Being able to monitor your car for problems can help you increase its lifespan and save yourself some money, but you should think beyond having a diagnostic tool for your car – you could seriously do with a data logger.
What, exactly, is a data logger?
This is basically a device that monitors and records parameters over time so that you can measure, analyze, and confirm various conditions in your car.
These can be highly useful for OBD2 cars. But how do they work? Let’s see what data logging is all about and why you should have one of these devices in your car maintenance arsenal.
How Do You Log Data With OBD2?
It helps to know how the OBD2 system works.
Basically, OBD2 offers a set of parameters known as PIDs that you can easily decode and record. Since OBD2 is standard in modern cars that were made in and after 1996, most cars will have these parameters.
To start logging your OBD2 data, you will have to connect an OBD2 adapter to your car and use special software to be able to access and record the data it receives.
Is OBD2 Data Logging Worth It?
If you’ve ever used an OBD2 scanner before to diagnose problems in your car, you might wonder why you would even need an OBD2 data logging device.
But this can come in very handy in a variety of ways. Let’s see some of the OBD2 data logging benefits.
It helps you to take better care of your car
While using a diagnostic tool on your car will help you find out if it has any problems that you need to fix, a data logger will help you see how well your car does over time.
There could be a rare or confusing problem that only occurs briefly but not when you test or repair the car, so it helps to have a record of data on it.
This will ensure you can better analyze what’s wrong with the car and get to the source of the problem. And, it will also give you greater peace of mind because you will have been able to do a full scan of your car.
It can help you cut costs
If you are able to monitor your car with a device such as an OBD2 data logger, this could prevent you from having to take your car to the mechanic as you will be able to diagnose any problems with the car, not just on a once-off basis but over time.
This can save you money.
You can log a variety of data
There are tons of vehicle data that you can log and it’s just waiting for you to access it! You can do that with an OBD2 logger.
Such parameters that are available include engine load, fuel system status, coolant, and intake air temperature, fuel trim and pressure, intake manifold pressure, RPM, speed, MAF air flow rate, air status, throttle position, runtime since engine start, oxygen sensor status, absolute load value, fuel tank level input, absolute load value, system vapor pressure, and hybrid battery pack life.
You can also learn the distance your car has covered with the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) on, what the engine oil temperature and engine fuel rate are, the car’s torque, its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and various diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) that will be able to inform you of where faults are located.
It’s clear to see from the above that having an OBD data logger will help you to have an even more comprehensive way of monitoring your vehicle.
What To Look For In An OBD2 Data Logger
Ready to buy an OBD2 data logger? Before you go ahead, it’s worth considering what features it should have so that you won’t be disappointed.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most important features to look for.
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): The data logger should be able to give you your vehicle’s VIN. This is important, especially if you’ve purchased your car from someone and you want to get information about the car’s history.
- Airbag Monitoring: Your airbags are such an important component in your car so you want to ensure that you buy a data logger which will be able to detect and potentially reset your airbags should problems arise.
- Trouble Code Definitions: Earlier, we mentioned that data loggers can give you lots of diagnostic trouble codes to help you identify what’s wrong with your car. But, you don’t want to log data without knowing what those trouble codes mean, so choose an OBD2 data logger that will give you those definitions without you having to look them up online.
- Real-Time Logging: This will help you gain much more information about your car’s performance and engine. It’s a fantastic way to learn about what’s happening in your vehicle immediately, whenever you’re worried about something.
- Updates: Make sure that the data logging device that you choose will be able to get updated. This will ensure that you’ll always have the latest version of the software so it won’t become outdated.
Can you access all available parameters on all OBD2-compliant vehicles?
Sadly, no and there are various reasons why. Every vehicle brand and model will have different OBD2 parameters and older cars will have less support for some, such as real-time parameters like RPM.
In addition to that, some car manufacturers restrict access to the OBD2 data.
Can you leave an OBD2 logger plugged in?
This is usually safe as long as the OBD2 connector turns off with the car’s ignition. If it doesn’t, it could potentially drain the battery when the car’s off.
Being able to identify problems in your car can save you time and money.
While you can do that with an OBD2 scanner, you should invest in an OBD2 data logger as this will give you even more features to help you learn valuable information about your car.