Can OBD2 Scanner Read OBD1 Codes – 2023

There are a lot of things that can go wrong when it comes to things like vehicles. With so many working parts, it is important to keep up on the maintenance, and one of the ways mechanics do this is by utilizing the OBD scan tool. These are onboard diagnostic tools that use the vehicle’s electrical system to pull up codes that could be affecting the car’s performance.

Through the last few decades, these machines have changed along with the vehicles they are used in. The very first one was crafted in the 1960s, and as the automotive industry advanced along with the rest of the technology, so did the OBD devices.

The two main types of code readers are the OBDI and OBDII. But what are the differences? And can one use it to read codes for the other? In this article, we will answer these questions and much more.

Hopefully, when you are done reading this, you will have a better understanding of the devices and what they can do to help you with your car maintenance. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the answer to the question of can OBD2 scanner read OBD1 codes.


OBD1 vs OBD2 – What is the Difference?

When it comes to what is different between these two devices, it really boils down to the compliant vehicles that the devices are used on and how much data they retrieve for these cars. Along with these, each of these devices utilizes a different machine to read that data.

But let’s look at each one in a more in-depth way, so you have the full understanding of each before we carry on.

OBD1 Scanner

When your check engine light comes on, it can be pretty scary. After all, engine performance issues can cost a pretty penny if not taken care of. This is why in the early 1990s, the automotive industry began to require all cars manufactured in the US to have the ability to utilize these diagnostic systems.

But even with the industries focusing on these systems so that they could be better equipped or monitor emission issues and other automotive systems, there was no one regulating the diagnostic trouble codes. This is why eventually, the OBDI became a universal system so that there was some sort of standard when it came to these tools.

With more and more advanced features becoming available on cars, the creation of a universal system made monitoring everything much easier. This also made it possible for any professional tech to be able to read the error codes and be able to address the issues.

As the vehicles became more technologically advanced, the OBDI’s ability to monitor general engine, emissions, and fuel system issues needed an upgrade to include newer models and address any compatibility issues.

OBD2 Scanner

OBD2 scan tools took everything learned from the original system and created a truly universal system. It also came with a code definition guidebook that had a broader item description when it came to these fault codes. In the mid-1990s, the OBD2 scanner took over from the early version and was able to be used on every vehicle that came off the assembly lines.

The amazing thing about these scanners is that most are backward compatible and able to read the check engine codes and the data they give, even from the OBD1 scanners. But unlike the early models, the newer scanners like the INNOVA OBD2 scanner can relay much more data, and that can be pretty beneficial when it comes to ensuring that your vehicle is running at its optimal performance levels.

Can OBD2 Scanner Read OBD1 Codes

Types of OBDs

Though there are two main types of OBD scanners, there are many models housed within each category. With so many options, these tools are more readily available. Even the models at the lowest price have amazing features.

The least expensive of the options is the basic model. You can find these at any store that has an automotive department. If you are looking to have one in your home garage, this may be the best option for you. These tools will often display the code from an LCD screen and offer you all the standard codes you might need to diagnose your vehicle’s issues.

There is also the DIY version of the tool. However, though they are a good tool, they often do not have any more abilities than the basic, and their price tag tends to be a bit steeper. The last option is professional-grade scan tools. These tools are way more advanced and will cost quite a bit of money because of their enhanced abilities.

These OBD scanners will come with systems that can diagnose more advanced systems like ABS issues, battery issues, and fuel pressure issues. They also come with a more comprehensive buying guide and how-to guides when it comes to upgrading their systems.

Understanding the different types of OBDs you have available to you will help you choose the option that works the best for your needs. If you are a hobbyist and just want something that offers minimal options, then the basic one is the way to go. But if you are opening up a professional service, you might want to invest a bit more money and opt for a professional system.

Port Connections – Available Types

We have looked at the main types and models. But there are also different ports that we should look at as well. When it comes to connecting your OBD scanner, you will find two different ports.

The first option is a hardwired link. This is the older variation and may well be the most reliable of the two options. When you connect something physically into a port, it will always be more reliable than a digital signal. The cord allows for the data to be sent to the unit’s LCD screen and pulls up all fault codes. So the mechanic can quickly address them, no matter if they are SRS codes or ABS codes, or something else.

The connector adapter cable is inserted into the port under the vehicle’s dash. Then the physical cord then sends the data to the machine’s computer. As Wi-Fi has become more commonplace, it was only a matter of time before OBD scanners caught up with it. There are now wireless options. You no longer need to use something like a 16 PIN diagnostic adapter cable to retrieve your fault codes.

These OBD scanners can use various techniques. Bluetooth technology, smartphone apps, and Wi-Fi to send the data retrieved from the car’s computer to the system for diagnosis. Whether you choose to use a Bluetooth or smartphone app, the process is basically the same. Each of these systems turns whatever handheld computer you have into the diagnostic reader for the codes.

In fact, there are many of these new styles of OBD scanners you can use in multiple formats. This makes them much more useful and portable as well. That is why many mechanics and hobbyists alike opt to upgrade to these systems because they are easily used anywhere.

Final Thoughts

Onboard diagnostic tools are useful when it comes to maintaining the optimal performance of your vehicle. There were many years of a non-universal system that can reign in the emissions and other safety precautions. Later, the ECU opted to create a universal system.

These codes allow OBD scanners to be able to communicate with the car’s computer. They then bring up codes that will help diagnose the car’s issues in a better way. Through the last few decades, the systems have changed so much. There had to be some advancements in these tools. And that is why many people wonder if OBD2 scanners are able to read the data from OBD1s.

No matter which model you choose to invest your money in, the answer to that question is yes. Most will be able to read that data. They will also allow you to access even more data. And that ensures you have a car running at its best.

There are many different types of models. But all will give you access to the same basic codes and improve your ability to fix issues that crop up. We hope that this quick piece has helped you understand OBD scanners. and which one will be the best for your automotive diagnosis needs. is a participant of the Amazon Affiliate program. We may earn a small commission if you purchase through our recommended links. More details.

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