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Trenton, Safety Manager & Field Accountant

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What is an OBD Port?

OBD ports play an important role in pulling information from your vehicle, like its speed, mileage, and mechanical issues. But their use goes far beyond addressing problems at the car shop. 

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions by business owners and individuals alike who are interested in learning more about OBD ports and how to use them.

What is an OBD port and what does OBD stand for?

OBD came on the scene in the early 1980s as a version of an onboard vehicle computer and stands for “on-board diagnostics,” which refers to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic reporting capabilities. The actual port that relays this information from various vehicle subsystems is called the OBD port. 

What is the difference between an OBD code reader, an OBD scanner, or an OBD adaptor?

An OBD code reader, OBD scanner, and OBD adapter are all essentially the same thing. They are used to read the diagnostic trouble codes that are relayed from the OBD port itself. 

These readers and adaptors plug directly into the port. Within the plug, are various individual pins that extract the information. Some have more robust capabilities, like an LED screen to give updates, while others relay these updates to a phone or computer.

What are OBD ports used for?

OBD ports are used to pull an array of different vehicular information. In terms of diagnostics, they can monitor: 

  • Emissions
  • Engine issues
  • Circuit failures
  • Exhaust leaks
  • Faulty valves
  • And a lot more

Businesses may use an OBD port for other reasons, like pulling tracking and location information, ignition and fuel status, and speed. For these purposes, they are particularly useful paired with a GPS device that plugs into the port. 

OBD port tracker



The Spytec GPS Long-Term OBD Tracker for Vehicles can be used with an OBD port by businesses to pull tracking information about a fleet of cars, like taxis or trucks.


Where is the OBD port on my car?

An OBD port is typically located beneath the steering wheel of your car, or somewhere on the dashboard. It can also be beneath the passenger-side glove compartment or center console. 

Its location may vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual or contact your dealership or local automotive technician if you have trouble locating it.

OBD port on car

How do I read live data from an OBD port?

Pulling and reading non-diagnostic live data from your OBD port is quite simple. If you are using the OBD port with an adapter, code reader, or scanner, there is usually an app or software paired with the device that relays the information after it’s plugged in. 

Explore the Smartest OBD Tracker on the Market

The Spytec GPS Long-Term OBD Tracker for Vehicles doesn’t require an automotive technician to install or activate to retrieve this data. Once you receive your tracker, locate your OBD port and plug in the device, then activate it from our user-friendly Spytec GPS App. 

From there, you can configure your settings. You can monitor location, start and end points, and even set boundaries around a specific area to know when the vehicle leaves or enters that location. The status of speed and ignition is also accessible. This is ideal for monitoring how your vehicles are being used so that you can optimize how you work. 

The Spytec GPS OBD Tracker is also highly versatile. You can easily plug and unplug to use between multiple vehicles. You also don’t have to worry about battery life, as the tracker pulls power directly from your vehicle. Learn more here.

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