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I have a Opel Corsa 1999 B type. It is giving me problems now. I have read a little bit about OBD2 scanning tools. But don't know if one could help me, or that I am maybe hoping for too much.

I have read that you can link them to your laptop and download program that can configure you car's computer, and do various other functions, like tell you what is wrong with the car.

So I was thinking of getting one I can link to my laptop but I'm not sure?

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If you're not sure why you would need one then no, it would not be a good purchase. You would be much better off telling us what's happening with your car: we might be able to be of assistance given some information on specific symptoms.

The on-board diagnostic port will look something like this:

enter image description here

It serves as an interface port that the engine computer is required to populate with diagnostic data. From a problem diagnostic point of view, the most important information would be the error codes. Your indication that an error code might be available is usually the check engine light: if it's blinking or on, there's usually a code to be read from the port.

The problem: if you don't know what the codes mean or what you should do about them, a code scanner isn't going to be very useful to you.

Yes, it is possible to reprogram your engine computer for a variety of purposes. Be aware that this is advanced-level car maintenance: if you change the fuel profile, for instance, it is easy to cause your engine to fatally break itself.

Full disclosure: I've done exactly this with my current car to great success and satisfaction. I did this will full awareness that any problems resulting would be my own fault and might include anything up to causing my car to break and my wife to burst into Fury Flames.

  • I am a software developer, so error codes is something I can understand;) and I am sure I can get the meaning of the codes on the Internet somewhere. I just also thought if I can get it now, then all future problems with my cars, I can be better informed of what is wrong and tell the mechanic what to look out for. Saving some time and money. – ZioN Sep 8 '12 at 6:51
  • @ZioN, that's fine - just be aware that the mechanic already has a scanning tool. – Bob Cross Sep 8 '12 at 12:28
  • I guess that is also true. Well where I stay is cost me R350 each time I want to run a scan on my car, if I ask the mechanic to do it. But then again how offen will I run a scan on my car. – ZioN Sep 9 '12 at 13:17
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Be sure to consider one that links to your smart phone. There are several models that link via Bluetooth, which work on Android phones and PC. Googling "obd2 bluetooth" will find what you need. They don't work on iPhone as the Bluetooth profiles on iPhone are limited, but wifi models are available.

Software on your phone (like Torque) or PC will let you to check engine temperature, RPM, speed and other readings depending on your car model. It may also allow reading and resetting the fault codes.

  • Which is a geat idea to check your car anytime anywhere, by using something as portable as your cellphone. I like it, if I deciede to get one, will take what you said into conserderation. – ZioN Sep 10 '12 at 5:16
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No it is not worth the cost.

If you live in the states almost all major auto parts chains (Advance Auto, Autozone, etc) will do a check or even loan you the tool for free. Unless you're checking codes daily, it's just not cost prohibitive.

The error codes produced by OBD2 are rather generic. They can be helpful in pointing you in the correct direction but they do not tell you exactly what's wrong.

As for configuring your computer, you're more likely to break the vehicle than improve anything. Remember GM had teams of Engineers to make that computer as optimal as it is. If you really wish "improve" your computer look around on the net for "Custom Performance" and "Performance reprogramming" for your car.

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It was true a few years back but they charged a fee and then when it was returned, they credit it. That's a hassle in itself. This tool could work for future cars/truck as well. As long as you get one you can update. You might want to consider one with a erase code feature. So the codes don't remain in the obd scanner. Or pay someone to get it out of there once you fix the problem. My husband didn't trust the scanner code and end up paying more money to have it diagnose. Once you figure out the code, that should be it unless your vehicle has more problems. I think it can be a good tool to have, and the expense of getting the dealer to charge you to diagnose it came to 100.00 per check and is going up which they use about the same thing. They charged 100.00, fix the problem and then charge again another 100.00 to make sure that was it. That's a rip off. 3x we paid for that diagnose check when the obd2 told us what was wrong. But keep in mind, some problems might be more than 1 and you have to rescan every time a problem is fix and code remove to make sure the light turns green.

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It's probably not worth the effort. You can go to your local mechanic to have your engine controller read. It either costs nothing or very little most of the time.

  • 2
    You obviously don't live in South Africa ;) – Captain Kenpachi Jan 15 '13 at 9:33
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If you just want to read the error codes I would suggest you to try some elm327-based code reader. Given the low price (about 4-10€) it is worth a try. It connects to your smartphone. For android phones you need the bluetooth variant, for apple the wlan variant. I can recommend the app "torque pro"

I made positive experiences with this adapter, however I had problems connecting it to VW cars.

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I can understand why some mechanics don't want people to have an OBD2 scanner. The reason is that some mechanics who are dishonest, don't want you to know what the problem is before they assess your car so they can charge you more. This only applies to dishonest mechanics.

  • How does this answer the question? I see this more as a diatribe – Zaid Aug 26 '16 at 11:45

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