Bluetooth Low Energy update for Mac and PC

Our OBD diagnostic software for macOS, Windows and Linux got new version update yesterday. Along other changes, the version 3.1 includes important improvements for Bluetooth connectivity.

OBD Auto Doctor mobile apps have included support for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) dongles already. Now, we are happy to provide the support on all supported platforms. This includes support on Windows, Mac OS X / macOS and Linux. The selected BLE dongles work now with OBD Auto Doctor regardless the computer or phone you use.

BLE support on Windows

Windows 8 is the first Windows version to support Bluetooth LE. This means that you need to have Windows 8 or newer to take advantage of the new feature.

Windows 10 Bluetooth LE settings

Pairing the dongle in Windows 10

Before OBD Auto Doctor can connect to the BLE dongle, you need to pair the dongle in the system settings. In Windows 10, you can find Bluetooth settings by ‘Settings’ -> ‘Devices’ -> ‘Bluetooth’. Make sure you have paired the dongle successfully before launching OBD Auto Doctor. OBD Auto Doctor will now find the device and take care of the rest.

BLE support on Mac OS X

OBD Auto Doctor can use Bluetooth LE on all supported OS X versions. Remember to check that your Mac has Bluetooth 4.0 hardware included. Macs started to have the hardware around 2011-2012. No pairing or other manual actions are required outside of the software to use these dongles.

BLE support on Linux

Bluez is the library in Linux that provides Bluetooth support. You need to have version of Bluez that has the support included. Check your distribution for more details.

Scanning BLE devices needs special rights. You can use superuser or root for that. Or you can give the application the needed permissions just once:

sudo setcap cap_net_raw,cap_net_admin=eip /usr/bin/obdautodoctor

After running the previous command, you can run obdautodoctor as normal user. Notice that some Linux distros require that you need to be part of the dialout group to able to use Bluetooth. To add an user to the group, issue:

sudo adduser username dialout

If you install the software using the .deb package, these actions will be taken care of automatically for you.

Get the update

You can download the latest version from the download page.

The list of supported BLE dongles can be found from here.

To utilise BLE dongle, you need to have a compatible computer with Bluetooth 4.0 hardware. If you have any questions or concerns, just leave a comment below.

Using OBD2 Mode $06 for advanced car diagnostics

What is Mode $06?

Mode $06 is an advanced diagnostic functionality mode included as part of the On-Board Diagnostic standard (OBD2). It keeps track on how emission control components and other systems and sensors are functioning. Mode $06 allows access to the results for on-board diagnostic monitoring tests of these systems. These systems or components can be either continuously monitored (e.g. misfire monitoring) or non-continuously monitored (e.g. catalyst system). Continuous monitors run all the time while the non-continuous monitors run only after certain conditions are met.

OBD2 Mode $06 is sometimes referred just as Mode 6. The Mode 6 reveals the actual self-test data that is used by the OBDII system to detect faults and readiness monitor results. It enables more complete analysis of the DTCs and readiness monitor test results.

Mode $06 monitors

Here’s a list of the On-Board Diagnostic Monitors defined by the OBD2 standard at the moment. OBD Auto Doctor supports them all.

  • Exhaust Gas Sensor Monitor
  • Catalyst Monitor
  • EGR Monitor
  • VVT Monitor
  • EVAP Monitor
  • Exhaust Gas Sensor Heater Monitor
  • Heated Catalyst Monitor
  • Secondary Air Monitor
  • Fuel System Monitor
  • Boost Pressure Control Monitor
  • NOx Adsorber Monitor
  • NOx/SCR Catalyst Monitor
  • Misfire Cylinder Data
  • PM Filter Monitor

In addition to these standard defined monitors, manufacturers can have proprietary monitors. Our software can access the manufacturer specific Mode $06 data but it won’t be able to give the monitors or tests a name. It will give you the Monitor ID (OBDMID) and the Test ID (TID) and the data values. You will have to look up the meaning of those from the service manuals, or you can search the Internet for more help. For example, if you have GM vehicle, check out the OBD Mode $06 definitions for GM cars.

How can Mode 6 help?

The Mode 6 data can help you in many ways depending on your level of expertise and experience with cars. OBD Auto Doctor will give you the result and limit numbers plus the test result (pass/fail). The numbers can reveal a lot of the inner workings of the car if you are able to give the them a more detailed meaning in the correct context. The data can help you for example in the following ways:

  1. You can detect emerging problems before they set an active error code.
  2. You can find issues that are causing runnability problems, but that have not developed into active errors yet.
  3. You can use the data to identify whether a Diagnostic Trouble Code was set by a major failure or if the test just barely failed.
  4. You can verify that the repairs made have actually fixed the correct problem. You don’t need to wait for days for certain OBDII self-tests to run and possibly turn the Check Engine Light on.

Mode 6 data can reduce a lot of guesswork by eliminating components and systems out of the problem. But to get the most out of the data, you need to have a bit of knowledge of how the engine works.

Example: Engine Misfires

Many technicians find the misfire checking the most useful part of the Mode $06. Every time a cylinder misfires, the system increases the misfire counter for that cylinder. Only if the misfire count exceeds a certain threshold, it will result in a misfire trouble code. If the misfire count stays below the limit, no trouble code is set and no notice is provided for you. But you might be still able to feel the misfire when the engine is under heavy load or acceleration.

OBD2 Mode 06 misfire data

Example of OBD Auto Doctor reading OBD2 Mode $06 misfire data. Click to open larger image!

With the help of the OBD Auto Doctor, you can read the actual misfire counts recorded for each cylinder. The purpose of the misfire data is to help you identify which cylinders are currently misfiring and identify which cylinders have been consistently misfiring in previous driving cycles. Typically the misfire count should be equal or close to zero. In this case, there’s no problem. If a single cylinder misfire count is relatively higher compared to the other cylinder misfire counts, it indicates a possible issue. It tells that the cylinder is experiencing an abnormal behavior, and that there’s a problem with the ignition, fuel or compression in that cylinder. Remember that misfire counts for cylinder should only be compared relative to each other.

Final words

In this article, I explained the basics of the OBD2 Mode $06 also known as the On-Board Diagnostic Monitors. I hope the text gave you clear introduction to these monitors and how then can be used for car diagnostics. To get started analyzing your car, download the OBD Auto Doctor software for a PC or Mac now!

Please note that not all On-Board Diagnostic Monitor IDs or Test IDs are supported by all systems. The software is able to show only the monitors and tests that the car provides. Moreover, some older cars might not even support the Mode $06 at all. Use the free version of the software to see what data your car provides. Even the free version will list the available monitors and tests.

OBD Auto Doctor app redesigned for iPhone

Our OBD app for iPhone has been a great success this far. We’ve got some improvement ideas from you guys about making it even better. We listened to your suggestions and made the app stand out even more.

Digital Dashboard

Digital Dashboard or status view with tab bar navigation.

App Navigation

The initial app used side navigation drawer as the navigation pattern. For the new version we redesigned the app navigation completely. We replaced the old side navigation with much simpler and intuitive tab bar navigation. Now all the most common sections are always visible at the bottom of the screen.

Our e-mail support was also contacted about how to reset the check engine light. The action to clear the MIL was behind a button that perhaps wasn’t the easiest to find. We improved the views so that the button to clear the MIL and trouble codes is now always visible.

Digital Dashboard

As one of the new features, we added digital dashboard or so called status view to the app. With this view you can track the sensors you want in real-time and with large and easy to read fonts. The speed and RPM are the only fixed sensors in the screen. You can customise all other sensors. Long press any “sensor box” to replace a sensor with any sensor that your car supports .

OBD Mode 06

On-Board Diagnostic Monitors

On-Board Diagnostic Monitors (OBD MODE 06)

Another new feature that we added was the support for On-Board Diagnostic Monitors. These monitors are also know as the OBD mode 06. On-Board Diagnostic Monitors offer professional level diagnostic capabilities. These monitors can give detailed information about misfire counts, for example. They can also give reasons for readiness monitor failures or hints for emerging problems. Unfortunately, not all cars support this mode. Especially older cars don’t have support for it. That’s because Mode 06 was added to the OBD2 standard about ten years ago.

Bluetooth Low Energy / Bluetooth Smart adapters

We are also happy to announce that the app supports now Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) OBD adapters. These adapters are also known as Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth 4.0 adapters. We started with support for the best BLE adapter in the market, Kiwi 3. Bluetooth adapters are much more convenient than WiFi adapters. This is because you don’t need to hassle with the phone WiFi connection anymore. Support for Bluetooth 4.x adapters is a great addition to our app. We’ll be adding support for more BLE adapters once they enter the market.

Drop us a note to email or add comment below about how you find the new app. Thanks!

Car diagnostic software update for PC and Mac

Our car diagnostic software for PC and Mac was updated about a month ago. The latest OBD Auto Doctor is now labeled as version 3. It took few weeks to publish this blog post. But it’s never too late, right? Let’s go through the change log for the update.

Improved User Interface

The new version has redesigned and improved user interface. This is of course the main visible change for you. We clarified the views with more white space and trimmed down the titles. We also reorganized the views under new categories. The new categories are summary, trouble codes, diagnostics, monitoring and extras. The categories have new flat style icons too. These changes make it easier for you to find the stuff you are looking for. We also added help texts to the views. They provide you helpful details about the information that the views provide. Just move your mouse over the small white question mark to get the hints.

New OBD Auto Doctor design

OBD Auto Doctor running in MacBook Pro

On-board System, Test or Component activation

The software has now support for OBD2 mode 8. The mode 8 is the on-board system, test or component activation service. This service allows bi-directional communication to start or perform specific tests. This is different from the most OBD2 services because they just read information from the car. In that sense, this service or mode is a rather powerful tool.

The current version of the OBD2 standard defines only two tests. OBD Auto Doctor supports these both:

  • Evaporative system leak test
  • Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) Regeneration

It’s expected that more tests are added to the standard in the upcoming updates.

Sensor Graph Grid

The graph grid is the newest addition to the monitoring tools. You can now track up to four different sensors side by side with the Sensor Graph Grid. Each sensor has separate graph with it’s own scale. This makes it easier to interpret the data in some cases.

OBD Sensor Graph Grid

Sensor Graph Grid in action. The screenshot is from Windows 10.

Other changes

We did a lot of other smaller changes for the software too. The following list highlights the most important ones.

  • Increased number of the simultaneous sensors in the graph. You can now update up to 6 sensors at the same time. We also improved the automatic scaling of the graph scales to make it easier for you to interpret the values.
  • Added support for the Readiness Monitor status for the current drive cycle. This is in addition to the monitor status since the trouble codes have been cleared and the MIL has been reset.
  • Verified support for the new Windows 10. We also tested the OS X El Capitan preview version for possible compatibility issues.
  • Improved internationalization with all the strings updated by native speakers. Because of high maintenance work we had to remove support for some languages with fewer users.
  • Improved functionality with some clone adapters. The problematic adapters reporting version 2.1 will work now too. We do recommend though that you use a high quality genuine ELM327 adapter. Some clone adapters have serious issues delivering data from the car.

Download the updated car diagnostic software now

Download the latest version for your Windows, Mac OS X or Linux from http://www.obdautodoctor.com/download

Windows 10 compatibility with OBD Auto Doctor

OBD Auto Doctor and Windows 10

Microsoft released it’s latest operating system called Windows 10 just at the end of July. We here at OBD Auto Doctor have been working hard to make sure that you can continue to diagnose your car with the new and shiny Windows 10.

Feel free to update to Windows 10 and be assured that OBD Auto Doctor continues to work as before. If you, for any reason, find anything that doesn’t work, please send us a message. We also advice you to use the latest version of our car doctor software. It’s guaranteed to be fully compatible.

OBD Auto Doctor works with the new Kiwi 3 OBD2 adapter

We are pleased to announce that OBD Auto Doctor will be compatible with the new upcoming Kiwi 3 adapter. Kiwi 3 is the next generation of OBDII adapters and no longer requires cumbersome bluetooth pairing or wifi configurations. Simply, plug and launch the OBD Auto Doctor app.

The smallest, fastest, most versatile OBD adapter yet

Kiwi 3 promises to be up to 4 times faster than the nearest competitor and uses ultra low power allowing you to leave your device installed permanently in your vehicle. The adapter is compatible with all standard OBDII protocols, and it has support for firmware updates via Bluetooth. Kiwi 3 has very small form factor and employs a nearly invisible design. When inserted into your OBDII port, Kiwi 3 sits just 0.68 inches thin making it the smallest and most discrete OBDII adapter.

OBD Auto Doctor is compatible with Kiwi 3 adapter

Windows, Mac OS X and Linux version 2.0

OBD Auto Doctor for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux was previously updated to version 2.0. The new version contains a lot improvements. Some of them are visible to you but there are several improvements done under the hood, too. The latest version has now better support for the new Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite operating systems.

Exporting capabilities

One of the additions to the software was the data export capabilities. You will be now able to export Diagnostic Trouble Codes and Freeze Frame data to a text file. You can then easily share the file, or archive it for documenting the history of your car.

Moreover, you can export the sensor live data to a *.csv file. The csv file can be opened with spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets or LibreOffice Calc. You can record a whole drive cycle and review the results afterward to detect some abnormalities with the sensors of your car. You can even draw a custom graph with these external tools from the data you collected with OBD Auto Doctor.

We did an example drive with 2014 Audi A3 1.4 TFSI and recorded the car data during it. The granularity of the data is rather coarse because we recorded 28 sensors simultaneously. Dropping the amount of different sensors will improve the granularity significantly. That’s because it leaves more time to update the interesting sensors more frequently.

OBD2 data graph exported from LibreOffice Calc

Click the image for full size.

Short term fuel trim, long term fuel trim, oxygen sensor output voltage, equivalence ratio (lambda) and oxygen sensor current in the same graph.

Short term fuel trim, long term fuel trim, oxygen sensor output voltage, equivalence ratio (lambda) and oxygen sensor current in the same graph.

OBD2 data graph exported from Google Sheets

Click the image for full size.

Calculated engine load, accelerator pedal position and engine RPM in the same graph.

Calculated engine load, accelerator pedal position and engine RPM in the same graph.

Other new features

In addition to the export functions, the latest version added support for 16 new OBD2 parameters. It’s also now possible to graph more than one sensor or parameter simultaneously with the oscilloscope. Last, OBD Auto Doctor user interface was translated to Polish.

You can download the latest version of OBD Auto Doctor from the download page.

OBD2 parameters added – download the update

The latest software version for every supported platform (Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iPhone and Windows Phone) added support for 16 new OBD2 parameters. These parameters are implemented according to the latest OBD2 standard version (SAE J1979 AUG2014).

Adding these new parameters increases the value of the OBD2 software you have. All these parameters are available for our existing customers totally free. Just remember that in order for the software to be able to show the values, your car needs to support the sensors too. Typically, the newer the car the more values it supports.

With these new parameters, you will get even more out of your OBDII software. Grab the update from our website or from the appropriate mobile app store.

The added OBD2 parameters

  • Boost pressure control ($70)
    • Commanded boost pressure A and B
    • Boost pressure A and B
    • Boost pressure control status A and B
  • Variable geometry turbo (VGT) control ($71)
    • Commanded variable geometry turbo A and B
    • Variable geometry turbo A and B
    • VGT control status A and B
  • Wastegate control ($72)
    • Commanded wastegate position A and B
    • Wastegate position A and B
  • Exhaust pressure ($73)
    • Exhaust pressure sensor bank 1 – 2
  • Turbocharger RPM ($74)
    • Turbocharger RPM A and B
  • Turbocharger Temperature A and B ($75 and $76)
    • Turbocharger compressor inlet temperature
    • Turbocharger compressor outlet temperature
    • Turbocharger turbine outlet temperature
  • Charge air cooler temperature (CACT) ($77)
    • Bank 1 – 2: Sensor 1 – 2
  • Exhaust gas temperature (EGT) ($78 and $79)
    • Bank 1 – 2: Sensor 1 – 4
  • Diesel particulate filter (DPF), Bank 1 – 2 ($7A and $7B)
    • Delta pressure
    • Inlet pressure
    • Outlet pressure
  • Diesel particulate filter (DPF) temperature ($7C)
    • Inlet temperature, bank 1 – 2
    • Outlet temperature, bank 1 – 2
  • NOx NTE control area status ($7D)
  • PM NTE control area status ($7E)
  • Engine run time ($7F)
    • Total engine run time
    • Total idle run time
    • Total run time with PTO active

OBD WiFi adapter support in Android

The latest update of OBD Auto Doctor for Android added support for OBD WiFi adapters. So now the Android app supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi adapters. Although not as easy to setup as Bluetooth adapters, Wi-Fi adapters are good choice for those who consider switching from/to iPhone. The price of the OBD Wi-Fi adapters has considerable lowered in the last couple of years, which has brought the adapters to the awareness of new consumers.

Wi-Fi vs Bluetooth OBD adapters

Wifi adapter settings

One of the benefits of Wi-Fi adapter is that it allows very fast data rates. It means that your sensors will update faster in the app screen, for example. Another advantage is broad support on different platforms. The wifi adapters are supported in every platform so you can use them with OBD Auto Doctor iPhone and Windows Phone versions and with the desktop/laptop version as well.

One of the drawbacks compared to Bluetooth adapters is that Wi-Fi adapters are not as easy to setup. First, you need to connect to the network created by the adapter. Only after that you can use the app to connect to the adapter and car. The procedure might seem a bit tricky at first but it will get easier after you have done it a couple of times. To help and guide you through the first time, we made a short Quick start guide for WiFi adapters to get you started with the app and adapter.

Happy diagnosing!

OBD2 app for iPhone released

OBD Auto Doctor OBD2 app for iPhone is now available from the Apple app store!

iPhone screenshot

The app works now perfectly even with the new iOS 8 released just few weeks ago. The very first version of the app had some layout issues with iOS 8 but now all those issues are gone. The app works fine with iOS 7 too but older versions are not supported.

The iPhone version of the app requires separate ELM based OBD adapter using Wi-Fi connectivity. Due to technical limitations of the platform Bluetooth adapters can’t be supported. To get started with the app and adapter setup, please check the Quick Start Guide for iPhone. It will guide you through the first time usage.

The basic app is available for free so that you can evaluate it and make sure it works with your car and OBD-II adapter. The free app has some limitations though. You can unleash all the features and upgrade to the Pro version using in-app purchase. In-app purchasing is convenient way to unlock the Pro features without need to re-install separate app version.

Upgrading to the Pro

Getting the Pro version can be done inside the app using in-app purchase. It’s one time purchase that covers all future feature updates and additions to the app. The purchase is tied to your Apple account. You can get the Pro version back even if you upgrade your phone or uninstall the app by accident. Just install the free app from the app store and it will automatically detect that you already own the Pro version. The only thing you have to do is use the same Apple account in your phone.

Unfortunately Apple doesn’t provide us means to issue refunds of the purchase. Therefore, please try the free version first to make sure there are no compatibility issues with your adapter or car. The issues are very rare but if the free version doesn’t work, the Pro version won’t make the situation any better.

Try it now and Enjoy!

App store badge

Try it now and let us know how you like it!