Surely on more than one occasion, you have noticed when taking your car to the workshop that your mechanic has gotten inside the vehicle in search of a connector, usually located at the driver’s feet, which he has then plugged into a machine. Thanks to this simple process, the technician can obtain clues about the fault that the vehicle suffers. This very useful tool that all modern cars with a combustion engine already equip is called On-Board Diagnostics (OBD), and thanks to it you can find out what the problem is and how to solve it.
At the end of the 80s, in the United States, OBD was created with the aim of verifying the pollutant emissions index of the vehicles of the time. The system evolved over the years until it reached Europe with a new update: OBD II.
Thanks to technological advances in vehicles and electronics, it was possible to control by means of the OBD II system not only the gases generated by the engine but all the parameters of the cars. In this way, the closure was opened so that not only the workshops but any user with a little dexterity, could know what was happening to their vehicle.
Currently, you can find on the Internet some code readers for approximately ten euros that, connected to a mobile device, tablet or laptop via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, allow to know which are the most common errors in the engine and emissions of a car. However, these readers are totally different from the multi-brand diagnostic machines used by workshops, which are capable of configuring the analyzed vehicle and cost more than 800 euros.
OBD ON ITV
OBD appeared in the lives of drivers by an obligation on May 20, 2018, when the new regulations of the Technical Inspection of Vehicles came into force in Spain from Royal Decree 920/2017. Since that day, vehicles of categories M and N (which include passenger cars and vans) have been approved for Euro 5 and Euro 6 emissions, corresponding to those registered from 2011 on; and trucks homologated for Euro IV since 2014, had to have the OBD port installed compulsorily.
Since that date, in the Inspection Procedure Manual issued by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, a new test was published in which the OBD was the protagonist since ITV technicians would go on to check the status of the vehicles through this system.
For this reason, since 2018, the ITV stations have analyzed the emissions of the vehicle through the switchboard and, in case of not complying with the established legal limits, the inspection may be negative. The same ITV diagnostic machines also check that the vehicle has not been tampered with, that it does not carry any malicious software or that no type of error appears that, at first glance, the technicians cannot detect. Likewise, ITV diagnostic machines check the mileage, the ABS, the electronic stability system (ESC), the restraint systems such as the airbags or the correct operation of the lights. If you are going to buy a used car in the United Kingdom you should consider checking these systems as complied by the ITV.
It is truly striking that even though this diagnostic method entered automotive history many years ago, it was not until recently that drivers were truly aware that their vehicle had an electronic brain.