Removing car’s error messages with an ELM327 device and AndrOBD

Removing car’s error message: am I insane? Well, indeed, in a perfect world where no faulty design exist, I would be. Fixing an error message, that would really mean fixing not even a symptom but a warning and that can only be wrong.

But in the world of french automobile, it is not so (I cannot tell for expensive german or asian cars, I don’t own any). Namely, with Peugeot-Citroën HDI (and strangely not so much with similar Fiat’s JTD and Ford’s TDCi), you easily end up with the infamous Anti Pollution Fault error code after firing the engine. Sometimes it really means something is very wrong, often it only means that a probe is faulty. Sometimes some car shop do not replace/fix the probe but just reset it, so the problem stops only for time. And later it would pop-up and cause the engine to work in degraded mode, stuck to less than 2500 RPM or so – not great. On my HDI-based car, the mechanic decided to completely deactivate the probe, faulty when the car was only a few years old and with less than 50000km, considering it is not worth being changed to a new one that may die early as the original part anyway. Since then, the engine works nicely but on startup there is this Anti Pollution Fault error code that stays on. Not really dramatic but it causes you to pay actually less attention to any error message.

So all modern cars are electronics or even computer-based. But it is unlikely that you’ll manage to access to any code running. For your security they might say. Convenient to fake gaz emission tests, nonetheless.

Still, these days, you can get for cheap some OBD-II devices, OBD standing for on-board diagnostics. It is quite limited in scope and a capabilities, still, it can be used to set off error codes.

I tested a few (libre) software and cheap hardware. What worked for me (Peugeot car with HDI engine) is a bluetooth ELM327  (10 €) device along with AndrOBD (available through F-Droid). It provides data seemingly accurate and reset error code actually works (when the contact is on but engine is off).

I also tried an WiFi ELM327 device, the dedicated software failed to connect or was not providing any usable info. I’d be interested in any other option (for instance with a GNU/Linux laptop instead of F-Droid phone).