OBD I, OBD II – On-Board Diagnostics – About.

OBD Stands for On-Board Diagnostics.

A vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability, how the car communicates and tells you the status of the engine and other vehicle components,

Jargon Free Area = It’s the computer in your car that looks after stuff like fuel efficiency, emissions and other stuff.

OBD systems allow access to the status of the various vehicle subsystems, you use it to identify faults with the vehicle. Example, if there is a sensor fault on your car or something is not running correctly, with the right hardware you can diagnose/read what the fault is.

Earlier vehicles operated OBD I and OBD 1.5 up to 1996. Vehicles after 1996 may have OBD II (definitely US) and definitely fully supported in UK/Europe after 2000.

Country  Fully Supported  Partly Supported
Europe and UK (gas/petrol) 2000/01 and newer 1996 to 1999
Europe and UK (diesel) 2003/04 and newer 1996 to 2002
All Other Countries   1996 and newer
United States (gas) 1996 and newer 1994 and 1995
United States (diesel) 2004 and newer 1996 to 2003
Canada (gas) 1998 and newer 1996 and 1997

If your vehicle is the right age to have OBD fitted to it, then somewhere on your vehicle there will be a connector like this ;

OBD II connector

The OBD connector or OBD port is usually somewhere under the dashboard inside the car. We will be adding an OBD Finder section soon, but until then just use the search bar at the top of the page.

OBD II check engine

OBD II data is what turns your ‘check engine’ light on, even when there doesn’t seem to be a problem.

What to do when your ‘check engine’ light comes on.

The annoying thing about this light is that when it comes on, it doesn’t give you any other information. This leaves you not knowing whether your motor is about to blow up or you can continue with your journey.

So what should you do, well if the car seems to be running normally and there is no smoke, steam or oil bellowing out of the car then you are probably ok to drive yourself to the nearest garage and get it check out. They will connect your car up to an OBD scanner to read what the fault is.

If your car does look or sound poorly” then it is probably best to pull over in a safe place and call your breakdown service.

BMW – OBD Fault codes


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