DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Codes), also called OBDII codes, are your car’s system for alerting you of auto issues. There are typically limits for every system in your vehicle. When the vehicle detects that the problem exceeds these limits, it sends out a trouble code. Technicians use these codes to diagnose and repair vehicle issues.
Trouble codes can tell you about any system issues in your vehicle, including airbags and brakes. And since all vehicles since 1996 have OBDII diagnostics, it’s unlikely you don’t have it. The challenge with this is often that each model has different codes and meanings. For example, a Ford won’t have the identical codes as a Chevrolet. This makes it difficult if you’re reading the codes on your own unless you recognize the codes for your specific model. Besides, the methods for repairing these issues are likely different for every make and model. Knowing the codes for your fleet vehicles is crucial to proper maintenance and repair.
The Four Systems of DTC:
Before DTC, diagnosing a vehicle declined to engine misfire and gross failures of parts. The arrival of OBDII allowed vehicles to observe their systems and alert drivers as issues arise with indicator lights. Most people recognize the foremost common ones: the check engine light and the car care indicator. Today, our vehicles provide us and technicians with more information than ever before with DTC. The Society of Automotive Engineers created the initial list of codes, which all vehicle manufacturers had to adapt to suits emission regulations. European and Asian automakers adopted the identical list. These codes are categorized into four main systems:
- B-codes (body codes): Though the body often refers to the surface of the vehicle, B-codes see features inside. More include comfort, convenience, and safety features.
- C-codes (chassis): Functions outside of the passenger compartment including brakes, steering, and suspension.
- U-codes (network/vehicle integration): Functions shared among the vehicle’s systems and computers.
- P-codes (powertrain): Include functions like the engine, transmission, and drivetrain.
What are the Common DTC Codes?
Common DTC Code:
The first thing you would like to grasp before reading a DTC is that the primary letter tells you which system the code falls under. Each code has only 1 letter followed by four digits. As mentioned, there are common codes that every automaker follows, created to satisfy regulatory requirements. Though there are thousands of additional codes unique to every model (for additional features), the generic codes remain identical. Knowing these generic codes helps you diagnose vehicle issues and repair your vehicles fast.
We’ve already covered the categories of common codes:
U: User network
P: Powertrain (i.e. engine and gearbox)
After the primary letter indicating the system category, you’ll see four digits. The primary digit is named a green digit and informs the technician whether or not the code is generic.
0: Generic/Global fault
1: Manufacturer/Enhanced fault
Generic codes are common and required for emission diagnosis. The improved or manufacturer codes are specific, meaning it’s a code regarding a further feature specific to your vehicle.
The following three digits are purple digits, which can be hexadecimal and correspond to incremented numbers. Typically, the P family codes have sub-families defined by the primary digit.
0, 1 & 2: For the air and fuel mixture
3: For ignition systems
4: For monitoring auxiliary emissions
5: For idling
6: For onboard computer and ancillary outputs
7, 8 & 9: For the transmission
There are around 11,000 definitions of those manufacturer codes—making it impossible to memorize all of them. This can be why you would like the proper equipment to read diagnostic trouble codes.
How to Read Diagnostic Codes?
Reading Diagnostic Codes:
Diagnostic codes are vital to understanding when your vehicle has difficulty, long before complete failure. The challenge is that, whether or not it tells you which of the system has difficulty, it won’t tell you why. As an example, a cylinder misfire will send a P030X code. The “X” informs you of which cylinder misfired, but that’s all the knowledge you’ll get. So, while the system isn’t perfect, DTC gives you a large advantage in maintenance and repair.
To read DTC, you’ll need a diagnostic connector. This scan tool will provide you with the codes in an exceedingly one-line description, and will even provide the definition of the code. Basic code readers are likely to only offer you the quantity. For the definition, you’ll have to keep your own database for your specific model.
Besides employing a diagnostic scanner, you’ll be able to also use telematics devices to observe engine diagnostics. Telematics systems monitor your engine and systems in real-time and provide you with a warning to issues as they arise. The proper telematics system will put you sooner than the sport when it involves repairs—and hopefully keep you from any unwanted maintenance. Telematics systems may monitor your fuel consumption, idle time, driver behavior, and far more.
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