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Connecting and preparing for an On Board Diagnostic11 (2) test

• Getting started and receiving a link error or N/A message on the scanner:

A communications error occurs if the scanner fails to link with the vehicle’s main engine
control unit called the Powertrain. The scanner will then show a “link error” message.

Have you made sure that the vehicle to be scanned has OBD11 installed?
OBD11 was only compulsory in vehicles made for sale in the USA from 1996, petrol
vehicles made for the European market from 2001 and diesel vehicles made for sale in
Europe from 2004.

Vehicles made from the above dates are almost certain to have OBD11; however, some
manufacturers installed OBD11 in vehicles for the European market up to 4 or even
more years before the above dates in anticipation of the new legal requirement.
Ford is perhaps an exceptional example since it installed the OBD2 system in some
cars as early as 1997 in the UK. The point is, a vehicle made before the system became
compulsory in Europe may still be fitted with OBD11. However, whilst some of these
earlier vehicles may have the current standard 16 pin OBD11 socket, the sockets are
not always wired up for OBD11 in which case a link error message will appear on the

• Proceed as follows:

(1) Make sure that the scanner plug is firmly pushed into the vehicle OBD 16 pin port
known as the data link connector (DLC)

(2) Check that the vehicle ignition is switched on and the scanner is switched on

(3) If a link problem persists, turn off the ignition, disconnect the scanner and wait 10
seconds. Reconnect the scanner, switch on the scanner and the vehicle ignition
and restart the test.

(4) If the vehicle tested is definitely OBD11 and there is still no link between the
scanner and the vehicle control unit (Powertrain) the control unit or its wiring in
the vehicle may be defective. Try the scanner on other OBD2 vehicles and if a
link error remains, the scanner should be returned for testing.

Standard OBD11 diagnostic connector (DLC) in the vehicle
Plug the scanner into the 16 pin Data Link Connector to the Powertrain Control

• Linking with OBD 11 monitored systems

Modern vehicles diagnose their own faults. OBD11 is a self diagnostic system in
vehicles. Faults in the vehicle are registered by various electronic monitors and stored
in the vehicle main engine control unit (ECU) called the Powertrain or computer.
The fewer the number of monitors in the system, as in older vehicles, the less
information is recorded in the vehicles own diagnostic system for retrieval. The more
modern the vehicle, the more monitoring is undertaken by the vehicle OBD which allows
more recording of data in the system.
When the scanner is plugged in, it links to the vehicle OBD11 system and retrieves
whatever engine performance data is stored in the ECU by the vehicle OBD in the form
of diagnostic codes. Where no engine fault codes are found, it means there are no fault
codes stored in the ECU.The scope of OBD monitoring varies between vehicles. Apart
from those emissions components which have to be compulsory monitored in all
vehicles by law, manufacturers vary OBD11 systems monitoring in their vehicles. Some
manufacturers systems have less monitoring functions than others, purely for cost
reasons, whilst others, such as Ford, in the modern Mondeo have state of the art on
board diagnostic systems covering practically everything on more than 50 key
A monitor status of "N/A'' on the scanner does not mean the scanner is incompatible
with the vehicle, it simply means that the test is not applicable because the OBD in the
vehicle does not monitor the component/s the scanner is trying to check. Therefore, no
information is stored in the ECU about that component.
• Driving conditions before a scan test

• A Drive Cycle is any journey in which the engine temperature is raised from cold
(below 49° C to normal operating temperature (above 71° C).

• An OBD TRIP is a journey during which all OBD tests have been completed.

For a full test it is important to ensure the vehicle is at operating temperature before
scan testing and that the vehicle has been driven for at least 5 miles in different traffic
conditions i.e. stop/start slow/fast and not just on a straight road and air con, electric
windows, and all other electrical apparatus has been used. Ideally, the vehicle should
be driven several drive cycles i.e. warmed up driven and allowed to get cold, warmed up
driven and allowed to get cold - before testing, since some emissions related monitors
will only give readings after several cycles.

A monitor status of ''''Ready'''' on the scanner means that the required driving conditions
to test relevant monitors have been met and components tested have passed.
A monitor status of ''''Not Ready'''' on the scanner means that the required driving
conditions for monitor testing have not been completed or monitors failed the test.
A monitor status of ''''N/A'''' means that the vehicle does not support the monitor/s to be
scanned in the on board diagnostic test.
P1000 - Monitors Incomplete
After clearing DTCs, or a battery disconnect, for a few journeys the DTC P1000 is often found.
This is a notification that not all of the Monitors have been completed since they were cleared
and is not a fault condition. Once all of the OBD Monitors have been completed the DTC P1000
is cleared from memory.

• Various Monitors
I/M (Inspection & Maintenance) Monitors test the operation of emission-related systems
or components and detect out-of-range values. Currently there are eleven main I/M
• The I/M Monitors are:
*Misfire – *Fuel - *Comprehensive Components – *EGR/ Exhaust Gas Recirculation
*O2 Sensor Oxygen Sensor -*A/T Catalyst -*Eva Sys/Evaporative System
*HO2 Sensor Heated Oxygen Sensor -*Secondary Air monitor - *Heated Cat Heated

*A/C Referring Air Conditioning Refrigerant

• Engine Control Unit

The Powertrain Control Module is a computer that can run up to eleven test programs
(Monitors) that can be called upon separately or together, running under the direction of

Some monitors can run concurrently with others, some monitors are paused while
others run, other monitors run all the time - and the Executive manages all these.

When each monitor is run, the Executive stores the result of the test. In most cases the
Executive will not light the MIL or store a fault code unless a monitor fails a test twice in
successive OBD trips.


Diagnostic Trouble Codes are stored in the Powertrain Control Module also called the
main engine control unit (computer)

Hardware devices connected to the PCM have their own device drivers, called Smart
Drivers. These not only control the device by turning them on/off or controlling their duty
cycle (a term for a variable device that opens and closes slowly by controlled degrees)

but also tests the voltage and where applicable, the current drawn by the device. In this
way connected hardware can be checked by the PCM without the use of secondary
testing devices.

The following points are worth remembering because they have implications for trouble

What the Executive does

1. Arranges the tests so that when a test runs, every input it relies on has already
been tested.
2. Controls and coordinates the various tests (Monitors) i.e. MISFIRE,
Comprehensive Component Monitor (CCM), FUEL, CATALYST, EGR, HO2S,
3. Stores Freeze Frame data
4. Manages storage and erasure of Diagnostic Trouble Codes and MIL illumination
(where fitted.)
5. Controls and manages the On-Demand tests and Output Test Mode
6. Manages the transition from one test to another so as to minimize the effect on
the vehicle operation.
7. Stores the results of the monitors. Clearing DTCs also clears the monitor results
which results in P1000
8. Interfaces between the various monitor modes so as to provide diagnostic
information and responds to special diagnostic requests.
9. Will store a Trouble Code regardless of linked causes. For this reason a single
problem with a sensor may produce three, four or even five different DTCs.
10. If it cannot run a test it will not store a Code for a failed component. If the reason
for failure to run the test is put right, then the Executive will run the test during the
next Drive Cycle and a new DTC will result. In this case, until it is put right, a
failed component may mask another problem.
11. If the conditions for a monitor to run are not met in an OBD Trip then the test is
not run and a problem will not be identified until the next OBD Trip. This explains
why a fault condition may show itself several days after it was introduced.

(1) The EXECUTIVE does not commence any monitoring until 4 seconds
after the PCM is powered up.
(2) OBD monitoring is suspended if the battery voltage falls below 11 volts.


Three of the procedures run continuously while the vehicle is being operated. There


These 3 monitors are running all the time that the engine is running. The CCM is
constantly checking the components and making sure that they are functioning well
enough to provide test data for the other monitors. The Misfire Monitor is constantly
protecting the Catalysts from damage caused by unburnt fuel, while the Fuel Monitor is
controlling the fuel mixture, switching it slightly lean and then slightly rich of Lamda
(Closed Loop) and commences this 90 seconds after starting from cold.

NOTE: Although the FUEL Monitor is running all the time this does not mean that the
fuelling is in closed loop all of the time.


The remaining Monitors are run once in an OBD Cycle (a 'Trip'). The information on
each monitor shows how long the test is run and what circumstances or criteria the test


The entire purpose of the OBD system is the control and reduction of pollutants: the two
gases Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Nitrous Oxide (NOx), and unburnt Hydrocarbons
(HC). The absolute imperative for the OBD is to control these substances within fine
limits and to protect the catalyst(s) from damage. Keep it in mind that the OBD system
will sacrifice engine performance in order to achieve this.

OBD11 triggers the engine warning light (MIL) when a failing component is detected or
a component has stopped working. The warning light does not always signify a serious
problem since anything that causes hydrocarbon emissions to exceed the legal limit by
just 1.5 times will trigger the light and there will be no noticeable difference in the way
that the car drives. It is known that damp weather and even a loose or badly fitting petrol
cap can trigger the engine warning light.

A misfire will cause the Check Engine light to flash while the misfire is occurring. A
misfire that occurs in a given cylinder will also set a P030X trouble code where "X" will
be the number of the cylinder that is misfiring. For example, a P0302 trouble code would

tell you cylinder number two is misfiring. It should be remembered that the trouble code
alone does not tell you why the cylinder is misfiring. It’s necessary in this example to
conduct further investigation to ascertain the cause. The misfire that is causing the code
to set may be due to a fouled spark plug, a bad plug wire, a defective ignition coil in a
DIS system, a clogged or dead fuel injector or a loss of compression due to a leaky
exhaust valve, leaky head gasket or worn cam lobe.

OBD II monitors catalytic converter operating efficiency with a second oxygen sensor in
the tailpipe behind the converter. By comparing upstream and downstream O2 sensor
readings, it can determine how well the converter is doing its job. If converter efficiency
drops below a certain threshold, OBD II will set a diagnostic trouble code and turn on
the Check Engine light.

OBD II can detect fuel vapor leaks (evaporative emissions) in the charcoal canister,
evap plumbing or fuel tank by pressurizing or pulling a vacuum on the fuel system. If the
fuel cap is loose or missing, it will detect it, set a diagnostic trouble code and turn on the
Check Engine light.

In addition, OBD II can also generate trouble codes for various electronic transmission
problems, air conditioning failures, such as a compressor failure, central locking, air
bag, abs and many other components outside of the engine. Separate tools will be
required to test and diagnose these other vehicle systems because engine fault code
readers and scanners are designed to work only on the engine.

• WIRING LOOMS and electrical parts under the bonnet

OBD and the Comprehensive Components Monitor are only as good as the
hardware. If the engine wiring looms or the wiring looms for the ECU or the
component monitors are faulty, then spurious and confusing DTCs can be
generated. Wiring looms in some vehicles can be susceptible to damp, which
both corrodes the copper conductor through and causes shorts, and causes
ghost signals which the Powertrain Control Module can interpret as out of range
errors. If the engine warning light goes on because the wiring loom or electical
components under the bonnet are damp, when they dry out the engine warning
light may go out at the same time with no codes stored. Alternatively, it may
cause component fault codes to be stored in the ECU. If so, they can be erased.

• Wiring loom failure can be suspected in the following cases,


Different fault codes suggest non-connected codes for different sensors all at the same

When the fault codes are erased they are replaced with different ones

Fault codes multiplying in wet weather or after the car is washed

Other symptoms appear, eg battery draining overnight, O/D light flashing haphazardly
and clearing, radiator fans running on, engine failing to start unexpectedly with good

In the case of these symptoms the engine and ECU wiring looms should be inspected
carefully for signs of shorting. Strip back the covering tape and inspect the thin-wall
insulation for cracking, Verdigris (copper corrosion) and shorting. In addition, the battery
cover is there to protect the Auxiliary fuse box and relays from water ingress. If they
become damp they can cause relays to energise at inappropriate times and permit
water access to the ECU loom underneath with serious results.

Finally, OBD11 can register and store many thousands of “generic” codes. These codes
are the same for all vehicles and are required by law but in addition, OBD11 can also
register and store manufacturers “enhanced” or “specific codes” which are unique to
their specific vehicles. As already mentioned, these specific codes will cover various
systems outside of the engine, such as, ABS, Air Bags, Central Locking, and Air Con
etc but they will almost always require separate diagnostic tools to test and reset them
since engine system code readers and scanners, with a few quite expensive
exceptions, can only read diagnostic data stored for engine components and reset
engine management systems. There is no single diagnostic tool that does all systems in
all vehicles.

*Please read the product handbook for detailed instructions on use