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What is On Board Diagnostics or OBD?


What is On Board Diagnostics or OBD?

WHAT IS ON-BOARD DIAGNOSTICS OR OBD?
On-Board Diagnostics or OBD refers to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability. The OBD systems, could be in the form of small hand-held devices, provide the technician or mechanic access to the status of the various vehicle subsystems. In simple terms, OBD is the process of reading ECU Unit information of the car through various software.

WHAT DO THESE SMALL HAND-HELD DEVICES TELL US? HOW ARE THEY IMPORTANT IN ASSESSING THE HEALTH OF A CAR?
All of us, at some point or another, would have walked into a car workshop complaining about warning lights on our cars’ dashboards – warning lights like the ‘check engine’ light, the ‘ABS Warning’ light, the “Fuel System’ light or any other light that we simply do not understand (I shall do another blog on warning lights on the dashboard and what they mean). These warning lights indicate that there exists some problem with the car and also that the problem needs to be addressed immediately. OBD helps in understanding the problem and also helps in pin-pointing the source of the problem.
The OBD devices, if we could use the analogy, are like a Brain MRI scan, that use technology to identify the fault(s) that might have crept into the system. It helps in checking the working of various sensors in the car, the different performance parameters, the security system, the safety system, the emission system and many other systems that help a car run smoothly.

WHAT DOES THE OBD ACTUALLY DO?
When the OBD system detects an issue or a fault, it reflects a trouble code and a corresponding warning light on the dashboard. This code and light acts as the guide for the technician or mechanic and helps him in fixing the issue in the car.
As car technology has advanced, so have the various service stations, be it authorised service stations or mult-brand car service stations and every major workshop now have OBD Scanners that help technicians or mechanics detect problems. The key to the process is not about taking a reading and pinpointing the problem, but to interpret the reading and this is where you need to trust an expert. Our team of experts are trained in understanding the cryptic language of these scanners.
Let me cite an example. Some weeks ago, we, at 24ToolBox were scanning a Skoda Laura Automatic for a gearbox error. The car had a very strange problem - the reverse gear was not engaging while every other function was perfectly normal. We re-programmed the service interval for the car with the OBD tool and the car started functioning perfectly.
While OBD might seem to be a fairly technical process, you shouldn’t be too worried. You might think that there exists some major fault but the OBD might suggest otherwise and we could probably fix your car with a small reset of the Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC).
More about errors in my next blog. Cheers!