Most of the time we associate Vehicle Diagnostics to OBD-II which is a certification requirement and the possibilities are extremely limited. But Vehicle Diagnostics opens up an entire lot of automotive testing possibilities. The following are the uses of Vehicle Diagnostics:
- Read data – data like engine speed, vehicle speed, temperatures, pressures, and several other vehicle parameters can be read and hence diagnostics can be used in different stages of testing like End of Line (EoL) Testing, Quality testing, Indoor testing, Outdoor testing, Performance testing, Service Testing and more.
The A2L file that provides full access to ECU data is many times not available with teams performing EoL/quality/service testing. A2L files are confidential and providing them to different teams is a risky affair. In such cases, Diagnostics comes to the rescue. A diagnostic dataset (in the form of ODX files) can be authored and access to data can be specified in the ODX file. So, for different testing purposes, different ODX files can be authored limiting or allowing data depending on the requirements.
- Write data – yes, diagnostics is powerful enough and allows writing data into the ECU. And of course, what data can be written is controlled by limiting access. So, we can easily say that calibration is possible using vehicle diagnostics to a limited extent.
- Read trouble codes – The major application of vehicle diagnostics is reading trouble codes (widely called as DTCs). The errors and faults recorded by the ECUs a vehicle can be read out just by a click saving us the time and effort in finding out the problem.
- Clear DTC Information – After physically fixing the troubles/faults in the vehicle, the faults codes can be deleted from the memory of ECUs.
- Read Freeze Frame Data – When a fault occurs in a vehicle, a fault code is registered. For analysis of the fault, it will be helpful for the engineer if there was more information about the occurrence of the fault than just the fault code. The surrounding information (like engine speed, vehicle speed, temperature, pressure, etc) when a fault occurs is stored in ECU memory called Freeze Frame. Such data can be read out using diagnostics.
- Variant Coding – Many different variants of any vehicle are generally released with different features. Changing the software on the ECU to turn the features ON/OFF is not effective and involves huge efforts. That’s where variant coding comes into picture using which the engineer can easily enable/disable features of a vehicle depending on its variant. Such variant coding is possible using diagnostics.
- Actuator testing – We have learned that reading any sensor data is possible using diagnostics. It is also possible to check how actuators (injectors, brakes, mirror motors, lights, horns, etc) perform using diagnostics.
- IUMPR – In Use Monitoring Performance Ratio, is a ratio that tracks how frequently the systems in a vehicle are monitored on the road. Further, it is a measure of how good a system is. Such IUMPR data are read by diagnostics.
- Flashing – This is proof of how powerful diagnostics is; ECUs on the vehicle can be flashed just by connecting through the OBD port using diagnostics. A flash sequence is needed which can be defined inside the ODX file.
It is true that diagnostics applications are not as simple as listed above. But it can be made as simple as a click of a button by using DiagRA D. DiagRA D is an all-in-one Diagnostics software which groups and display data in a simple and human-readable format with the click of a button. DiagRA D reads the ODX file and configures itself with the diagnostics dataset. In case an ODX file is not available, DiagRA D allows the user to create a diagnostic dataset.
With DiagRA D different stages of testing becomes a simple process resulting in decreased testing efforts and increased quality of testing. The burden of understanding the insides of diagnostics is reduced on the part of the engineer resulting in better focus on the testing.