DIY Repairs and OBD2 Diagnostic Phone Apps

OBD2 bluetooth adapter and phone app

 This is not a review of specific products but includes suggestions for DIY vehicle owners to help reduce the number of parts you buy when trying to solve a problem. Read the codes, perform diagnostics, and look at the data.

Good scan tools are expensive, if you are not making your living working on vehicles, purchasing one probably does not make sense. If you don’t have a scan tool, there are some inexpensive options for you to interface with your vehicle. There are several inexpensive wireless Bluetooth OBD2 scanners available. You can read diagnostic trouble codes, clear codes, and read some data. They will not have bi-directional controls, but you can read some data to help with diagnostics.

 I have used a Bluetooth wireless dongle to check codes and data on my diesel pickup. The 3rd party phone app for use with most OBD2 adapters is sold separately, but both together were under $30. You may want to look at data and do some troubleshooting, instead of throwing parts at it, because $30 doesn’t buy many parts.

I use the BAFX wireless Bluetooth adapter (Android) along with the Torque Pro app. It will not give you the same level of information as a scan tool. However, when you are 300 miles from home, in the desert, you can check the code that just popped up. The dongle easily fits in the center console, and I have my phone with me.

 Use your favorite search engine to research what OBD2 adapter and phone app you may want to purchase. Verify that it works with your phone, some work with both Android and Apple IOS, some do not. The adapters and apps may not read transmission codes, anti-lock brake system, or reset warnings like oil change interval. However, some adapters will even reset the battery monitor when the battery is replaced.

 Read the descriptions and FAQs for the one you may want to buy. Some vehicles require an in-app purchase to read the data for that make or model. BlueDriver is USA made, works with both Android and IOS, and the app is free. It has access to some service bulletins and repair suggestions, however it won’t work on the 7.3L Powerstroke and is more expensive.

Using the diagnostic information on our website, which have data (PIDS) for normal parameters for diesel pick-ups or purchasing a subscription to online DIY service info is a lot less expensive than throwing parts at the problem.

 Mitchell’s DIY program is one way to access service information at a reasonable cost.

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