What is a good source for an OBDII dongle / reader software?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Technical Discussion' started by VFerdman, Aug 4, 2017.

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  1. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    The newest car I have owned prior to this 2007 Prius was a 1998 Volvo S70. This was only two years after OBDII went into effect in US. I never really had a need for anything but a very basic off the shelf code reader. I bought it way back then and it lacks pretty much all but the very basic functionality. It does not read any proprietary codes my Volvo puts out, but it can extinguish the CE light. More recently I bought a couple of those super cheap $10 OBDII bluetooth dongles and realized that they are total crap. They have very hard time connecting to my phone. Torque pretty much refuses to connect to either of the two dongles I have. OBD Car Doctor Pro manages to connect sometimes, but the connection is bad and drops out often. It is a frustrating experience to use these things.

    So, my question is which are the good bluetooth adapters and which software is best. I know Torque is very popular, but since this car is a hybrid I wonder if Torque or other mainstream software will provide all I need. I read about CanView, TechStream, etc. but have no idea where to get those or what they do or how much they cost. I also saw some open source software out there like PriiDash. Is that any good?

    First I need to get a good reliable adapter, of course. A bluetooth is great, but I am not averse to USB laptop adapter. Seems like a smartphone would be more convenient, but I am not sure if that will be as fully functional as a full PC piece of software.

    Please advise!

    Thank you.
     
  2. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    I've tried the cheap obd dongle/torque route with poor results.

    Since I already had an old vista laptop laying around, I got the vci/techstream solution and although clunky (think windows 3.1 era software LOL) it works MUCH better. I get the occasional connection error but choosing "retry" brings it right back. This is the cable/software I got from amazon for $25:

    http://a.co/6GQVty5
     
  3. davecook89t

    davecook89t Active Member

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    About a year ago, I bought this one.



    I have no problem using Bluetooth to connect to Torque Pro on my Android phone, but what I found is if I leave the reader connected to my OBDII port for very long, it will turn on the VSC and (!) lights. When that happens, I simply unplug the reader, power down the car, and start it up again. The lights are gone after I restart. Otherwise, I am happy with the reader.
     
  4. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    Thanks. It appears that the software that comes with that invalidates Windows license. Chinese pirates? I do not have a spare lappy hanging around for just this. Price is right, though...
     
  5. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    And that's exactly what you want to do: use an old laptop exclusively for this. Don't even connect it to the interwebs, etc. just use it as a tool/instrument. A computer shop or CL should have plenty to choose from just make sure the disc drive still works to load techstream. My laptop battery died years ago so I string an extension cord or use a cheap 120v inverter form the cigarette lighter plug (dating myself) for portability.
     
  6. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    I understand. Is this software really that good that it's worth dedicating a laptop to it? If it's just your basic tool that can be had for like $130 (like ScanTool.net options), then it seems that it's not worth it for me to procure a junk laptop.
     
  7. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    Sorry, no experience with those options. I just checked my local CL and found two laptops (vista and xp) for $40 each.
     
  8. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    I see, this appears to be a copy of Toyota software dealers use (TechStream). Is this correct? Seems worth it if it is that comprehensive.
     
  9. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    (y)
     
  10. 'LectroFuel

    'LectroFuel Senior Member

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    The Automatic adapter is a great device. It's compatible with a lot of apps. I've owned mine for over a year and it's diagnosed everything with a detailed description. It has an app with a good easy to use interface and many connected features. They have the Pro and Lite model.

     
  11. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    Can you read hybrid battery details on this? I am not sure a generic OBDII adapter can, but this may be different. The whole point is to be able to access hybrid-specific issues. Otherwise any decent OBDII reader does the same thing with an appropriate app.
     
  12. 'LectroFuel

    'LectroFuel Senior Member

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    It notified me on my phone "you have a check engine light!" It reads my codes perfectly on my gen 2. Heres a screenshot of when my HV battery failed:

    IMG_2260.PNG
     
  13. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    That's great! But I am looking for a tool that can read voltages on the 14 battery modules. Can this tool do that? that would be very useful information. A simple code that means "change hybrid battery" is not very useful. I can probably figure that out from a triangle of death.
     
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  14. davecook89t

    davecook89t Active Member

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    You are looking for something like this, right? If you have an Android phone, I think that's the best way to go. I also have Techstream on an old laptop, but I have hardly ever used it (although if my car ever throws some serious codes, that might be the time I turn to Techstream). For simply monitoring the health of my HV blocks, I find Torque Pro much easier to use.
     

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  15. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    That is perfect. So Torque Pro with what dongle? I have a cheap Chinese $10 Elm327, but it has hard time connecting and staying connected to Torque (I did not pay for Pro because of that). I use OBD Car doctor and that connects to the cheap elm327 dongle okay, but I do not see a way to read the battery state. Perhaps I need a pro version of that? Or just get a better quality dongle. What do you use?
     
  16. davecook89t

    davecook89t Active Member

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    I paid the $5 for Torque Pro just because I thought I would prefer to get the most capable app available. As per my earlier post, I am using this https://www.amazon.com/gp/r.html?C=252J9762J4O0N&K=A3BR3191UOVLSN&R=1EBB28RDDT9SJ&T=C&U=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2FB00W0SDLRY%2Fref%3Dpe_385040_200389950_pd_te_o_gr_ti%2F181-8646399-5656749&A=I1IOWY6LTMYAWR8VGQNZSHW46L4A&H=3FAA6PGD3E9QSOFKFRJIPVDFZNMA&ref_=pe_385040_200389950_pd_te_o_gr_ti dongle, but also consider my caveat about leaving it plugged in continuously (particularly when the car has powered down).
     
  17. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    Great! Thanks. I do not want the wi-fi version, but I believe there is a similar bluetooth dongle in the same price range that seems to get good reviews. Also, there is also this one, which will power down and go to sleep if left plugged in. But it's a lot more expensive.
     
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  18. MTL_hihy

    MTL_hihy Active Member

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    Agreed, Torque Pro is definitely easy and fast but mini VCI w/Techstream is far more informative and useful as an actual tool (same thing the dealer uses). The Techstream does alot of things Torque Pro can't (on board tests, WAY more PIDs, adding new FOBs, etc). I just have mini VCI and keep a low budget OBD reader in the car for long trips (helps read codes or reset CEL if you get bad gas with water in it.......also keep a few cans of Seafoam on board for that reason too).

    So the real answer of which one is best is it really depends on what you're looking to do with it.
     
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  19. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    I am definitely planning to get a mini VCI, but as I understand it, it requires a dedicated laptop. I do not currently have one that I can use for that. I am sure one of these days I will stumble upon such a laptop. I will buy the mini VCI cable and probably be back here to ask where and how to get the software (I assume the one that comes with the cable is not up to date).

    As for a budget bluetooth reader, I definitely want one that is better than my elm327 unit, which is just more frustrating than useful (though once connected it does things like read and reset codes). I will probably get one of the two I mentioned above (there is a $22 and a $50 choice and I will decide which one) and Torque Pro.

    Thanks for the help!
     
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  20. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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