What is freeze frame data and how do I read it?


Nowadays, maintaining a car is very easy with the help of new technology. Like that, the second generation OBD is one of the unique parts. This scanner is mainly used to find any internal difficulties before any severe problem occurs. And the freeze frame data is a part of this scanner. If you own a car, you must know about this code. Let’s learn what this code is and why it’s so essential to learn in this article. 

What is freeze frame data?

If you know about the OBD2 scanner, you must hear about the freeze frame data. This data collects some parameters and information recorded in the memory for the diagnostic trouble code. That means at least 1 or 2 freeze frame buffers will be supported by an ECM. And the OBD2 interface can easily access the data. Freeze-frame data is a snapshot of data, and it is captured when the control module detects any malfunction.

Often, the car might have some DTCs simultaneously when any faults occur. So you can ensure the problem related to DTC at the primary stage and the reason behind the Malfunction indicator light. When you notice the light, you can say the issue associated with the DTC or DTC is the main reason behind the freeze frame data at the primary stage.

You can also find out what’s wrong with your vehicle from the sensor data stored in the frame. Sometimes you also need to guess the data for a conclusion. So, gaining experience with the engine and car will help when you analyze the possible solution to solve the malfunction. Like when an engine detects a misfire, a snapshot of the current sensor values is captured. The ECM or engine control module stores the snapshot data with the DTC called freeze frame data. Every car required the OBD2 scanner to support the frame freeze data to diagnose any further trouble further.

How to read obd2 freeze frame data?

The freeze frame data is the integral code of the OBD2 scanner. This scanner can access and present the snapshot data to the car owner or technician. There is a very straightforward way to read the freezing frame data with the OBD scanner. The software is used to crack the car’s code and gives you readable data. It’s sometimes necessary to read the freeze frame data as soon as possible. Because many vehicles can store only one data, a new freeze frame data will override the previously stored data if you don’t read it instantly. Then you lost the previous information.

How does the OBD2 scanner store the freeze frame data?

You must think about how the OBD2 scanner stores this freeze frame data into it. To understand this process, you need to know about two types of system monitors. They are:

  • Continuous monitor: in this process, the monitors are always running and operating continuously when you drive the car. The fuel trim and misfire detectors are included with this continuous monitor. That’s why many times, it’s also known as a “one-trip” emission diagnostic monitor, and it also enables the PCM or ECM to store any trouble code instant with a necessary freeze frame code.
  • Non-continuous monitors: From the name, the non-continuous monitor is also known as two strip monitor. You also get an idea about the working process of this system. It only monitors when it finds any fault in some exact system in this monitoring system, oxygen sensor, heaters, EGR system, evaporative emission, etc. Each system needs to perform a test once during a trip. So if it finds any temporary trouble in the system on the first trip, it stores the data in the powertrain control module or PCM. But on the second trip, monitor until you start the next journey. If you don’t face any problems during the second driving session, then the temporary code will be cleared from the ECU memory. how to read obd2 freeze frame data

For the non-continuous monitor, if the trouble occurs in the second driving session, ECU stores the trouble code in the memory with relevant freeze frame data. But the freeze frame data won’t be refreshed after you fix the trouble on the same test cycle. If the system finds any fault in the engine misfire or irregularities with the fuel trim, the freeze frame data overrides the memory code.

When is the Freeze frame data useful?

The freeze frame data come with some additional information. This data is essential for troubleshooting any faulty code. The information from the freeze frame data also indicates how serious the trouble is and whether it is a constant or intermittent problem. Sometimes some problem only appears in a particular condition, with less temperature in the coolant or high RPM. But occasionally, many issues come only once, like the vehicle was seldom used and the battery voltage was low. Reading the data can inform you about the serious problem, make quicked to repair it, and create a more in-depth diagnosis.


The freeze frame data is beneficial for repairing your car. This code simplifies some more significant issues that happen with your vehicle. It’s essential to read the freeze frame data as fast as possible. Because your car is not so upgraded, it can only store a single trouble code. So when the car finds a new freeze-frame snapshot, it has just overwritten the new code into the old one. And you also lose the previous trouble code. With that, an engine misfire will also override the last content, and at those times, the freeze frame data is not stored correctly. So try to solve one problem at a time so that you don’t need to worry about losing any data or override issues.


  • Can the OBD2 scanner store multiple freeze frame data in the memory?

This memorization system depends on your car and engine model. Because most old vehicles don’t store more than one data at a time, it can store more than one freeze frame data if you have a new, upgraded vehicle. But if it’s not, then it can only keep one issue, and if you won’t fix this and the scanner finds another fault, it just overrides the data, and you lose the previous trouble code information.

  • Is it possible to turn on the check engine light without storing freeze frame data?

Yes, it’s possible. Sometimes the check engine lights on, and you won’t find any trouble code in the OBD scanner. When there is no code stored in the memory or automatically delete any trouble code after successfully fixed by the warm-up cycle. This is a very rare case.

  • How to clear freeze frame data?

You can reset the freeze frame data from the OBD2 scanner. When you clear the memory of the OBD2 scanner and reset the MIL, the freeze frame data is removed by then. But if you won’t fix the issue, the code pops up again on the car screen.

  • Is it possible the OBD2 scanner stores any freeze frame without blinking the MIL?

Yes, for some particular cases. Sometimes, the car system solves any fault by itself and then automatically removes the code. That’s when you won’t get any multi-function indicator light turned on.

Kevin Nicholas is an automotive technician who is a genius at software and hardware-related issues. He manually tested more than a hundred OBD scanners and gave his honest opinion on whether the device was worth the money or not. His in-depth OBD review articles help people choose the right product, whether it is a European, American, or Asian vehicle. He completed his Automotive Specialized Training Course at Universal Technical Institute and has more than 15 years of experience in the field.

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