Cheap OBD II readout method

In a recent newspaper column Ray discussed the merits of a OBD II reader. He did not mention that there is a very inexpensive way to read the codes with a smartphone. You can buy online what is called a ELM 237 for about $12 with shipping. This comes with either a WiFi or Bluetooth interface to a smartphone. You can download apps that run from free for a simple code reader to ones that read everything you can imagine for up to about $25 or so. You only have to use it once to get you money’s worth.

This looks an awful lot like spam to me.

I’ll admit I’m a little suspicious, too.

He’s not wrong… It would be useful for those trying to understand their car-problems better. I mentioned this with the actual name of the app in another post.

It doesn’t really strike me as spam. We often recommend things by brand name on this forum. It’s not like a typical sales pitch. It’s brief and to the point. Seems like it could be pretty helpful.

First time poster…and about a specific product. Very suspicious.

10:11AM He's not wrong.... It would be useful for those trying to understand their car-problems better. I mentioned this with the actual name of the app in another post.

May be useful, doesn’t mean it’s not spam.

If it’s spam, it’s really lousy spam because the device is an ELM 327, not 237. If it’s not spam, OP would have been better off calling it a “bluetooth OBD2 reader” rather than a specific manufacturer, since at that price point they’re all clones of each other and it’s somewhat of a crapshoot whether or not they’ll work due to manufacturing inconsistencies.

BTW if you get one, the Android app you want is Torque Pro.

Does that mean I’ll have to buy a smartphone? {:smiley:

Yes, and you’ll have to give up your love of the rotary dial :wink: .


Well, if you don’t have a smartphone you’ll need an android tablet.

You can always buy a smartphone without the exorbitant plans and use it as a tablet on wifi.

Yes, and you'll have to give up your love of the rotary dial

You can have both. A rotary dial app for your smart phone.

Lol. I knew someone would bring that up, @MikeInNH .

I agree with the tablet suggestion made by others - if you don’t need a smart phone, tablets can be bought cheaply ( you don’t need a good one for this application - just one that has bluetooth and wifi) and you don’t have to screw around with the phone getting upset that you don’t have a sim card for it without a service plan.

Even factoring in a $100 tablet you’ll come in under the price of a lot of dedicated OBDII scan tools.

An OBD-2 to USB cable turns any laptop into a code reader. Under $10 delivered and you are in business…

Or you could just go to a chain auto parts store like advance and borrow one from them. There is no cost at all.

Or you can ask your buds if they have any old smartphones. You can do everything but make calls, bluetooth, wireless, apps and they will probably give it to you for free.

I can get a OBDII to USB cable and a laptop for under $10 ???. Seriously, I don’t have a mobile phone and the only computer I have ever had is a 10+ year old Mac desktop,so I guess I won’t throw my code reader away.

Posters here have embedded u-tube videos showing that they use their phone to display OBD II data, and I think I’ve seen real time data like O2 sensor readings vs time shown on a phone display. Seems like an inexpensive route to a really good tool, if you could figure out how to make it work. I wouldn’t classify the post as spam. Not at all. Just someone trying to offer a possibly useful idea.

The Best of Car Talk shows we now hear are compilations from shows that were done years ago.
Whatever mention that was made of OBDII code reading devices was probably a reference to the type of readers that were on the market years ago.

I am not up to date on these devices, but it makes sense that something that connects your OBDII outlet to your computer or smart phone would be cheaper than the dedicated all-in-one devices of the past.

I’m pretty sure if you pit me and my scanner against some young punk and his app, I’ll diagnose the car WAY faster

And the young punk may not be able to diagnose it at all

You have to know what you’re looking at

You have to understand how things work

Not to mention . . . I’ll bet you lunch that app can’t do the bidirectional tests my scanner can. Or very limited, at best