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OBD adapter

Instructions and Use of OBD Adapter

The communication protocols used in modern vehicles are not compatible with standard computer protocols (RS-232, USB, etc.). An OBD adapter (sometimes called a "vehicle interface adapter") is an electronic device that allows a computer to access the vehicle's network. It operates like a computer modem or gateway, converting messages from one protocol to another.

OBD adapter connects to vehicle

Typically, data flows in both directions—into and out of the ECU. For example, in order to display an RPM or fault code, the following series of events must occur:

The software sends an RPM request to the OBD adapter over one of the standard channels (such as USB).

The OBD adapter receives the request and retransmits it to the ECU via one of the OBD protocols (such as J1850).

The ECU responds with data and the OBD adapter forwards the reply back to the software.

The software decodes the reply and displays it to the user.

How to choose an OBD adapter?

There are many types of OBD adapters, but they can be divided into three main categories: off-the-shelf adapters and OBD ICs (chips). To choose the right OBD adapter for your application, you must consider many factors, including:

  • cost
  • time to market
  • Supported OBD protocols
  • Physical dimensions/dimensions
  • Connection type: USB, RS232, WiFi, Bluetooth, UART, etc.
  • Special features: Upgradeable firmware, low current mode, enhanced commands

When troubleshooting vehicle problems, working with a vehicle diagnostic scanner can always greatly improve efficiency. Professional scanners can cover a variety of vehicle types, support OE-level inspections of vehicles, and provide up to 30+ service functions.

Autel scanners are mainly handheld and tablet scanners. They are connected through wired or wireless Bluetooth and Wifi. The connection performance is stable and the transmission is fast. It can quickly find vehicle DTC fault codes and provide feedback. The advanced version of the scanner can also display hidden functions, ECU Coding & ECU Programming for the vehicle. 

Autel OBD2 Adapter Although there is a matching vehicle connector with each scanner, you can still purchase the vci separately for connecting to the scanner. For example, Bluetooth MINI VCI for Autel entry-level scanners, J2534 connectors for Autel 908 series or above, universal OBD2 main cable, etc.


Choosing the right OBD adapter for your own DIY OBD-enabled device, or simply opting for an all-in-one vehicle scanner tool? A scanner with an OBD2 adapter is more suitable for you. Among Autel scanners, you can choose the best scanner with sufficient feature configuration and cost budget.

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