For those still stuck using primaries, secondaries, jets and floats to diagnose and troubleshoot engine problems this diagnostic tools is not for you. This innovative device is for those who understand a thing or two about OBD II and how car manufacturers use computers to help quickly and effectively diagnose problems in your engine. For those of you who may think OBD II is a hindrance, you are so wrong. As I have learned OBD II is truly your friend.
As you know, evolution is unstoppable and OBD II is part of an automotive evolution to make vehicles better and more reliable. With the factory ECU in constant communication with all the vehicle's sensors if there are any problems with any one of them the ECU is ready to identify which sensor is the culprit. This eliminates the time needed for the mechanic to diagnose every engine system. Finding the problem sensor now happens in a fraction of the time. From first-hand experience diagnosing gremllins in both my 1996 240SX and 1998 Acura GS-R I can confidantly testify to how invaluable an OBD II system is . Fortunately, with OBD II I was able to plug in my OBD scanner and find out exactly what sensor was preventing my two rides from passing the smog check.
The OBD-Rx from Eaton is the next generation of OBD scanners that offers limitless capabilities at a fraction of the price of other hand-held units on the market. Better yet, the OBD-Rx works off your Java-enabled cellular phone. The OBD-Rx comes in a couple different kits for both Motorola and Nokia phones. The OBD-RX also comes in a Bluetooth version for wireless connections. Our kit came with an OEM in-line data cable and OBD II vehicle link adapter.
Prior to installing the data cables and link adapter we had to download the software onto our Motorola i730 phone. By accessing the OBD-Rx Web site and following the simple instructions the software was installed on our phone and we were ready to go. First we joined the data cables and link adapter and then plugged in the in-line data cable to the phone. We turned on the Motorola phone and it recognized the device was plugged in by displaying an icon on the phone screen. The all that was left was locating the OBD port on the vehicle and plugging the OBD-Rx into it.
Before starting the OBD-Rx program be sure the key is in the "on" position otherwise the factory ECU will not communicate with the OBD-Rx. Once the serial cables are connected go to the Main menu and click on Java Applications and find the OBD-Rx and enter the program. Once the program starts up the phone will communicate with the factory ECU and you will be able to have complete access to trouble codes, live PID (Product Information Data) data, scope, freeze frame and monitor status.
For our purposes we found the OBD-Rx to be extremely useful for scanning trouble codes and resetting the ECU once the reason the code was captured was fixed. The OBD-Rx will also give you a brief description of each code as they appear and whether the code is pending or whether the code is a latched code.
Pending codes are in-active but the ECU is monitoring the sensor to see if the condition changes. Pending codes are not directly affecting the ECU yet but if the code changes from pending to latched the ECU will affect a change. Latched codes are codes that are active and are directly affecting the vehicle's ECU. This means there is a malfunction in either the sensor or the connection.
Along with the trouble codes, the freeze frame selection will display the condition of various sensors when the MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light) was first turned on. However, the freeze frame will only display the various sensor's condition when the MIL was activated. If the phone is equipped with a data plan and has Web access the user is able to look up codes for more in depth information on the codes.
The live PID also became extremely useful monitoring all the vehicle sensors at one time. The only drawback was the data wasn't uploaded as quickly as we would have liked. From our calculations the data was updated every 2.5 seconds. However, when the OBD-Rx is used as a playback feature, the user is able to scan (data log) a run for roughly 65 seconds. The best part about scanning a run is the ability to upload it onto the OBD-Rx server and then access the scan on the Web. The scan monitors the sensors every half second so it is considerably faster than the live PID data.
Our OBD-Rx was also used extensively to check the readiness status (monitor status) of the ECU. As many of you may not know, all OBD II equipped vehicles communicate with the smog machine prior to the smog test. If the ECU readiness status is not complete the technician can not perform the test. For our 240SX the smog machine checks the readiness status of the EVAP, EGR, O2 sensor, O2 sensor heater and catalyst. Of the five sensors three of them have to be cleared before the vehicle is able to perform a smog test.
The readiness status does not have anything to do with the check engine light. As we found out the hard way on our 240SX; we needed three attempts at the smog station before we passed the smog test. We had to make sure the readiness status of the 240SX was complete before we were able to smog the vehicle.
In the two weeks we have owned the OBD-Rx it has been used over a dozen times on four different vehicles checking diagnostic codes, live PID data, freeze Frame and monitor status for OBD readiness. The OBD-Rx is an invaluable tool and every car enthusiasts should have one in their tool box.
As cars become more complex fixing them without on-board diagnostics may soon be impossible . The OBD-Rx is one way to get the data you need quickly and if you need to call for help your cell phone will be at the ready.