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On Board Diagnostics


Shallow Draft
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I spoke with two very experienced auto mechanics I've known for 10+ years re inexpensive scan tools. BOTH were of the opinion that such commonly available OBD readers were a waste of money. Such a unit may or may not be able to read a vehicle's error and, may or may not be able to clear said error. In 2016, on my way back east from the National HDT Rally, I got a non-specific error code (yellow light but NO alpha-numeric information. The manual indicated a "non-specific emissions" problem). I got to a Pilot Truck Stop and paid ~ $90 for a mechanic to use a scan tool. He could NOT pinpoint the problem (he guessed it was an O2 sensor) but, he was able to reset it. About 200 miles later, the light came back on (I just kept driving). When I got home, I went to a Freightliner shop the next day and was told that, if the error code had not been tripped again, they would NOT have been able to determine exactly what happened (they said it was a nitrous oxide sensor which they replaced under warranty). Bottom line, the "scan tool" used at the Pilot Truck Stop FAILED to identify the true problem and, resetting an error code might prevent a shop that has more advanced equipment from being able to locate the actual problem. As HDT owners, we LOVE tools and gizmos and, spending $100 or so, is not likely to break us. How useful the information we get from an inexpensive scan tool is questionable though and, may cause as many problems as it solves. So, I have to say that the answer is a DEFINITE maybe. 

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Before buying anything I would make sure you don't have something in your box of tricks. We have a Class A and had a code come up, meaningless but aggravating. I then remembered we had added a 5 Star Tune and could read and reset codes. Worked very easily and the code hasn't reappeared.

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https://www.scangauge.com/products/scangauge-d/

Reads most codes and can also be customized.

 

J1939 deutsch connector.jpg

This is what the plug looks like on a Volvo.  Plug is located facing downward on the lower left side dash panel adjacent to the hood release handle. This is referred to a 9 pin deutsch connector. It is the test plug for both the J1939 and J1708 network protocols used. This is what is used on most HDT's in place of OBD II.

Edited by MrSeas
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8 hours ago, Ronbo said:

I have wondered if my scangaige would work with one of these.

https://obd2allinone.com/ad-J1939.asp

If your rig and scangauge both talk J1939 and the only issue is the connector, then I would think it would do the trick.  If your rig talks ODB II and your scangauge talks J1939 then I think you are out of luck.

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