Right, you’ve got your OBD2 code reader, you’ve plugged it in, you’ve turned the ignition to position II, you’ve pressed to scan and………’Link Error’ comes up.
Having a 16 pin socket is no guarantee of compatibility
Okay, what’s going on? Is the reader faulty? Are you doing something wrong?
Yes, the reader could be faulty but the greater likelihood is the reader is not compatible with your vehicle or vice versa, if you prefer.
There are various protocols within OBD2 compatibility, the latest of which is CAN Bus. Some OBD2 readers do not cover this. Check your vehicle’s communication protocol and if your reader covers it.
1996 saw the US government introduce mandatory OBD2 compatibility for all cars supplied in the United States market. This is sometimes mistakenly used as compatibility for readers sold in the rest of the world. If your car was supplied in Europe (within an EU member country at the time), compatibility was not mandatory for petrol vehicles until 2001 and 2004 for diesel. The EU standard is actually called EOBD but the OBD2 title has stuck and is more commonly banded around.
None of the above is set in stone as vehicles supplied in the rest of the world can still be compatible even if the country they were supplied to have no laws in place. Also, vehicles before those years can be compatible simply because the manufacturer began implementing it before legislation. For example, many Fords can be compatible to as early as 1995 in the EU and beyond.
Is your van covered?
Possibly. Commercial vehicles were not included in the above standards though some manufacturers have implemented it. A car derived van model is likely to have it fitted.
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KTM Motorbike 1190 Model
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You’re looking for an OBD2 fault code reader but will it even work with your vehicle?
The general rule is this – cars sold in the EU (European Union) 2001+ (petrol) and 2004+ (diesel) should be compatible by law. While only the EU is covered, typically most European nations should have OBD2 compatible vehicles but it’s not guaranteed.
In the USA cars from 1996 onwards are compatible.
Compatibility is not exclusive to the above regions. Vehicles worldwide can be but again there is no guarantee. The later the vehicle, the more likely it is to be compatible if supplied in a country other than stated above.
What about earlier models? In the EU some models were OBD2 compatible before the years stated. For instance many Ford petrol models were compatible from as far back as 1995.
If in any doubt always ask your supplier if your model is compatible. Do not assume your model is compatible just because it has a 16 pin diagnostic socket.
Read about diagnostic sockets and locations here.
OBD2 uses a standard 16 pin diagnostic socket across all makes and models. Technically referred to as J1962F. Every compatible vehicle should have one. You will find it within reach of the driver’s area. To locate yours first check your car manual. But don’t be surprised if the manual makes no reference to it, many manufacturers don’t seem to want to tell you about it (hmmm…I wonder why?)
Diagnostic socket on an Astra G (found under plastic cover) - Hmm...needs a clean out too!
The diagnostic socket is rarely obvious. Sometimes it will be concealed with a blanking plate or much lower down the dash so can only be seen if you place your head in the footwell area. Start by sitting on the passenger seat and leaning down so you look around just above the foot pedals. Best to use a torch. Then look for any panels on the lower part of the dash area on the driver’s side. If you still can’t trace it, it’s likely to be somewhere in the centre dash area extending back to the handbrake area, behind a blanking plate or ashtray.
If all else fails, ask your fault code reader supplier for advice.
Please do not assume that your vehicle is OBD2 compatible because it has a 16 pin diagnostic socket. See here for more information on OBD2 compatibility.
When reading codes from your vehicle the fault code reader may show them as pending codes or normal Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC).
Pending codes (also known as continuous monitor codes) will be registered when an intermittent fault occurs. If that fault does not happen again after x number of start/stop cycles, the ECU will erase the code from memory. If the fault is persistent it becomes a DTC.
If you have read pending codes it is advisable to check the codes again after a week or so. If there is no apparent problem with the vehicle it is safe to erase the codes too and check back. But always make a note of any fault codes with the date and mileage of a vehicle.
If the codes read include a DTC then you need to investigate further. This you can either do yourself or advise your garage. If, again, you don’t see an apparent problem (depending n the severity of the code) with the vehicle you can note the codes down and erase them. Then check again after a week or a few days depending on how often the vehicle gets used. If a repair has been made (previous owner) the DTC may just not have been reset after the repair.
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