Being a mechanic means knowing how automobiles work inside and out. It also means you need to know how a long list of tools work, as it will increase your chances of landing automotive technician jobs and carrying out important repairs for customers. While an OBD scanner is probably something you’re already very familiar with, you need to understand when it’s time to upgrade yours as well.

Signs there is something wrong with your scanner

Before you ever diagnose a vehicle by using an OBD scanner, you need to be confident that it will work properly. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and you’re liable to make the wrong diagnosis – a potentially dangerous mistake.

One very easy way to do this is simply using the OBD scanner every time even when the problem is clear. For example, if the customer knows their ABS is out, use the scanner anyway to confirm that’s what it reports. This ongoing method of checking your OBD scanner will ensure you can always be confident when using it.

The other way of doing this is by using two scanners. Your garage or dealership probably doesn’t just have the one. Use both and ensure they both show the same exact problem. As OBD-II is a standard, there is absolutely no reason two readers should produce different results. Otherwise, it’s worth checking the scan port. There is a lot of debris floating around work areas and sometimes they can clog the port, leaving your scanner unable to do its job properly. All you need is a soft cloth or even compressed air to get it back to working as it should.

Check the ECM

Sometimes, you’ll simply get no reading at all. This probably isn’t your scanner’s fault, though. Unless it lacks power, if all it is doing is showing nothing at all, then it’s more likely that it’s the vehicle’s ECM that doesn’t have enough juice.

The ECM on a vehicle is connected to the same fuse circuit as other electronic features like the accessory port, for example. If that fuse blows – which isn’t incredibly rare – the ECM won’t have any power to run off of. In that case, when you hook up your OBD scanner, there won’t be a reading.

This is the most common reason for trouble trying to use an OBD scanner to diagnose car troubles. Fortunately, all you have to do is address the fuse and it will no longer be an issue.

Your business is growing

Finally, you may need to upgrade your OBD scanner because you’re beginning to work with a wider range of vehicles. Those from Europe and Asia may not work with a scanner that had no problem reading domestic models. Some medium-duty vehicles also won’t work well with conventional devices.

When working properly, an OBD scanner is one of the most important tools which is why they’re a must-have for all auto technician jobs. However, from time to time, you may experience problems with yours. The above should help you figure out what is wrong and address it as necessary.

If you’re a certified mechanic and you’re interested in working with YourMechanic, submit an online application for an opportunity to become a mobile mechanic.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is It Time to Upgrade Your OBD Scanner? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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