The car has been our loyal four-wheeled companion for transportation, enjoyment, and enthusiasm for over a century now and shows no signs of abating in popularity. More new cars are being produced and purchased every year, and they are constantly evolving in terms of technology. Hybrid Cars and Electric Cars are both the current and future trends for Audis, as they are subjected to the digitalization that technology as a whole is undergoing. Audi’s On-board electronics, for example, are becoming more complex and versatile, and every new car has a myriad of control units that are in charge of the various interconnected systems. As a result, taking care of one’s car is now an electronic as well as a mechanical endeavor, and there are multiple Audi code reader devices that can grant the average person with the necessary capability and privileges to do so.
However, every process, including the digitization of the automotive industry, brings possibilities of errors. Modern systems can face difficulties such as the occurrence of data errors and malfunction of the control devices too. However, there is a saving grace. Data errors can be saved in the fault memory of every car, including Audi cars, as the more modern and technologically advanced a vehicle is, the greater likelihood for errors. So, the fault memory is a sort of electronic logbook that keeps a record for diagnosis and rectification.
Unfortunately, analyzing this fault memory is not easy for a layperson. It is almost impossible to read out and understand errors without diagnostic devices, as the complex data memories are typically designed to be read out by professionals. The collected data must also be handled and interpreted correctly if a proper diagnosis is to be made.
However, everyone can read out the error memory of their Audi and evaluate the collected data to gain at least a basic understanding of the problem. We will show you the tools required for this, as well as how to perform the task in a cost-efficient manner, as professional data readout and correction can be very expensive in terms of cost as well as the time your car will spend at the workshop, and you may need to arrange alternative transport for yourself during that time.
Here is a brief overview of the content of our article:
- Reading out your Audi’s fault memory with an Audi code reader
- Reading out your Audi’s fault memory with the Carly app.
- How to perform the task in a cost-efficient manner.
- The advantages of reading out the fault memory when purchasing a used car.
- Tips and tricks for the most efficient readout
- Extras and much more.
Neglecting the health of your car by disregarding indicated errors can be expensive or even dangerous, as it can lead to significant repairs and even accidents down the line. That is why we recommend that you follow our tips and regularly read out the error memory of your Audi. There are many other things to consider, too, such as the general condition of your vehicle. You need not visit the workshop specialists for every little thing, but you can perform self-checks and determine when the car needs specialist attention from the experts at the workshop. There is an optimal balance, which we will explain.
We have conducted extensive research on reading out the fault memory on Audi vehicles and have summarized the most important information into this article. We recommend following our instructions and exercising certain functions with care, such as clearing or deleting error codes. After all, we all want our cars to live long and relatively fault-free lives for as little financial outlay as possible, so read on.
So how can I read out the error memory of my Audi?
Fault Memory Readout with an Audi Code Reader
There are several ways to read out your Audi’s fault memory. It would be best if you had external aids for this, and you could get an OBD2 diagnostic device such as an Audi code reader. There is a broad array of devices at various price points, but a small subset is the most efficient and offers the best variety of features for a competitive price.
But, what exactly is a car diagnostic device?
An OBD diagnostic device can read out vehicle data and analyzes it. OBD stands for On-Board Diagnostics. The vehicle constantly monitors the processes and actions of the control units and the on-board electronics and generates error codes if an error occurs under certain circumstances, such as one it cannot self-correct or one that occurs too frequently. This data is collected and stored by your vehicle in its fault memory until it is read and cleared.
Your Audi will store the error codes in its fault memory and indicate their presence via the check engine light or message on the information display. You may use an OBD diagnostic device, such as an Audi code reader, to read out the control units and fault memory and view the stored errors. However, in addition to the error codes, other essential vehicle data can also be read out via the diagnostic device. This includes, among other things, the evaluation of fuel consumption, the temperatures, and pressures of fluids, etc. Some diagnostic devices will directly identify and explain the source of the issue, whilst others will only present the raw error code, and you must turn to the internet to decipher it.
Now that you know what a diagnostic device is and how it can help you to read out the error memory in your Audi, we will now explain to you how you can use the diagnostic device to understand the health of your Audi.
How Does an OBD Diagnostic Device Work With an Audi?
OBD Diagnostic devices are fundamental all-around devices. That means most OBD diagnostic devices are universal and are therefore not designed for a specific car. All cars built since 2004 are compatible with the current OBD2 standard and therefore can be connected to all available OBD scanners. Therefore, you can try out a myriad of devices and know that you will be able to obtain at least a rudimentary error readout.
What does the OBD diagnostic device look like?
- An OBD diagnostic device can be a stand-alone device that you connect via cable to your Audi’s OBD port or a wireless adapter that connects to an app on your smartphone. Any Audi manufactured since 2004 will have an OBD port, and you can consult your car’s manual or the internet to determine the location of the port.
- Once you have connected the car to the device, you can start the diagnosis function, and the device will commence reading out the control units and fault memory. This takes a few minutes. Then, you can view the data and evaluate it.
Depending on your device, you will either receive the code in raw code format, or with an explanation. Cheaper and basic devices typically present the data in raw code format, which means you must turn to the internet for an explanation. Once you have deciphered the error code, you can determine what steps to take next, and the problems that need rectifying before deleting the code via an Audi code reader.
What about Deleting Codes?
- Some OBD diagnostic devices will allow you to delete the codes from the device. However, you should do this with caution. Do not delete a code you are unsure of or if the underlying fault has not been rectified. Furthermore, some devices may not perform a proper deletion, leading to further fault conditions and even malfunctions of the control devices. Therefore, we recommend that you delete codes only if you are absolutely certain that it is safe to do so, and your device can reliably perform the delete operation.
- If your device cannot perform delete code operations, you have to visit a workshop where it will be done through their state-of-the-art professional level diagnostic equipment, at a cost. This is the recommended avenue for deletion if you have performed a scan at home and identified error codes but are uncertain as to their seriousness and do not wish to impair the functionality of your car by deleting them.
But what are the dangers of not deleting error codes?
Danger to the Car If Fault Codes Are Not Deleted
If error codes are not deleted, the car’s control units may not understand that the fault has been corrected. Therefore, they may operate under the principle that the error still exists, which could cause impaired performance or even fatal conditions. For example, let us assume that your passenger airbag was malfunctioning and subsequently repaired, but the error code was not cleared. In the event of an accident, the airbag control unit would be under the impression that the passenger airbag is faulty and may not deploy it. This could lead to fatal consequences that could have been avoided had the code been cleared after the fault was fixed.
Which OBD Diagnostic Devices Are Available?
The market for OBD diagnostic devices is flooded with cheap products, and there are many categories, types, and price ranges. Of course, quality and functionality vary with price too.
What are the options?
- There is a large array of conventional diagnostic equipment which uses an OBD cable with the OBD port connected and then analyzes data. Such devices are available in all price ranges and performance categories and are typically stand-alone devices with a screen of varying size, depending on the price point and feature set. For an outlay of approximately €50, you can obtain a good quality device with code delete function. You could also find professional-level equipment that cost hundreds or even thousands of Euros that offer extremely precise analysis and detection of errors, much like you would expect in a workshop.
- Wireless OBD diagnostic devices have become popular over the last few years. They use a wireless adapter that communicates to a device such as a smartphone or a tablet via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. These offer fantastic practicality, as the adapter is small and easily kept in a storage compartment, whilst the software lives on your smartphone, allowing you to perform a diagnosis on the go, in an uncomplicated manner.
- In addition to fault code reading and deleting, there are functions such as coding, which some devices and software offer, where you can activate, deactivate, and personalize certain functions of your car. One such solution which offers that is the Carly app, which we will explain next.
The Carly app as an Alternative
The Carly app is one of the most popular alternatives to conventional OBD diagnostic equipment or Audi code reader. It offers a comprehensive and powerful feature set of error code reading and analysis, diagnostics, coding, maintenance, and used car evaluation functions that can save you a lot of time and cost. Carly’s features allow you to perform minor maintenance on your car, as well as alerting you when it is time to take it to a workshop. Carly connects seamlessly to your car via its proprietary Carly Universal Adapter, which communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth, ensuring a reliable and dependable connection. The Carly app lives on your smartphone, and you can keep the Carly Universal Adapter plugged into the OBD port.
But, what exactly are the core functions of Carly?
- Error diagnosis and reporting are simplified on the Carly app, where it will scan all the control units and fault memories, and present errors in an easy-to-understand format. Furthermore, Carly uses a ‘traffic light’ system to indicate the current error status of your car. A green indication signifies none, or minor errors that do not need attention. Yellow signifies that there are some significant errors, and you should take your car to a workshop soon. If you receive a red indication, your car is quite sick and needs emergency attention — a simple system, which any layperson can understand and act upon.
- Coding is a powerful function that can cost you dearly should you decide to have it performed at a workshop, where making one change can easily cost at least €30. Coding allows you to personalize multiple aspects of your car to your liking. For example, you can set the duration of the Follow Me Home headlamps, change the indicator light flashing pattern on locking or unlocking of the car, permanently deactivate the auto start/stop, and much more. With Carly, you can easily make all these customizations from the app, with no programming knowledge required. Note that the exact coding set available varies from model to model, as well as across model years.
- The Carly Used Car Check is a useful tool to verify the mileage of a used Audi if you are buying one. Mileage tampered cars are a major issue worldwide, and Carly performs a comprehensive check across all control units and presents you with a report if the mileage has been tampered. Never get caught out by mileage tampered cars with the Carly Used Car Check on hand.
- Remember how we said you could keep the Carly Universal OBD Scanner plugged into your car’s OBD port at all times? That allows you to access another powerful feature of Carly, which is real-time monitoring. You can monitor a variety of parameters in real-time, such as oil temperature, current vehicle speed, coolant temperature, and much more, depending on what your car supports. Isn’t that exciting?
The Cost of the Carly Software
In order to enjoy Carly to the maximum, you will need the entire package. The Carly app is charged on an annual basis and costs €58.99 for Audi vehicles. You can download the Carly lite app for free and use it to evaluate a basic feature set and satisfy yourself that Carly is for your car. For an annual price of €73.99, you can unlock all car brands in the Carly app, which is useful if you have more than one brand in your garage. The app is compatible with Android and Apple operating systems. For Carly to talk to your car, you will need to purchase the Carly Universal Adapter, which is a one-time purchase of €59.99.
We generally recommend the use of diagnostic software to every responsible car owner. The advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages and you can’t go wrong with reading error codes.
But no matter what software you use, you should never rashly delete error codes. We therefore recommend using diagnostic devices in combination with regular analyzes by experts and, if necessary, deleting the error codes there.
Buying a Carly is certainly not a bad investment either. Carly shines with versatility and is particularly useful for checking used cars, and is a great solution if you’re thinking of picking up an Audi code reader.