Why do I need an OBD2 device to see what's wrong with my car?

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
6,336
It's 2022 and neither of my vehicles even have real gauges. On both, the whole instrument cluster is just a flatscreen TV with gauge animations. I can customize them, configure my instrument display (more or less) how I like it. Very cool. So why the hell is my check engine light still just a light (cluster of pixels)? Why do I have to purchase some 3rd party device of empirically discovered compatibility and connect it to a hidden port in an inconvenient location to (hopefully) find out why the light is on? It would require an infinitesimal amount of effort on the part of the manufacturer to add a little text label under the MIL icon to display the 5-character code(s). If they wanted to take it a tiny step further there could be a scrolling text description of the code along the bottom or top of the screen. And if they wanted to really go wild, they could add an feature to display (on the radio, or the dash) what the code means and its severity: ["Engine oil dangerously low - Pull over and shut off engine to prevent catastrophic damage."] Vs. ["Evaporative emissions B.S. - your wife may have overfilled the gas tank and saturated the charcoal canister again, but probably your gas cap is just loose. Check it next time you get a chance."]

Except, it wouldn't give you that first warning, would it? Not unless you were driving a Mercedes or some other luxury vehicle that has an oil level sensor. And why on earth doesn't every vehicle manufactured today come with an oil level sensor? Honestly! My Lawnmower has one! My 2021 truck however, wouldn't know it was low on oil until the level dropped so far that there's nothing left to pump, so oil pressure drops. At that point the poor engine would have already been starved of lubricant and likely suffered damage.
 

Halfpint786

Joined Feb 19, 2018
94
Remember the old cadillacs? If you held two buttons on the heater control for a few seconds, the error codes would read out (i cant remember if it was on the fuel guage or the radio display).
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
6,336
So that auto manufacturers can make more money selling more autos to replace ones destroyed my (by?) your negligence?
You said your rather than people's, so I think I am meant to take that personally? I don't, because I'm not negligent, and I see your point.
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
6,336
If only EVERY CAR had a means of telling when the oil was low.....

Oh, wait, they do.
Do we have a dipsticks to check our fuel levels? Too bad; it would mean a lot more people to criticize when they run out of gas.

Most people who leak/burn oil know about it and check their dipsticks regularly. I wouldn't be surprised if there were statistics which indicate that people who have their engine damaged by low oil, are typically people who don't burn/leak oil, and developed a sudden leak from loose drain plug or a punctured oil pan.

I worked at a quick lube shop in high school and got to see on a few occasions what happens when a drunk/stoned lube monkey strips out an oil plug or doesn't screw a filter all the way on. One guy's engine seized up so quickly he didn't even get a mile from the shop and came back on foot. I guess he should have gotten out at the first red light and checked his dipstick. And the light after that one. And every light he ever stops at. Because that makes way more sense than installing a simple level sensor.
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
6,336
Remember the old cadillacs? If you held two buttons on the heater control for a few seconds, the error codes would read out (i cant remember if it was on the fuel guage or the radio display).
No I never had one but I remember the old Chevys where if you crammed a paperclip into the OBD1 port in just the right spot and managed not to blow any fuses it would tap out the error in morse code with the check engine light.
 

Thread Starter

strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
6,336
I have a Bluetooth OBD2 in the DIAG port all the time and a cell-phone with a 'free' OBD2 code app. Problem solved.
I have one too, it's not a big deal for me. "Problem solved," sure, but there shouldn't be a problem in need of a solution.

P.S. it isn't completely safe to drive around with a bluetooth dongle in your OBD port. Especially the cheap Amazon ones. Practically zero security and cars are a target for hackers these days. I don't know if it can be used to disable locks and alarms if you leave it in while parked, but I wouldn't be surprised.

https://hackaday.com/2017/04/14/obd-ii-dongle-attack-stopping-a-moving-car-via-bluetooth/
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
10,683
I have one too, it's not a big deal for me. "Problem solved," sure, but there shouldn't be a problem in need of a solution.

P.S. it isn't completely safe to drive around with a bluetooth dongle in your OBD port. Especially the cheap Amazon ones. Practically zero security and cars are a target for hackers these days. I don't know if it can be used to disable locks and alarms if you leave it in while parked, but I wouldn't be surprised.

https://hackaday.com/2017/04/14/obd-ii-dongle-attack-stopping-a-moving-car-via-bluetooth/
Not really worried, they are too busy stealing whole cars with a USB cable and a screwdriver.

https://www.thedrive.com/news/how-thieves-are-stealing-hyundais-and-kias-with-just-a-usb-cable
https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/...unty-over-tiktok-car-theft-challenge/2991484/

Kia and Hyundai Face Class-Action Lawsuit in Orange County Over TikTok Car Theft Challenge
The TikTok video showed viewers how to hotwire a Kia using a USB cord and a screwdriver. When that video went viral, reports of stolen Kias and Hyundais soared.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
27,679
Not really worried, they are too busy stealing whole cars with a USB cable and a screwdriver.
My minivan parked in a university parking lot was broken into and stolen with a screwdriver.
It is a long funny story but the short version is the security cameras show the minivan parked, then gone, then returned to another parking spot. Another car was stolen in its place.

It was the first hot scorcher in July and I knew my A/C was not working. The auto thieves found it too hot to handle and returned it for an exchange.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
4,491
Back in the day... You could tell the relative condition of a vehicle's engine by its exhaust smoke or the smoke coming from the crankcase breather (often the oil filler plug). It was also de rigeuer to check the dip stick EVERY time you fueled the vehicle (or per mil spec before starting it). Now... Mechanics don't know what to do without an error code and I get completely lost under the hood with all the hoses and wires going everywhere. Even my 69 Camaro came with an air compressor to inject air into the exhaust to meet emission standards as did my 85 Bronco. Quick way to cut down on harmful exhaust emissions. PCV valves even preceded that.
 
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