How to Easily Check Your Car is OBD II Compliant

Thinking of buying an OBD II scanner to check up on vehicle health? Well, first you better be certain your car is OBD II compatible. Also, you don’t want to make the common mistake of getting muddled up with the older OBD I.

Thankfully, there are a number of very easy ways to identify OBD II compliant cars. Once you have familiarized yourself with these, you can buy the best OBD II scanner with great confidence.

Quick Reminder: What Exactly is OBD II?

OBD stands for on-board diagnostics. It’s a standard computer-based system built into all cars manufactured since 1996, even light-duty vehicles and trucks.

The OBD monitors the performance of the engines’ major components including emission. This crucial system will flag errors and even send a warning to drivers through dashboard check engine lights, otherwise known as a malfunction indicator light.

When a user or mechanic plugs in a handy OBD II scanner, they gain access to extensive fault codes that can be used to self-diagnose vehicle problems. It can be used to gain a great insight into your car’s health, thus avoiding costly failures or repair bills in the future.

3 Simple Ways to Check Your Car is OBD II Compliant

1. OBDII Compliance By Year of Manufacture

Due to conformity with the legal requirements, all vehicles manufactured in the US since 1996 (and many late 1995 models) have OBD II systems by law.

European and Asian manufactured vehicles also had to follow suit, all gasoline vehicles were OBD II compliant since 2001. Diesel vehicles were also included by 2004. Australia and New Zealand received the same regulations for all vehicles from 2006.

Some vehicles manufactured before these dates still have ODB II, otherwise, they have the older OBD I system. These will require an older type scan tool and do not provide as much diagnostic information.

If your vehicle was not manufactured before the legal requirements, use these next methods for further verification.

2. Search For the OBD II Compliant Name Plate

To absolutely confirm your vehicle has an OBD II system, look for the sticker/nameplate that details emission control information. In almost all cases it will be located under the hood, yet its exact location varies greatly between models.

Look for the words, “OBD II Certified” or “OBD II compliant”.

3. Confirm OBD II Compatibility By Finding the Connector

Older, OBD I systems are not easily seen or accessible to drivers. Usually, the connector is buried deep within the vehicle’s dashboard.

Fortunately, OBD II systems are far easier to locate and plug into with a scan tool. OBD II connectors are typically located under the driver’s seat, ashtray area, driver’s footwell or occasionally, in the boot area. This is a great advantage when it comes to installing an OBD II scanner in an accessible area.

Otherwise, you may choose to purchase a Bluetooth OBD II scanner. Then by plugging the Bluetooth OBD II module onto the connector you will gain wireless access to the system. This is an ideal option for those who only wish to use on a single vehicle at one time.

The exact location will vary greatly depending on your vehicle’s make and model. If you don’t want to hunt for yourself, consult a friendly mechanic or the vehicle handbook.


Before you buy an OBD II scan tool, you need to be 100% certain your car is OBD II compliant.

Check whether it was manufactured since 1996 and use the additional methods to confirm OBD II compliance. Finally, you don’t want to miss our best OBD II scanner reviews!