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What is OBD-1 and OBD-2 and how does it apply to my transmission?

May 23rd, 2009

Brian, the founder of GotTransmission.com is a sponge when it comes to knowledge. He asked me what is a diagnostic link connector? And I was happy to oblige!!

The ALCL link (Assembly Line Communications Link). Or more commonly referred to as a DLC (Diagnostic Link Connector).

All OBD-1 and OBD-2 cars, although the OBD-2 connector has to be located in the passenger compartment next to the steering post, easily accessible from the driver’s seat. You will most likely find the connector right below the steering column!

Legally, the connector OBD-2 must be located within three feet of the driver and not require tools to be accessed. Check under dash and behind ashtrays.

On-Board Diagnostics, or OBD-1, in an automotive reference to a generic term referring to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting ability. OBD-1 systems give the vehicle owner or a qualified repair technician access to state how healthy various vehicle sub-systems are.

Using a scan tool, or scanner, the amount of diagnostic information available by OBD-1 has become more and more technologically advanced since the introduction in the early 1980s of on-board vehicle computers. Early instances of OBD-1 would simply illuminate a malfunction indicator light, or MIL, if a problem was detected—but would not provide any information as to the nature of the problem.

Modern OBD-11 systems use a standardized digital communications port to provide real time data in addition to diagnostic trouble codes, or DTCs, which allow one to rapidly identify and remedy malfunctions within the vehicle.

All cars built since January 1, 1996 have OBD-II systems. Variations actually were put in use in isolated cases in 1994. OBD-II signals are most often sought in response to a “Check Engine Light” appearing on the dashboard or drive ability problems experienced with the vehicle. The data provided by OBD-II can often pinpoint the specific component that has malfunctioned, saving substantial time and cost compared to guess-and-replace repairs. OBD-II signals can also provide valuable information on the condition of a used cars transmission health before purchase.

With the advent of OBD-11, the actual DLC became standardized on autos manufactured world wide. The beauty of this is that all OBD-2 DLC’s have the same connector, meaning the scan tool does not need a prioritized DLC connector for each brand of car, as we did and still do on Pre-OBD-2 cars. OBD-1 requires a different connector for every make of car, which really adds up since there are more than 20 connectors available.

I have talked about hand held code readers and affordable scan tool for home use. A full blown professional scan tool that pinpoints problems and then helps run through series of tests to diagnose the problem can cost from $4000.00 bucks up to over $10000.00. Not a realistic tool for the homeowner. Without even mentioning the training and time and practice a mechanic needs in order to effectively use it.

The point we want to make in our GotTransmissions.com Blog post today is that if the engine light turns on, get it checked ASAP. You may actually have a transmission problem, since this lite is also hooked to the transmission, in essence. Saving money is having your vehicle scanned before any repair work is done. The old days of replacing parts until the problem is solved is more expensive with the introduction of expensive electronic components, such as computers.

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