The ELM327 USB Adapter can be used to connect your vehicle to your laptop or (maybe a little inconvenient) desktop computer. The adapter is equipped to receive real-time information from your vehicles ECU (Electronic Control Unit or Computer) and display it in a graphical user interface, most likely on your Windows platform.
Please note that if you do not want to use USB cables to connect your vehicle to your laptop you can use an ELM327 Bluetooth device paired with a wireless USB Bluetooth radio adapter to achieve the same effect.
USB Cable Reach
The ELM327 USB cable length is 4.5 feet which offers you some wiggle room but will likely not allow you to diagnose a vehicle outside of the car. In order to increase the length of the ELM327 you can use a Male to Female USB Extension Cable which could provide up to an additional 10 feet. Any longer and the USB cable may have trouble passing data through the entire cable and to your computer. Additionally you can use an OBD-II extension cable. Extension cables can be used on both ends, with the USB and OBD-II without problems.
The USB ELM327 will work with a large number of free and paid software packages for Windows and Mac OSX. Our best recommendation for using the ELM327 is to use it in conjunction with the ScanMaster-ELM demo or Easy OBD-II. The ScanMaster-ELM demo should automatically detect the ELM327 making it the easiest to setup. If you enjoy that software package, you can update to their paid application.
The ELM327 will work with most computers or laptops that have USB ports. Software applications are provided in Windows, Mac OSX and even Linux. Although we have not tested it, you could probably connect the ELM327 to a Hybrid Tablet like the Surface Pro and use it for diagnostics. During the setup if you are using applications other than ScanMaster that do not automatically detect the COM-Port the ELM is connected to, you will likely have to monitor what port it is assigned to and select that port in the software application of your choice.
As far as vehicle compatibility goes, the ELM327 will work with any OBD-II compliant vehicles. This includes 99.9% of the makes and models that have been produced since 1996 as government regulations have made OBD-II compliance mandatory. There are a very few number of vehicles that are an exception to the means. To check if your vehicle is compliant, simply pop the hood and check for a sticker, on that sticker it should say that the vehicle is OBD-II complaint.
For compatibility with Android Smartphone and Tablets, check out the Bluetooth ELM327. For usage with iPhone and iPad you will need a Wi-Fi ELM327.
The ELM327 USB adapter is available in many online marketplaces including eBay, Amazon, NewEgg and Sears. These adapters are sold by small companies and the reliability of these adapters are sometimes hit and miss. Also, many sellers of these items do not include instructions. We would suggest for a trouble free setup and quick installation to buy an adapter directly from our store. Adapters we sell have a long time proven track record of being free from defects and include complete setup instructions.