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What Are The Differences Between OBD1 And OBD2? [Infographic]

Mike Cross
Updated Oct 31, 2017
What is different between obd1 vs obd2

The original concept was so simple. The auto industry throught, ‘Why don’t we create a diagnostic scanning device that can monitor the different parts of a car?’

With that, OBD scanners were born.

Over the years they have evolved to meet different regulations and test varying parts of the car, both remotely and from within.


What is different between obd1 vs obd2

What is different between obd1 vs obd2

Let’s take a look at the difference between OBD1 and OBD2 scanners, and why each one has its specific place in the field.

Evolution of OBD scanners

All vehicle owners want to know that their car is running correctly.

There are distinctive components that need monitoring, and a specific end goal for each.

Because of the guidelines that have been set by government and industry, the monitoring system has, for the most part, become streamlined.

The two most imperative demonstrative frameworks that have been set up to monitor performance are called OBD1 and OBD2 scanners.

The primary distinction between them is that OBD1 was the pioneer framework and was not actualized legitimately by the industry.

The OBD2 scanner is much more progressed, and often utilized more high-performance checks  It provides more detailed results in a wider range of categories than the OBD1 because it was basically designed to fill the gaps that the OBD1 missed.

Specifics Of The OBD1

OBD1 is the original diagnostics monitor.

obd 1 bluetooth adapter

obd 1 bluetooth adapter

When it comes to monitoring emissions and monitoring the parts of the car that produce emissions, the OBD1 has got it down to a science.

Historically, this device has been utilized with an emphasis on control in the outflows that the vehicle is delivering, and its abilities generally don’t stretch much beyond those.

The OBD1 was the industry’s first attempt to provide streamlined focus on the capacity of the car to manage progressions occurring in operation, and compare them with what they would read in an optimized situation.

It permits mechanics (whether pro or of the at-home variety) to check the vehicle's subsystems. The measure of the discharges and the different variables it monitors have continued changing with time, in many ways making this scanner less effective. However, OBDI was and still is a standard bearer that set the tone for for vehicle monitoring across the country.

The OBD1 scanner originally monitored every one of the vehicles scanned in California back in 1991. Its authority has since dwindled as competitors and updated versions (the OBD2) have hit the market. Its essential capacity was to ensure that mechanics and anyone working on the assembly line are following a standardized monitoring system.

Internationally, the US leadership in auto manufacturing has been the major influencer in industry standards. OBD1 was built to meet these standards, but as countries like China see more individual auto owners and set their own standards, the OBD1 isn’t always up to the task. Enter the OBD2. Let using best obd2 scanner to know more. 

Specifics of the OBD2

At the point when the primary US framework for monitoring flopped, the industry decided it needed an updated diagnostics scanner.

They began working on the OBD2, planned when the OBD1 and OBD1.5 neglected meet the needs of even basic monitoring.

Globally, cars were becoming more efficient, being built with more modern parts, and sold to people with a number of different priorities and standards. Diagnostics monitoring progressed in a way that more things could be tested to meet modern requirements. 

The OBD2 helped in checking data on more vehicles and became the most proficient method to interpret specific information for each part of the car.

This product was known as the second era framework and started working in 1996, five years after the principal framework. OBD2 streamline everything in ways that OBD1 couldn’t do. The instruments were connected with the gadget to make it simple for mechanics and vehicle owners to interpret what they were reading.

The codes are comprised of letters in order first and foremost and followed by four numbers. The letter B, for instance, is utilized for body though P remains for the powertrain.

The second digit tells what the error is. This digit is specifically interpreted to mean one thing, and a smart mechanic will understand what needs to be done at this point.

Sensor and actuator circuits are closely monitored by the OBD2, much moreso that with the OBD1.

More issues can be displayed in the reading than with the OBD1.

Differences Between OBD1 and OBD2

Even to this day, ‘What is the difference between OBD1 and OBD2’ is one of the most common questions surrounding automobiles. Here are a few of the biggest differences between the two:

OBD1s don’t  go as in-depth as the OBD2s. The system of the ladder model notes different scenarios and problems that the OBD1 never would have picked up.

OBD1 could not be used globally on all different types of vehicles. The situation in California, for example, could not have been replicated across all countries or even all US states. Many companies developed their own emissions controls. OBD2 streamlined all of these, and it much easier to use at scale.

The instructions for OBD1 are written in CEL and SES. OBD2 displays an alphabet followed by four numerical digits.

What Type Of OBD Is My Car? Is My Car Obd 1 or Obd-ii?

What Type Of OBD Is My Car
What Type Of OBD Is My Car?

Your car’s OBD, or On-Board Diagnostic, is the computer in charge of monitoring your engine for any abnormalities or malfunctions. It’s what detects problems and triggers the check engine light and other notifications on your dashboard.

Although OBD1 and OBD2 do the same thing, there are some differences between the two. Most importantly, the interface on each one is different. OBD1 has an interface that is specific to each manufacturer while OBD2 has a universal interface, making it easier to connect to OBD2 to communicate with the diagnostic system. OBD2 is also more advanced and car run more diagnostics on your car. 

You may be wondering, “how do I know what type of OBD is my car? Ir my car OBD1 or OBD1?”

Well there are a few different ways to determine this. One of the main ways to know if your car is OBD1 or OBD2 is by the year that it was manufactured. Starting in 1996 OBD2 was required to be used by all manufacturers. So if your car is from before 1995 or older, it most likely has an OBD1. However, some manufacturers started complying with this mandate in 1995, so if it was manufactured in ’95 there’s a chance it’s OBD2.

If you have a car manufactured in 1996 or later, it definitely has an OBD2 so you’ll need an OBD2 scan tool to communicate with the diagnostic system of the car. Because OBD1 wasn’t standardized, OBD1 scan tools usually only work for a specific make and model. So the type of OBD1 scan tool you’ll need may vary. Whereas OBD2 scan tools can be used on any car that is OBD2.

You can also tell by looking at the interface system what type of OBD your car is. OBD1 interfaces vary and are not the same across the board. The standard OBD2 interface is a 16-pin connector. OBD2 interfaces are all the same, so if the interface has the 16-pin connector, then your car is OBD2. If it looks different, your car is OBD1.

The OBD interface is typically located somewhere on the dashboard of your car. The make and model of your car will affect where the interface is. Most often, the interface is located just left of the steering wheel underneath the dashboard. Sometimes it’s behind a latch or in a compartment but you shouldn’t need any special tools to access the interface. Occasionally it is located in the glove box or near the gearshift.

You can also tell whether your car is OBD1 or OBD2 by looking under the hood. Your car should have a label the states whether it is OBD1 or OBD2 certified. It also states in the car’s owners manual if it is OBD1 or OBD2.

There are a few different ways to tell what OBD your car is. The easiest way to know is to determine when your car was manufactured and go from there. Newer cars, manufactured after 1996, will definitely be OBD2.

Will OBD2 read OBD1?

What Type Of OBD Is My Car Is My Car obd1 or obd2?
Will OBD2 read OBD1

If you have an OBD2 scanning tool you may be wondering if OBD2 will read OBD1 cars? The answer to this isn’t necessarily a simple yes or no. OBd1 and OBD2 diagnostic systems are very different and because OBD1 and OBD2 have different interfaces, you can’t just hook an OBD2 scanner up to an OBD1.

However, if you have an OBD2 scanner you can buy an adapter cable that will allow you to hook up your OBD2 scan tool to an OBD1 interface. This adapter is usually an additional cost but it is a good option to have because then you don’t need multiple scan tools for different cars. But, even though you can get this adapter it’s important to know that you still may not be able to read all of the diagnostics because the computer program is different for OBD1 versus OBD2. And you won’t be able to communicate with the system properly so you may not get completely accurate information

So while you technically can hook up an OBD2 to an OBD1 if you have the right adapter, it still may not work for you. The best thing to do if you want to read an OBD1 is to get a specific OBD1 scanner tool. And likely you’ll either need one that comes with different interface attachments or you’ll need to buy the scan tool that matches your car’s interface because OBD1 interfaces weren’t standardized and are usually different from one car make and model to the next. This can make it a little more difficult to find the right OBD1 scanner, but a lot of models have come out that allow you to hook it up to any OBD1 interface.

This can be frustrating though because OBD1 scan tools are not as easy to come by as they are generally for older cars. However you can usually still find them on the internet or at your local car parts store, you may just have to do a little more hunting to find them. OBD2 scan tools are much easier to find because they are the standard for all vehicles made after 1996.

If you have an OBD2 car and an OBD1 scan tool the same is true, you can find an adapter that will allow you to plug it into the interface. Again, this may not be the ideal solution as you might not be able to read all of the diagnostics using that tool.

So the real answer is that if you have and OBD1 then you really need to get an OBD1 scanning tool to properly be able to connect it to your car and communicate with your car’s diagnostics. It is more of a hassle, especially if you already have an OBD2 scanning tool, but it’s the best way to get the most accurate diagnostic information from your car. And, of course, if you have an OBD2 then you’ll want an OBD2 scanning tool to read it.

Do All Vehicles Have an OBD System

Although vehicles made today do have an OBD system, because this type of system was not always available and used, not all cars have it. Depending on the year that your car was made, yours might not be in the group that was required to have it.

The OBD systems were created and used for many years, but most cars did not utilize this system until it was made mandatory as a way to standardize trouble codes and making all connectors under the dashboard the same. This made it easy to switch out the connectors and tell what was going wrong with the car in a way that many automakers and mechanics found useful.

OBD was the original system that was put out into the automotive world in the sixties, and OBD II was made later on. It was introduced and made mandatory for all manufactured vehicles in the year 1996. After that year, any vehicles that were sold in America had to have the OBD II system. This made it much easier to tell what was happening within the vehicle and diagnose the issue sooner.

However, just because trouble codes were standardized doesn't mean that reading these codes were easy for consumers. Some of them are made for a specific brand and require the use of a special tool to read the codes. This also ensures that drivers of those brands of vehicles will need to take their vehicle to a professional mechanic or the dealership who has one of these tools.

For customers who prefer to purchase their cars from Japan, or those made and manufactured in the Japanese market, they will not find the use of the OBD system in these vehicles. Though cars that are made in Japan for the North American market do include this system, it is not mandatory in Japan.

So, depending on the car that you purchase, you may not buy one that comes with this OBD system as others might. European manufactured vehicles also did not require the OBD system in them. However, in 2001, this changed and manufacturers began producing cars with this system included.

Because of this semi-recent change, like American vehicles, a large portion of vehicles will have it. But there will still be plenty of used vehicles that have not utilized this system. Depending on the make and model of your particular vehicle, you might have an older car that doesn’t come with the OBD system, even if it may seem like it is new enough to have it.

The OBD system is used widely, but with the implementation of the OBD II system, this has become the standard. This system is able to turn on the Check Engine light before you have a failure, and also monitors emissions, unlike the OBD I.

With a recent push for less environmental impact from driving, using the OBD II systems allows you to not only be alerted to an issue with your vehicle but can make controlling your emissions much easier.

[Infographic ]What Are The Differences Between OBD1 And OBD2



With time, all industries progress.

The automotive industry perhaps demonstrates this more than most others, and the evolution of the OBD2 scanner to fix the holes left by the OBD1 is all the proof you need to verify this.

We’re in a good spot for testing since 1996. But as electric vehicles become more and more common, and gas-powered cars continue to be more efficient, changes may eventually need to be made to the OBD2.

Hopefully, OBD2s will continue to be the standard bearer and will be implemented in an evolving industry.

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this article. If so, please give it a share on social media because we all know how uneducated many people are when it comes to the automotive industry.

What are your thoughts on testing electric vehicles? Go ahead and leave a comment if you’d like, we’re interested in hearing where you think the industry is headed.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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2 comments on “What Are The Differences Between OBD1 And OBD2? [Infographic]”

  1. i have a Nissan tiida 2008 model a/t. I connect the obd 2 Bluetooth device ,so it connected to the ecu ,but ecu reports no supported sensors,please tell some suggestion I want to see all readings.

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