Best OBD2 Scanner: Complete Buying Guide and Review 2020

Best Obd2 Scanner
Best Obd2 Scanner

You are looking for the best OBD2 scanner / best car code reader.

The goal is to equip car repair shops(gara too), as well as individuals who want to reduce trips to car repair shops.

To reduce costs and self-test and fix your vehicle.

You’ve come to the right place.

With that in mind, we searched the 10 best and most used scanners to fully evaluate the functionality as well as the pros and cons of each scanner.

Before the OBD2 scanner was discovered, mechanics would often hear the sound of the engine and tell them what was wrong with your vehicle.

But with the advancement in technology and the creation of an automotive computer system, things became more complicated, and an OBDII scanner was introduced to help engineers and mechanics identify faults in vehicles.

Now, the scanning engine is very easy to use. Without advanced knowledge, an ordinary car owner can make a diagnosis to find car problems.

Therefore, we have provided the following list of 10 best obd ii scanners to help you choose.

The 10 best OBD2 scanners on the market and are highly appreciated by users.

Image And NameSpecifications
Bottom LineUser Rating
1.Autel MaxiCOM MK808 -Dimensions : 9.4 x1.4 x 5.9 inches.
-Weight :6.4pounds.
Autel MK808 is an automotive diagnostic scanner for professional car enthusiasts and mostly used in car repair shops. 4.3 / 5
2. Launch CRP129-Dimensions : 7.3 x 4.3 x 1.2″
-Weight : 10.6 ounces
It is definitely a suitable fit for professionals, DIYers, and car owners who have a bit of knowledge regarding the 4 systems (ABS, SRS, Transmission, and Engine). If you are looking for the best code reader for cars then this is an excellent pick.
3.9 / 5
3. Autel Maxisys MS906-Dimensions : 10 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
-Weight : 22 pounds
Is a great diagnostic tool for professionals. Its wide vehicle coverage, combined with support for basic and advanced diagnostics, means you can use it as the primary scan tool in an auto shop. 4.3 / 5
4.Autel AutoLink AL319-Dimensions : 70.9 x 31.5 x 102.4″
-Weight : 2 pounds
If you perform your own vehicle maintenance, basic repairs on your own, or want to save yourself time and money from having the dealership pull your engine codes, you should get the Autolink AL319.
4.4 / 5
5.LAUNCH Creader 4001-Dimensions : 4.7 x 0.8 x 3 inches
-Weight : 7 ounces
The Launch Creader 4001 is one of the most effective auto diagnosis devices today. It has a variety of features which boost its user-friendliness and it is compatible with a wide variety of vehicles. After buying it, you’ll get to enjoy a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts 1 year and easily accessible customer support too. 4.4 / 5
6.FOXWELL NT301 -Dimensions : 8.7 x 3.1 x 6.7″
-Weight : 1.05 pounds
It is extremely convenient for DIY-ers and home mechanics. But Foxwell NT301 is more complicated than what an ordinary car owner could figure out. 4.3 / 5
7.BAFX Products - Wireless Bluetooth-Dimensions : 2.8 x 1.5 x 1 inches
-Weight : 2.4 ounces
This OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter suited to average car users and beginners as it offers easy setup and user experience and users who want a diagnostics aid that will deliver a good performance. 4.4 / 5
8.BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro -Dimensions : 2.2 x 1.9 x 1 inches
-Weight : 2.08 ounces
Bludriver is excellent for DIYers and average car owners. 4.5 / 5
9.Autel MaxiLink ML619 -Dimensions : 7.3 x 10.2 x 3 inches
-Weight : 1.95 pounds
If you have a vehicle model compatible with this OBDII scan tool and you don’t want to spend too much, then the ML619 is an excellent choice. 4.4 / 5
10.INNOVA 3100j -Dimensions : 12 x 8.5 x 2.5″
-Weight : 1 pounds
However, one undeniable truth about the INNOVA 3100J OBD2 scanner is that it is worth every penny of its price. In short, you will not regret your purchase if this is the best scanner you can afford. 4.2 / 5

Best OBD2 Scanner general review

The best OBD2 scanners on the market do beyond the essential function of reading and erasing trouble codes.

When looking for a good OBD2 scan tool, you should look for the most user-friendly, functional code readers that are also reasonably priced.

You’ll need to decide which features are a priority for you before you make a purchase. For example, if your car is showing a trouble code that is manufacturer specific, you’ll need to buy a car scanner that can read that code.

And now we will go into each tool:

1. Autel MK808 Auto OBDII Scan Tool

Autel MK808 Auto OBDII Scan Tool

Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Diagnostic Scan Tool
 
4.5 4.5 / 5
 
This diagnostic tool will give your car a full detection since it can read/clear DTCs and view data stream for ALL systems (ABS, SRS, Engine, Transmission,…) 
 

Why did you choose Autel MaxiCOM MK808?

This is one of the best OBD2 scanners and has the most comprehensive basic enhancement features you will find on the market.

Autel MaxiCOM MK808 is a perfect choice if you have a small workshop and are looking for a true high-performance diagnostic tool for car repair shops.

It is suitable for a small workshop, not suitable for each family because its price is a big problem.

Autel MaxiCom MK808 can read different control units in almost every car brand on the market because it has so many functions such as the most needed coding & programming functions like service lamp reset. , Reset parking brake, programmable lock, and more.

With LED 7 touch screen comes with easy to use interface with an A9 processor performance with Android OS.

You will get a 12-month warranty and free 12-month software updates from Autel.

Pros And Key features of MK808

Pros Key features:

  • Large Vehicle Coverage
  • Great software & easy to use
  • Wifi for both diagnostics and printing ability
  • Ability to do advanced programming
  • Easy to carry
  • Good support by Autel
  • Great quality and a very though case
  • Great Warranty
  • Very good price for what you get

  • Full OBD2 diagnostics
  • Diagnostics of the most control units like Airbag, ABS, ECM, TCM and much more
  • 12-month warranty with 12-month free software updates
  • Advanced Coding & Programming
  • Diagnostic Graphs and Freeze time data
  • Key Programming
  • Electric parking brake reset
  • Immobilizer key programming

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2. Launch CRP129 OBDII Diagnostic Tool

Launch CRP129 OBDII Diagnostic Tool

Launch CRP129 Code Reader Diagnostic Tool OBD2 Scanner
 
4.2 4.2 / 5
 
The Launch CRP 129 is a multifunctional OBD2 scanner for the most important car systems, including ENG/AT/ABS/SRS/ 4 basic systems and reset functions for EPB/SAS/Oil Service Light
 

Why did you choose Launch CRP129 obd2 scanner?

The Launch CRP129 will help you diagnose various car models and models quickly and accurately.

It checks why the engine indicator lights up or diagnoses your vehicle to see if it exceeds the emission readiness level.

 This scanning tool is suitable for individuals and beginners because it is easy to use and its price is very affordable.

Because the compact design makes it easy to use and store.

The large color screen displays all the results and you will have an easy time explaining them.

Besides, it supports all 10 test modes of OBD2 and 4 system diagnostics.

A particularly important function is the CRP129 vehicle scanning tool, which is compatible with most American, European, and Asian vehicles manufactured in 1996 and above.

It can also be updated over the internet and comes with a hassle-free 12-month warranty.

Pros And  Features of Launch CRP129

Pros Features

  • One-year warranty
  • Ergonomic design
  • Free lifetime software updates
  • Easy to install
  • User manual included

  • Well-arranged buttons
  • Multilingual menu
  • 5-inch color screen
  • Supports all 10 test modes of the OBD2
  • Support online upgrade
  • Read DTC and clear DTC
  • Oxygen sensor test and carbon canister test
  • Display DTC help information and service information
  • Special functions such as EPB reset, oil reset, and SAS reset
  • Diagnoses 4 systems which are engine, transmission, ABS, and SRS
  • Extensive vehicle coverage of more than 40 car makes and models
  • One-year warranty

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3. Autel Maxisys MS906BT Auto Diagnostic Tool

Autel Maxisys MS906BT Auto Diagnostic Tool

Autel Maxisys MS906BT Bluetooth Diagnostic Tool OBD2 Scanner
 
3.9 3.9 / 5
 
MS906BT supports oscilloscope and digital inspection camera add-ons and supports ultra long-distance Bluetooth transmission
 

Why did you choose obd2 scanner?

Autel MaxiSYS MS906BT is a wireless scanner and operates on an Android system.

MS906BT operates with a 6-core processor that processes tests quickly and shows results in a matter of seconds.

Powerful Battery:

Tablet scanners have low batteries. However, this one has a power-packed battery of 10,000 mAh which can last for 14 hours.

AutoVIN Technology:

With this feature, you can easily identify your vehicles among many.

Advanced Functions:

MS906BT can perform a variety of professional diagnostics such as SRS, ECU coding, TPMS, and EPB.

There are HDMI and audio ports at the back where you can connect many accessories.

Pros And Features of MS906BT

Pros Features

  • Supports 32GB of storage space.
  • High-quality display.
  • Long-lasting battery life.
  • Automatic software updates via Wi-Fi, with real-time push message notifications.
  • comes with two languages, English and Spanish.

  • Reset and install service intervals
  • Reset the oil change calculator in the engine and automatic transmission
  • Replacement of brake pads on vehicles with an electric parking brake
  • Adaptation of the sensor to the angular position of the steering wheel
  • Regeneration of Diesel particulate filter
  • Bleeding brake system with ABS, etc.
  • Immobilizer functions
  • ​​Battery Registration and reset

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4. Autel AL319 Engine OBD2 Car Code Reader

Autel AL319 Engine OBD2 Car Code Reader

Autel AutoLink AL319 Engine Fault CAN / OBD2 Code Reader
 
4.4 4.4 / 5
 
Autel al319 OBD2 code scanner is ‘Plug and play’ and very easy to use even for beginners,works on all 1996 and newer vehicles (OBD II & CAN)-domestic and import,Supports English, French, German,Spanish etc

Why did you choose Autel AutoLink AL319?

Autel AutoLink AL319 can read basic car problems and offer solutions.

The speed and simplicity of this OBD2 tool will lessen your headache when that nasty Check Engine Light turns on.

It turns off your Check Engine light and diagnoses your car problems with the comprehensive DTC library available in this OBD2 scanner.

The Autel AutoLink AL319 scanner reads and erases your trouble codes within seconds. Check codes for both generic (P0, P2, P3, and U1) and manufacturer specific (P1, P3, and U1) problems.

You can view live data as well as freeze frame information.

This OBDII code reader even shows you your I/M readiness, emissions test status, PCM data, and vehicle information, including your car’s VIN, CIN, and CVN.

Hence, it’s an easy and convenient choice of vehicle code readers.

Furthermore, it’s okay to use for any car manufactured after 1996 or compatible with a 16-pin OBD connector.

Vehicle coverage: The Autel AL319 is compatible with any OBD2 and CAN domestic and imported vehicles. It can be used with many brands. For example, 2012 Fiat 500 POP, 2002 Ford Explorer XLT, and 2006 Audi A4.

It’s easy to use and has a great user guide complete with detailed illustrations and diagrams. The user guide and language settings on the car scanner are available in English, French, German, and Spanish.

The Autel AutoLink AL319 is the best OBD code reader for beginners and domestic car owners, this is an awesome and affordable scan tool for the average user.

Pros And Features of Autel AL319

Pros Features

  • Affordable
  • Color-coded LEDs
  • Built-in Speaker
  • One-year warranty
  • Free lifetime updates

  • Read Codes
  • Clear/Erase Codes
  • Live Data
  • One-Click I/M Readiness
  • Freeze Frame
  • Vehicle Information

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5. Launch Creader 4001 OBD2 Code Reader

Launch Creader 4001 OBD2 Code Reader

Launch Creader 4001 OBD2 Car Code Reader
 
5 5 / 5
 
This is one of the best obd2 code readers you can find in this price range. It offers basic functions, supports obd2/Can/European/Asian models manufactured in and after 1996.
 

Why did you choose to LAUNCH Creader 4001?

The Launch Creader 4001 is a comprehensive car code reader. By using the Launch Creader 4001, you can check the engine and turn off the check engine light.

Essentially an OBDII code reader, its design can provide a great customer experience. Since it is versatile, the unit can turn off your engine light, capture vehicle data in a free frame, stream data live, and give you access to the DTC lookup library.

This device can extract information from your car’s computer system. It can read and clear up diagnostic trouble codes from your engine. The reader can also assess the readiness status of your I/M and stream live engine data.

In addition to decoding vehicle information and displaying it to you, this OBDII code reader can also decode freeze frame data.

Thanks to its qualities, the Launch Creader 4001 is a perfect entry-level tool for diagnosing any problems with your car even if you are a beginner.

Generally, this device can fix error codes produced by your engine. In doing so, it turns off the check engine light on your car’s dashboard. In addition to that, it can check the emission status of your vehicle.

Pros And Features of Launch Creader 4001

Pros Features

  • Can read and clear DTCs;
  • Performs I/M Readiness Test;
  • Shows live data stream;
  • Can turn off (MIL).

  • 1) Read DTCs
        2) Clear DTCs
        3) Turns off Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL)
        4) Read dynamic data streams
        5) Read readiness status
        6) Read freeze frame data
        7) Read pending DTCs
        8) Read permanent DTCs
        9)Read vehicle information
  •  Color and graphical display of data streams
  •  Query DTCs
  •  Free update of USB interface via internet
  •  Multilingual support
  • The same function as Autel AL319

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6. FOXWELL NT301 Enhanced OBDII Scanner

FOXWELL NT301 Enhanced OBDII Scanner

FOXWELL NT301 Professional Enhanced OBDII Code Reader

4.3 4.3 / 5

Nt301 car scan tool is open to global customers. It is an upgraded version from the basic car obdii diagnostic scanner with distinctive features. No battery required, it is charged directly from the OBDII car scanner interface in your vehicle.

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Why did you choose FOXWELL NT301?

Foxwell NT301 is the ideal diagnostic scanner for you. This device can detect malfunctions on your vehicle and erase them.

The smart design with reading/erase and I/M readiness hotkeys make this device user-friendly right when you take it out of the package.

In addition to that, the user can expect access to enhanced vehicle information, as well as access to emission readiness and onscreen DTC codes.

Not only will you be able to read/erase codes, but this tool will also show live engine data in either a text display or a graph.

Moreover, with freeze frame data you can read engine specific information like engine temperature, fuel trim, and more at the exact moment the MIL turned on.

If you are a DIY enthusiast looking for a scan tool that performs better than a basic or entry-level scanner at a wonderful price, then the. It has an easy to read display screen, clearly labeled buttons, and it is compact in design.

Above all, the NT301 is compatible with any vehicle manufactured from 1996 and newer.

This device will save you cash and time spent visiting a car repair shop.

Pros And Features of Foxwell NT301

Pros Features

  • Accurate Readings
  • Smart Design
  • Convenient to Use
  • Lifetime Updates

  • Unique patented design
  • Reads and clears error codes
  • Compatible with 1996 and newer vehicles
  • Offers access to emissions readiness status
  • 8-inch TFT color screen
  • Lifetime free software upgrades
  • Build-in speaker
  • One-year product warranty

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7. BAFX Products OBD2 Car Code Scanner

BAFX Products OBD2 Car Code Scanner

BAFX Products Bluetooth Diagnostic OBDII Code Reader

4.4 4.4 / 5

Many similar OBD2 tools CLAIM to work on all vehicles but have problems with the J1850 & CAN protocols however….. the BAFX Products OBD reader actually DOES work on all vehicles & ALL OBD2 protocols!

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Why did you choose BAFX Products?

The main purpose of this scanning tool is to read OBDII check engine light codes, reset the CEL, Graph sensor readings, and prepare emission tests.

This is an easy BAFX 34t5 obd2 Bluetooth tool for scanning vehicle errors, emission tests and it works on most cars from 1996 and it works on all OBD2 protocols including J1850 and CANAs.

You can use it with your Android phone/tablet or Windows PC using a 3rd party app. Read & Clear diagnostic trouble codes for the check engine light, both generic & manufacturer specific codes.

Get REAL-TIME sensor information right on your phone or another device that is connected via Bluetooth.

Diagnostic Car Scanner & Reader Tool for Android Devices – Read / Clear Your Check Engine Light & So Much More!

The other thing to be aware of if choosing the BAFX OBD2 scanner is that it only works with android or windows based products.

It can not be used with any apple or iOS products. This means if you have an iPhone, then this scanner is not for you.

Important, this OBD2 scanner does not read ABS, SRS, TPMS, Oil Change or any other non-OBDII related lights

This is a perfect choice for those who want to use it for their personal needs. It is a handy diagnostic tool for professionals users or expert DIYers.

Pros And Features of BAFX Products

Pros Features

  • Work smoothly with third-party apps.
  • Compatible with many kinds of vehicles.
  • It provides real-time sensor information and transmits it to your phone using Bluetooth.
  • Get a demo software with the scanner when making their purchase.
  • A 2-year manufacturer’s warranty is provided

  •  
  •   

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8. BlueDriver Enhanced OBDII Scan Tool

BlueDriver Enhanced OBDII Scan Tool

BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android

4.4 4.4 / 5

BlueDriver is an expert problem-solving Scanner, authorized for Apple and Android devices. In this device features of a sophisticated scanner are coupled with the marvelous technology in your smartphone, giving you a unique tool to count on.

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Why did you choose BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth?

Bluedriver Professional Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool is compatible with any OBD2 compliant vehicle.

Bluedriver Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool can quickly detect the car’s fault codes and erase them as well.

Read and Clear CEL Codes: Confirmed, Pending, and Permanent for all makes,

Read and Clear Enhanced Codes: e.g. ABS, Airbag, Transmission, etc for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda (available worldwide), as well as BMW, VW, and 2003+ Honda (available in North America),

Repair Reports: Code Definition, Possible Causes, Reported Fixes (Vehicle-specific for each DTC),

Freeze Frame: Vehicle snapshot when a code is stored,

Smog Check: See if the vehicle is ready for a smog test

The Bluetooth code reader also offers enhanced diagnostics as it can perform basic functions and some additional tasks such as Airbag, Climate control, ABS, and much more.

It is also compatible with a wide range of vehicles such as GM, Ford, Nissan, BMW, Honda, Mazda, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Always ensure that it is compatible with your device before buying.

If you own a GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, BMW, Nissan, Honda, or Volkswagen, this scan tool will be your engine perfect pair.

The Bluedriver scan tool is specifically built for use on Apple and Android devices.

Besides, The Bluedriver scan tool only supports the Bluedriver App and not any other third-party apps.

It is a handy diagnostic tool for professionals users or expert DIYers.

Pros And Features of BlueDriver

Pros Features

  • A blue LED light makes it easy to tell once the phone connects to the device.
  • The app automatically launches on iPhones.
  • Offers 6.6 million verified fixes.
  • Displays active codes and sends alerts on your phone.
  • No battery needed to operate this scan tool.

  • Confirmed Check Engine Codes
  •  

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9. Autel ML619 OBD2 Scanner

Autel MaxiLink ML619 CAN OBD2 Scanner

4.4 4.4 / 5

Quickly diagnose problems with a vehicle with the Autel MaxiLink ML619 Vehicle Diagnostic Scanner Reader. This handheld tool is ideal for detecting faults on anti-lock brakes ABS, supplemental restraint systems and air bag systems SRS, and performing OBDII diagnostics

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Why did you choose Autel MaxiLink ML619?

If you are looking for a top-quality diagnostic tool that can do it all, then the Autel MaxiLink ML619 CAN OBD2 Scanner just might be the best one for you.

You can also view the information on the large color screen when it displays the live data, and even freeze the screen so you can analyze the information it provides.

But one of the best things we like about this Autel scanner is the Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) Lookup feature.

When the device provides you with either generic or manufacturer specific codes, you can quickly enter the code in the DTC Lookup field and it will give you the definition of the code so you know exactly what the problem is.

Similar to the Autel AL519, the ML619 may not work all newer vehicles as advertised. A careful compatibility check before buying is highly recommended to make sure that the scanner will work well on your vehicles.

However, this could just be an isolated issue that can be fixed with a simple call to Autel customer service.

This Autel scanner displays a lot of the information you need to work on just about any vehicle. Because of that, it’s a quality device for both the average vehicle owners and the mechanic alike.

Autel ML619 is a reliable product for you.

Pros And Features of Autel MaxiLink ML619

Pros Features

  • You can access the ABS and SRS functionalities that are not common in most code readers.
  • It has a wide coverage as Autel ML619 can read and clear codes in the U.S, Asian, as well as European models.
  • Autel MaxiLink ML619 allows you to retrieve both generic and manufacturer’s codes
  • The code reader makes it possible for you to turn off the Check Engine Light and reset monitors
  • Allows you to read and retrieve freeze frame data and support the graphical live display.

  • 1:Works on most 1996 and newer vehicles (OBDII & CAN)
  • 2:Diagnoses ABS/ SRS system codes on most 1996 and newer major vehicle models
  • 3:Retrieves generic (P0, P2, P3 and U0), manufacturer specific (P1, P3 and U1) codes and pending codes
  • 4:Turns off Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) and ABS/SRS warning lights, clears codes and resets monitors
  • 5:Views freeze frame data
  • 6:Reads, stores and playbacks live PCM datastream and live sensor data Graphs data
  • 7:Retrieves vehicle information (VIN, CIN and CVN)
  • 8:Troubleshooter code tips guide technicians to the root cause of trouble codes faster
  • 9:Multilingual menu and DTC definitions – English, Spanish and French
  • 10:TF memory card for data backup and software update
  • 11:Internet updatable
  • 12:Prints data via PC

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10. Innova 3100j Universal OBDII Scan Tool

Innova 3100j Universal OBDII Scan Tool

Innova 3100j ABS SRS EVAP OBD2 Scanner with Freeze Frame Function

4.4 4.4 / 5

The all-new 3100j is the perfect entry-level tool designed to empower any consumer or technician when it comes to vehicle maintenance and repair. This code reader works on all 1996 and newer OBD2 cars, light trucks, SUV’s, hybrids, and minivans.

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Why did you choose Innova 3100j obd2 scanner?

Innova 3100J is an OBD scanner that can display CEL messages along with their fixes. It will help you keep the car’s battery’s performance in check by doing battery tests.

It also performs the oil reset test and provides step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

Common Functions:
Innova 3100j can read and erase CEL codes by providing accurate information on which part of the engine has a problem.

Advanced Functions: Innova 3100j analyses and provides information on the anti-locking braking system on the car, SRS system, and airbag system.

Oil Reset: Innova provides you with detailed information when you get an oil reset light powered on. This will help you fix it.

Also, you can perform an EVAP test to check for leaks.

The downside of the Innova 3100j is that it does not work remotely.

Pros And Cons of Innova 3100j

Pros Cons

  • ABS and SRS warning codes.
  • It comes with a USB cable to connect to a PC and download updates.
  • Multiple language selection options including French, English, and Spanish.
  • Free internet updates.

  • Freezes sometimes.
  • Sometimes, the light won’t go off even after fixing oil, SRS, and ABS issue.
  • Updating the software requires you to connect the device to a computer.

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Best OBDII Scan Tool Buying Guide

What is OBD Scanner?

Before we get to understanding the OBD scanner, let’s do a quick recap of what is OBD. On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) is a diagnostic system found in vehicles. It helps, mechanics and car owners alike, in monitoring and fixing various components of the car.

However, OBD systems on their own can only indicate that there is a problem. For example, if there is an issue in the engine, the OBD system in your car will alert you through the Check Engine Light (CEL). But you won’t be able to figure out the exact problem from just that.

This is where OBD scanners come in. OBD scanners are the tools that help in translating what the OBD system in your car is saying to something that you can understand. The OBD system checks your vehicle and produces specific Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) according to the problem.

Then, the OBD scanner makes it possible for us to read, understand, and act upon these codes. Since there are so many different scanners out there, the scanner’s functions depend on the type of scanner.

Let’s read more about this ahead.

Types of OBD Scanners

When you’re deciding which is the best OBD scanner for you, the number of options you see will leave your head spinning. Once you understand all the different types of OBD scanners, it will be much easier to narrow down your choices.

OBD1 vs OBD2 Scanner: Do I Need OBD1 Scanner or OBD2 Scanner?

In a nutshell, OBD1 is an older diagnostic system, and OBD2 is a more modern, more commonly used, and much better diagnostic system. So, to decide whether you need an OBD1 scanner or OBD2 scanner, you first need to figure which system your car uses. If your vehicle was sold any time from 1996 onwards, it most likely has OBD2 technology.

Therefore, you’ll need an OBD2 scanner. Similarly, If your car was manufactured somewhere between 1991 and 1995, it’ll have OBD1 technology for which you’ll need an OBD1 scanner.

Besides that, there are other differences between the two types of scanners. For instance, OBD1 scanners could only be used for one specific car made by a particular manufacturer. Whereas, OBD2 technology is more standardized so the same scanner can be used for multiple vehicles, regardless of make or manufacturer. Furthermore, OBD2 scanners are more accurate, have more features, and therefore, are more popular.

Types of OBD2 Scanners: Code Reader, DIY Scanner, or Diagnostic Tool?

Now that we’ve established that OBD2 scanners are the better option, we will discuss the different kinds within OBD2 scanners. There are three main kinds: Code Reader, DIY Scanner, and Diagnostic Tool.

1.      Code Reader

Code readers are the most basic and popular scanner available. They are relatively cheap, and you can most probably find it at any hardware store. You might have also seen your mechanic using this type of an OBD2 scanner.

For most code reader type scanners, you need to plug them to the OBD2 port. These can perform essential functions like reading and clearing the DTCs. Although some code reader scanners offer some advanced features as well.

2.      DIY Scanner

DIY Scanners are a step ahead of Code Readers in terms of features. Moreover, these are more expensive too. They make diagnosing easier as you can not only read and clear codes but also access more information regarding the codes and your car.

With DIY scanners, you can see details behind the codes, DTC definitions, troubleshooting methods, live data about your car, and much more. Furthermore, some of these scanners can be traditional with them having to be plugged during use. But most DIY scanners can be used wirelessly with the help of dongles and dedicated apps.

3.      Diagnostic Tool

The Diagnostic Tool scanners are the most advanced OBD2 scanners. They are more powerful and better suited for professional use. Accordingly, these are also the most expensive out of the three scanners.

Some of its features include ECU programming, coding, adaptations, and many more advanced options. Moreover, they allow you to save substantial amounts of data from your car.

Which OBD2 Scanner Type is Best for Me?

Since all three types of OBD2 scanners have different levels of features and functions, it then depends on an individual’s need. Which one proves to be the best OBD2 scanner for you will depend on how you plan to use a scanner, and which features you need. For instance, a code reader would be best for you if you’re looking for something cheap and that can perform essential functions for you.

Similarly, if you’re a home mechanic, and you want more features and secure connectivity, then a DIY Scanner would be perfect. Moreover, if you require a more sophisticated tool, more features than a DIY scanner, and you don’t care about the price, you should take a Professional Diagnostic Tool Scanner.

OBD Scan Tools for Specific Vehicles

Getting an OBD2 scanner specifically for your vehicle will be even better as then you won’t run into any manufacturer specific complications.

BMW Scan Tools:

 Some general scanners might not be able to interface with your BMW OBD system completely. So, you will need a BMW-specific OBD2 scanner to avail of all of its features.

Audi Scan Tools: 

Similar to BMW, Audi OBD systems might not support all OBD2 scanners and will need scanners specially made for Audis.

Ford Scan Tools:

 A scanner that is specifically for Ford vehicles will give you much better results and performance than a generic scanner.

Volkswagen Scan Tools: With a Volkswagen scan tool, you can use the scanner with any Volkswagen manufactured from 1996 onwards.

Toyota Scan Tools:

 You will find some excellent Toyota scan tools that will give you the most accurate and reliable results when used with a Toyota.

General Motors Scan Tools:

 If you use a General Motors-specific OBD2 scanner, there’ll be fewer chances of running into trouble with your scanner.

Heavy-Duty Truck Scan Tools: 

Different kinds of vehicles have different problems. Which is why you need a heavy-duty truck scan tool if you own a heavy-duty truck.

OBD2 Bluetooth Adapters for iOS, Android, Windows Devices

Another great thing to come out of OBD2 scanners is the Bluetooth adapters. Rather than using traditional cords to connect to the OBD2 system in your car, many OBD2 scanners now come with the option of wireless connection through Bluetooth. You can use these adapters with any Bluetooth compatible device like smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

Although, while most OBD2 Bluetooth adapters will be compatible with your car, your phone or laptop might not support all of them. There are some which might only work with Android systems or only Windows operating systems. Similarly, with an iPhone, it’ll be harder to find the right adapter as iOS supports minimal Bluetooth connections.

So, when you’re choosing an OBD2 Bluetooth adapter, you have to check it against the operating system you’re using.

What If I Need an OBD2 Scanner for a Specific System or Diagnostics: ABS, SRS, Engine, Transmission, or Bidirectional Scan Tool?

Something you’ll realize when you’re looking for OBD2 scanners is that there are a lot of them out there. Moreover, all of them have such different features and qualities, that everyone can find something that fits their needs perfectly.

An Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) scan tool is useful for diagnosing when the ABS light turns on due to any problem such as a bad relay. Moreover, Safety Restraint System (SRS) scanners can be helpful when the car detects a problem with the airbags. Similarly, you use Engine Code readers for engine-specific issues or Transmission scanners for checking the transmission.

Furthermore, only some of the OBD2 scanners are bidirectional tools. They allow you not only to read the incoming information from the car but also to input information as actions for the vehicle to follow.

Other Things to Consider Before Buying an OBD2 Scanner

After coming this far, it’s crucial to note these few things. Otherwise, all the hard work that you’ve done up till now will go to waste.

Price Range: 

The price of these scanners depends on the features it has. You can get basic Code readers with limited features for as low as $10. While professional diagnostic tools with more advanced features can cost you even more than $3000.

Update:

 Since all new cars come with new features, they also bring with them new problems. Therefore, you need to continually update your scanner so that they can support these changes. Some brands offer free lifetime updates while some charge for it, so you must choose wisely.

Guarantee:

 Accidents can happen anytime, so it doesn’t hurt to have a 1- or 2-year warranty with your scanner. Ideally, though, you should look for 3-year warranties.

After-Sale Service:

 Most of the scanners are now becoming more and more complex with much more advanced technology. So, it is best to go for an OBD2 scanner that offers after-sales service in case you face any issue with your scanner.

Tech Support:

When you’re stuck in the middle of the road and have no idea what your scanner is saying, you’ll need the best tech support to guide you out of the problem.

Communication:

 You must also look at how easily you can contact the scanner’s manufacturer or seller because they’ll be the ones you need to contact if you need any spare parts or extra tools.

Refund Policy:

 This might not be that important if you’re going for a cheap and basic scanner tool. But, if you’re going to spend thousands on a professional diagnostic tool, you need some assurance for refunds if the product is not to your liking.

Best OBD2 Scanner Buying Guide Checklist

We have reached the end of this OBD2 scanner buying guide. Let’s now have a look at what to consider when buying an OBD scanner.

Compatibility

Pick a scanner that is compatible with your vehicle (model, make, fuel type, etc., should be considered).

Most scanners support cars but some may support light and heavy-duty trucks as well.

Also, check for protocols. Most OBD2 scanners cover five OBD2 protocols but some may have support for additional protocols as well.

Also, remember that OBD2 scanners only work with 1996 and beyond models. You will need an OBD1 scanner for older cars.

Functions

Pick a scanner keeping your car and requirements in mind. If you are a DIYer and only want to save a little bit of money, you should go for a scanner that offers basic features.

Conversely, if you a machinist or a professional, you should opt for a scanner with advanced features. This will help you save more money and give your vehicle a boost.

Connectivity

Corded scanners have their benefits but Bluetooth scanners are preferred by more people these days.

Bluetooth adapters work better with Android devices and WiFi adapters work better with iOS devices. However, some can support both devices.

Moreover, many adapters also support Windows devices and Bluetooth-enabled laptops.

Price Range

WiFi adapters are typically more expensive than Bluetooth adapters, but the price usually depends on factors such as warranty, features, etc.

You should ideally pick one that is within your budget. Check out our guide on Best OBD1 Scanners in 2018 for some good OBD1 scanners under your budget.

Note: Buying apps can add to the cost to try to get one that comes with a free app.

Update

Go for a scanner that comes with regular updates to cover more problems. Many scanners offer lifetime software support.

This can be a good option especially because new vehicles come with new problems and only updates can keep you safe.

Some scanners can update online and some need to be connected to a computer. While they both work fine, getting a computer can often be a problem for some users.

Warranty

Pick a scanner that comes with a warranty so that you do not have to worry about anything in case the scanner doesn’t work or support your vehicle.

Most scanners come with a 1-2 year warranty that is typically not extendable.

Apps

OBD2 scanners work on apps. Some come with their app and some support third-party apps.

You should ideally pick a scanner that has its app but also supports third-party apps so that you can decide if you wish to pay for an app or not.

Plus, the features you get also depend on the app that you use, which is why third-party apps can be beneficial.

Read more: 10 The Best Cheap OBD2 Scanners of 2020 Review