What's In the Box
Today’s automobiles use numerous computer modules and sensors to accurately control performance, features and efficiency. In most cases, the average owner is stuck with the factory programming, unless they are able to find an independent shop that has the proper tools and know-how to customize the programming. Since 2014, newer VW and Audi owners have had access to modifying their cars using the OBDEleven diagnostic scan tool from Voltas IT. The device also works on select Scuda, Seat, Lamborghini, and Bentley vehicles, with new makes and models being added regularly.
This fascinating bit of tech plugs directly into the OBD 2 port on select models and provides connectivity through the company app. Users are able to read and clear codes easily from their smart phone, and the OBDEleven can even unlock access to numerous customizable options for increasing performance. Resetting oil change and air filter lights is simple and straightforward, eliminating the need for owners to have to go out of their way to clear codes when doing maintenance themselves.
So, What Does It Do?
Most OBD 2 scanners read only certain codes, often referred to as P-codes. These codes are logged and stored when various components do not respond correctly. P-codes always refer to power train errors -like engine or transmission faults. These codes are largely standardized across all vehicle makes and models. The easy way to tell is that any P-code that begins P0XXX is a standardized code. In addition to P-codes, a vehicle will log chassis, body, and user codes, but only the highest dollar scanners will show these codes. Typically, a driver is faced with dealer level diagnostic equipment to retrieve these codes.
Most OBD 2 codes are related to emissions controls, as that is what the OBD system was designed to do. The Pro version of this cool little gadget goes a step further and allows access to a wide swath of diagnostic information including anti-lock braking systems, airbag controls, and even allows customization of displays, colors, and numerous other features.
The device uses one-click apps for accessing the features. Features are grouped into categories that include workshop (resetting service and inspect lights), retrofits (Adding non-factory original equipment), and adjustment (activate/ deactivate features installed by the factory).
Standard vs. Pro
The standard OBDEleven tool provides access to identifying VIN numbers, reading and clearing all control unit trouble codes, sharing diagnostic information via email, battery status, and engine and equipment faults. Many of these features are available using a standard OBD scanner. The OBDEleven app is simply nicer to look at and vastly more straight forward than most scanners on the market today.
The Pro version gives access to more features, including advanced control unit diagnostic information, sub-control unit information, control unit resets, adaptation, settings and output testing. The Pro version allows for live tracking of information, also and features a slick interface that is intuitive and easily understood. Personally, I love the gauges the Pro version includes. They are highly intuitive and look great.
Buyers are not forced to decide whether to purchase the standard or pro version. Instead, standard product users may add pro functionality at any time simply by paying a fee online for access. Functions are access-restricted by a “credit” system that requires users to purchase credits. The various functions of the tool require different numbers of credits to operate. Credits run about $2 US each, and users are allowed free credits by watching ads on the app up to six credits per day.
The credits system is probably one of the largest complaints users have with the system. Many users find it to be irritating that they bought a hardware device only to have to buy individual credits to use it or suffer through commercials.
What Can the OBDEleven Pro Do?
Many new Audi and VW vehicles lack optional equipment -such as side view dip mirrors- often they are installed but not activated. Using the OBDEleven, owners can turn these types of features on. Other features users have been able to access through the device include window and sunroof controls to the key fob and digital dash backgrounds typically reserved for special models.
Other users have been able to access programming within the car’s systems to increase performance by adjusting settings. Beware -mistakes while making changes to factory settings can cause a wide variety of unintended errors in systems you wouldn’t expect to be impacted.
Perhaps the most valuable feature available through the Pro version is access to VCDS long coding. If you have never experienced coding, think of it as drawing a paint-by-number image. If one line is out of place, the whole image loses detail, contrast, and even understandability. Rather than a traditional laptop-type coding program, the OBDEleven allows one-touch modification to vehicle codes. This allows users to unlock, adjust, and tune specific components.
Using the OBDEleven is really cool. Setup is fast and simple, though many users noted that the device did not correctly identify their particular vehicle correctly using VIN number. Manually selecting the correct model is simple using drop down menus on the app. Most users reported the device automatically suggested models that are common and did not identify nuanced configurations.
Individual systems can be inspected, or users may simply scan the entire vehicle for faults. The program will go through each vehicle system, picking up the codes along the way. The OBDEleven scans more modules than most OBD 2 scanners, so users are likely to get a better idea of what the logged faults are using the plug-in.
When done, the screen will show the number of faults and which systems those faults were recorded in. One touch clearing is easy. Diagnosing the problem is a simple matter of selecting the equipment group showing faults, then selecting the individual fault. The OBDEleven will show when the fault happened, how often, and other important information for resolving problems.
This is a particularly useful feature, because the date and time of the error can often illuminate why the code is stored. For example, if the OBDEleven reports a passenger not wearing a seatbelt in the front seat, it simply could be that the driver had a heavy object setting on the seat rather than a fault with the airbag system, which is the most likely fault code. Knowing the date and time of an error is critical to understanding why and how the error occurred.
Making Changes Using OBDEleven
Long coding to make changes to a vehicle is tedious and for those who are not really well educated in doing it right, can be catastrophic. The OBDEleven tool takes a lot of the terror out of programming by using apps that allow easy changes. Want to turn on rain-sensing wipers? Easy. How about changing climate control buttons, lights, and function? Really easy. In fact, using the OBDEleven for personalizing your VW or Audi is straight-forward and lots of fun. The apps help to reduce unintended consequences while making significant changes. The OBDEleven plug-in allows for super simple, straight forward changes and greatly reduces the risk of making a serious error.
Who Would Want an OBDEleven
There are really two groups of drivers that should consider buying the OBDEleven. First, drivers that maintain their cars themselves and want to know the deep-down dirt about what is happening are going to have a hard time finding a more complete scanner, particularly at the price. it simply is a reality that scanners are expensive, and the better they are the more they cost. For the price of an OBDEleven plug-in, buyers can get a pretty nice -but not top-of-the-line- OBD scanner. The basic OBDEleven gives as much or more information than a typical scanner and is priced in the ballpark of a decent quality tool.
VW and Audi owners that want to set their car apart from the crowd are going to want this tool. The ability to do Pro-level customization through the OBDEleven Pro app is not something that comes with every device, app, or program out there. Want proof? Look at ForeScan for Ford vehicles and you will see what I mean. The simplicity of making complex changes through the OBDEleven app is ridiculously easy compared to other systems on the market.
Both of these groups of owners, likely most VW and Audi drivers out there, are going to find benefit from using the plug-in. Whether it is simple diagnostic check-ups or adjusting the computers to compensate from big-time power building add ons, the OBDEleven makes it simple and straight forward. Very few trick tools a driver buys are ever going to meet the feature-rich nature of this plug-in.
Any time a driver starts monkeying around with factory setups, there is a risk of really screwing things up. The OBDEleven system is not different. It is totally possible that using the plug-in and app to customize your VW or Audi will leave you with features that no longer work. Some users have been forced to go to dealership service departments to have the systems properly reset after using the OBDEleven system to make major changes.
Drivers with vehicles under warranty may find that dealers won’t work on their car, or that warranty coverage no longer applies after fooling around with the controllers. It is totally possible that making some minor change to a vehicle can cause other unrelated systems to cease to function appropriately. In some cases, catastrophic errors have happened that require hundreds of dollars in repair and reprogramming costs.
Anyone who gets into coding should know that prior to making changes, record the original setting. That way, if the changes have unintended results, it is less difficult to revert to the factory settings without paying dealership service rates.
I bought the basic obd11 and used it to find out why my 2016 GTI was throwing off error messages saying to stop driving and get the car to a service center.
Well, I was using a 6 year old battery in a trickle charger when not driving.
My multimeter indicated the battery was very good.
I plugged in the OBD unit and it said the battery is dead. Somehow, in just a few days, the battery drained out.
Got a new one, started the GTI and, per usual, the dashboard light up like a Christmas tree. Drove a few miles to clear the errors and that did the trick. Ran the OBD again and there were no errors.
Had I followed VW’s advice I would be hit with a towing fee and all kinds of fees from VW.
In short, the OBD did what it was designed for.
A great way for any VW owner to find problems.
This article is like the story of Beauty and the Beast.