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ELM327 OBD2 Vehicle Diagnostic Interface Setup and Software
Table of Contents
ELM327 OBD2 Diagnostic Tools
The ELM327 OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner is a tool that you plug into your vehicles OBD2 port in order to connect to the vehicles ECU and transmit diagnostic information to any number of hardware interfaces including Android Smartphones, Windows Smartphones, iPhone or iPad, Macintosh OSX Laptops or Computers, Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 Laptops and Computers and even Linux Interfaces. It’s primary functions will allow you to display current sensor data as well as read and clear trouble codes coming from the ECU.
There are three different types of ELM327 hardware interfaces available. These hardware platforms connect via Bluetooth, Wifi or USB. Some scanners may transmit data by multiple connections, such as Wifi and USB. The type of ELM327 scanner you use to connect to each interface varies, so you need to be certain the hardware you purchase is compatible with the type of interface you want to connect to.
Depending on your skill level you may choose one to connect to one interface type or another. For simplicity sake, using a smartphone can get you connected to any vehicle for diagnostics very quickly whereas using a laptop (though maybe not as convenient) will likely allow you to gather statistical data and logs with ease. Whatever type of hardware interface you choose to use with your ELM327 Diagnostic Scanner, this comprehensive guide will help you to connect to your hardware easily, from start to finish.
Quick Start Guides & Manuals
If you want to get up and running quickly, choose any of the following quick start guides to learn how to connect to your elm327 quickly. Should you run into any problems, you can reference back to this page for more information or reference the quick-start guide for trouble shooting tips.
This is not a complete list of ELM327 OBDII Software, there are many more applications as they are being developed constantly. When we find new applications, we add them. You can run searches in the Android PlayStore, iPhone App Store or Windows 8 Store to find more Apps for your smartphone or tablet. Software we specifically recommend is EasyOBD-II for Windows Laptops, Torque for Android and DashCommand for iOS.
If after connecting the ELM327 to your computer, the drivers do not install or come up with an error, you can try installing these drivers. The driver that needs to be installed depends on the manufacturer of the ELM327 that you are trying to use. Drivers may not automatically install on Windows machines if you are not connected to the internet.
Use the following reference data when selecting the right type of ELM327 OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner.
Bluetooth ELM327 OBD2 scanners use a pairing code to pair the device to your smartphone, tablet or laptop computer. Different manufacturers use different codes and some even change them from time to time. Most commonly the ELM327 adapters will use ‘0000’, ‘1234’, ‘6789’, ‘12345678’ or something similar. If the seller you purchased from did not provide you with this, you can try the numbers we provided, email the seller for help, and if they cannot help you, just return the unit and buy one out of our store. We’re not going to skimp when it comes to supply you this.
Wifi ELM327 OBD2 scanners sometimes use a code to secure the connection between your smart phone, tablet or computer and your ELM327 scanner. If it asks you for a code, enter ‘12345678’ or another combination that would be easy to remember. If you are unable to figure out the code, contact the vendor who sold you the unit.
Knowing what COM-Port your ELM327 device is connected to is important when using software that does not automatically detect the ELM327. In most cases this will occur when running Windows or OSX Freeware software. Being able to identify the correct COM Port is required, if you do not select the correct COM Port, the software will never be able to recognize your hardware. In Windows, you can find the COM number in the Device Manager control panel. The hardware can be found under the ‘Ports (COM & LPT)’ sub-menu. If you can’t find it, unplug the device and plug it back in. You can watch for the hardware to show up in real-time.
OBD2 Error codes can be used to troubleshoot problems with cars, trucks and other vehicles. These error codes are stored in the vehicles ecu (electronic control unit) and will help you to identify why a vehicles check engine light has illuminated.
The ELM327 Diagnostic Scanner will connect to all OBD2 CAN Bus Protocols including ISO15765-4 (CAN), ISO14230-4 (KWP2000), ISO9141-2, J1850 VPW, J1850 PWM.
The ELM327 diagnostic scanner is compatible with 99.9% of all vehicles that are produced after 1996 and sold within the United States. United States laws and regulations require the inclusion of OBDII ports within the vehicle.
Compatible makes include but are not limited to BMW, Mazda, Chevy, Chrysler, Nissan, Ford, Honda, Fiat, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Toyota, GM, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Lexus, Subaru, Saturn, Porsche, Volvo, Saab and Pontiac.
Some exotic vehicles or imports may not be compatible. Please be sure to check that your vehicle has an OBDII port. If you cannot find the OBDII adapter plug, check under the hood of the vehicle for a sticker noting that the vehicle is OBDII compliant.
The are generally two difference types of ELM327, one is the mini and the other is the a standard size. The mini is smaller and more compact however boasts the same performance as the standard scanner. The mini can be useful to get into tight places or just to take up less space. Since inception, the mini has reduced greatly in price and can likely be purchased for less than the standard ELM327 scanner. This is greatly due to large demand it’s smaller size which results in a reduction in shipping costs.
ELM327 OBD Interpreters have gone through several updates over the past few years. In 2010 Chinese manufacturers upgraded from the v1.4 firmware interpreter to v1.5 which worked to provide a better overall experience for users. The new v1.5 units proved to be light-years ahead in terms of reliability, being able to connect easily and maintaining connections without disruption. If you have a working version of an ELM327 v1.4 scanner and you are not experiencing any trouble, there is likely no need to upgrade. Performance differences between v1.4 and v1.5 scanners and likely not noticeable, the bulk impact of the update was in terms of reliability. New diagnostic scanners manufactured in China are being released with v2.0 and v2.1 firmware, these boast performance improvements.
The original ELM327 v1.0 did not implement copy protection and the code was copied by Chinese Manufacturers. These clone ELM327 devices have taken the marketplace by storm and since their original implementation have grown to become more and more reliable while offering outstanding performance. The code and hardware within clone ELM327 devices has been updated on several occasions in order to keep up with market demand. The clone devices continue to be the most popular and most affordable in the marketplace.
There are a few accessories that can be paired with ELM327 diagnostic scanners.
USB Bluetooth Adapters – USB Bluetooth adapters can be used to make regular laptops or desktop computers that are not otherwise Bluetooth enabled, compatible to work with ELM327 scanners. Inexpensive plug-and-play adapters that you can find in our store, on eBay, Amazon or Newegg can be used to receive a signal from a Bluetooth ELM327.
USB WiFi Adapters – USB Wifi adapters can be used to receive a signal from a Wifi enabled ELM327. These adapters are generally easy to setup (not as easy as Bluetooth) and can connect your laptop or desktop computer directly to an ELM the same way your computer would connect to any other wireless network.
USB Extension Cables – USB 2.0 and 3.0 Extension cables can be used to extend the length of a USB ELM327 diagnostic scanner. In order to maintain throughput, a cable no longer than 10 ft should be used. However, even a cable at this length with greatly extend your ability to connect your elm to a distant desktop or laptop computer.
OBDII Extension Cables – An OBDII (OBD2) Extension cable can plugged directly into your vehicle, on the other end, your ELM327 Diagnostic Tool can be connect. This can be useful when frequently connecting diagnostic tools to a vehicle or to extend the length or broadcast of the ELM327 device.
There are some common problems with ELM327 devices, the following information should help you to diagnose these.
We strive to make the information provided in this guide as complete and accurate as possible. If you have any comments about this page, if it was useful, have information you would like to see added or any other suggestions we welcome your comments below. If you found this page useful, please like and share it with your friends or give it a +1 on Reddit. Thanks!
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