Nothing is more frustrating looking at your 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan with a check engine light with no clues as to why the light remains on for days.
In this post, we will look at a car troubleshooting device that is an essential tool for a novice to diagnose and fix minor car issues before they turn into big and costly repairs.
What is On-Board Diagnostics?
You may have heard the terms “OBD” or “OBDII” when troubleshooting a vehicle.
All modern light-duty cars and trucks come with an Engine Control Unit or ECU (essentially a small computer) which operates and monitors everything from the engine, transmission, electronics and other vehicle and functions.
An On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system is part of the ECU that collects multiple sensor data (such as engine RPM, vehicle speed, fault codes, fuel consumption, etc.) to diagnose, detect, and generate “Diagnostic Trouble Codes” (DTCs).
|Did You Know?|
|On average, a modern vehicle can have anywhere from 40 to 100 sensors!. Some examples of sensors that may be found in a vehicle include:|
· Engine speed sensor
· Throttle position sensor
· Mass air flow sensor
· Oxygen sensor
· Camshaft position sensor
· Crankshaft position sensor
· Engine coolant temperature sensor
· Transmission fluid temperature sensor
· Wheel speed sensor
· Accelerator pedal sensor
· Brake pedal sensor
What is the Difference Between ODB and OBDII?
To simply put, ODBII (OBD-2) is the latest version of the OBD (OBD-1) system.
The design and implementation of the original OBD began in 1968 up until 1996 when ODB-II system took over.
- 1968 – Volkswagen introduces the first OBD system (separate module)
- 1979 – The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) suggest a standardized sensor signal parameters and connector specifications
- 1988 – SAE again calls for a set of common diagnostic codes and a standard connector type
- 1991 – California requires all vehicles to contain on-board diagnostics function (OBD or OBD-I)
- 1994 – California mandates that starting in 1996, all vehicles must have the latest SAE-recommended OBD functions (OBDII or OBD-II)
- 1996 – OBDII becomes mandatory for all vehicles sold in the U.S.
- 2001 – European OBD (EOBD) becomes mandatory for all gasoline-powered vehicles sold in the E.U.
- 2003 – European OBD (EOBD) becomes mandatory for all diesel-powered vehicles sold in the E.U.
It is important to note that OBD-1 error codes were not standardized, meaning the same code may be defined differently, depending on the manufacturer.
OBDII, on the other hand, is more advanced and offers a wider range of diagnostic capabilities, including information on:
- Powertrain (engine and transmission)
- Emission Control Systems
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Ignition Counter / Engine hours
- Emission Control System counters
- Extended Fault codes
OBD-II was implemented starting in 1994 or 1996 for US cars and trucks and DTC codes are standardized across different car makers (some vehicles may only use a subset of the DTC code library).
Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC)
OBD-2 system offers a set of standardized DTC definitions shared across vehicle manufacturers (1).
The most common OBD-II DTCs are the powertrain codes (“P”) used to diagnose engine and transmission problems and chassis codes (“C”) used to diagnose problems related to brakes, steering and suspension.
(1) ODB-II compliant DTCs for cars and light-trucks; J1939 compliant DTCs for heavy-duty diesel trucks
|A||Which part is at fault:|
B – body
C – chassis
P – powertrain
U – network
0 – generic OBD code
1 – Manufacturer-specific code
|C||Which system is at fault:|
1 – fuel and air metering
2 – injector circuit
3 – ignition or misfire
4 – auxiliary emission control
5 – vehicle speed and idle control
6 – computer output circuit
7 – transmission
8 – transmission
9 – transmission
A – for hybrid vehicle (propulsion)
B – for hybrid vehicle (propulsion)
C – for hybrid vehicle (propulsion)
|D||00-99: fault descriptions|
Common DTC for 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan
For example, an error code P0128 stands for the “Transmission Fluid Over Temperature Condition” whether your car is made by GM or Nissan.
However, ODB-2 system contains an extensive library of diagnostic trouble codes (over 5,000 DTC!) so manufacturers may decide to use a portion of the complete DTC library.
An ODBII DTC also sets aside a range of codes that are specific to a particular manufacturer.
- P0101: Fault in the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor
- P0128: Engine Coolant Temperature Circuit Range/Performance
- P0138: Oxygen Sensor Circuit High Voltage (Bank 1 Sensor 2)
- P0174: Fuel System Too Lean (Bank 2)
- P0300: Random/Multiple Cylinder Misfire Detected
- P0340: Camshaft Position Sensor Circuit Malfunction
- P0401: Insufficient flow of Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system
- P0420: Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)
- P0442: Evaporative Emission Control System Leak Detected (small leak)
- P0500: Vehicle Speed Sensor Malfunction
- P0505: Idle Control System Malfunction
- P0562: Battery Voltage Low
- P0606: Engine Control Module (ECM) malfunction
- P0697: Fuel Pump Control Module Requested MIL Illumination
- P0700: Transmission Control System Malfunction
Please refer to TroubleCodes.net to review the complete set of DTRs for 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan
What is an OBD scanner?
An OBD scanner is a small electronic device that connects to your vehicle via the OBDII connector.
This device can access your vehicle’s ODB via a plug-in cord or bluetooth (wireless) so that you (or your mechanic) can access DTC and other information to resolve problems with your vehicle.
All OBD devices can read diagnostic trouble codes. The more expensive units tend to come in touch-enabled, larger screens and can read live and freeze sensor data along with the ability to reset certain error codes.
Where is the OBD scanner port located?
On a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan, the OBD interface port is located just below the hood release lever.
OBD-1 Interface vs OBD-2 Interface
Unfortunately, OBD-1 system uses a non-standard, proprietary connector and communication protocols to access DTC and vehicle information. OBD-1 interface is no longer installed in any vehicles manufactured after 1996.
On the other hand. OBD-2 is the latest system that uses a standardized Diagnostic Link Connector (DLC).
|Connector Type||Non-standard, proprietary||OBD-II Port or Diagnostic Link Connector (DLC); SAE J1962|
|Communication Protocols||SAE J1850 PWM (41.6 kb/s)|
SAE J1850 VPW (10.4 kb/s)
ISO9141-2 (10.4 kb/s)
ISO14230-4 KWP (10.4 kb/s)
|SAE J1850 PWN (41.6 kb/s)|
SAE J1850 VPW (104. kb/s)
ISO9141-2 (10.4 kb/s)
|Data Rate||41.6 kb/s and 104. kb/s||TBD|
|Freeze Frame Data||No||Yes|
|Mode $06 (emissions)||No||Yes|
|Additional Protocol Standards||None||SAE J1978|
|Live Streaming (real-time)||No||Yes|
|Software Update Capable?||No||Yes|
|Reset error codes||No||Select OBD scanners|
Features of a Good OBD Scanner
If your check engine light just turned on and need to read the code, you can go to any Advanced Auto Parts, give them your driver’s license and rent an OBD-II scanner for free.
If you are leery of letting someone hold on to your license, or you want to become more involved with the maintenance of your 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan, you should look for these features:
- Compatible with OBD-II compliant systems
- Able to read and clear diagnostic trouble codes, including powertrain, chassis, and other parts
- Live streaming to allow real-time monitoring
- Freeze frame to allow snapshot picture of a real-time data output
- Touch-enabled, Large LCD
- Easy navigation buttons
- Software update
- Good customer support
Recommended OBD-II Scanner as of 2023
one of these OBD scanners will come in handy:
- MOTOPOWER MP69033 (around $30 at Amazon) – Good scanner that also works on most 2000 or newer cars; basic scanner; small screen; navigation is not intuitive;
- Ancel AD530 (around $70) – upgraded AD310; color display; real time data
- BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool (around $120) – Works for both iPhone and Android; with over 47k positive reviews on Amazon, this is the ultimate device (I used a friend’s device and I loved it! So I am currently saving up to buy one); HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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