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Monitoring OBD2 Systems
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Monitoring OBD2 Systems

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$150

Talent:

*

Tools:

Laptop, OBD-II Software

Applicable Models:

R50 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2002-06)
R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08)
R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08)
R53 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2002-06)
R55 MINI Cooper Clubman Wagon (2008-14)
R55 MINI Cooper JCW Clubman Wagon (2009-14)
R55 MINI Cooper S Clubman Wagon (2008-14)
R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-13)
R56 MINI Cooper JCW Hatchback (2009-13)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-13)
R57 MINI Cooper Convertible (2009-15)
R57 MINI Cooper JCW Convertible (2009-15)
R57 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2009-15)

Parts Required:

-

Hot Tip:

Have a friend drive the car while you monitor it from the passenger seat

Performance Gain:

Better running engine

Complementary Modification:

Perform a simulated dyno run on your MINI
How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Pelican Parts' new book, How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI The book contains 240 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 500+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any MINI owner's collection. The book is due to be released in late 2015. See The Official Book Website for more details.

Starting in 1996, automotive manufacturers began equipping all new cars with a new federally mandated emissions diagnostic system called On-Board Diagnostics, or OBD-II. An earlier version, called OBD-I is implemented on Bosch Motronic-equipped BMWs through 1995, but is not as advanced or easy to tap into as OBD-II. For more information on reading Fuel Injection fault codes on the OBD-I system, see Pelican Technical Article: Automatic Transmission Fluid Change. The OBD-II system was developed primarily to help combat emissions problems by quickly and easily identifying failed components of the fuel injection system.

In the past, it was prohibitively expensive to purchase the equipment required to read and process the information from the OBD-II interface. However, scanning tools and software has come down significantly in price, enabling just about any home mechanic to read, record, and monitor the entire fuel injection system. There are many scanner tools available today, and quite a few that allow you to monitor the OBD-II interface on a laptop computer, or even a PocketPC. These scan tools save you time and money by allowing you to diagnose potential problems without repeatedly taking your car to your local mechanic or dealer. I have heard people gripe and complain about how today's modern cars have become so complex that the average do-it-yourself mechanic can't figure out what's wrong with the car. I don't agree with that - the OBD-II cars are much easier to diagnose and repair than earlier models primarily because the computer will tell you exactly what is wrong and often takes the guesswork out of complicated troubleshooting.

For my own garage, I chose the laptop-based software from AutoEnginuity, available from PelicanParts.com. The package comes complete with an OBD-II adapter, a serial cable, and software that is installed on your Windows laptop computer. Installation and setup is very easy and is as simple as plugging in the connector and cable into your BMW's OBD-II port.

In addition to the full capabilities of the OBD-II scanning software, the AutoEnginuity package includes a neat tool call SpeedTracer. This utility allows you to estimate various performance characteristics of your BMW by monitoring the sensor output from the OBD-II computer. In real-time, the software acquires the engines RPM, the car's speed in MPH, and the ambient temperature. Mixing that with known characteristics of the car from pre-configured profiles stored within the software, the computer can accurately estimate performance characteristics like horsepower and torque. Using the real-time monitors, the software can measure 1/4 mile times and speeds as well as 0-60 MPH performance. All of the stock OBD-II compliant BMW cars are already pre-profiled in the software. In addition, you can enter compensation variables into the software (temperature, humidity, altitude), to help correct the horsepower results to ensure accurate and repeatable results. If you have modified your BMW, you can change the default values specifically to fit your car.

The SpeedTracer tool is definitely a fun tool to play around with. However, like the big roller dynos, the horsepower figures are somewhat subjective. Driving ability and habits may slightly skew results in the software. As with the traditional dyno, SpeedTracer is best viewed as a comparison and tuning tool. Although not as precise as a real dyno, you can test your car indefinitely, and use it to determine if you're gaining any horsepower from minor modifications and tweaks. As with the big dyno, the results are often dependent on environmental factors, so you should only really compare numbers from same-day runs. It's also highly dependent on the characteristics of your driving, including the speed at which you shift through the gears. Another downside, of course is that you need a laptop computer to make the whole system work.

The OBD port is located near the driver's foot well, on the lower left side.
Figure 1

The OBD port is located near the driver's foot well, on the lower left side. Simply flip open the cover, pull off the plastic connector cover, and plug in the adapter. Run the cable over the steering wheel and plug it into your laptop, which can fit on the passenger's seat.

The AutoEnginuity software has several different screens that allow you to monitor the system in real-time.
Figure 2

The AutoEnginuity software has several different screens that allow you to monitor the system in real-time. The lower-left screen shows the live data screen, which can be customized to show any one of the OBD-II sensors. You can output oxygen sensor voltages, engine RPM, coolant temperature, ignition timing advance, intake air temperature, or a host of other sensor values. The software allows you to capture and freeze the data or log it to your local hard drive. On the upper-left is the Dashtop screen, which allows you to monitor various sensors in a analog format. This is very useful for when the car is in motion, and you want to quickly glance at the "gauges" to get a quick idea of what their values are. This screen functions very similar to the sensor screen with the digital readouts. There is a separate screen specifically tailored to monitor your oxygen sensors (lower-right). The oxygen sensor (also known as the O2 sensor) is probably the best indicator of your engine's health and performance. The oxygen sensor changes its value based upon the amount of oxygen present in the exhaust. This percentage is directly related to the air/fuel mixture that is fed into the engine's intake manifold. If the mixture is too rich or too lean, the engine will not generate an ideal fuel burn. This results in increase emissions, and a decrease in power. The OnBoard test results screen (upper-right) shows the results from several diagnostic evaluations of various system modules. The system monitors the engine in real-time for misfires, fuel compensation, and comprehensive component monitoring. The results of the tests are shown on the right.

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Comments and Suggestions:
grantb Comments: nick my 06 cooper s won't power the reader / tried 2 different ones. any recs?
October 3, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the power pin at the DLC. My guess is the fuse is blown. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Toymchn6 Comments: Got an emissions code. Replaced gas cap and code went away. No acceleration at all but starts up fine. What could it be? I replaced coils and spark plugs. Not sure what else could be the culprit. Fuel injectors maybe?
August 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What was the fault code? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Memo80 Comments: Thanks Nick, will need to bite the bullet and buy the cover, dang
March 23, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Let me know how it works out.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Memo80 Comments: Any idea on P115C code, changed the Valve Cover gasket, the elbow on the noisemaker is not cracked, what would be next MAF? Valve Cover?
March 14, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be an air leak in a duct or a faulty valve cover, warped or cracked. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Richo Comments: Will the equipment you mention in the article work with a 2009 Mini Cooper Diesel?
March 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, this article applies to:
R50 MINI Cooper (2002-06)
R53 MINI Cooper S (2002-06)
R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08)
R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08)
R55/R56/R57 Cooper/Cooper S (2007-12)- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
lemzo Comments: Hello,
Fuse 3 and 36 are good. Do you any other idea?

Thank you
March 10, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: That is what sends power. So if they are good, and there is in fact no power to the plug, the wiring must be faulty. Trace is back to the fuse box. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
lemzo Comments: Hello,
I have 2002 mini cooper S. No power on my ODB port.
Can you help me?

Thank you
March 7, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check fuses F3 and F36 in the footwell fuse holder. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Wvlynn Comments: Will this system reset a steering angle sensor after I have replaced a tie Rod
January 6, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What system? You will need a MINI scan tool to reset the steering angle sensor. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Geo Comments: Can this OBD tool reset the TCM transmission control module on my '06 Mini Cooper S? Thanks
December 1, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No. You will need an advanced MINI tool, like autologic. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
epn Comments: Snarky aside, I couldn't resolve my expired plate issue because my data port has no power so I couldn't get the required emissions test. Fuses checked out fine. Does data have a separate secret fuse? Should I contact the NSA? Snarky ON.
July 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would try the NSA, they likely know the year and model of your vehicle and can help. ;)
I could tell you where power comes from, if you provide your vehicle info. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
epn Comments: Seriously? "...you need a laptop computer to make the whole system work."

July 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, seriously. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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