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Automotive Code Readers and Scanners

Previously used only by auto repair technicians and requiring elaborate machinery, automotive code readers and scanners are readily available and can be used by most anyone with basic auto repair knowledge. The reader performs diagnostic services to let you know what information has been recorded by the onboard computer system installed in the car or truck. This information makes it easier to perform repair services and maintain your automobile.

What is a code reader for cars and trucks?

An automobile code reader and scanner is a diagnostic tool that connects to a vehicle's onboard computer. This tool makes it possible to find problems that may be occurring in your vehicles such as poor emissions, improper fuel economy, and low performance with the vehicle's motor.

Which code scanner is compatible with your vehicle?

While some automotive code readers and scanners are compatible with all types of OBD2 protocols, there are some scan tools that are only compatible with certain models. Here is a list to determine which scanner will work for your vehicle if the tool only accommodates certain protocols.

  • SAE J1850 PWM: Used for most General Motors cars and light trucks. OBD2 connector must have pins 2, 4, 5, 10, and 16.
  • SAE J1850 VPW: Ford cars and trucks manufactured before 2003. OBD2 connector pins required are 2, 4, 5, and 16.
  • ISO9141-2: Some Chrysler cars and trucks as well as some European and Asian import cars and trucks. Car or truck connector pins required are 4, 5, 7, and 16.
  • ISO14230-4 (KWP2000): Some Chrysler cars and trucks as well as some European and Asian import vehicles. OBD2 connector pins required are 4, 5, 7, and 16.
  • CAN-BUS ISO 15765-4/SAE J2480: Used for all automobiles manufactured after 2008 as well as Ford cars and trucks manufactured in 2003 and later. The OBD2 connector must have pins 4, 5, 6, 14, and 16.
How do you use a code reader and scanner?

It is important to use the code reader and scan tool properly to ensure that you get accurate results. The following steps will help you through this process of connecting, scanning, and reading your code feedback.

  • Connect the code reader and scanner to the OBD2 connector port in the automobile.
  • Turn the ignition key for the automobile to the on position, without starting the automobile.
  • Fill in any information that comes across on the scan tool screen. This can include VIN information, make and model of automobile, and engine type.
  • Follow any instructions that show up on the tool screen.
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