OBD3 is just around the corner. OBD stands for on board diagnostic. Currently, the second generation of obd system (OBD2) is mandatory on all cars made in 1996 and later. OBD2 can detect a failure of emission systems and problems in engine performance. On-board computer constantly read the parameter of many sersors mounted throughout the car. That means the computer know everything about the condition of the engine.
But all it does for you is turn on "check engine light" when there is a problem. To know what the problem is, you should take your car to mechanics and have it scanned by diagnostic scan tools. OBD3 (not sure yet this will be the name of the next generation of obd system) would eliminate the steps of going to mechanics and having it scanned by scan tools. So how would you know the problem? Instead of going to mechanics and having them tell you the problem, you would receive a letter or email that shows you the problem of your car and they might say due date you would have to have a repair done.
All information travels trough the air with radio signal. Cars would have a transmitter to let out the signal to DMV or some organizations. They examine the problems and report back to you on details. You would receive an email or future cars would be able to show all these information in the instrument panel or center display.
Like GM's OnStar, Ford's SYNC, all manufacturers are developing their own automotive information technology. And the technology today are already capable of performing the things written above. For example, OnStar monthly send an email to subscribers that tells them maintenance schedules, various conditions of the car such as tire pressure and battery voltage. If check engine light comes on, you will call OnStar and they tell you the detail of the problem and what to do.
So, it is already possible for newer cars to start using obd3 system. Those cars has a transmitter, GPS antenna, to report a problem and receive an information. And obd2 system are monitoring the performance of the car all the time.
But if you don't want to report a problem to someone (currently it's not necessary to do so) and you try to diagnose for yourself or you want to know all information obd2 system provides and keep tracking car performance such as mpg, fuel economy, and so on, there is a gadget just for you.
The gadget is plug into obd port (usually located under the dash). With some applications, this gadget turns your PC or smartphone to a diagnostic scan tool, not cheap one but relatively an advanced one. Regular maintenance and check-up is the best way to keep your car in the best shape. That helps you save money for gas and repairs. This gadget is really useful until the next generation of obd system introduces.
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