What are DTC codes?
DTC stands for Diagnostic Trouble Code.
It represents a type of code your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) system uses to alert you to a specific problem with some aspect of the vehicle. If your Check Engine light becomes illuminated, for example, this could signal any of several emissions-related faults your system has detected, such a problem with your fuel system or evaporative emissions controls.
When a vehicle experiences a malfunction, DTC codes—also referred to as fault codes—help you pinpoint the location of the specific system experiencing the problem. The codes themselves typically consist of four or five characters.
- The first character is always a letter and refers to the type of system (P=powertrain, C=chassis, etc.).
- The second character is either a “0” to signify a generic code or a “1” if it is manufacturer-specific.
- The third character is a single-digit number representing the sub-system involved in the vehicle’s malfunction.
DTC codes were created by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) as a way to comply with vehicle emission regulations. When a vehicle’s OBD system detects a malfunction, it generates the appropriate DTC code and sends that alert to the owner via a light or other type of indicator on the instrument panel.
With the right vehicle telematics system in place, however, those DTC codes can also be sent in real-time to a fleet manager or individual responsible for vehicle maintenance.
What do DTC codes have to do with vehicle tracking and fleet management?
If you do not have a fleet telematics system in place to send you the data your vehicles generate every day, you might need to rely on your drivers or field service technicians to relay DTC codes to your offices when they spot these alerts on their trucks’ control panels. Or, you might need to send someone to physically inspect each vehicle at regular intervals to make sure the instrument panels indicate all systems are running smoothly. Obviously, neither of these processes is as efficient as they could be.
A vehicle tracking solution installed across your fleet could be capturing and relaying all of this data to your company, helping you to act on your vehicle’s DTC codes much more quickly and consistently. This means the right GPS tracking software, delivering fault codes to your fleet management team in real-time, can help you improve the overall ROI of your vehicles, reduce vehicle downtime, and keep your fleet operations and your business running more reliably and efficiently.
Learn how to combine your vehicles’ DTC codes with GPS vehicle tracking to improve the ROI of your fleet, the safety of your drivers, and your business’s reputation.