DIY Car OBD Diagnostics | Can You Diagnose Problems Yourself
All modern cars are just computers on wheels and when your beloved car develops a fault your dashboard or screen in the car will quickly tell you, usually with a little orange picture of an engine or a spanner.
What does the little orange icon mean though? A trip to a dealer to have your car plugged in via on board diagnostics or ‘OBD’ can easily cost over £80 ($120). And that isn’t going to fix the problem it will just tell you what it is.
Well if you are a bit like me and you like to fiddle with your own car then you can also also do OBD yourself, it’s not a hard thing to do. if your car was made after 2002 then it will be OBD compatible, to diagnose it you don’t need much.
Everyone has a smart phone or a laptop and this is pretty much all you need, well you do also need £5 ($8) to spend on Amazon or ebay. You can either buy a USB OBD2 cable or a Bluetooth OBD2 kit. I have a bluetooth one, it cost £4 ($6) and will connect to my Android phone, an iPhone or a laptop (if it has bluetooth obviously). The software you need to work with the adapter is free all over the internet. If you have a smartphone go to your app store and download a free version of ‘Torque’ this seems to be the best one to work with all makes of car.
My current daily hack is a BMW, there is a very good diagnostic app on Android for BMW’s called ‘Carly’ You can do a hell of lot of stuff to your car so it’s well worth the £30ish ($46) it costs.
I had an issue with my brake pad wear sensors, I fixed the issue myself then used the app to reset the error. A dealer would want £80 ($120) to do this, so I’m already up on the deal and now I own the app that can do many good things for my car.
My colleague Ollie owns an Audi S8 and he uses his laptop with a USB OBD2 cable to diagnose his car, he can also code options on his car, so he can set auto locks or raise and lower air suspension, tons of stuff that the dealer would charge a flat rate for.
We think that everyone should be able to access OBD. Knowledge is power and the more you know about your car the less chance you have of getting ripped off at dealers. Spend a little money and buy a kit today and give it a try.