If you want to get more control over your BMW M3 and save money on maintenance fees you’ve made it to the right place. We’ll introduce you to a small yet powerful tool that every BMW car owner needs: an OBD2 scanner!
With an OBD2 reader, you will finally know at all times what is going on with your car. And depending on the OBD reader that you get, you can even:
- Customize your car through car coding
- Read real-time data
- Avoid costly repair fees by performing your own car health check
- conduct your own basic service
- Detect car fraud
The best part is that you can get your OBD2 scanner for your BMW M3 for an affordable price and avoid relying on mechanic workshops 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?
OBD stands for onboard diagnostics. An OBD2 scanner (also called a diagnostic scanner or scan tool is a vehicle diagnostic device that can be used to read the error memory and data that is inside of your vehicle systems.
Basically, an OBD reader allows you to build a connection between your BMW M3 and a mobile app or diagnostic software. Once the connection is established, if you are using a mobile app, you can easily access all of your car’s information from your smartphone!
Additionally, if you do not own an OBD2 reader for your BMW M3, you can carry out diagnostics for your vehicle at a mechanic workshop for a fee.
Worksops usually use a handheld device, advanced scanners, or OBD cables with a computer. But usually, these tools are more expensive and complex to use.
Therefore, OBD2 readers are the best tools for beginners and even professionals 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)
- Let you do more than just diagnostics
Now that you have an overview of what are OBD2 scanners, we’ll show you what you can do with it and how it can help you get more control over your vehicle.
How does an OBD2 scanner for your BMW M3 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 M3.
So with an OBD reader, 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 errors are bad. However, 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. There are only a handful of error codes that can lead to serious issues.
The most severe ones are engine codes since the engine is one of the main systems of a vehicle and repairs are usually expensive. An example of a trouble code related to the engine is the check engine light. However, if you perform your own car diagnostics on a monthly basis you can easily save money on car maintenance and repairs.
How can I read my BMW M3 error codes with an OBD2 scanner?
errors can be easily read out using an OBD reader and its corresponding app. The error codes will then be displayed on your screen and you will be able to clear them as well.
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 stand for.
If you use an OBD2 scanner often and carry your own diagnostics every 2 months, you can end up saving thousands of dollars per year on vehicle maintenance and repairs.
What can an OBD reader tell you about your BMW M3?
With an OBD2 reader, you can read out a lot of data. However, the type of information depends on the OBD reader and mobile app that you are using.
The most common data that OBD2 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, you can only read out engine-related codes such as the check engine light.
On the other hand, there are other OBD scanners 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 will be able to read error codes related to other critical systems of your BMW M3 such as ABS, airbag, transmissions, and more!
Additionally, other OBD readers let you do more than just reading out data. For example, you can personalize 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 an affordable price by reading out the data transferred via the OBD2 readers.
And in many ways, the Carly Universal Adapter is unlike other OBD readers. This is because, besides diagnostics, you can access many other features that are usually only included in a professional or expensive scanner.
Perform a used car check on your BMW M3
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 look under the hood and get a better feeling for the condition of the car, avoiding negative surprises.
Try car coding on your BMW M3
Moreover, with the car coding feature, you can personalize your vehicle 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 M3
Another extremely valuable 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 description written 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 issues and fix them yourself
With this feature, you will really have more control of your vehicle than ever and get independence from car mechanics.
Do your own car maintenance on your BMW M3
With the car maintenance function, you can perform basic repairs yourself that tipically, mechanics can charge you (a lot) for. For example, carrying out a battery reset is 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 would use.
OBD vs. OBD2
The OBD2 interface is used in newer vehicles and was introduced in Europe in 2001 and 2004 to have a uniform system for cars. 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. But this made it difficult for workshops to make diagnoses for several car brands.
Later, 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 are only compatible 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 used with most car brands and the majority of vehicles manufactured from 2001 onwards. So, for example, if you own a BMW and a VW 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 OBD port, is normally located under the steering wheel. Butthis varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
In older vehicles, 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 scanner in and the connection between the car and the diagnostic device will be established.
After that, the error memory can be read out and the different fault codes will be displayed on your screen.
Can you drive with an OBD reader plugged in?
Absolutely! It is safe to keep your reader 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 vehicle.
Which OBD reader is the best?
Value and 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 features such as car coding and real-time data.
Equipment and Bluetooth
Some OBD2 scanners need extra equipment, such as cables or a computer to run the diagnostics software. However, the best option is to get a wireless OBD2 reader that can connect to your phone over Bluetooth.
Compatibility with your BMW M3 and phone
This brings us to the next point for choosing your OBD reader! Make sure that the reader and app that you get are compatible with your phone. Some diagnostic scanner apps might only be compatible with Android or Apple devices.
Additionally, ensure that your BMW M3 is also compatible with the scanner since some are only compatible with certain car brands.
Warranty of the OBD2 reader
Finally, the last point to consider is the warranty included in your purchase. It is very common for most OBD2 scanners to include a short 1 to 3-year warranty. However, OBD2 readers are meant to last longer than that, so you should get a lifetime warranty.