What is the Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC)?
Diagnostic Trouble Codes a.k.a. DTCs are the codes stored in a vehicle's onboard computer system. They will appear if your vehicle is experiencing a malfunction or something is not working as expected. You might also get a warning light on the dashboard/instrument panel which will notify you to take action. But a single warning light can have various meanings, while DTCs can show more precisely which fault the vehicle is experiencing. This is why running OBD2 diagnostics and reading DTC codes will help you or the technician to better understand the genesis of the vehicle problem and decide what the next step should be while solving the issue.
How to understand DTC characters?
Diagnostic Trouble Code is a combination of 5 characters.
The first character defines the primary affected area or function of the vehicle/ It will either be:
P (powertrain) Engine, transmission, the driveshaft, and other components that convert the engine power into movement.
B (body) Seats, windows, doors and, other elements in the passenger compartment area.
C (chassis) Wheels, Brakes, suspension systems, axles, etc.
U (user network) Functions that are driven and managed by vehicle onboard computer.
The second character can either be 0 or 1.
0 stands for general OBD2 code. 1 stand for exclusive manufacturer code.
The third character can be numbers from 1 to 9 or letters A, B, C.
0 – Electronic system failure.
1 – Fuel and air metering.
2 – Fuel and air injector circuit.
3 – The ignition system.
4 – Auxiliary emission control.
5 – Car speed and idle control systems.
6 – ECU errors.
7,8,9 – Transmission.
A,B,C – Hybrid propulsion.
The fourth & fifth characters show a specific problem in part and system. It’s numbered by 00,01,02 and so on.
There are over 5000 OBD2 Trouble codes, so it’s almost impossible to remember them all, but with the OBDeleven device, you can check what a specific code means.
Difference Between Generic & Manufacturer Specific code?
As mentioned before, the second digit in the DTC code can be standard or specific by the manufacturer. While standard DTCs are defined for general OBD 2 and appeal to all official car manufacturers. Specific DTCs are not available in the generic code database and their value is defined and created by individual car manufacturers.
How to Read Trouble Codes?
Everyone knows the frustration when one of the lights in the instrument cluster light-up. What’s wrong? What happened? What should I do now? These questions always come to mind first, but there is no straightforward explanation as to why one of the lights turns on. The only way is to connect to your car with OBD 2 diagnostics software and a scan tool. For example, the OBDeleven device will scan your vehicle, find trouble codes that your car’s system will have, and display it with a short description. After that, you can email the trouble codes to your dealership or a technician. This way, you will know what is going on with your vehicle and also save money on OBD 2 diagnostics, which would otherwise be included in your repair bill.
How to clear trouble codes?
Using OBD2 diagnostic tools is the fastest and safest way to clear trouble codes since it communicates and works together with your vehicle’s computer rather than changing something in the vehicle ECU. So as you already may know all you need is the car scanner. connect OBDeleven to your car’s OBD2 port, open the application, and run a full scan: clear passive and check on active faults to know what needs to be fixed.