What's an OBD Port and Where is it Located?

When it comes to car diagnostics, there’s nothing more powerful than the OBD port. Where is the OBD port located? How can it be used to maintain your vehicle in top condition?

This article will explain the location and meaning of OBD ports. The OBD port can be used in many different ways. We will show you how to use it. The article ends with a demonstration of how to attach a car code scanner to the port. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. What's an OBD port?
  2. OBD Port Location
  3. OBD-I vs. OBD-II
  4. What is the OBD Port's Hook?
  5. How to use OBD2 Port for Engine Code Reading
    1. 1. Locate Port
    2. 2. Plug Scanner Into Port
    3. 3. Power your car!
    4. 4. Enter Vital Information
    5. 5. Learn Codes
    6. 6. Search Codes
    7. 7. Repair Faults
    8. 8. Clear codes
    9. 9. Try it out

What's an OBD port?

OBD stands For Onboard diagnostics. The OBD-II and OBD-II ports are the main ones. An OBD-2 connector is likely to be present if the car was manufactured after 1996. This onboard port allows for diagnostics to be run from the car’s computer, so you gain an insight into what’s happening.

DTCs, or Diagnostic Trouble Codes, are used to identify faults in complex car systems. These codes can be read and analyzed to figure out what’s going on with the help of a compatible scanning tool. An OBD scanner is attached to the port that reads the codes.

Every pin has an OBD-II purpose. Here’s the breakdown of each pin’s purpose.

  • 1: Manufacturer port
  • 2: VPW & SAE J1850 Port for PWM
  • 3: Manufacturer port
  • 4 Ground
  • 5: Ground
  • 6: ISO 15765-4 CAN port
  • 7: Kline of ISO 14230-4 & ISO 9141-2
  • 8-9: Vendor-specific
  • 10: SAE J1850 PWM port
  • 11-13: Vendor-specific
  • 14: ISO 15765-4 CAN port
  • 15. K-Line for ISO 14230-4 and ISO 9141-2 Port
  • 16: Car battery energy

Each port is connected by the OBD-II scanner to determine what trouble codes they are. The majority of manufacturers use the same protocols. 

OBD Port Location

The most common location for the OBD door is under the steering wheel on the driver’s side. The OBD door is often located near the middle console panel or sometimes under the dashboard.

However, this is very different between car models and if it’s an OBD2 port or OBD1 port. OBD ports may be covered and sometimes difficult to locate. You will see the OBD port underneath the hood, near the engine on some models of cars like BMW.

Make sure you check your owner’s manual for further instructions on how best to access them!

OBD-I vs. OBD-II

Each car manufacturer had its own OBD standard before OBD-1 was released. This meant that mechanics needed to have a unique scan tool in order to be able to communicate with every manufacturer. It could become expensive. OBD-I was created in 1987 to help standardize the onboard diagnostics.

It was able detect problems with computers and emissions systems. However, it wasn’t a perfect system.

OBD-II was designed to enhance upon the already existing system. The advanced port, which was developed in 1996 to improve diagnostic capabilities, was made available. Although most manufacturers will use the same codes overall, some may have different ones. 

RELATED: OBD1 Codes – Trouble Code List & Reading (GM)

What is the OBD Port's Hook?

Mechanics can use the OBDII port for hooking up a scanner that detects DTCs. To gain basic information, the average homeowner can order scanners. There are more expensive scanners available to access real-time data and special codes from the airbag system or ABS, but most home users don’t need this level of capability. 

Newer tools are being developed that use the OBD port. Anyone who wants to adjust the ECU can simply plug the equipment into this port. 

Third-party businesses, like an insurer, can use dongles. With this technology, the driver’s movements are recorded, showing speed, braking power and more, so the insurance company can offer safe driver discounts. 

Telecommunications companies also use the port. Verizon offers a Hum device It displays vehicle statistics on-the-go. You can even track your vehicle in case it is stolen. Companies can also use the port for Wi-Fi connectivity.

There is an inherent risk when you hand the OBD port to third parties. Cyber-attacks can be very damaging to your car, so make sure that you understand what is happening. 

RELATED: 10 Best OBD2 Scanners of 2022 – Review & Buyer’s Guide

How to use OBD2 Port for Engine Code Reading

1. Locate Port

Before running any scans you need to locate the OBDII port. In most cars, you will find it under the dashboard on the driver’s side.

The 16-pin port is located under the dash. To see the 16-pin port clearly, you may have to adjust your position.

2. Plug Scanner Into Port

Take out the connector from your code scanner. Connect this to your OBD2 port underneath the dashboard.

It is important to take care when you plug it in. If you do not, the pins could be damaged and the port may become unusable. 

3. Power your car!

The car's engine must be turned off while you plug in the code scanner. You also don’t need it on to read the codes.

You will instead turn the key to ON without turning the engine on. If you sit in the car seat while you read the codes, you won’t need to listen to the open door chime.

4. Enter Vital Information

Some information may be required before any codes can be issued. Certain scanners require you to enter your Vehicle Identification Number before proceeding.

There’s also the chance that you need to input what engine or other specs are included with the vehicle. You can find this information in the owner’s manual if you don’t have it. 

RELATED: How do I find my VIN number on my car?

5. Learn Codes

Pushing a button in the scanner will give you the engine codes. It might say something as simple as “SCAN.”

You can also use the scanner for other purposes, depending on what it’s capable of. Read the owner’s manual to the scanner to see what else it is capable of and to get in-depth operating instructions.

6. Search Codes

The codes are clearly illustrated. It’s best to write these down so you don’t forget them, especially if there are multiple to take note of. Multiple codes may have different fixes. This means that you'll need to conduct some investigation to find out what the issue is.

You can find the most commonly asked questions on the internet. You should be cautious about where your information comes from as some may not be accurate or misleading. You can find information from a mechanic by searching the codes in Mechanic Base. 

You might have to do more research if your car uses specific codes. Or you may end up paying the wrong price.

RELATED: OBD2 codes list: OBD2 diagnostic P codes (free list)

7. Repair Faults

You can repair the problem once you have a good understanding of what each code is. If there’s a small problem that’s easy to repair, such as a spark plug replacement, you might be able to do this yourself.

There may be complicated engine codes. If you aren’t sure how to perform the fix, it’s best to visit a professional mechanic.

8. Clear codes

After the problem has been fixed, your code scanner can be used to erase the original codes. Read the owner’s manual to determine how to do this for the model you have.

If there are many codes to clear, it is possible to do so at the start of diagnostics. When the diagnostics are complete, you will need to take a quick drive so that it can be illustrated again.

9. Try it out

After you clear the codes, it’s best to go for a test drive. This will not only make you more comfortable about the repairs, but will also show that it is over.

If the code is truly fixed, it won’t come back. If the Check Engine Light goes on again, it could be that you have not done the correct fix. It’s time to go back to the drawing board.

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