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OBD2 scanner for your BMW 3 – Easy Guide and How It Works.


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If you want to have greater control over your BMW 3 and save more money on maintenance you’ve made it to the right place. We’ll introduce you to a small yet powerful tool that every car owner needs: an OBD2 reader!

With an OBD2 reader, you will finally know at all times what is going on with your car. And depending on the OBD2 scanner that you get, you can even:

  • Personalize your vehicle through car coding
  • Read real-time data
  • Prevent costly repairs by performing your own diagnostics
  • Perform your own maintenance
  • Detect car fraud

The best part is that you can get your OBD2 scanner for your BMW 3 for an affordable price and avoid relying on repair shops at all times! Now let’s dive into it to understand what is an OBD2 scanner and all you can do with it.

What is an OBD2 scanner?

Carly OBD reader

OBD means onboard diagnostics. An OBD2 scanner (also called a diagnostic scanner or OBD reader is a vehicle diagnostic device that can be used to read out faults and data that is inside of your vehicle systems.

Basically, an OBD reader allows you to build a connection between your BMW 3 and a mobile application or diagnostic software. When the connection is established, if you are using a mobile application, you can easily access all of your car’s information from your mobile phone!

In addition, if you do not own an OBD2 reader for your BMW 3, you can carry out diagnostics for your vehicle at a service shop for a fee.

diagnostic tool

Worksops usually use a handheld device, advanced scanners, or OBD cables with a computer. However, these tools are more complex to use and are expensive.

So, for beginners and even professionals, OBD readers are the best tools out of all, since they are:

  • Pocket-sized (unlike handheld scanners or heavy OBD cables)
  • Easy to carry and use
  • No additional diagnostic equipment (ex. computer software, cables)
  • Provides more features than just diagnostics

Now that you have an overview of what an OBD2 scanner is, let’s show you what you can do with it and how it can help you keep your car in better shape.

How does an OBD2 scanner for your BMW 3 work?

Every modern vehicle has a ‘fault memory’. This memory is responsible for storing technical defects or any trouble code that arises in your BMW 3.

So with an OBD scanner, you can access the data stored in the fault memory, and read out the fault codes in order to correct them.

A common misconception is that all error codes are bad. But it is quite normal that cars have fault codes.

Moreover, there are error codes that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but having them present is normal. Only a handful of error codes that can lead to serious complications.

The most severe ones are engine codes since the engine is one of the main systems of a car and repairs are usually expensive. An example of a trouble code related to the engine is the check engine light. However, if you carry out your own car diagnostics on a monthly basis you can easily save money on car maintenance and repairs.

How can I read my BMW 3 error codes with an OBD2 scanner?

errors can be easily read out using an OBD reader and its corresponding app. The faults will then be displayed on your phone and you will be able to clear them as well.

fautl codes

In the case of the Carly app, you can also see all the code definitions for every fault and get deeper insights into what they mean.

If you use an OBD2 scanner often and carry your own diagnostics every 2 months, you will end up saving thousands of dollars per year on car maintenance and repairs.

What can an OBD reader tell you about your BMW 3?

With an OBD2 reader, you can read out a lot of data. However, the type of data will depend on the OBD2 scanner and mobile app that you are using.

The most common data that OBD reader let you read are:

– Diagnostics (fault codes) and/or
– Real-time data

There are some scanners that only provide this data related to the engine. This feature is usually called “OBD level diagnostics”. So for example, will only read out engine-related codes such as the check engine light.

However, there are other OBD readers that let your read data for every system of your car, and not just about the engine. This feature is called “Manufacturer-level diagnostics”. So for example, you can read errors related to other critical systems of your BMW 3 such as ABS, airbag, transmissions, and more!

Additionally, other OBD scanners let you do more than just reading out data. For example, you can customize your car through car coding, perform basic maintenance repairs, and detect car scams.

What does the Carly OBD2 Bluetooth reader and app do?

The Carly app allows you to get a lot out of your car for little money by reading out the data transferred via the OBD readers.

And in many ways, the Carly Universal Adapter is unlike other OBD2 readers. This is because, besides diagnostics, you can access many other features that are typically only included in a professional or expensive scanner.

Perform a used car check on your BMW 3

For example, the ‘used car check’ feature is always helpful if you want to buy a used vehicle and want to check if you are not being scammed with mileage fraud. So, with Carly, you can really look under the hood and get a better feeling for the condition of the car, avoiding negative surprises.

Try car coding on your BMW 3
obd2 scanner for bmw

Moreover, with the car coding feature, you can personalize your BMW and make it more unique using your Carly scanner and your phone. You can code the welcome lights, deactivate the start-stop function, and more! With Carly, time-consuming (and expensive) workshop visits are a thing of the past.

Professional insights on your BMW 3

Another extremely useful feature that that Carly gives you is Smart Mechanic. You can get deep information about your BMW written by expert mechanics. For example:

  • Professional fault code description curated by expert BMW mechanics
  • Direct access to original plans of components, just like the ones used in the workshop
  • Detailed repair tips to know the cause of faults and fix them yourself

With this feature, you will really have more control of your BMW than ever and get independence from car mechanics.

Do your own car maintenance on your BMW 3

With the car maintenance feature, you can carry out basic repairs yourself that tipically, mechanics can charge you (a lot) for. For example, performing a battery reset is very easy if you have the proper guide to follow! And with Carly, this is possible.

Tipically, only a professional automotive scanner that costs over $3,000 would include all of these advanced funtionalities. So the Carly OBD2 scanner is much more affordable than the professional scanners that car technicians use.

OBD vs. OBD2

The OBD2 interface is used in modern cars and was introduced in Europe in 2001 and 2004 to have a standard system for vehicles. It basically serves as an interface between the ECUs of a vehicle and the diagnostic device. However, there is a big difference between OBD and OBD2.

Previously, only certain diagnostic devices could were compatible with certain cars. For example, an OBD code reader from BMW only worked with BMWs, because each car brand had a different connection. However, this made it difficult for workshops to make diagnoses for several car brands.

Afterward, the OBD2 connector was actually introduced in 1996 to standardize the system. Now, with the same OBD2 reader you can access many car brands.

How do I know if my car is OBD2 compliant?

Most OBD2 readers can only be used with cars built-in 2001 or later (gas/petrol) or 2004 or later (diesel).

If you have a vehicle from 1996 or earlier, you might need a special extension to use the OBD2 reader.

In the case of the Carly OBD2 reader, it can be utilized with most car brands and the majority of vehicles manufactured from 2001 onwards. So, for example, if you own a BMW and a Volkswagen in your garage that was built after 2001 and 2004 respectively, you only need one OBD2 reader instead of two!

Where is the OBD interface located?

The OBD interface, or diagnostic port, is usually located under the steering wheel. However,this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Where is the OBD2 port in my BMW 3 E90 (2005-2013)

In older cars, the OBD port can also be found in the trunk or near the handbrake. Once you have found the interface, you can easily plug the OBD2 reader in and the connection between the vehicle and the diagnostic device will be established.

Afterwards, the error memory can be read out and the different errors will be displayed on your screen.

Can you drive with an OBD reader plugged in?

Absolutely! It is safe to keep your OBD2 scanner plugged into your car’s OBD port. With other tools such as handheld scanners, you don’t have the option of leaving it plugged into your car.

Which OBD reader is the best?

Value for price

The best scanner tool is the one that lets you access the most features, with accuracy, and at a great price. Some readers only focus on diagnostics, whereas others also include additional functions such as car coding and real-time data.

Equipment and Bluetooth

Some OBD2 readers require extra equipment, such as cables or a computer to run the diagnostics software. However, the best option is to get a wireless OBD2 scanner that can connect to your phone over Bluetooth.

car diagnostics
Compatibility with your BMW 3 and phone

This brings us to the next point for choosing your BMW Code Reader! Make sure that the scanner and app that you get are compatible with your phone. Some diagnostic scanner apps might only be compatible with Android or Apple devices.

Additionally, make sure that your BMW 3 is also compatible with the scanner since some are only compatible with certain car brands.

Warranty of the OBD2 reader

Finally, one last point to consider is the warranty included in your purchase. It is very common for most OBD2 readers to include a very short 1 to 3-year warranty. However, OBD2 readers are meant to last longer, so you should get a lifetime warranty.

Keep in mind, that every car has different software and modules built-in. Therefore specific features will vary with every model.

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The device that every car owner needs.

Ready to have complete control over your car’s functioning and health monitoring? Your OBD2 scanner is waiting for you!