How To Use an OBD2 Scanner Like a Pro – Beginner’s Guide

You don’t have to be a car expert to know how to use an OBD2 scanner like a pro. 

But the surprising thing is that most car owners still choose to only rely on car mechanics when they could be saving thousands of dollars with their own OBD2 scanner.

In fact, Carly users who perform regular car checks with their scanner, which only take a couple of minutes, end up saving up to $2,000 per year on repairs and maintenance.

Let’s walk through the easy steps of how to use an OBD2 scanner so you can get the most out of your car.

What is an OBD2 scanner?

There are different types of scanners, and the one you choose is up to you. However, there are 3 things that will determine the best scan tool for you.

  • Size and equipment: Every scan tool for vehicles can range in the complexity of the equipment needed. If you are looking for a small and handy tool, Bluetooth OBD2 scanners are the perfect solution. Since they are wireless scanners you don’t need additional equipment and can leave them plugged into your OBD2 port.

    However, if you prefer a more professional diagnostic tool such as a handheld diagnostic scanner or diagnostic software, they are usually bulkier and might need additional equipment such as a computer.
  • 2. Range of features: There are scanner tools that only provide basic diagnostic features and generic codes. However, there are others that provide more advanced functions that every car fan would love to have.
    For example, with a basic scanner or code reader, you can only read out diagnostic codes.

    You might also be able to do other basic functions such as deleting trouble codes (ex. check engine light). However, other scanners offer many more features such as professional vehicle insights, car coding, real-time parameters, and more. 
  • 3. Compatibility: Regardless of the scan tool that you decide to use, some might not be compatible with your car brand and model. Additionally, if you are using a Bluetooth OBD-II scanner, which comes with a mobile app, you must ensure that the app is compatible with your phone’s operating system (Android or iOS).

How to use a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner – 3 steps

Bluetooth OBD2 scanners are the most convenient scan tools since they are portable, are extremely easy to use, and provide highly valuable information. 

Besides the wireless scanner, all you need is your phone. Through the scanner’s mobile app you will be able to see your car’s information on your smartphone whenever you want.

Here are 5 simple steps to follow when using your Carly Bluetooth OBD2 scanner for the first time.

  1. Plug the Carly OBD2 scanner into your car’s OBD port 

    Your car’s OBD-II port is usually found underneath the steering wheel or to the left of the gas pedal. This port is a small plug and it helps connect the adapter to all of your car’s ECUs.

    You can find an OBD2 diagnostic port in most cars manufactured after 2001. If you cannot find it, you can go here or check on your car’s instruction manual.
  2. Turn on your car’s engine

    After turning on your car’s engine, the OBD2 scanner will start receiving information from all vehicle systems and components.
  3. Turn on your phone’s Bluetooth and open the OBD2 scanner’s mobile app

    Make sure you have downloaded the mobile app that must be used with the OBD2 scanner. In this case, if you are using the Carly Universal Adapter, you can download the Carly app on both Android or iOS devices.

    Afterward, open the Carly app and click on “connect”. This will establish a connection between the Carly Scanner and your phone via Bluetooth. 

Once the connection is established, you officially can start having more control over your car! A great way to start is finding out more about your car’s health and reading trouble codes such as the check engine light. Below we will show you everything you can do in your car.

What can you do with an OBD2 scanner?

Depending on the OBD2 scanner that you purchase, you will have different features available. Below, we will show you all the features that you can use on your car with the Carly Scanner.

OBD and Manufacturer Diagnostics: Reading and clearing error codes

With the diagnostics feature, you can read and clear OBD-level and manufacturer-level faults (also called diagnostic trouble code). OBD-level faults refer to all errors related to your car’s engine only.

For example, you can monitor engine codes such as the check engine light. On the other hand, manufacturer-level faults are errors related to all other systems such as the ABS, airbags, brakes, etc.

For performing your first diagnostics test just go to ‘Health’ and click on ‘check for issues’. Here your Carly scanner will read current errors present in your vehicle. When running diagnostics, make sure that your car’s engine is turned on. 

After the diagnostic check is performed, the Carly app will tell you the severity level of each issue color-coded from red, to orange, yellow, and green.

Moreover, you will also see the code definition to understand what it stands for. Additionally, it will also show you, the overall health state of your car which is determined by the number of issues present and their severity level.

Furthermore, with the Smart Mechanic feature, you will be able to access information that professional mechanics have access to. For example, you can see a professional code description, get repair tips, and see component guidelines about each error code. This is a great feature to help you understand more about fault codes and fix them on your own.

Coding: Customize your car

Another feature that all car fans love is the coding! This will let you activate or deactivate default features in your car that are predetermined by the vehicle manufacturer. 

Coding your car is as easy as performing a diagnostics check. Just go to ‘coding’ and look for the settings that you would like to change on your car. Next, click on the option and check out your car’s new look! If you would like to reverse the change you can easily restore it to the original settings.

These are some of the favorite codings performed by Carly users:

  • Deactivate the automatic start/stop system
  • Customize the welcome and headlights
  • Automatically lock doors after reaching a certain speed
  • Move your car’s windows up or down with the car key

Live parameters: Read out real-time data

Moreover, if you want to know more about your car’s current state you can track real-time parameters! For example, you can see temperature and pressure values, or check the turbo boost pressure. This can be particularly useful when fault codes, such as the check engine light, turn on and you want to know more about your car’s engine parameters.

Tracking real-time parameters with the Carly Scanner and app is very straightforward. Just go to ‘Live data’ and choose the parameters that you’d like to track. You can select up to 6 at a time and have an awesome display of them on your Carly app.

Used Car Check: detect mileage fraud

The Used Car feature is extremely useful if you are looking to purchase or sell a used car. If you are a buyer, you can make sure that the car you’re interested in has not been illegally manipulated and that it is not stolen.

If you’d like to check if your car has been illegally manipulated, go to ‘Used car check’. You can then see if the car’s real mileage differs from the mileage displayed on its speedometer. If it does, then you can be certain that the odometer has been manipulated and can avoid purchasing that car.

DIY Maintenance: guides to perform easy maintenance

Moreover, many times we get charged for basic maintenances and automotive repairs that we can easily do on our own instead. The car maintenance feature will give you clear guides to follow for conducting your own basic maintenance. Therefore, you no longer have to fully rely on your mechanic and can save more money.

Emissions test: ensure to pass your emissions test

Before taking your official emissions test you can perform your own test on the Carly app to ensure that you will pass it. The Carly app will tell give you an overview of the emission controls that must be checked. Thus, you will know what needs to be fixed on your car to get it in shape before the official test.

Digital Garage: access your car’s diagnostic reports

Finally, having a history of your car’s diagnostics checks is extremely useful for your car mechanic. 

Additionally, it can also be an extremely valuable way to ensure that your mechanic hasn’t done further damage to your car. All you have to do is run a diagnostics check before and after taking your car to the mechanic shop. Afterward, if there is a new problem present in your car you can prove that it wasn’t there before taking your car to the mechanic.

Learn how to use an OBD2 Scanner and become a pro!

After following the steps above you will be know how to use an OBD2 scanner and get the most out of your car.

With your own Carly Scanner, you no longer need to fully rely on a car mechanic. Additionally, you can get the advanced functions that expensive scanners and professional tools offer. So instead of paying over $3,000 for a professional scanner tool, you can get the Carly Scanner for around $130. 

Having your own scan tool is the best way to get much more control over your car. 

So, are you ready to start using your own OBD-II scanner?