OBD-II History

When drivers think of their cars, their minds will generally take them to a place where they think of mechanical actions. One might envision a whole complicated structure of pistons and cylinders, belts and chains, gears and wheels, batteries and fuel. But do people take for granted the automotive computer systems that help keep everything in sync, track all car’s functions, and come to the rescue when something goes wrong?

OBD-II is where technicians turn to.

“On-Board Diagnostics” systems are a network of sensors placed throughout a car’s power-train, body, chassis, and electrical systems; that monitor the performance of all their various components. These sensors are tied together by way of a computer system that interprets their output and displays results in a standardized readout that makes pinpointing problems simple for those with the gear and the training to interpret them.

A small handful of electronic vehicle health monitoring systems existed in limited forms in the 70’s and 80’s among specific vehicle manufacturers. From there, they became far more common in the 1990’s as state governments (starting with California in 1991) began to mandate the inclusion of performance monitoring technology on all new cars, as a means of facilitating standardized emissions testing and smog checks, giving the state(s) the power to deny registrations to cars that failed to operate under certain emissions thresholds. Car manufacturers naturally responded to these new requirements, so as not to lose access to entire states populations as potential customers. Suites of sensors strategically located in a vehicles fuel delivery system and exhaust system, all tied to a car’s engine control module, became known as OBD: On-Board Diagnostics.

As California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) later developed proposed upgrades to early versions of diagnostic systems in 1994, this set of revised standards became known as OBD-II. Since 1996, and as of today in 2020, all cars and light-duty trucks sold in the United States adhere to the OBD-II standard of on-board diagnostics, with a common socket and adapter (designated 1962) developed for all vehicles in order to allow universal compatibility with diagnosis equipment.

Standard nowadays in any given auto repair shop is an OBD-II scanner, which to the unfamiliar eye, looks a bit like a stand-alone credit card reader. This scanner plugs into a port that’s typically located somewhere under a car’s steering wheel for ease of access during service appointments. Car owners interested in using their own OBD-II scanners to get a glimpse at their cars’ health don’t have to navigate any kind of complicated process in getting to a car’s OBD-II port. By law, cars sold in the US are required to allow instant access to their OBD-II port with no disassembly needed.

For vehicle owners interested in DIY repairs, or for those who want a head start on their diagnostic process when trouble arises, OBD-II scanners have not, historically, been as accessible as they could be. Many scanners can run hundreds of dollars or more for different degrees of readability. Autonet Mobile has bridged that gap by way of new OBD-II telemetry capability, allowing drivers to employ a simple, plug-in OBD-II device, and get an accurate, shop-grade OBD-II readout transmitted by Bluetooth through the CarCure App, accessible through any smart phone.

By allowing drivers new, convenient access to vehicle diagnostic information, CarCure allows for greater efficiency at the shop level, by allowing technicians to receive that same information, in turn skipping several steps in the traditional diagnostic process. Reduced diagnostic times allow for greater efficiency in repairs, translating into an increased capacity to handle a higher volume of repair business. Combined with CarCure’s expedited booking, financing, and payment capabilities, as well as the easy customer management allowed on the shop’s end, this innovative sharing of technical information stands to enhance the relationship between driver and technician.

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