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Why do OBDII and EOBD tools not work on all cars from 1996 in the UK and Europe?

Some of our most frequently asked questions on our OBDII and EOBD tools are:

"I have seen these/similar products advertised as working on all 1996 and newer cars - why don't yours?"

"I've just bought an OBDII/EOBD tool from someone else that was advertised as working with all 1996 and newer cars.
Why doesn't it work on my [1999 Vauxhall Vectra]?"

Here is the answer...

In 1996 in the United States, a Federal Law came into force requiring all US-sold cars to be OBDII compliant. Most OBDII tools are therefore advertised as working with all cars from 1996.

The OBDII Federal Law applied only to cars sold in the US.

In the UK and the rest of Europe, our equivalent law (European On-Board Diagnostics, or EOBD) did not come into force, and more importantly, was not fully implemented by our car manufacturers, until 2001 for petrol cars (2003/4 for diesels).

Where an OBDII tool is sold in the UK/Europe claiming to work on all cars from 1996, this is highly unlikely to be the case.

Even where a seemingly identical car may have been sold in Europe and the US before 2001, from our own testing and research, it is rarely the case that the European model will be OBDII/EOBD compliant.

The fact that we sell these tools as only working with 2001 and newer petrols (and similarly 2003/4 diesels) is due to the fact that we are being honest in the coverage, rather than simply duplicating the sales information from the US.

So do these tools work with any UK/European cars before 2001?

Yes they do, but certainly not across the board, and very rarely back as far as 1996. A few manufacturers that we know have some OBDII/EOBD support (on petrol models) before 2001 are listed below:

Ford (most petrol cars using the EEC-V engine management system)
Jaguar (most models from the beginning of the X300 series)
Volvo (some models)

A few examples of manufacturers that we have had very little success connecting OBDII/EOBD tools on pre-2001 models are:


Please be aware that we do not try to sell these tools as something they are not.

More information

If you have any questions on OBDII/EOBD support in Europe, or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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