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Reading codes

3854 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Bob Lincoln
Some questions on getting fault codes...

Is there a scan tool that will plug in and read the pre-96 Dakotas (OBD 1?)?? I ask because I've never been able to count the flashes accurately, they just don't flash right on my truck. I've noticed 2 smaller plugs hanging below the driver's dash on my '94, also on a '95 I checked out today, are those plugs for a scan tool, if so, where can i find it?

On a 96 Dakota, how complete are the codes that show up through the OBD 2 port? Last week I scanned a 96 and it showed "no codes," even though 2 vacuum lines were unplugged and the truck was stalling. Is the 96 code bank incomplete because it was the first year or something?

Thanks for any help
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The factory scan tool for 1993 and earlier was the DRB II. The DRB III with the Supercard will do 1994 and up. There is a Body connector cable and an Engine connector cable that plug into the scan tool.
The engine diagnostic connector for the Dakota is in the engine compartment. The one located under the dash would be for ABS, Instrument cluster (MIC), Airbag control module (ACM) and Central timer module (CTM), if equipped.
Look for an open-ended connector like in this image: 0900c15280215f05.gif
A disconnected vacuum line may not set a fault code on any vehicle. The computer diagnostics will sense electrical faults like a disconnected sensor. If the vacuum leak is bad enough and is there long enough, you may eventually get a P0171 'fuel system lean' code. Not everything that makes a vehicle stall will set a fault code.
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These $1000 scan tools can do far more than just read fault codes. You get what you pay for. OBD 1 systems varied too much with different protocols and different connectors to make it feasible for most companies to market a 'universal' scan tool. Only a couple did.
It would be economical for a repair shop to buy a good scanner as it get used often and eventually pay for itself. In a busy shop with just one scan tool, many times you have to wait your turn to use it.
A highly capable scanner for occasional personal use would just not make sense.
It would be more worthwhile to borrow (if you know someone who has access to one) or buy time with one. Having a technician do it also costs money. A diagnostic fee or minimum charge is what the shops call it.
If you have your codes read at a shop, get your money's worth by having them write down the 'freeze frame' or 'snapshot' event data that is stored along with each fault code. The freeze frame will tell you what everything else was doing at the time of the fault. This may aid in diagnosis.
1994 and up PCMs are flashable to newer software at the dealer if Chrysler has released improved software updates for your particular application.
OBD 1 test equipment is fast becoming obsolete around here as most of the vehicles have rusted out and gone away. This may be good for dropping the used market price of OBD 1 equipment as demand falls off.
The Dakotas were still AN bodies, so the frame dimensions may be the same. There may be other differences though. Maybe go to a plow manufacturer website like Meyer and look at the various year plow package part numbers for similarity.
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