One of the easiest ways to check the efficiency of your car’s engine and its components is to use an OBD2 scanner. An OBD2 scanner is a diagnostic tool that is used to read and clear codes, run system checks, and sometimes make adjustments to a car’s CPU.
Most OBD2 diagnostic scanners also include a feature called live data, or data stream, which is what you’re looking for if you need to do some efficiency checks. A diagnostic scanner with a live data function is the best thing to use to check the efficiency of your motor.
We can use the live data function to look into fuel economy, thermal efficiency and general engine performance. Using OBD2 scanners to delve into the live data of your car is a much cheaper alternative than sending the vehicle off for testing, and you can get a good idea of how the engine is performing just by using the scanner. This of course saves a lot of time and money.
You can find lots of information about various OBD tools at https://obdstation.com, who regularly review different OBD2 scanners. Head there to find out about the best OBD2 scan tools that have live data functions included, which you can use the check the efficiency of your car’s engine components.
If you already have an OBD2 scan tool and want to investigate your car’s efficiency, then there’s a few key things that you’ll want to look into. The first is fuel economy.
1. Fuel Economy
You want to make sure that your engine is using fuel at the correct rate for your vehicle. If an engine is using too much fuel, then the engine will have a very low economy and be more expensive to run. If an engine is overusing fuel, then this could suggest a few different problems with the fuel system, which we’ll talk about later.
So, how can you use an OBD2 scanner to investigate fuel economy? Well, part of the live data stream from an OBD2 diagnostic scan tool that is displayed is a reading called Fuel Trim. Fuel trims basically refer to how much fuel is being released into the engine by the fuel delivery system. Fuel trims are represented on the OBD2 screen by a percentage, where a percentage of 0.0% suggests that the fuel system is working perfectly, with the right amount of fuel being released into the engine.
If the reading is a positive number, so above 0.0%, then this means that too much fuel is being released. If the reading is negative, below 0.0%, then there is too little fuel being released. An OBD2 scanner will give two values for fuel trims, a long term fuel trim (LTFT) and a short term fuel trim (STFT). They both represent the same thing, LTFT is just calculated over a longer period of time, so is more of an average value.
Of course nothing is perfect, so you probably won’t be seeing readings of 0.0% for both STFT and LTFT. However, you’d expect a healthy engine with a properly functioning fuel injection system to have an STFT reading between -10.0% and 10.0%, and an LTFT reading between -5.0% and 5.0%.
If the fuel trims are both too high, then your car is using too much fuel, which means it’s not at its best efficiency. The problem could be caused by the fuel injection system overcompensating for a vacuum leak for example. Having said that it’s also a problem if the values are too low. Even though the engine is using too little fuel, this will be made up by issues in other areas, which will result in a less efficient engine and therefore a more costly one to run.
2. Engine RPM
Another indicator of how efficiently your engine is operating is its revolutions per minute (RPM). Even a basic OBD2 device should display the idle RPM of the engine. Note that the RPM will change if you touch the throttle, so we’re focussing on the idle RPM here.
Most cars have idle speeds of between 600 and 1000rpm, whilst for trucks its around 600rpm, and motorbikes are higher at around 1200rpm. Be sure to check the car manufacturers handbook or research your vehicle online to find out what RPM its engine should be at.
If the RPM is too high, then this will definitely result in your engine being less efficient. If it’s too low, then it won’t be generating the right amount of power, so again will be less efficient. If your RPM is too high or too low, then it’s probably down to an issue with idle control valve, or a vacuum leak.
3. Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP Sensor)
Manifold Absolute Pressure is another factor that can have quite a big influence on how efficient an engine is operating.
The MAP sensor data readings are usually specific to fuel injected engines. MAP sensors measure the air pressure in the intake manifold, which helps the engine CPU decide on the correct air/fuel ratio. Having a correct balance is key for efficiency, so that the engine isn’t using too much or too little fuel.
Like the Ignition sensors, faulty MAP sensors will lead to an incorrect fuel/air balance, resulting in excessive fuel consumption, lack of power, and failed emissions tests. Again, this is useful data to indicate possible problems with your car.
What is an OBD Scanner?
An OBD Scanner is a car diagnostic device used by mechanics to read vehicle trouble codes, turn off the check engine light, install third party components, run system checks and include lots of other advanced features. OBD scanners are an essential tool for the workshop, and save mechanics a lot of time and cash.
They are effective tools for looking into an engine’s efficiency and performance.
How Can an OBD Scanner Help your Cars Efficiency?
Although an OBD scanner won’t solve any problems by itself, it is a fantastic investigation tool that will show you how efficiently your engine is operating and will highlight any problems with the engine that will be reducing its efficiency.
You can gain lots of information about fuel economy, thermal efficiency, and engine performance, The ease of use that an OBD2 tool will offer makes it a great alternative to sending vehicles off for complex testing.
What is the best auto scanner for the money?
There are lots of great scanners out there. The most important feature to look out for if you want to check your motor’s efficiency is live data streaming. The best OBD scanners will all offer this service.