read the data are different for every automaker. Examples might include odometer, injector pulse width, transmission fluid temperature, engine oil pressure. There's probably 10x as much in this category and it's almost always more interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by dmmd01 View Post
    What I need this for is to understand what the check engine light is trying to tell me.
    Emissions related troublecodes are standard. As above you may need a more complicated tool to read things from an ABS module, etc.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Joey, that helps. When you say that "you may need a more complicated tool to read things from an ABS module" what tool would fit the bill? I'd rather get the best than find out in a year that I need to buy something else to read the diagnostics.

  4. #4
    Constant Bitrate joeyoravec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmmd01 View Post
    I'd rather get the best than find out in a year that I need to buy something else to read the diagnostics.
    You have a mixed set of cars -- some new, some old, and from a lot of different automakers. The choice may not matter much since no one (inexpensive) tool will do everything perfectly for everybody. Buy what you want, or what you can afford, then borrow/rent a tool or take your car into the shop for everything else.

  5. #5
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    I spoke to a gentleman here in this country on the phone that sells commercial OBDII Scanning software for mechanics. He reckond the OBDPRO is the one to get becasue it is cheaper and the firmware is upgradeable by flashing the interface by the user. Firmware updates are a free download.

    I also confirmed via email with Palmer Performance Engineering http://www.palmerperformance.com/ that their products are compatible with the OBDPROS interface. MP3 car sell their DASHCOMMAND software. Pretty sure the OBDPROS also includes a copy of OBD-DIAG on the CD that comes with it which gives you some good guages to get you going in the car.
    RodW
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  6. #6
    Constant Bitrate Pseudo Nim's Avatar
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    I'm trying to get into the OBD-II segment, as well, now that I finally realised what a neat addition to the RoadRunner interface it would be I looked on eBay, and there's all kinds of scanners, from $10 to $130, and I'm not sure why I'd go with one over the other. Consider this one:

    eBay link

    It's $10! (+shipping etc), which is almost $100 less than some other options. Aren't they all... just... basically readers?

    I have a BMW - in case that makes a difference to the subset of standards, etc.
    Doko ni datte, hito wa tsunagatte iru...

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    My Subaru Impreza install (now retired...)
    Realtime audio freestyle hiphop battles online - www.letsbeef.com!

  7. #7
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    At $10, it might be worth a go but there are a lot of Chinese clones that have been very problematic and don't work properly or do not support the full command set or are based on a copy of an old chipset. You get what you pay for.
    RodW
    2007 Toyota Hilux with a CarPC..

    Worklog: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/work...ota-hilux.html
    OziExplorer GPS Embedded in RR: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/sb-s...iexplorer.html

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pseudo Nim View Post
    I'm trying to get into the OBD-II segment, as well, now that I finally realised what a neat addition to the RoadRunner interface it would be I looked on eBay, and there's all kinds of scanners, from $10 to $130, and I'm not sure why I'd go with one over the other. Consider this one:

    eBay link

    It's $10! (+shipping etc), which is almost $100 less than some other options. Aren't they all... just... basically readers?

    I have a BMW - in case that makes a difference to the subset of standards, etc.
    NO. It's not worth it. There are numerous threads talking about knock offs.

  9. #9
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    OBDPros

    The guys at OBDPros are great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Knowledgeable with both the OBD and computer interface.
    There support people called back in a reasonable amount of time.
    and were able to resolve all the issues pertaining to both my computer and the software.
    I highly recommend them.

    I am using the OBDPro blue tooth scantool.

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