Difference Between OBD1 and OBD2

Have you flummoxed whether you would buy with OBD1 or OBD2? OBD stands for Onboard Diagnostics. The idea of OBD comes from hardware detection tool or troubleshooting of computer. Vehicles use the same approach to detect the engine’s problem.

Difference Between OBD1 and OBD2

Do not think OBD will define the engine’s internal details. It specifies emission-related functions. You’ll find two types of OBD. That’s why here we’ll discuss the difference between OBD1 and OBD2. The most common questions related to OBD are, how you can what type of OBD your vehicle has and which OBD scanner you will use for your vehicle. Read through the article, you’ll get every detail about OBD.

OBD: What Do OBD1 and OBD2 Stand For?

OBD stands for Onboard Diagnostics. OBD allows to user to find out any wrong in the engine. OBD find out the problem and report an issue to the user. But the confusing matter is, what is OBD1 and OBD2? When you go to buy a 2nd hand car in the shop, you will be asked about what type of OBD system you want.

OBD1 was the revolutionary technology for 90s car. On that time, OBD1 focused on some specific analysis of an engine.  The objective of OBD1 was to create a diagnostics system that would focus on the emission control system of a car. But for some reasons, it didn’t find that success.

On the contrary, OBD2 is completely an improving system of OBD1. It offers better signaling protocols and messaging formats. It gives better results than OBD1.

Differences Between OBD1 and OBD2

Here we will provide the differences between OBD1 and OBD2. You’ll get a clear idea about their use, function and nature. Also, a comparison table will be provided for even more clear knowledge.

Usefulness: The OBD1 came for the California state standard. It was popular at the early 90s to mid-90s. Though the OBD1 system came for California standard, many cars used it outside California at the early 90s.

On the contrary, OBD2 has been come not only for a state but nationwide since 1996.  The OBD2 system still being used in 2020.

Also, OBD1 was phased out when we introduced with OBD2. That means from 1996 to still we are using the OBD2 standard. It has been used in every modern car.

Features/Functions: There are few differences between OBD1 and OBD2 as both are fundamentally same. Both will offer to monitor and send useful information about car engine to the driver or mechanic. But OBD2 provides more functions than OBD1, merely an updated and upgraded version of OBD1.

Port: Probably the most significant improvement from OBD1 to OBD2 is the OBD2 port. You couldn’t use the same OBD1 scanner for different OBD1 cars. But OBD2 allows using the same scanner in different OBD2 cars.
That means OBD2 has the same port for every vehicle, which allows accurate data to every scanner. That means you can use a scanner for retrieving code from different cars which has OBD2.

Comparison Table

           OBD1               OBD2
Connection Type Connected to the console of a vehicle Remotely connected to the vehicle.
Introducing Time It is manufactured in the earlier years of the car manufacturing industry. OBD2 was introduced in the car industry in 1990.  From 1996 it has been using in every car nationwide.
Quality OBD1 has good diagnostic capabilities. It has better signalling protocols as well as messing formats. You can also read data using Bluetooth connection.
Interface One scanner for one specific one manufacturer. One scanner supports various manufacturer.

OBD1 Scanner

This diagnostic system works on cars made before 1996. The OBD1 reader‘s main functionalities are, they can use the emission system, monitor engine performance and send warning messages.

The downsides of the OBD1 scanner are, it only contains the basic information. It only tells about a problem name, but there remain no details. Although it is not a huge problem, at least you’ll know where the problem is rather than knowing what the problem is.

Another downside of the OBD1 is one scanner won’t work for two different manufacturers because OBD1 has a different port for different manufacturers. As an example, the OBD1 scanner Toyota doesn’t work on Nissan. You have to collect OBD1 scanner Nissan separately.

OBD2 Scanner

This scanner is for all the models of the car made from 1996 to now including some hybrid and electric vehicles. OBD2 not only offers basic features like OBD1 but provides advanced functions. You’ll be surprised by seeing its wide range of functions.

–Live Map, CEL, RPM, speed, Coolant Temp, Fuel.
— Live readings, battery performance, engine performance etc.
–DPF Temp, Fuel Trim, Smog Testing and Oxygen sensor.

Also, it gives some advance information. Such as

–ECU programming
— ABS, Battery information, Misfires.
— Key Cooling, Anti-brake Lock System, Air Bag Problems

Comparison Table

            OBD1 Scanner               OBD2 Scanner
Accuracy Not Good. Only shows the CEL message, no details. Excellent. Shows CEL message with code for specifying the problem.
Build For To check the older cars manufactured before 1996. To check the cars after manufactured after 1996 till now.
Offer Only basic functions It offers basic, advanced functions. Suitable for hybrid and electric cars. Computable with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Popularity Low High


  • What type of obd is my car?

It is not difficult to find what OBD is your car. If your car manufactured before 1996 or later, then it surely has the OBD2 system. OBD1 was standardized for 1990-1995. Also, you can differentiate them by looking on the interfaces. OBD2 Interfaces always provide a 16-pin connector. That’s how you can detect whether you are using obd1 and obd2 scanner.

  • Is it safe to drive during OBD plugged in?

Not safe, but it is possible. OBD scanners draw power from the vehicle’s battery. You can do it by running the ignition. But OBD can put your car in diagnostic mode during running. That can be dangerous.

Final Note

Hopefully, you have got the basic differences between them. Sometimes advanced scanning of OBD2 depends on good scanners too. That’s you should use best obd2 scanner. You don’t have to get tensed about OBD types at all unless you are going to buy second-hand vehicles because a modern vehicle is not standardize with OBD1.

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