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What is OBD2?
One of the most exciting improvements in the automobile industry was the addition of on-board diagnostics (OBD) on vehicles, or in more basic terms, the computer that activates the vehicle's "CHECK ENGINE" light. OBD1 was designed to monitor manufacturer-specific systems on vehicles built from 1981 to 1995. Then came the development of OBD2. Like its predecessor, OBD2 was adopted as part of a U.S government mandate to lower vehicle emissions. This sophisticated program in the vehicle's main computer system is designed to detect failures in a range of systems, and can be accessed through a universal OBD2 port, which is usually found under the dashboard. For all OBD systems, if a problem is found, the computer turns on the "CHECK ENGINE" light to warn the driver, and sets a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) to identify where the problem occurred. A diagnostic tool is required to retrieve these codes, which we just happen to sell.
Then what is OBD1?
Technically there is no such thing as OBD1 language. Before OBD2 all manufacturers used their own type of diagnostic protocol. OBD1 is kind of a way of describing anything pre-OBD2. Almost like how BC is used to describe dates before 0AD. So if your car in not OBD2 compliant then it is still using it's manufacturer specific diagnostic protocol or as we call it OBD1. There is no universal specific OBD1 protocol it's just a descriptive term. Got it? Good.
NZ/AUS and OBD2
As you know, living in downunder, we get cars made in many different countries. While America have had OBD2 laws in place since 1996, it wasn't until 2006 that Australia brought in the law requiring this. New Zealand adopted the same law from 2006 also. Before this, many Japanese manufacturers that released Australian or New Zealand new cars did not release them with a OBD2 protocol. This was done because it was much cheaper for them and also encouraged owners to have to take the vehicle back to their dealer for repair.
But since 2006 with the introduction of this law, every new car in Australia and New Zealand runs the CAN protocol, so the OBD2 diagnostic scanners are fully compliant. Eventually as our older cars are replaced with newer models the large majority of our cars will be OBD2 compliant.
A LOT of people are fooled into Googling their cars to see if they are OBD2 compliant, they are usually directed to American sites where they are told they are OBD2 compliant. True, but only for American released cars. A 1998 Subaru Imprezza released in America is OBD2 compliant, but the same car released in New Zealand or Australia is not. Be aware of this. We have tested many cars right here in N.Z and Australia so have a good idea on what car is OBD2 and what is not.
Don't be fooled into thinking that just because your car has an OBD2 styled plug then it will be OBD2 compliant. Audis and VWs are a classic example of this. Same plug, different protocol. All this happens many times on Trademe or Ebay, people buying tools which the sellers says will work after Googling an American site. The buyer will then be left with a scan tool which does not work with their vehicle. You are legally allowed to ask for your money back from these sellers.This subject takes a lot of reasearch for some cars. We are always happy to answer any question on which scanner will suit your car.
Is my car OBD2 compliant?
While it is hard to say that all cars are OBD2 compliant from a certain date, a good guideline for car compliance would be:
- 1996 onwards
- 2001 onwards for Petrol
- 2004 onwards for Diesel
- Holden from 2006 - Commodore from VZ
- Aus Ford from 2006 - Falcon from BA, Ranger from 2007
These vary by manufacturer and even model but all are OBD2 from 2008
- Honda from 2001
- Hyundai from 2001
- Kia from 2006
- Mazda from 2001
- Mitsubishi from 2007
- Nissan from 2007
- Subaru from 2003 (engine codes only - full OBD2 from 2008)
- Suzuki from 2008
- Toyota from 2006
- Toyota Diesel from 2008
Please note that some models will be OBD2 compliant from earlier than these dates, this is just a guide to show your what should safely be OBD2 compliant
What does the OBD2 Plug look like?
The OBD connector is officially called an SAE J1962 Diagnostic Connector, but is also known by DLC, OBD Port, or OBD connector. It has positions for 16 pins, and looks like the image on the right.
Be careful, as many vehicles that do not comply with the OBDII standards do occasionally use the J1962 type connector for data, but do not use an OBDII protocol, pre-01 VW/Audi's are a classic example. These may appear as if they should work, but they will not. Pre-2006 Nissan and Toyota's are also another example
So what are the different OBD2 Protocols and Terms?
SAE J1850 VPW - Protocol Used mainly by General Motors
SAE J1850 PWM - Used mainly by Ford
ISO 9141-2 - Used mainly by Japanese and some European models
ISO 14230 KWP2000 - Used on some Asian vehicles
CAN - Used by many models from 2008
EOBD - European description of OBD2. It's OBD2. Used from 2001
JOBD - Japanese description of OBD2. Same deal, it's OBD2.
ADR 79/01 'ANZOBD' - Australian/New Zealand law term of OBD2 used on models from 2006
What are the OBD2 codes and meanings?
You can view the list of OBD2 codes and their meanings here
Ok then, what tool do I need to work on my car?
For help on which scanner to choose have a read through our guide