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OBD readers: what they are, how they work and what can be done

They are now found on all most renowned e-commerce portals, they have varying prices and different features, but what exactly are they? These are devices capable of interface with the electronic control units of almost all car manufacturers through the door of the same name, introduced in 1994 (under the name of OBD-II) by California Air Resources Board in order to standardize the communication protocols that existed previously and to simplify the procedure for verifying the suitability of emissions. The models available for purchase today are based on the same chip, l’ELM 327, originally designed to connect the control units to a computer. Adapters today differ in connection method, some use technology bluetooth, others technology Wi-Fi, some connect via the traditional USB port, interfacing with special programs capable of deciphering the messages coming from the ECU (engine control unit).


It should be noted that the applications for mobile devices capable of receiving and displaying in real time the data and any errors coming from the ECU have reached a sufficient maturity to be able to replace, also as a matter of convenience, the adapter-pc combination. Just think of the widespread use in recent infotainment systems of the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay mirroring services, which often allow you to view the contents of your smartphone on the on-board display, effectively allowing you to create a sort of "on-board computer" additional connected directly to the car's control unit. As for the technicalities the OBD adapter is capable of show data of any sensor connected to the control unit, in particular the sensor motor load (calculated), the tachometer, the amount of circulating oxygen, the temperature of the catalysts and many others. Thanks to these devices even the layman to work have the opportunity to view errors specifications that may not be visible from the on-board instrumentation, to the point that many times behind the dreaded "engine maintenance" warning light errors that can be easily solved or sometimes already solved are hidden (who has never had an error immediately after a service?).


Beyond the purely diagnostic purpose, it is possible to eliminate errors and error codes that signal a malfunction to the car, which often make it enter the so-called protection mode. It is good to remember that it is not a recommended procedure, which should be used only by people with mechanical competence and knowledge, as bypassing a problem or a temporary limitation, could lead to a condition where the car can suffer more serious damage.

In our test, using one of the many apps available on the play store or app store, we have ascertained how all are able to show i engine parameters which we discussed earlier by integrating them a notification and error elimination functions and data logging. The latter function has proved particularly useful for obtaining data on the real consumption in a combined and urban scenario, since it allows you to create an average, they also use the engine load data and the gear that is used. For what concern bluetooth connection (our model used this protocol) it seems that this adapter (and all those based on ELM chips anyway) does not suffer from connection problems and latency, let alone create operating problems of the control unit while driving. The purchase of an OBD reader is recommended both for those who like to monitor the parameters of their engine and for those who want an additional resource to understand the nature of the problem in the event of a car malfunction. OBD readers: what they are, how they work and what can be done Adriana gil Audi electric scooter: three driving modes, not afraid of climbs ❯

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