Looking for the best OBD scanner? You’re in the right place. In this article, we break down everything you need to know about what to look for in an OBD2 scanner.
First, let’s see what we have from the Editor’s Picks
- 1 Editor’s Picks of the Best OBD2 Scanner
- 2 What Is an OBD2 Scanner?
- 3 Why Is a Good OBD-II Scan Tool Important?
- 4 Best OBDII Scan Tool Review
- 4.1 1BAFX Products OBD2 Engine Light Code Reader (for iOS Devices)
- 4.2 2Vgate iCar Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE) OBD2 Fault Code Reader for iOS/Android
- 4.3 3ANCEL AD410 Enhanced OBD2 Code Reader
- 4.4 4OBDScar OS601 OBDII Automotive Engine Fault Code Reader
- 4.5 5FOXWELL NT201 OBD2 Engine Light Fault Code Reader (Orange)
- 4.6 6OBDLink LX Bluetooth: OBD-II Engine Code Reader for Windows and Android – DIY Car and Truck
- 4.7 7BlueDriver Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
- 4.8 8FIXD Active Car Health Monitor & OBD2 Scan Tool
- 4.9 9FOXWELL NT301 Professional OBD2 Scanner
- 4.10 10OBDLink MX: Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner for Android & Windows
- 4.11 11Autel AL519 OBDll Scan Tool with Mode 6
- 4.12 12ANCEL AD510 OBD2 Car Scanner with Battery Monitoring and Print Data
- 4.13 13Innova 3040e ABS Live Data and Oil Reset Scan Tool for Vehicles
- 4.14 14ANCEL AD610 OBD II Car ABS SRS SAS Engine Professional Diagnostic Tool
- 4.15 15Autel MaxiLink ML619 OBD2 ABS/SRS Diagnostic Tool
- 4.16 16Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Professional OBDII Full-system Diagnostic Tool
- 4.17 17LAUNCH CRP123 Engine Transmission ABS and airbag OBDII Car Diagnostic Tool
- 4.18 18Launch CRP129 ABS SRS EPB SAS OIL Service OBD2 Diagnostic Tool
- 4.19 19Innova 3100j Professional OBD2 Car Diagnostic Tool
- 4.20 20Innova 3150f Professional ABS/SRS OBD2 Diagnostic Tool for Vehicles
- 5 What Are the Best OBD2 Scanner?
- 6 The Bottom Line
- 7 Types of OBD Scanners
- 8 The Best OBD Scanner Brands
- 9 OBD scan tools for specific vehicles
- 10 ABS, SRS, Transmission, or Bidirectional Scan Tool?
- 11 Other things to consider before buying an OBD2 scanner
- 12 The bottom line
Editor’s Picks of the Best OBD2 Scanner
|Editor's Pick||Best Cheap||Also Great|
Autel MaxiLink ML619
4.4 / 5
4.5 / 5
4.4 / 5
What Is an OBD2 Scanner?
Basically, all commercially available cars nowadays come equipped with onboard computers that monitor and collect data on the performance of a car’s various systems over time. For instance, Onboard Diagnostics 2 (OBD2) is a standardized system that computers in cars use for self-diagnostics and reporting.
So, the point of ODB2 technology is to give an industry-standard method for monitoring and checking car performance. Particularly, OBD-II systems work by monitoring sensor inputs and outputs and sending a “trouble code” if anything is out of place. Also, the OBD2 system in your car is the thing that turns on your “check engine” light when it detects something wrong or when it is time for routine maintenance. Therefore, it’s clearly an important system to keep an eye on.
To explain, OBD2 systems monitor a large amount of data at each point in time, and an OBD2 scanner is a specialized device that is made specifically for plugging into and extracting data from OBD2 systems. Most important, an ODB2 scan tool can read and analyze diagnostic messages from the OBD2 system and helps with diagnosing car problems, among other things.
To begin with, standard OBD2 systems are equipped with a universal connection interface, which is normally found just under the steering wheel of your car. Above all, with the appropriate cables, your ODB2 code reader can plug directly into your car’s diagnostic systems. Then, it reads/analyzes diagnostic messages to aid in the repair and return to service.
Why Is a Good OBD-II Scan Tool Important?
Firstly, having a good OBD-II scan tool can save you a lot of money on car repairs. Evidently, the main reason for this is that having your own way to check up on your car allows one to diagnose and potentially fix problems without having to take your vehicle into the shop. Secondly, a good tool for regular checking will help you stay ahead of future problems, which can extend the life of your vehicle.
Moreover, without an OBD-II code reader, it takes a lot of technical knowledge and skill to check your car’s different systems. After all, the best OBD-II diagnostic tools take the technical knowledge out of diagnosing your car’s problems and relays that information in a simple to understand visual/graphical interface.
As a result, a good OBD2 code reader can be a lifesaver for emergency situations where taking your car into the shop is just not an option. For instance, say you are driving through a sparsely populated region and your check engine light comes on. Even if this happens, you can use your OBD2 code reader on the spot to diagnose and fix any problems right on the roadside.
Best OBDII Scan Tool Review
Undeniably, without an OBD2 scanner, you may have to take your car into the shop to figure out what is wrong with it. However, this can take a large amount of time and money that you may not have. On the other hand, though, a good OBD2 scanner can help you distinguish between a broken catalytic converter or a blown gasket, all in-home and without getting your hands dirty.
The list of the 20 best OBD2 scanners below will help guide you in finding the right tools to diagnose any problems with your car.
1BAFX Products OBD2 Engine Light Code Reader (for iOS Devices)
The BAFX OBD2 Light Code Reader is a universal OBD2 code-reader designed with simplicity in mind. As a result, this small code reader measures only 5.6 x 3.1 x 2 inches and weighs 3.2 oz., and it is compatible with all US consumer cars manufactured after 1996. Not to mention, it also comes with a 2-year manufacturer warranty.
The utility of the BAFX is its smartphone compatibility, primarily. That is to say, the OBD2 code-reader can connect to your smart device via WIFI and relay important information regarding your car’ diagnostics. Therefore, you can read and clear diagnostic codes and self-diagnosis problems directly from your smart device.
Due to its simplicity and ease of use, the BAFX OBD2 Light Code Reader is a good purchase for those who do not know much about car maintenance, but still, want a method for diagnosing simple car problems. While it is not as powerful as the OBD2 scan tools you might find at your local dealer, the BAFX gives a great mix of simplicity/functionality all for a very affordable price.
- Smart device compatible
- Easy to set up
- Small and portable
- Works on all US manufactured cars after 1996
- Warranty replacement is reported to be prompt and easy
- Requires third-party app purchase ($10-$30)
- Cannot clear the anti-lock braking system (ABS) or airbags.
- In-app purchases for specific manufacturer specs
2Vgate iCar Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE) OBD2 Fault Code Reader for iOS/Android
The Vgate iCar Bluetooth Fault Code Reader provides almost any Bluetooth enabled device the hardware needed to read and clear diagnostic codes from your OBD2 system. Specifically, the Vgate measure 2.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches and weighs just under 2 oz. Also, it is compatible with most cars made in the past 20 years, which is a huge plus.
Similarly, the Vgate’s utility comes in its smartphone connectivity, for the most part. To clarify, the Vgate is compatible with both iOS and Android devices and comes with a set of instructions for setting up the device on your smart device. Above all, the auto-sleep/auto-wake function turns the device off when not in use which protects your battery from being drained.
Another key point, the Vgate is a good bet for people who want a single code reader that is compatible with all of their devices because it works with both iOS and Android devices. So, no matter what OS you run you can use it. Not to mention, it is small and nondescript, and the auto-sleep/auto-wake function means you can plug it in and forget about it, without worrying about your car battery.
- Compatible with iOS and Android, no need to be tied to one device
- Power saver feature saves car battery life
- 3-light LED display clearly indicates when the code reader is connected, idle, or running.
- 2-year warranty at purchase
- Requires third-party app purchase
- In-app purchases for some manufacturer specific codes
- Some users report connectivity issues with their phones
- Multitude of third-party software can cause compatibility issues
3ANCEL AD410 Enhanced OBD2 Code Reader
The ANCEL AD410 Enhanced OBD2 Code Reader is a nice handheld code reader for those who do a lot of their own work on cars. To clarify, the PDA sized orange and black code reader measures 9 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches and weighs 11.2 oz. Also, the ANCEL is compatible with all US manufactured cars model year 1996 and newer and supports all OBD-II protocols.
Firstly, the ANCEL contains a built-in OBD-II lookup library, and the LCD screen displays error code definitions in real-time. Moreover, the graphical UI is intuitive and has the main menu for switching between functions. Basically, this means that it doesn’t require any setup to use and the manufacturer also offers lifetime free software upgrades to fix bugs or add new parameters.
Overall, the ANCEL is a really good OBD2 code reader for car enthusiasts who want a bit more functionality. Because it can display real-time data from the ECU and oxygen sensors, it is useful for troubleshooting related to engine efficiency and vehicle emissions.
- Built-in lookup library displays error code definitions in real-time
- Language settings include English, French, German, Russian, and more.
- LCD display is bright and easy to read
- Graphical UI is intuitive
- Comes with free software upgrades for life
- LCD screen may be too small for some
- Software updates require Windows
4OBDScar OS601 OBDII Automotive Engine Fault Code Reader
The OBDScar OS601 OBD-II Fault Code Reader measures 4.9 x 3 x 1 inches and weighs 10.4 oz. Due to this, the sleekly design rectangular case fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and offers a number of useful diagnostic tools. Likewise, it is compatible with all US manufactured cars past 1996 and all EU manufactured cars in 2001.
Similar to the ANCEL, the OBDScar has a 2.4-inch color screen that displays error code definitions in real time. Moreover, the seven-button panel on the front allows you to navigate the menu and choose between the different functions, and the screen can display real-time sensor data from the car’s systems.
The OBDScar is a good option for people who want a good diagnostic tool for home use. Because the color screen shows error code definitions, you know exactly what is wrong with your car which can save you a trip to the mechanic. Not to mention, it will even store data for future comparison.
- Built-in error code lookup library
- Supports ALL OBD2 protocols
- Can look up vehicle VIN info
- Can store diagnostic data for future review
- Emissions testing
- Does not pull ABS codes
- Short cord and casing is bulky
5FOXWELL NT201 OBD2 Engine Light Fault Code Reader (Orange)
The FOXWELL NT201 OBD2 Light Fault Code Reader provides a way to get accurate diagnostic data from your car with the touch of a button. The black and orange code reader measures 6.7 x. 6.7 x 2 inches and weighs 10.4 oz. Likewise, it is also compatible with all US manufactured cars past 1996, EU manufactured cars post 2000, and most Asian cars made after 2008.
Furthermore, a unique feature of the FOXWELL is the dedicated I/M testing button on the front. Basically, simply clicking the button automatically performs an entire I/M check. Then, Red-Yellow-Green LED lights indicate if your car meets the required emissions levels.
In addition, the FOXWELL is a good diagnostic tool for DIY car enthusiasts because the one click I/M protocol allows for quick emissions testing. And, its analyzing tools can give you a better picture of your car’s health. Equally important, the manufacturer offers a 3-year warranty and a 100% money back guarantee if you are not satisfied, so you can buy easy.
- One-click emissions readiness testing
- Freeze frame and graphing capabilities give a real-time view of engine performance
- Free manufacturer specific codes and software updates
- Comes with USB cable/attachment
- Not compatible with hybrid/electric cars
- Some users report problems with connectivity
6OBDLink LX Bluetooth: OBD-II Engine Code Reader for Windows and Android – DIY Car and Truck
The OBDLink LX is a Bluetooth OBS-II code reader that is compatible with Windows devices, primarily. Therefore, the small device can be plugged right into your OBD-II port and can be left in without fear of draining your battery.
First of all, the OBDLink is compatible with all US manufactured cars past 1996, except hybrid and electric vehicles. Given that, the device comes with a 90-day money back guarantee and 3-year manufacturer warranty. Markedly, the OBDLink comes with free android app software. So, you don’t have to buy any third-party apps.
Generally, the OBDLink is good for those who need an easy way to check their car’s health that doesn’t require any technical knowledge. In short, the app interface is smooth, easy to navigate, and works on all Android devices.
- Smartphone compatibility
- Power saver feature does not drain the battery
- Security features prevent unauthorized access to data
- Free app software
- Not iOS compatible
- More expensive than other Bluetooth code readers.
- Slow performance on the app
7BlueDriver Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
In essence, the BlueDriverOBD-II Scan Tool is a smartphone-compatible code reader and diagnostic tool for Android and iOS devices. Firstly, the small black cod-reader measures 2.2 x 1.9 x 1 inches and weighs a little over 2 oz. Plus, it works for all cars with an OBS-II port.
One of the most powerful BluetoothOBD-II code readers, the Blue Driver is simple to use the device with many of the capabilities of an expensive handheld scan tool. Essentially, the Enhanced diagnostics give you complete access to information normally used only by professional mechanics, including airbag sensors, anti-lock brakes, and climate control.
Perfect for the DIY car enthusiast, the BlueDriver continually provides free updates for new ODB-II specifications and manufacturer codes. Above all, the Bluetooth compatibility means that you can integrate the BlueDriver on all your devices.
- Advanced diagnostic tools for DIY maintenance
- Android & iOS compatible
- Free software updates
- Free app download
- More expensive
- Only compatible with the licensed app
- Users report slow data rates
8FIXD Active Car Health Monitor & OBD2 Scan Tool
The FIXD Active Car Health Monitor is another professional-grade scan tool with smartphone capabilities. In any event, the best part is that getting started is easy. In brief, just plug in the device, download the app, and start looking at your OBD-II system data. Not to mention, the FIXD is also compatible with Android and iOS devices and works on any gas-powered car made after 1996.
For one thing, the enhanced diagnostic tools give you access to manufacturer codes for a number of international brands and explain in plain English the meaning of error codes. Similarly, it even keeps track of wear and tears on battery life, tire treads, and windshield wipers.
For example, the FIXD is good for someone who has multiple vehicles and wants to monitor them all in the same place. Mostly, it’s because you can sync all your vehicles’ information to the same network and the FIXD code reader will continuously monitor them all. This is perfect for families with multiple cars, especially.
- iOS and Android compatible
- Automatically schedules maintenance reminders
- Sync multiple vehicles to the same network
- Daily code table updates
- Some users report difficulties downloading and registering app
- Bluetooth connectivity can be spotty
- More expensive
9FOXWELL NT301 Professional OBD2 Scanner
The FOXWELL NT30 Professional OBD2 Scanner offers enhanced diagnostic tools in an easy to operate format. To start, the FOXWELL NT301 is compatible with all cars equipped with OBD-II sensors and contains manufacturer-specific codes for a number of US brands.
Firstly, the FOXWELL includes a one-click button for reading/clearing error codes and checking I/M readiness. Plus, the screen displays diagnostic information in graph format so you can monitor your engine performance over time, and you can also access your vehicle’s VIN info.
Also, if you want powerful diagnostic tools at an affordable price, the FOXWELL NT301 is for you. Notably, the ability to save diagnostic data lets you compare car performance before and after maintenance, which will help optimize engine efficiency. Not to mention, it even is the printer compatible if you want physical copies of diagnostic data.
- Enhanced diagnostic tools on many US manufacturers
- Regular software updates with new specs and error codes
- Multiple language support
- Only updates with Windows
- Screen resolution can be murky
- Software driver install can be frustrating
10OBDLink MX: Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner for Android & Windows
The OBDLink MX Bluetooth scan tool is a professional-grade, smartphone-compatible diagnostic tool for Android devices. Essentially, this code reader can turn any Windows device into an accurate and professional level diagnostic center.
Most importantly, the OBDLink MX is compatible with all US cars model year 1996 or newer, and the scan tool is Bluetooth operated and includes free app software. Plus, it comes with a 90-day money back guarantee so you can return it if you are not satisfied with its performance.
Perfect for DIY mechanics, the OBDLink covers all OBD-II protocols and is supported with regular software updates, for one thing. Also, security tools protect your information and the app can export your diagnostic data to an external device or directly upload it to Dropbox.
- Small black adapter is discrete
- Enhanced diagnostic features on several US brands
- Free tech support and software upgrades keep things up to date
- 90-day money back guarantee and 3-year warranty
- Not iOS compatible
- App reportedly drains the battery quickly and sometimes crashes
- In-app purchases
11Autel AL519 OBDll Scan Tool with Mode 6
The Autel AL519 OBD2 scan supports all OBD2 protocols and works on all US vehicles manufactured after 1996. The rectangular casing measure 7.8 x 4.2 x 1.5 inches and weighs a little over 1 ½ pound. Due to the size, checking/clearing codes is easy with the large screen and responsive buttons. And, the freeze-frame capabilities plot engine performance over time.
Another key point is a one-click interface, which automatically performs I/M readiness checks. Plus, brightly colored LED clearly display the results of emissions checks. In other words, you can read, store, and replay data. And, the device comes with multi-language functionality, which is a huge advantage.
- Sturdy design is tough and easy to hold
- One-click interface for I/M readiness checks
- Printer compatible
- Included connector cord is somewhat flimsy
- Software driver install on computer uses CD
12ANCEL AD510 OBD2 Car Scanner with Battery Monitoring and Print Data
Compatible with all OBD-II cars made in the US after 1996, the ANCEL AD510 OBD2 Car Scanner can run all ODB-II protocols including O2 sensor checks, EVAP systems tests, and emissions tests. To start, the uniquely designed casing measures 10 x 7.3 x 2.9 inches and weighs just over 1 ½ pounds.
Plus, the 2.8 inch LCD screen displays error codes in real time and the built-in lookup library contains over 3,000 generic code definitions. Best of all, the manufacturer offers lifetime free software upgrades and provides regular updates to the code library. Secondly, another great tool is the 5-foot connector cable, which is especially useful for those who do not want to sit in their cars while working.
Additionally, the ANCEL AD510 will check the status of your car battery, and real-time voltage monitoring lets you keep an eye on your battery’s health.
- Sturdy design can take a beating
- 2.8-inch screen is larger than average
- Checks your battery
- Free software updates for life
- Comes with a 5-foot connector cable and a nylon carrying bag
- Somewhat bulky and awkwardly shaped
- Subpar customer support
- PC compatible only
13Innova 3040e ABS Live Data and Oil Reset Scan Tool for Vehicles
The Innova 3040e ABS scan tool is a useful OBD2 diagnostic tool that can also be used to check your battery status. Markedly, the black and blue casing measures 10.6 x 7.5 x 1.8 inches and weighs just over 1 pound. Because of the curved design, it fits easily in the hand. Most compellingly, it allows easy access to the buttons.
Good for a DIY engine aficionado, the Innova will let you read/erase check engine warnings, reset your oil service light, and more. Plus, it is compatible with all cars with OBD-II systems and lets you view engine performance data in real time. On top of it all, free lifetime software updates and tech support come with the purchase, which is a great addition.
- Check battery and alternator status
- Easy to use/understand
- Full-color screen with high-resolution
- More expensive
- May not comply with energy standards nationwide
14ANCEL AD610 OBD II Car ABS SRS SAS Engine Professional Diagnostic Tool
The ANCEL AD610 OBD-II Professional Diagnostic tool is the perfect fit for mechanic experts who want a lot of tools and functions for running diagnostics, primarily. For example, the ANCEL AD610 is compatible with 60+ vehicles makes and most models worldwide, so it even has some functionality with older cars that still use an OBD-I system.
Most importantly, the ANCEL contains all OBC-II protocols and can give real-time information on O2 levels, EVAP systems performance, airbags, and more. In addition, the professional-grade tools give you extremely accurate readings and can relay data in text or graph form. As a result, diagnostic data can be stored on a removable SD card and transferred into other formats, easily. Multi-language support includes English, French, German, Polish, and more.
- Professional grade quality
- Over 60+ global brands supported
- Free lifetime software upgrades
- Steering wheel angle sensor (SAS) reset
- Higher price range
- Hard to operate if you lack technical knowledge
- Somewhat bulky
15Autel MaxiLink ML619 OBD2 ABS/SRS Diagnostic Tool
The Autel MaxiLink ML619 OBD2 diagnostic tool is compatible with most OBD-II systems manufactured after 1996. Particularly, advanced diagnostic codes are available for several global brands, including Toyota, Mercedes, Chrysler, VW, and BMW.
Plus, the Autel MaxiLink includes professional-grade tools for checking and clearing codes related to your car’s O2 levels, EVAP performance, I/M readiness, SAS reset, and ABS/SRS warning lights. Moreover, the diagnostic data is plotted on screen in real time giving a nice visual picture of engine performance.
Another positive point, the Autel MaxiLink can read, store, replay, and export data, as well as print data via PC. Above all, purchase includes free lifetime software support and upgrades. Not to mention, the product also comes with a USB cable.adaptor for connecting to the PC.
- Manufacturer-specific codes on many global brands
- Advanced tools for in-depth analysis and diagnostics
- Can read and clear codes from ABS/SRS/SAS
- Only PC compatible
- More expensive
- May not work on some cars made before 2002
16Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Professional OBDII Full-system Diagnostic Tool
First of all, the multifunctional Autel MaxiCOM MK 808 OBD-II Full-system diagnostic tool gives professional quality tools that are compatible with all OBD2 designed cars. Another key point, the MaxiCOM comes with a wide variety of tools for all OBD2 protocols, as well. The tablet-inspired design measures 15 x 13 x 4.5 inches, weighs just under 6 pounds, and the kit comes with the tablet, an OBS-II connector cable, and a DC power adaptor for charging.
In addition, the 7-inch touch screen offers ease of menu navigation and a large screen to read diagnostic data. Plus, the Autel MaxiCOM is compatible with all US manufactured cars post-1996 and EU manufactured cars model year 2000 or newer, and all OBD-II protocols are available.
For these reasons, the vast amount of diagnostic tools make the Autel MaxiCOM an ideal tool for car owners who want a professional OBD-II scan tool. In short, free and regular software updates ensure that your code-library stays up to date and that your diagnostic procedures are optimized for the make and model.
- 7-inch touchscreen is easy to read and use
- Superior diagnostic functions
- 12 months of free updates
- Expensive. Price is balanced with functionality
- Tablet requires separate charging.
- Tablet can get hot while running
17LAUNCH CRP123 Engine Transmission ABS and airbag OBDII Car Diagnostic Tool
The LAUNCH CRP123 is a powerful diagnostic tool that gives a great mix of advanced features and affordability. Interestingly, the flat tablet-like device measures 9.2 x 8 x 1.8 inches and has a 3.5-inch display screen in the center. Conveniently, it is specified to work with most mainstream vehicles in America, Europe, and Asia.
To start, the sophisticated onboard tools cover the gamut of the full 10 diagnostic modes and can report on data regarding O2 levels, emissions, ECU performance, and more. On top of it all, the LAUNCH can store, replay and export data streams to help with analysis.
Additionally, the manufacturer provides a 3-year warranty for repairs or replacement and is supported by free software updates from a dedicated team of engineers. Furthermore, the LAUNCH can send you diagnostic data directly to a PC for printing, as well.
- Great mix of price/features
- Easy to hold and operate
- Covers all OBDS-II protocols
- 3-year warranty included with purchase
- Smaller screen (3.5”) can be harder to read.
- Bulky design is awkward to hold
- Update process is complex and potentially frustrating
18Launch CRP129 ABS SRS EPB SAS OIL Service OBD2 Diagnostic Tool
Similar to the CRP123, the Launch CRP129 is a good mix of power and functionality for an affordable price. Primarily, the comprehensive diagnostic tools include all OBD2 protocols and are compatible with over 40 US-based and over 2,000 European based brands. Accordingly, the CRP129 is slightly smaller than the CRP123, measuring 5.9 x 1.2 x 2.4 inches and weighing 1.65 pounds.
Additionally, the small tool is useful for DIY diagnostics and compiles live data on engine performance, emissions, O2 levels, etc. Most importantly, it requires no setup to operate; you can just plug it in and get started. Further, a strong onboard processor allows for fast diagnostics with real-time graphing and freeze-frame capabilities.
- Smaller and easier to handle than the CRP123
- Excellent price/quality ratio
- Complete 10 mode OBD2 checker
- Free updates and tech support
- Update process can be buggy and frustrating
- Not as powerful as other comprehensive scan tools
- Some users report freezing or graphical glitches on startup
19Innova 3100j Professional OBD2 Car Diagnostic Tool
The Innova 3100j OBD2 Diagnostic tool is a great code-reader for amateurs and professionals alike. For instance, the blue and black casing measures 10 x 8 x 1.5 inches and weighs a sliver over a pound. Indeed, the Innova 3100j is compatible with most post-1996 OBD2 vehicles and some hybrids. Likewise, it will quickly reveal the cause of any “check engine” light warning.
However, as with any advanced diagnostic tool, the Innova 3100j has a number of advanced features for checking your car’s health, obviously. Essentially, it will check/clear SRS and SAS trouble codes and has step-by-step instructions for an oil reset procedure. Moreover, the device also checks the status of your battery and alternator.
Overall, the 3100j offers a decent mix of functions and power for a very affordable price. Meanwhile, device operation is so simple practically anyone could use it right out of the box with no instructions. Correspondingly, it’s perfect for both amateurs and the experienced who want to do some self-diagnosing.
- Very affordable with nice features
- Tough and sturdy casing
- ABS and SRS light code check/clear
- Oil reset procedure
- Awkward and bulky design
- Not compatible with all American brands
- Requires batteries to use
20Innova 3150f Professional ABS/SRS OBD2 Diagnostic Tool for Vehicles
The last item on our list, the Innova 3150f Professional OBD2 Diagnostic Tool offers compatibility with most OBD2 based cars and a wide variety of global brands such as Chrysler, Toyota, Lexus, Mercedes, and others. Firstly, the 3150f offers Bluetooth compatibility which can directly download manufacturer-specific codes from your smartphone.
Generally, all ODB-II protocols are included as well as a lookup table containing over 3,000 generic trouble codes. For instance, a reset oil function can turn off your oil light, and check/clear capabilities for SAS/ABS error codes let you diagnose at home. Another key point, the 3150f includes a battery reset function and monitors battery performance over time.
- Good price/quality ratio
- Multi-language functionality, English, Spanish, French
- Bluetooth compatibility
- Battery reset function
- Requires AA batteries
- May not comply with energy standards in all states (CA)
- Update process can be buggy and frustrating
What Are the Best OBD2 Scanner?
The answer to the ideal OBD2 scan tool will ultimately depend on your interests. However, here are a few recommendations to set a baseline, to begin with.
To sum up, with respect to simple Bluetooth compatible code-readers, you can’t beat the BAFX OBD Reader. Without doubt, the smartphone compatibility really takes the bulk of the technical know-how out of diagnosing car troubles and is very affordable. The two-year manufacturer warrant is also a nice addition to make buying stress-free. However, the sole drawback is the required third-party app purchase to interface with the device.
With this in mind, a decent mid-grade device for diagnostic needs is the BlueDriver Pro OBD-III scan tool. Like the BAFX, the BlueDriver is smartphone compatible and easy to set up and use for the technically inexperienced. That is to say, the BlueDriver offers a wider range of functions than the BAFX, and also does not require a third-party app purchase. In short, it is more expensive, but the extra cost is worth the features.
Lastly, if you are looking for an affordable comprehensive OBD2 diagnostic tool, then you cannot go wrong with the Autel MaxiLink. In short, it offers a great mixture of simplicity and functionality, all at a great price-to-quality ratio. Hence, the advanced diagnostic tools can be used for some non-OBD2 features and have extensive vehicle coverage. Similarly, the powerful graphing tool and constant software support make sure that you will always be prepared to do some diagnostic work.
The Bottom Line
Overall, picking the right OBD2 scanner involves choosing the right mix of simplicity, functionality, quality, and price. Surely, novices and those new to car maintenance would most likely benefit best from a simpler code reader that handles basic functions without getting too deep in the nitty-gritty technical details. On the other hand, those more experienced and knowledgeable about cars may opt for a more sophisticated diagnostic tool, so it can give precise details on system performance. Notwithstanding, this review of the 20 best OBD2 scanners of 2019 will help guide your purchase.
An OBD scanner is a tool that allows you to read the trouble codes on your car’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system. It’s a tool that you plug into your car’s OBD interface to read the information from your car’s OBD system.
There are different types of cars for different OBD systems. Depending on your car, it will either have an OBD1 or OBD2 system. OBD1 was originally created to monitor basic car emissions and systems in the early 1990s.
Starting in 1991 OBD1 was the California standard but several models started implementing OBD1 in the 80s. OBD2 is an upgraded, standardized OBD system that was required to be used by all car manufacturers starting in the 1996 model year.
OBD scanners work by communicating with the computer system in your car to read any trouble or error codes that the diagnostic system displays. These trouble codes are triggered when the computer in your car detects that something is not functioning properly. To use an OBD scanner, you simply plug it into your OBD interface on your car, turn your key to power the scanner, and scan for any error codes in your diagnostic system.
To use an OBD scanner, you simply plug it into your OBD interface on your car, turn your key to power the scanner, and scan for any error codes in your diagnostic system.
Types of OBD Scanners
OBD1 Vs. OBD2 Scanner
As mentioned before, OBD1 and OBD2 are different types of diagnostic systems that essentially monitor the same functions in your car. OBD1 was used on car models between the late 1980s and 1995
This system was not standardized, so it varied between car manufactures, which means that it’s slightly different in each car. After 1995 however, OBD2 was implemented and required to be the same on all cars.
If your car was manufactured between 1980 and 1995, you’ll need an OBD1 scanner. If it was made in the 1996 model year or later, it will use an OBD2 scanner. Most people will need an OBD2 scanner so that’s what we’ll be covering in this article.
3 types of OBD2 scanner
There are 3 different types of OBD2 scanners: code readers, DIY scanners, and diagnostic tools. There are a few differences between them that you should be aware of before you decide which is best for you
Code readers are the most basic type of OBD2 scanner. They are low-cost and they simply read the Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) that are on your OBD2.
These codes are made up of a letter followed by four digits. To find out what the code means, you can look it up online.
DIY scanners are more advanced and offer you a more in-depth look at your car’s diagnostics. Some DIY scanners are traditional, corded scanners that you plug into your OBD2 interface.
Other DIY versions involve an adapter that you plug into the interface and then send information directly to an app on your phone. DIY scanners can read basic DTC codes as well as provide more detailed information like fuel usage, average speed, etc.
Diagnostic tools are more advanced OBD2 scanners, typically used by professional mechanics and serious car enthusiasts. They can read, graph and save a large variety of data from your vehicle.
They can monitor pretty much anything you would ever want in your vehicles diagnostic system and are pretty much universal to any vehicle. Although they are much more sophisticated, they also come with a much higher cost. Depending on your needs, this might be the best OBD2 scanner for you.
A Code Reader, a DIY Scanner, or a Professional Diagnostic Tool?
For the average car user, a Code Reader or DIY Scanner is going to be sufficient for your needs. Which OBD2 scanner you decide will depend on how much detail and information you want to get from your car.
If you just want to read your car’s OBD2 trouble codes, a Code Scanner will be perfect for you.
If you want some more detailed information and monitoring, a DIY Scanner is the best option. It allows you to get a deeper look into your car’s performance and can even help maintain your car’s health over the long term.
For professionals and hard-core car enthusiasts, who want to know every little detail about their vehicle’s operating systems, you’ll want a Diagnostic Tool. They deliver much more data and have the ability to graph and save information for multiple vehicles.
The Best OBD Scanner Brands
There are several different OBD scanner companies out there. They all have slightly different models and offer different tools for all price ranges. Some of the best brands are Autel, Actron, Ancel, Bluedriver, Foxwell, Innova, and Launch.
Autel is a worldwide leader in the diagnostic tools manufacturing and supply industries. They have been committed to providing high-quality diagnostic tools for many years and are a very well known brand in the OBD2 scanner world.
Actron is another very popular brand they provide OBD2 tools that are compatible with all vehicles that are OBD2 compliant.
Ancel is committed to creating high quality, affordable OBD products and tools worldwide paired with great customer service.
BlueDriver is another very popular brand that creates professional diagnostic tools at affordable prices. Their OBD2 app is especially popular.
Foxwell creates great OBD2 diagnostic tools at a professional level. They are definitely a leader in the automotive diagnostic industry.
Innova is another industry leader that offers high-quality products, innovative diagnostics, and exceptional customer service. They have been in the industry for over 15 years. Launch focuses on creating innovative, cost-effective solutions and diagnostic tools.
OBD scan tools for specific vehicles
BMW scan tool
There are many great OBD2 scan tools to help diagnose all of your BMW concerns. These tools are specifically designed to monitor your BMW’s specific systems and trouble codes. The FOXWELL NT510 BMW Diagnostic Tool and the MAOZUA V7.7 Creator C310+ BMW Code Reader are both great BMW scan tools.
The FOXWELL NT510 BMW Diagnostic Tool and the MAOZUA V7.7 Creator C310+ BMW Code Reader are both great BMW scan tools.
AUDI scan tool
While there are many scan tools that work with any vehicle, some are more suited to certain models than others. Audi scan tools can monitor the specific functions of Audi engines, transmissions, and can read live data.
The Xtool Vag401 Live Data Audi Scanner and
FORD scan tool
Getting a brand-specific scanner for your vehicle can help you perform better diagnostics and get accurate information. For Ford vehicles, you may want to consider a specific Ford scan tool to help monitor all of the proper systems and get the best data.
The INNOVA 3145 Ford Digital OBD1 Code Reader and the
VW scan tool
VW cars are very special cars that sometimes have special features on them. To make sure you can read and monitor all of its functions and features, you’ll want to make sure you get the right VW scan tool for your car.
XTOOL U281 and MAXSCAN VAG409.1 are good options for VW cars.
TOYOTA scan tool
Toyota is another popular top brand in the automotive industry. If you have a Toyota, getting a brand-specific scan tool will help you monitor your car’s unique systems and codes.
Autel MaxiLink ML619 CAN Toyota Diagnostic Tool and Foseal WIFI OBD2 Toyota Scan Tool for iOS & Android are both very good options.
GM scan tool
There are many GM scan tools available to help you diagnose any car troubles you may have. GM scan tools range from basic code readers to advanced professional diagnostic tools.
A GM scan tool will help you understand exactly what’s going on with your car. The Foxwell NT510 GM diagnostic tool and the iCarsoft i900 General Motors Diagnostic tool are good choices for Ford owners.
Heavy-duty truck scan tools
A heavy-duty truck may have slightly different diagnostic systems than regular cars, it’s a good idea to get an OBD scan tool that is specifically for them. These tools can give you more information about the engine, the diesel system, and emissions. The LAUNCH CReader HD Plus OBD2 Scanner for Diesel Trucks is a great choice.
OBD2 Bluetooth adapters for iOS, Android, Windows Devices
With the increasing use of smartphones, OBD2 scan tools have evolved to be able to deliver information straight to your cell phone with the help of a Bluetooth OBD2 adapter.
These are scan tools that plug into your car’s OBD interface and use Bluetooth technology to communicate all of the information to your device.
These adapters are a great low-cost option when compared to other scan tools. Also, they allow you to easily read the information instead of having to use a confusing scanner.
After you download an OBD scan tool app, most of which are free or have a small cost, you can easily perform as many diagnostics as you could with other scanner devices.
Some adapters and apps are only compatible with iOS or Android systems. If you have an Android device, you want to make sure that the OBD scan app you get is available for Android and vice versa with iOS.
For example, the BlueDriver app is a great free diagnostic tool for both iOS and Android. These are some of the best OBD2 scanner tools because they are easy to use and cost-effective.
The main question most people ask is if these Bluetooth adapters are as good as regular scanners. And the answer is yes, they are very good tools that can give you as much in-depth diagnostics as other wired scanners.
ABS, SRS, Transmission, or Bidirectional Scan Tool?
If you just want to monitor a specific part of your car, such as the ABS breaks or read the engine codes there are tools for that tool. ABS scan tools can read your car’s ABS system and give you information about the warning codes.
You can also get a specific SRS scan tool that monitors your airbag system. There are many tools that combine ABS and SRS into one scan tool.
There are also basic engine code readers to tell you what trouble codes are causing your check engine light to come one. This is handy if you only need to check the engine and nothing else or if you are a professional that needs to check a lot of engines. Transmission scan tools are also great if you just need to read the transmission error codes.
Finally, bidirectional scan tools are able to send and receive data between both your car and the tools. This is helpful because they can perform more advanced diagnostics and read and program your systems.
Buying the specific scan tool for a certain system can help save you money if you don’t need to spend a bunch of money on a complete diagnostic tool.
Other things to consider before buying an OBD2 scanner
The price of the OBD2 scanner you decide could vary drastically depending on which tool you need and ultimately want to buy. A basic Code Reader tool can be anywhere from under $100 to a few hundred dollars.
DIY scan tools usually cost around $10-$50 for the Bluetooth adapter and then the app is either free or has a minimal cost. Most paid apps are under $10, but some free apps have in-app purchases for more diagnostics that cost anywhere between $5-$50.
Professional diagnostic scan tools cost $300+ so if you want professional capabilities to be ready to spend big bucks.
Most OBD scan tools offer updates for their system, which is continually being improved. You’ll want to check if the scan tool you decide on has updates available, and if so if they are free or paid and for how long.
Most scan tools come with some kind of guarantee, but some are better than others. Typically, basic scanners have a 1-year warranty, but the best warranty is usually 3-years. That’s the industry standard.
Another factor to consider is the service that you’ll be receiving after the sale. Some brands offer additional tech support, communication, and even a refund policy.
+ Tech Support – You may need additional help using the scan tool or fixing any issues. Especially if you’re new to using OBD2 scan tools, having additional tech support could be a great help.
+ Communication – It’s also a good idea to check to see if it will be easy to communicate with the manufacturer or seller after you purchase the device. Do they have a customer service phone number or email address? Some companies even have a chat feature to let you chat directly with a specialist.
+ Refund policy – Some companies offer refund policies but not all of them so make sure to check on that before you purchase. Usually, they will have a 30-day money-back guarantee as to their refund policy, so make sure you keep that in mind.
The bottom line is that there are many OBD2 scanners available on the market today. But finding the best OBD2 scanner for you and your vehicle doesn’t have to be difficult.
Use this guide to help make sure that you get the right OBD scan tool to fit your budget, how much diagnostics you want to perform, and what type of scan tool you want to get.
In today’s touch and go world, it is unquestionably important to make sure your vehicle is in proper working conditions at all times. Conversely, without the right equipment and know-how, it can be hard to figure out how your car is performing. But, there are a wide variety of simple tools available to check your car’s performance and to do it from the comfort of your own home.