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ELM327 OBD2 Vehicle Diagnostic Scanner Tool Interface Setup and Software

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ELM327 OBD2 Vehicle Diagnostic Interface Setup and Software

Table of Contents

  1. ELM327 OBD2 Diagnostic Tools
  2. Quick Start Guides & Manuals
  3. Software Downloads
  4. Drivers
  5. Interface Compatibility
  6. Bluetooth Pairing PIN Codes
  7. Wi-Fi Passwords
  8. COM Ports
  9. OBD2 Error Codes
  10. OBD2 Protocols
  11. Vehicle Compatibility
  12. Mini vs Standard ELM327's
  13. OBD Version Interpreters
  14. Clones
  15. Compatible Accessories
  16. Common Problems
  17. FAQ's
    1. My ELM327 power light is constantly flashing and I cannot connect to it by Bluetooth, what am I doing wrong?
    2. What is the difference between OBD2 and OBDII?
    3. My ELM327 is not pairing, what am I doing wrong?
    4. My ELM327 is not connecting to my iPhone, what should I do?
    5. My Wifi ELM327 is not broadcasting an SSID Signal, what’s wrong?
    6. Can I update my v1.4 Elm to v1.5 firmware?
    7. The interface is reporting that there is no response from the ecu, what do I do?
    8. How do I change the COM-Port number assigned to the device?
    9. I have paired a Bluetooth OBD-II Adapter to my computer but when I attempt to connect to the assigned COM-Port it will not connect to the interface. What do I do?
    10. Where should I buy ELM327 OBD2 Diagnostic Scanners?
  18. Other Notes

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.

Bluetooth ELM327 OBD2 Quick Start Guide Manual for Android, Windows
USB ELM327 OBD2 Quick Start Guide Manual for Windows
Wi-Fi ELM327 OBD2 Quick Start Guide Manual for Windows, iOS

Software Downloads

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.

Name Publisher Type Operating System File Size
Dash CommandPalmer Peformance Engineering, Inc.DemoAndroid22.2Mb
Dash CommandPalmer Peformance Engineering, Inc.Paid AppiOSN/A
Dash CommandPalmer Peformance Engineering, Inc.DemoWindows14.7Mb
EasyOBD-IIEasyOBDIIFreewareWindows1.47Mb
GM Mode 22 Scan ToolTerryFreewareOSX, Windows1.49Mb
MoviYhasiFreewareOSX1.49Mb
Movi ProYhasiDemoWindows1.65Mb
OBD Gauge 1.1QContinuumFreewareWindows555Kb
OBD Gauge 1.3QContinuumFreewarePocket PC466Kb
OBD Gauge 1.9QContinuumFreewarePalmOS390Kb
OBD-II Logger v1.0Jonathan SenkerikFreewarePerl (Unix, Linux)5Kb
OBD-II Logger v1.1.0Jonathan SenkerikFreewareWindows2.04Mb
OBD2Spy v4.00OBD2SpyDemoWindows5.17Mb
OBDSA ScantoolOBDSAFreewareWindows762Kb
PyOBD v0.9.2SeCons Ltd.FreewareMacOSX, Linux891Kb
RealScanThe Cold FrontFreewareWindows90Kb
ScanMaster-ELMWGSoftDemoWindows16Mb
ScanMaster-FreeWGSoftFreewareWindows770Kb
ScanXL? ProfessionalPalmer Peformance Engineering, Inc.DemoWindows25.1Mb
ScanXL? StandardPalmer Peformance Engineering, Inc.DemoWindows25.1Mb
Torque FreeIan HawkinsFree AppAndroidN/A
Torque PaidIan HawkinsPaid AppAndroidN/A
VitalScan v1.3Vital EngineeringFreewareWindows Smartphone232Kb
VitalScan v1.3Vital EngineeringFreewarePocket PC3.04Mb
VitalScan v1.3Vital EngineeringFreewarePalm321Kb
VitalScan v1.3Vital EngineeringFreewareWindows54.6Mb
wOBD Crazy v1.5.0OBD2CrazyFreewareWindows2.35Mb

Drivers

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.

Name Operating System File Size
CP210x VCP driver Windows  6.78Mb
FTDI's FT8U100AX, FT8U232AM and FT8U245AM USB controller Windows  1.02Mb
FTDI VCP Driver  OSX  420Kb
CP210x USB to UART Bridge VCP Driver  OSX  967Kb

Interface Compatibility

Use the following reference data when selecting the right type of ELM327 OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner.

Device Type Bluetooth Wi-Fi USB
Android Smartphone Yes  No No
Android Tablet Yes No No
iPhone No Yes No
iPad No Yes No
OSX Computer / Laptop Yes Yes Yes
Windows Computer / Laptop Yes Yes Yes

Bluetooth Pairing Pin Codes

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.

Wi-Fi Passwords

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.

COM Ports

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

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.

OBD2 Protocols

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.

Vehicle Compatibility

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.

Mini vs Standard ELM327's

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.

OBD Version Interpreters

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.

Clones

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.

Compatible Accessories

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.

Common Problems

There are some common problems with ELM327 devices, the following information should help you to diagnose these.

Problem Solution
ECU Connection Failed Make sure the vehicle is running or that the ignition switch is providing power to the vehicle; Make sure the ELM327 Device is connected to the interface you are using (ie. laptop or smartphone); Try connecting to another vehicle
Error Detecting OBD-II Protocol Make sure the vehicle is running or that the ignition switch is providing power to the vehicle; Make sure the ELM327 Device is connected to the interface you are using (ie. laptop or smartphone); Try connecting to another vehicle
No Connection to ECU Make sure the vehicle is running or that the ignition switch is providing power to the vehicle; Make sure the ELM327 Device is connected to the interface you are using (ie. laptop or smartphone); Try connecting to another vehicle
No Response from ECU Make sure the vehicle is running or that the ignition switch is providing power to the vehicle; Make sure the ELM327 Device is connected to the interface you are using (ie. laptop or smartphone); Try connecting to another vehicle
No Wifi SSID Make sure the vehicle is running or that the ignition switch is providing power to the vehicle; Make sure that a red light is illuminated on the ELM327; Be sure that Wi-Fi is enabled on your device (ie. laptop or smartphone)
Not Connecting Check that the vehicle has power and a red light is illuminated on the ELM327; Be sure that Bluetooth or WiFi is enabled on the receiving device (ie. laptop or smartphone)
Not Pairing Be sure that Bluetooth is Enabled and the Pairing Code is Correct
Red Light Only This is a sign that the ELM327 is receiving power; Connect to the ELM327 via Bluetooth or Wifi
Unable to Connect Be sure that the vehicle is running, a red light is illuminated on the ELM327 and that Bluetooth or WiFi is enabled on the receiving device (ie. laptop or smartphone)

FAQ’s
  • My ELM327 power light is constantly flashing and I cannot connect to it by Bluetooth, what am I doing wrong?
    The case is most likely that the ELM327 OBD2 scanner you purchased is defective. It should be exchanged for a working unit.
  • What is the difference between OBD2 and OBDII?
    None, there is no difference.
  • My ELM327 is not pairing, what am I doing wrong?
    Assuming you have a Bluetooth ELM327, you can request the pairing code from the vendor you purchased the scanner from. If it continues to refuse to pair and you have tried all of the default pairing codes ‘0000’, ‘1234’, ‘5678’, etc. We suggest to return the scanner to the vendor and purchase from another seller.
  • My ELM327 is not connecting to my iPhone, what should I do?
    Assuming you have purchased the Wifi model of the ELM327 (the Bluetooth model is not supported), you should consult the quick-setup guide that we have provided in this guide. If your elm continues to refuse to connect, consult with the corresponding trouble-shooting points in the guide and if all else fails, return the scanner to whomever you purchased from and get a scanner from a reliable seller.
  • My Wifi ELM327 is not broadcasting an SSID Signal, what’s wrong?
    This is most likely the sign of a defective unit. Contact the person you purchased it from and ask them to exchange for a tested unit or just buy from a reliable seller.
  • Can I update my v1.4 Elm to v1.5 firmware?
    There is no way to apply this sort of update, you will need to purchase a new ELM327.
  • The interface is reporting that there is no response from the ecu, what do I do?
    This is likely a sign of a defective unit. To be sure, disconnect the ELM 327 and plug it into another vehicle. If the vehicle is running and it continues to offer you trouble the part will likely need to be exchanged for a new unit.
  • How do I change the COM-Port number assigned to the device?
    Go to the Device Manager control panel and locate the OBD-II Adapter under the ‘Ports (COM & LPT)’ sub menu. It may be titled ‘USB Serial Port’, if you can’t locate it, unplug the adapter and plug it back in, you can watch it show up in real-time. Right click on the device and click ‘Properties’, click the ‘Port Settings’ tab and finally the click ‘Advanced’ button. Here you can change the COM-Port number, we suggest any COM Port between 2 and 5. Click ‘Ok’ to save your settings.
  • I have paired a Bluetooth OBD-II Adapter to my computer but when I attempt to connect to the assigned COM-Port it will not connect to the interface. What do I do?
    We suggest reinstalling the device drivers. Here is a step by step walk-through:

    These instructions are written specifically from Windows 7, if you are using a different Windows Operating System, the steps you need to take should be similar.

    1. Open the Device Manager control panel
    2. Find the COM & LPT menu and right click on the item titled ‘Standard Serial over Bluetooth link’ and select Uninstall. If there are two items, uninstall each of them.
    3. From the Bluetooth control panel, also remove the OBD-II adapter from there, right-click and remove the device.
    4. Start your vehicle, plug in the adapter and click to ‘Add a Device’ in the Bluetooth menu. It will come up and you can enter the pairing code.
    5. Let everything re-install from scratch, it might take a minute or two for the adapter to finally show up in the device manager under the COM & LPT menu. You can have that open during the entire installation to watch its progress.
    6. If the COM-Port was set 4 or similar before, it should install to the same COM-Port. We suggest using any COM 2-5. This can be changed from the properties menu.
    7. Open easy EasyOBD-II (this can be downloaded from our website) and connect to the COM-Port. The device at this point will begin to identify your scanner hardware and you are ready to ‘Go Online’ with your vehicle. If you changed the COM-Port during this process and EasyOBD-II is unable to connect to your diagnostic scanner, we suggest to conduct the reinstallation a second time starting from step one.
  • Where shoud I buy ELM327 OBD2 Diagnostic Scanners?
    ELM327 OBD2 diagnostic scanners can be purchased from sellers Amazon, eBay, Sears, NewEgg and a few other select websites. Reliability of these scanners is hit and miss as they are generally sold by small business with as few as a single person managing all operations of the business. It is important to purchase high quality diagnostic tools from sellers who understand the product and can help you get it connected from start to finish. If the seller has little to no knowledge of the product, it is suggest to not purchase from them. The reliability of these scanners can be poor and instruction to get the scanner connected can be limited. To avoid these hassles, we recommend to purchase a high quality ELM327 scanner directly from us as these scanners are generally free from faults and defects.
Other Notes

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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Jack Zielinski
19 Days Ago

When I plug the ELM 327 in the connector the red power light blinks on and off continuously and It won't link up to my bluetooth device. any suggestions?

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Nick (Admin)
19 Days Ago

The diagnostics that we sell emit a solid red color for the power led. If you are unable to see the hardware when you scan for Bluetooth signals you could try it in a different vehicle and/or with a different smartphone to see if you get the same result. If it doesn't seem to broadcast a Bluetooth signal it should be returned or exchanged.

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