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Difference Between OBD1 and OBD2

car_jetta_pdOBD1 vs OBD2

When you’re buying a vehicle, two terms that will often confuse you are OBD1 and OBD2. Naturally, these will be taken in the automotive context.

The acronym refers to On-Board Diagnostics. Basically, it defines a vehicle’s capability to diagnose, or report itself. For example, if you have a high-tech OBD system in your car, and it has a problem, the OBD system will be the one to self-diagnose, or ‘tell’ the repair technician what is wrong with the engine.

With advancements in technology, came the improvements of OBD systems, and the latest ones use a standardized digital communications port that provides real-time data. This results in faster diagnostics of a vehicle’s problem, and more efficient remedies can be provided for the problem.

Now, here’s the difference between OBD1 and OBD2. With OBD1, the goal was to develop a diagnostics system which focuses on the emission control systems of a vehicle. When it came to its effectiveness, the OBD1 was not really that successful in forcing drivers to pass the emission control system’s test.

OBD2, on the other hand, is a definite improvement to the OBD1. OBD2 has better signalling protocols and messaging formats. When used in emission control system tests, it can provide better results for a vehicle’s parameters.

Meanwhile, when considering their manufacturing dates, OBD1s were introduced long before the OBD2 models, which only started in the early 1990’s. The OBD2 is a better system, in the sense that it provides standardized trouble codes for car owners who experience engine problems.

Finally, OBD1 is typically connected to the console, so that the port can be diagnosed and data can be read. OBD2 is remotely used to diagnose ports, and reads data through a Bluetooth connection. As such, it is easier to diagnose a problem remotely if you have a car made with an OBD2 system.


1. OBD1 is connected to the console of a car, while OBD2 is remotely connected to the vehicle.

2. OBD1 was used during the earlier years of the car manufacturing industry, while OBD2 was only introduced in car models produced in the early 1990’s.

3. OBD1 has good diagnostic capabilities, while OBD2 has better signalling protocols and messaging formats.

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  1. I found on wikipedia that the OBD-II specifies a standardized hardware interface [connector] with a standardized pinout [signals] which helps a scan tool to read out the DTCs being reported [via any communication protocol like CAN]. Here in your article , you say that OBD-II reads the DTCs remotely via bluetooth. The OBD-II specifications incorporate the SAE’s standard specifications.
    So i do not agree with your information about the ‘remotely read data via bluetooth’ info.

    • Concur with Amol. There are Bluetooth readers, however these readers are 2 piece combinations. A transmitter is plugged into the ODBII port. A receiver (maybe a smartphone) provides the codes to the technician.

  2. I need to find what to do if my truck is not having any more emmissions issues but while doing its first smog check they put something that made my 1992 ford 2.3 liter obd 1 computer see two parimiters that’s only made to see on obd2 cars obd1 does not apply my driveAbility problems are corrected but now the mil light came on and wont reset due to the smog testing and what their diagnostics did caused the obd1 think on obd2 scale seeing two issues that keep my mil light confused and my truck cant pass smog due to the smog test and the computer test while they failed it 1 AND now it cant retest after I fixed the lean condition knock and exhaust leak now it runs and responds without any problems whatever they did is not allowing my mil light to reset to retest codes are 117 ect fault at ground and 542 fuel circuit ground fault circuit 1 ? the truck reads these and they do not apply at all.

  3. Can I plug a obd2 chip to a regular obd

  4. You’re missing tons of accurate information. While some of your points are valid making statements like obd2 using Bluetooth for interfacing without mentioning that is an additional aftermarket upgrade on the vast majority of obd2 equipped vehicles is just bad info.

  5. I just brought a obd2 (16 pin) HUD for my 53 plate Mondeo which has a 16 pin obd2 (as far I know) but not getting anything except voltage and it then shuts off, tried it on a 10 plate land rover it works fine. Manual says that I don’t have obd2 but plug and pins are the same. Help please

  6. Sorry but can OBD 2 work as both of OBD2 and OBD1…?

  7. Can somebody recommend what I should buy for my 03 Mitsubishi shotgun totally confused as which is the best to buy think ive got injector pump sensor problems

  8. My 1989 Sierra k2500 dhas a different plugbin than my obd 2 elm319 tester. Is there an adapter?

  9. O.K. here’s the scoop:

    1. OBD. This means On Board Diagnostics, and G.M. was the manufacturer that came out with it in the early ’80s. It had a “check engine” light (which really means “check engine management”, which is the vehicle computer) to alert the driver to a vehicle computer problem, like a corroded electrical connection or a worn out sensor. It also had a diagnostic port into which a scan tool could be plugged to read trouble codes & assess computer performance.

    2. OBD1. The State of California liked the idea of OBD so much that it required OBD in all cars sold in California beginning around 1981, if memory serves me correctly. This is OBD1, meaning the first government requirement for OBD., that being from the State of California.

    3. OBD2. The Federal government liked the idea of OBD so much that it was required in all vehicles sold in the U.S. beginning in 1996 with the added requirements that
    (a) All diagnostic ports be located in the same place in the vehicle (between the driver’s door & the center console).
    (b) trouble codes be the same for all car makes,e.g., a bad coolant temperature sensor trouble code would be the same for Ford, Chevy, Toyota, whomever.
    (c) the “check engine” light would henceforth be known as a “Malfunction Indicator Light,” and would indicate a problem in the vehicle computer system.

    OBD2 is vastly improved over OBD, and the improvements are increasing at a rapid click. OBD had maybe twelve trouble codes for a particular vehicle; OBD2 will have at minimum 1200, and that minimum number is expanding fast.

    • I recently have been researching on getting a HUD for my car. I have a 98 car with OBD2 connection, yet all the HUD units that connect to OBD2 say vehicles after 03…why?

  10. Hi I have a Maruti Ritz petrol 2009
    My tentacion suggest to go for OBD 1 & No for OBD2.
    as its a 12 ys old cars so.
    Please recommend me .

  11. My obd1 vehicle reports many more useful parameters than any obd2 vehicle I’ve ever seen. Using my obd1 scanner on my obd1 vehicle, I can see the status of the transmission, which gear it’s selected, the fluid temp and status of converter clutch. Also I can see the ac refrigerant pressure and many other useful parameters. Allthat I can tell, the primary “improvement” of obd2 is the common connector. The remainder is geared toward emissions compliance, not all about servicing the vehicle as obd1 was. I prefer obd1 due to there are more useful parameters reported but there is no brake or airbag protocol implementation in obd1, so obd2 does offer that. Also, obd1 doesn’t report or detect misfire, but in my experience obd2 does that poorly in the case of intermittent misfire. And the obd2 evap, well that usually fails due to the implementation itself, not an actual environmental emissions concern.

  12. Having trouble finding a obd1 dionastic for my 94 silverado k1500….any help would be appreciated

  13. Sorry meaning the diagnosis machine and function of diagnosis machine

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