OBD-2

I just bought off ebay one of those little OBD-2 scanners that connect to a notebook computer. This one says ELM327. Version 1.5a.
It seems to connect fine to my Ford and Mazda. Too bad about the Saturn. Can't use it there. Its too old and that car just blinks the codes out to the check engine light when there are any. Back to the Mazda. The little airbag light blink a code 26. I assumed this would also be caught by the scan tool but it says there are no trouble codes found. This code must not be a code it gets. The Mazda book says its a connector issue with the left side airbag in the seat-back. Something to look at in the summer. Fred
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If it's a software issue, can you update the program? I have the Autotap tool www.autotap.com which connects to the laptop by usb. Current price is $50 usd.
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Oppie wrote:

Hi Oppie Well it's up to 1.5a for the firmware on it so there is hope! Maybe I'll check the web site for this one. It looks just like the one you have but a different maker. Fred
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Who is the manufacturer of your device? ELM Electronics makes some integrated circuit chips that convert the OBDii to other formats and xitech among others seem to be selling a bluetooth wireless version.
Mine is USB but has a nice long cable that allows me to leave the laptop on the fender.
With any OBDii tool, the software makes all the difference. Autotap has some quirks but generally I'm happy with it. Will display all codes but will show only the engine live data. For powertrain, body controller and ABS, it will only read codes. Most of the "fixable" problems are with the engine package so not a terrible thing. I would have liked to be able to read some of the other modules and to do a selective shutdown of injectors in order to assess health of individual cylinders (cylinder balance test) but need to get a MUCH more expensive tool for that. Bang for the buck, I really like the AutoTap. It does graphs of selected parameters though I haven't used that much.
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Oppie wrote:

I can't tell the manufacturer. There is no name on it. Just "made in China". You were right. With mine for the cheap price of $20.00, like yours it just reads all the normal engine codes. The other features are greyed out and link you to the web site. At the web-site, if you pay another $100.00 and up you get the airbag codes and graphs and all sorts of neat stuff. But I don't need all those things. They are nice to have though! I'll wait and see if they have a sale on the better soft-ware.
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You misunderstood me. The Autotap tool DOES read all the engine parameters and will give you real numbers like coolant temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, degrees advance, engine load, mass airflow... no complaints at all on this. If there is a stored code, it will display that and interpret it. It's normally $130 but is currently on sale for $50.
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The older Saturns are OBD1, not OBD2. Most basic scanners read only OBD2 codes but you can get the more expensive model that will also read OBD1. As you say, though, you can still extract the trouble codes via the blinking light method and you are not going to get much more than the trouble codes anyway with OBD1, even if you get an OBD1 scanner. The OBD2 protocol lets you read a lot of other stuff besides trouble codes. All newer cars (including newer Saturns) are OBD2.
Fred wrote:

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Thanks Dave. I wasn't certain about the blinking light whether it was OBDi or light on the tester blinking. iirc, all cars sold in the USA were mandated to have OBDii starting in the '96 model year.
I used to have an '87 Plymouth minivan (OBDi). Was sort of nice that you could read out the trouble codes by turning the key On/Off/On three times quickly and leave it in the On position without starting the engine. Check Engine light would flash the two-digit codes. When the number of codes increased dramatically and went to Letter + 4 Digits, flashing light diagnostics became impractical.

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