A high-quality scan tool is an important thing to have in any home garage. This is what allows you to access your vehicle’s diagnostic data. In turn, it enables you to make repairs—or at least not get fleeced at the mechanic.
Not all scanners will work on all vehicles, though. If your car or truck was made before 1995, you’ll need to find a scanner that supports OBD1. The good news is, OBD1 scanners come in a wide range of price points, and with a variety of functions. Check out the full reviews below to find the right one for you.
- 1 What Is An OBD1 Scanner?
- 2 Best OBD1 Scanner Comparison Chart:
- 3 Best OBD1 Scanner Reviews:
- 3.1 1. Innova 3145 Ford Digital OBD1 Code Reader
- 3.2 2. Innova 3123 GM OBD1 Code Reader
- 3.3 3. Actron CP9690 Elite AutoScanner Kit
- 3.4 4. Innova 3120F Bluetooth Diagnostic Scanner
- 3.5 5. Innova 3140G Color Screen with Bluetooth Code Reader
- 3.6 6. Launch X431 CRP429C OBD OBD2 Scanner
- 3.7 7. OTC 3211 OBD1 & II Scan Tool
- 3.8 8. Ancel FX2000 Vehicle OBD2 Scanner
- 4 Final Thoughts
What Is An OBD1 Scanner?
Most people know about the OBD2 diagnostic protocol since that’s the most common in cars on the road today. Prior to this, though, vehicle diagnostics used the OBD1 system. This switch-over happened in 1995 and goes back to about 1982.
You technically don’t need a scanner to read OBD1 diagnostic information. It’s put out as a series of pulses. So long as you have an adapter that will plug into the port, you can read these pulses and translate them by hand. This process is tedious, however, and requires more knowledge of a car’s engine.
An OBD1 scanner is one that can read the diagnostic codes put out by the computer and translate them into a form that’s easier to understand. This speeds up your diagnosis and allows non-experts to perform tests and repairs. Often, you’ll find these scanners also offer OBD2 compatibility, making them more versatile.
Best OBD1 Scanner Comparison Chart:
|Editor's Pick||Best Cheap||Also Great|
INNOVA 3145 Ford
INNOVA 3123 GM
|Vehicle Makes Supported||1982-1995 Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury||1996 and newer OBDII and CAN; 1984-1995 GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota||1982-1995 GM|
|Reads OBD1 Codes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Read/Clear OBDII DTCs||No||Yes||No|
|Read Pending DTCs||No||Yes||No|
|Diagnose SRS (airbag)||No||Yes||No|
Best OBD1 Scanner Reviews:
1. Innova 3145 Ford Digital OBD1 Code Reader
We’ll start with the Innova 3145. If you’re the owner of a Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury with OBD1 diagnostics, this is the ideal code reader for your garage. Not only is it a snap to use and a very budget-friendly choice, but it also diagnoses both engine and transmission problems.
The Innova 3145 communicates with your vehicle’s diagnostic port to read and display trouble codes. Codes are clearly displayed on the easy to read display. Readable diagnostic trouble codes include those from the engine and transmission. While this does omit some major systems like the brakes and airbags, you’ll be able to diagnose the most common problems in Ford from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
The Innova 3145 communicates with both EEC-IV and MCU computers. This means you can use it with any OBD1 Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury. For all of these vehicles, you can run self-tests and retrieve system test results, giving you complete power over your vehicle’s diagnosis.
- Compatible with the majority of OBD1 Fords, Lincolns, and Mercuries
- Very affordable option
- Stores codes in memory even when it’s not plugged in
- Digital display easy to read
- Simple to use
- Can conduct all self-tests for OBD1 Fords
- Vehicle compatibility limited to 3 brands
- Can’t diagnose ABS or other system problems
2. Innova 3123 GM OBD1 Code Reader
While the main difference between this and similar models is the compatibility, it also diagnoses more systems. This added functionality makes it the best OBDI scanner if you’re looking for value.
This Innova 3123 GM code reader can conduct OBD1 diagnostics on most GMs made in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. It’s designed to safely connect to your engine’s computer and determine what’s activated the check engine light.
In addition to reading the engine codes generated as part of OBD1, the Innova 3123 GM can read codes from the transmission and ABS systems. This expands your diagnostic power over similarly-priced tools. You can read enhanced codes on all compatible GM cars and trucks.
The Innova 3123 GM’s only short-falling as a diagnostic tool is its build quality. Several users reported issues with the terminal blades, and the casing is overall not very durable. If you’re careful when you’re using it, though, the diagnostic power is there.
- Diagnoses problems that illuminate the check engine light
- Reads codes from the engine, transmission, and brake system
- Safely retrieve diagnostic information
- Best value for the functionality
- Provides code definitions
- Only compatible with GM vehicles
- Somewhat cheap build breaks easily
3. Actron CP9690 Elite AutoScanner Kit
The Actron CP9690 is an impressive OBDI/OBDII scanner whose functions go well beyond the basics. While it is a bit pricier than many OBD1 scan tools, the extra features are worth the investment if you’re interested in making DIY repairs. A wider compatibility range also makes this one of the more versatile OBD1 code scanners on the list.
With the Actron CP9690, you’ll get everything you need to diagnose both OBDI and OBDII vehicles. Along with reading diagnostic trouble codes, you can access freeze frame data in real-time, then save it and print it for later reference.
The access to brake and airbags codes expands the Actron CP9690’s diagnostic power. The Code Connect database doesn’t only define trouble codes but also suggests verified repairs. This is a huge help for those DIYers who are learning as they go.
Unlike many OBD1 scan tools, the Actron CP9690 goes beyond diagnostics. Its reset functions include the check engine light, oil light, and battery light. Other helpful functions include VIN information and monitor tests, so you can keep an eye on your emissions.
- Wide vehicle compatibility
- Reads airbag and ABS codes as well as OBDII DTCs
- Can record, playback, and print diagnostic information
- Resets CEL, oil light, and battery light
- Code Connect database suggests verified fixes
- Displays I/M readiness and live sensor data
- Data printing requires PC (not compatible with Apple products)
- Price is on the higher side
4. Innova 3120F Bluetooth Diagnostic Scanner
The Innova 3120F is a scan tool for those who want access to service functions but don’t want to spend a fortune. It has Bluetooth compatibility and an on-board app for repair suggestions, making it a very user-friendly OBD1 scanner.
The testing support of the Innova 3120F is impressive. For OBD1 vehicles, you can perform the full range of diagnostic tests in addition to reading trouble codes. You can also read and clear the codes on OBD2 vehicles, including manufacturer-specific codes. Thanks to the Repair Solutions app, definitions for the codes come up right on the screen.
The Innova 3120F has relatively comprehensive service functions, especially given the price it sells for. You can turn off most of your dash lights using this scan tool. The Innova 3120F also allows you to initialize your battery, though this function is only available on OBD2 vehicles.
- Full range of diagnostic tests for OBD1 vehicles
- Bluetooth compatible
- Resets ABS, oil, and battery lights
- Comes with adapters for OBD2, OBD1, JOBD, and EOBD
- Works on most vehicles made from 1982 to the present
- Can only use battery functions on OBD2 vehicles
- No live data or graphing functions
5. Innova 3140G Color Screen with Bluetooth Code Reader
The Innova 3140G is the most comprehensive of all the Innova scan tools on the list. It is easy to use a scanner with a clear color display.
The Innova 3140G has modern touches you won’t find elsewhere on the list. Bluetooth compatibility lets you export data to both Windows and Apple devices. You can also update the device wirelessly, making sure your diagnostics are always accurate.
The range of OBD1 testing on the Innova 3140G is wider than you’ll find on most scan tools. Along with reading enhanced codes, you can run timing checks, conduct wiggle tests, check the cylinder balance, and more.
The Innova 3140G also reads brake and airbag codes and provides OBD2 functions like freeze frame and I/M readiness tests.
You can reset the most common dash lights with the Innova 3140G. This includes the oil and battery lights, as well as the airbag and brake. Even better, you can investigate and address the underlying cause of the lights through oil pressure tests and battery monitoring functions.
- Coverage for both OBD1 and OBD2 vehicles
- Clears engine, airbag, brake, oil, and battery lights
- Can retrieve data from the scanner on both Windows and Apple computers
- Free updates directly on the tool through Bluetooth
- Repairs Solutions gives potential fixes
- Performs a range of diagnostic tests on OBD1 vehicles
- Oil and battery reset not available on all vehicles
- Doesn’t support all 10 modes of OBD2
6. Launch X431 CRP429C OBD OBD2 Scanner
If you’re looking for the top of the line in OBD scan tools, the Launch X431 is right up your alley. Though comparatively expensive, it has an impressive array of features. You’ll go beyond diagnostics with the Launch X431, and it’s surprisingly easy to use given how much it can do. Overall, this is the best OBD1 scanner for DIY repairs.
To start with, the Launch X431 supports all 10 modes of OBDII, as well as OBD1. Our only minor quibble is that it doesn’t come with an OBD1 adapter—something that feels like it should be included, given the price.
Launch X431’s diagnostics also include reading codes from the transmission, brakes, and airbags. You’ll get a DTC look-up library, as well, to help you figure out what these codes mean in practical terms.
Here’s where the power of the Launch X431 comes to light. With this tool, you can make mechanic-level adjustments in your own garage, expanding the range of your DIY repairs.
The IMMO functionality the Launch X431 offers is rare to find on a scanner in this price range. Added to that is support for a host of service functions that allow you to re-set lights after DIY replacements of the tires or battery. You can also maintain your brakes, steering angle, and diesel particulate filter using the Launch X431.
- Full OBD1 and OBD2 support
- Reads transmission, ABS, SRS, and engine codes
- DTC lookup function
- New key programming included
- Performs DPF regeneration and ABS bleeding
- Service functions include SAS, BMS, TPMS, and EPB
- Most expensive scan tool on the list
- OBD1 adapter not included
7. OTC 3211 OBD1 & II Scan Tool
Another option if you want to go beyond OBD1 is the Bosch OTC 3211. Compatibility with older vehicles is this Bosch scan tool’s strong point. Along with supporting all OBDII and CAN vehicles, it’s compatible with most OBD1 vehicles made by Chrysler, Ford, GM, and Toyota. The special functions are also available for most of these makes and models.
Overall, the OTC 3211 is a great portable scanner for mechanics, as well as a prime option for home garages.
You’ll get all 10 modes of OBDII with the OTC 3211. Both OBD1 and OBD2 codes can be read right out of the box since the Bosch OTC 3211 comes with all the cables you need. Along with reading and clearing codes, the OTC 3211 retrieves airbags and brake codes. It can monitor your battery, too, letting you keep an eye on all your car’s major systems.
There are quite a few helpful service functions on the OTC 3211. We love the ease of the AutoID function for retrieving VIN information. Reset functions include the battery and oil lights. Home users will also love the component locator feature, which helps you figure out where to make your repairs.
- Supports all OBDII modes
- Access to Code Connect included
- Wide OBD1 and OBD2 compatibility
- OBD1 cables included
- Reads ABS and airbag codes as well as engine codes
- Resets oil and battery lights
- Select model years of OBD1 vehicles not compatible
- Software is no longer updated
8. Ancel FX2000 Vehicle OBD2 Scanner
Finally, let’s check out the Ancel FX2000, an OBD1 scanner that can detect codes from all three of your car’s main computer systems. With the full support of OBD2 and the ability to graph or replay data, the Ancel FX2000 is comprehensive enough for a pro.
The Ancel FX2000 is a diagnostic tool primarily, and in that regard, it excels. It’s easy to conduct a diagnosis of both OBD1 and OBD2 vehicles with the Ancel FX2000. In addition, you can access enhanced diagnostics for the transmission, airbag, and ABS systems.
You can do a lot with the data read by the Ancel FX2000, as well. All diagnostic data can be recorded and played back. Along with that, you can graph data from the engine, transmission, airbag, and anti-lock brakes. This is a huge help in identifying the source of engine problems.
Admittedly, the service functions are a bit more limited on the Ancel FX2000 than other models reviewed above. You can clear engine DTCs, as well as turning off warning lights for the airbag and brakes. As we said above, though, the Ancel FX2000 is primarily a diagnostic tool, and it serves that function beautifully.
- Supports all modes of OBDII as well as OBDI and EOBD
- Coverage for more than 46 manufacturers
- Reads brake and transmission codes as well as engine codes
- Can graph and record live and freeze frame data
- Intuitive, easy to use interface
- Enhanced codes only available on cars made 2005 and later
- Reset functions are more limited
The big price divide in OBD1 scanners is between those that just read OBD1 and those that can also read OBD2. If you only own a vehicle made between 1982 and 1995, there’s no need to spend more on functions you won’t be able to use.
Just keep in mind the compatibility of OBD1-only scanners tends to be quite limited. You’ll want to check with the manufacturer to ensure the scanner will work with your car or truck before you buy it.
For our money, the Actron CP9690 is the best OBD1 scanner you can buy. It offers a full diagnosis for all vehicles, as well as an impressive range of service functions. As we said above, though, it could be more scanner than you need. Use the full product reviews here to find the scanner that best fits your budget and vehicle.