Not every OBDII scan tool can read codes from your transmission. For that, you’ll need a transmission scanner. Most transmission scanners are hand-held devices you plug directly into the OBDII port on your vehicle. Recently, a new style of transmission scanner has hit the market, using a sensor that communicates with a phone or tablet.
Both design styles have their advantages, and we’ll review the products of both types below. The best way to figure out the best transmission scanner for your needs is to learn what they can do—so let’s get going!
- 1 What Is A Transmission Scanner?
- 2 Best Transmission Scanners Comparison Chart
- 3 Best Transmission Scanners Review
- 3.1 1. Launch CRP123X OBD2 Scanner
- 3.2 2. Launch OBD2 Scanner CRP129X
- 3.3 3. Foxwell NT624 Elite Automotive OBD2 Scanner
- 3.4 4. Ancel VD500 OBDII Diagnostic Scanner
- 3.5 5. BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
- 3.6 6. FIXD OBD2 Professional Bluetooth Scan Tool
- 3.7 7. Ancel FX2000 Transmission Diagnostic
- 3.8 8. Foxwell NT614 Elite OBD2 Car Code Reader
- 3.9 9. Autel MaxiLink ML629 OBD2 Scanner
- 3.10 10. Foxwell NT510 for BMW OBD2 Scanner
- 4 Final Thoughts
What Is A Transmission Scanner?
A transmission scanner is an automotive diagnostic tool that can read the error codes put out by your transmission control unit (TCU). These codes identify problems with the transmission, allowing you to make the correct repairs.
How does this differ from other OBDII scanners? The OBDII system is based on the information put out by the engine computer. Not all error codes get routed there, however. Basically, if your scan tool only reads OBDII information, you’re not getting access to all the diagnostic information that’s available.
Most scan tools that can read transmission codes also diagnose other non-OBDII systems, like the anti-lock brakes (ABS) and airbag system (SRS). Many tools go further than this, even though more service functions usually means a higher price.
Any transmission scanner will also likely read engine codes. Beyond this, the functions can vary widely. Some readers will also reset the oil light, monitor the battery, or perform other maintenance tasks. You’ll see what we mean when you read through the reviews below.
Best Transmission Scanners Comparison Chart
|Editor's Pick||Best Cheap||Also Great|
|Read/Clear Codes (Engine, SRS, ABS, Transmission)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Read Pending Codes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Freeze Frame Data||Yes||No||Yes|
|O2 Sensor Test||Yes||No||Yes|
|Software/Adapter Compatibility||Android 7.0||Windows (7, 8, 10)||Windows (XP, 7, 8, 10)|
|Transmission Vehicle Compatibility||57+ Manufacturers (1996 and later)||V/A-Series Audi, SEAT, Skoda, and Volkswagen||46+ Manufacturers (2005 and later)|
Best Transmission Scanners Review
1. Launch CRP123X OBD2 Scanner
Let’s start with the Launch CRP123X, a comprehensive and tech-forward scan tool for modern drivers.
The Launch CRP123X makes diagnosing your transmission a breeze. It reads all codes, not just generic codes, and can access pending codes, as well. You’ll also love the Diagnostic Report feature, which helps you make sense of the codes you read. The Feedback option, meanwhile, offers repair suggestions from professionals.
Since you can read and clear transmission codes with the Launch CRP123X, you can reset the transmission light. All diagnostic data can also be recorded, reviewed, and sent through e-mail for printing.
The Launch CRP123X won’t just work on your transmission. It’s just as accurate and comprehensive for the engine, SRS, ABS codes. Other helpful functions include battery monitoring and AutoVIN for retrieving vehicle information.
Basically, the Launch CRP123X lets you run all OBDII tests and more. It’s really the best portable transmission scan tool if you’re looking for both quality and value.
- Reads and clears codes for 4 systems (Engine, ABS, SRS, transmission)
- Real-time battery monitoring
- Feedback and Diagnostic Report functions help guide repairs
- Free and easy updates through onboard Wi-Fi
- Record, playback, and print diagnostics
- Wide vehicle compatibility
- Some users report difficulty connecting to Wi-Fi
- No advanced reset functions
2. Launch OBD2 Scanner CRP129X
With wide compatibility and advanced diagnostics, Launch CRP129X’s a powerful portable scan tool for mechanics of all experience levels.
The 4-system diagnosis of the Launch CRP129X reads and clears codes for the engine, transmission, airbag, and anti-lock brakes. Diagnostic reports are just as easy to save and print as they are to run. The larger screen of the Launch CRP129X is helpful for reading graphic data, and we thought the OBD testing to be intuitive.
It’s also impressive that the Launch CRP129X can run these diagnostics on any OBDII-compliant vehicle. The one-touch update right on the scanner ensures the codes are up-to-date. In addition, the Launch CRP129X offers real-time battery monitoring.
Going beyond diagnostics, the Launch CRP129X has 5 helpful service reset functions. You can relearn TPMS, adjust the throttle body, and reset the oil light. This expands the range of your DIY repairs and saves you needless trips to the mechanic.
And when a mechanic is in order, you’ll love the Launch CRP129X automatic inspection report. Export your recent diagnostics and go into the garage knowing exactly what repairs you need.
- Supports all OBDII modes
- Touch screen interface easy to navigate
- Full 4-system diagnosis
- Wide vehicle compatibility
- 5 service reset functions
- One-click updates are free for life
- Higher cost
- Included instructions aren’t very helpful
3. Foxwell NT624 Elite Automotive OBD2 Scanner
Another excellent choice for pro-level diagnostics is the Foxwell NT624 Elite.
If you just want to read codes, the Foxwell NT624 might be more scanner than you need. Having said that, it’s a good investment if you’re looking for advanced functions.
Full System Diagnostics
The Foxwell NT624’s diagnostics start with full OBDII support. In addition, it reads codes from the transmission, battery, airbags, etc…—over 10 systems in all. This allows the Foxwell NT624 to be more comprehensive in its diagnosis than many transmission scanners.
You can run diagnostic tests on vehicles from 61 manufacturers. It’s updated right out of the box to work with the newest vehicles, saving you set-up time.
This is where the Foxwell NT624 can really save you money at the mechanic. It supports reset functions like the oil light and EPB. You can also test systems like the power steering and chassis that other transmission scanners ignore.
- Reads codes from more than 10 vehicle systems
- Reset functions let you perform DIY maintenance
- One-click AutoVIN support
- Wide compatibility with 61+ manufacturers
- Lifetime free updates
- Higher cost
- Not OBDI compliant
- Can be difficult to sync to some computers
4. Ancel VD500 OBDII Diagnostic Scanner
At fewer than fifty bucks, Ancel VD500’s comprehensive features seem almost too good to be true. The trade-off is its limited compatibility. While the Ancel VD500 can read engine codes in any OBDII-compliant vehicle, its advanced diagnostics are limited to 4 brands.
The Ancel VD500 does make transmission diagnostics easy. What you can do with the data is a bit limited. There is a code definition function, but you won’t find options for recording or printing.
One other issue with the Ancel VD500 is that it’s not ready to go out of the box. Installing the right update can be a bit tricky, as well. For most people, you’ll be ready to start diagnosis in less than 30 minutes, but it’s an annoyance worth noting.
Here’s where the Ancel VD500 really shines. You can re-set systems that usually require a much pricier scan tool. The Ancel VD500 can even re-learn TPMS and diagnose battery fault codes.
Of course, these advanced features have the same caveat as the transmission diagnosis. They’re only available on select vehicles.
- Diagnose transmission and engine problems easily
- Most affordable option
- Resets Oil, SRS, ABS, and check engine lights
- Supports TPMS and throttle position adjustment
- Diagnoses battery codes and IMMO system
- Advanced diagnostics limited to V/A vehicles
- Doesn’t support all 10 OBDII modes
- Often requires update prior to use
5. BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
One way to get affordable and comprehensive diagnostics is to use a Bluetooth scan tool that pairs with an app on your phone or tablet. The BlueDriver is the best-known scan tool in this category.
Transmission diagnostics are considered Enhanced Codes by the BlueDriver app. This means you can only perform them on select vehicles, so you’ll want to check the compatibility for your car or truck.
So long as your vehicle is compatible, though, BlueDriver’s intuitive interface makes it an easy tool to use. Along with the code, you’ll see potential causes and repair suggestions, and that saves a lot of time and frustration.
BlueDriver supports reading ABS and SRS codes for the same supported vehicles as the transmission system. You can even see data from electronic systems like climate control—and you’ll get full OBDII support, as well.
One advantage of the BlueDriver app is that you know all the codes are always up to date. App updates are free for life and happen automatically. You can also save all diagnostic reports on your device for easy access.
- Full access to all 10 OBDII modes
- Wide compatibility for basic diagnostics
- Offers repair suggestions through the app
- Easy to install and set up
- Compatible with both Android and Apple devices
- Free app updates
- Enhanced diagnostics only available on 13 manufacturers
- Requires use of BlueDriver app (not compatible with 3rd-party apps)
6. FIXD OBD2 Professional Bluetooth Scan Tool
Another great diagnostic app is FIXD. Like BlueDriver, the FIXD adapter plugs into your OBDII port and communicates with your phone or tablet.
While FIXD is very affordable, access to advanced diagnostics may require paid upgrades. You’ll also want to verify that those features are available for your vehicle before you pay to get them.
FIXD doesn’t just read and clear engine codes. You can see live data, graph diagnostic information, and access freeze frame information. We also love the logbook feature, which automatically tracks past codes and lets you see recurring issues. Potential causes and repair suggestions come up automatically when a code is detected.
The Enhanced Codes on FIXD include the transmission system, along with SRS, ABS, and TPMS. Unfortunately, these are only available on a few brands of vehicles. While FIXD may expand its compatibility in the future, for now, this is its main drawback.
FIXD allows regular people to easily maintain their vehicles. One smart design feature is the Vehicle Timeline, which will automatically alert you when it’s time for regular maintenance.
FIXD can also be left in to provide continuous monitoring, letting you fix problems quickly. You can monitor multiple vehicles at once through the app, too, though you’ll need to buy each its own sensor.
- Very affordable option
- Easily diagnose a wide range of systems
- Full OBDII test modes
- Easy to install and sync to the device
- Continuous monitoring and maintenance alerts for multiple vehicles
- Provides potential DTC causes and repair suggestions
- Access to some features requires paid upgrade
- Must use FIXD app (no 3rd-party compatibility)
- Enhanced diagnostics only compatible with 5 manufacturers
7. Ancel FX2000 Transmission Diagnostic
The Ancel FX2000 is a fully-functioned OBDII scanner that goes beyond the capabilities of the lower-cost transmission scanners above. It will diagnose most of your vehicle’s systems and is compatible with most vehicles, too.
The Ancel FX2000 is a comprehensive and accurate scan tool for diagnosing any problem with your transmission system. No matter what error codes are generated, the Ancel FX2000 can read them—including manufacturer-specific and pending codes.
Our only problem with the Ancel FX2000 as a transmission diagnostic tool is the compatibility. Advanced diagnostics aren’t available on all compatible vehicles, only those made after 2005. Keep this in mind as you’re shopping if you own an older vehicle.
In addition to the transmission, the Ancel FX2000 can read error codes for the airbag and anti-lock braking system. Along with that, it supports all 10 modes of OBDII, allowing you to run emissions and readiness tests.
The Ancel FX2000 lets you do more with your data than many scanners, too. You can record any diagnostic data you retrieve to view later. All data can also be viewed graphically as well as in the text, including readings from the transmission.
- Advanced OBDII diagnostics
- Reads codes from 4 separate systems (ABS, SRS, Transmission, Engine)
- Turns off dash warning lights
- Can graph, record, and replay transmission data
- Wide compatibility across manufacturers
- Transmission only supported for vehicles 2005 and newer
- Updates require Windows PC
8. Foxwell NT614 Elite OBD2 Car Code Reader
Foxwell is another trusted name in OBD2 scan tools. The NT614 Elite is a strong contender for the best transmission scanner in the mid-range price point.
Full OBDII support is just the start of the Foxwell NT614’s capabilities. With this powerful scanner, you can fully diagnose your engine, transmission, airbag, and brake systems. All sensor data can be graphed, and you can merge graphs for easy data comparisons.
Wide compatibility is the first thing that makes the NT614 appealing to professionals. It offers both OBDI and OBDII support. You can diagnose the most recent 2019 models, too, and from over 65 manufacturers.
The Foxwell NT614 has advanced service functions, too. You can reset the oil light or parking light easily. The Foxwell NT614 also lets you run an array of special tests that other scanners don’t support.
- Compatible with OBDI and OBDII vehicles from 65+ manufacturers
- Reset oil, EPB, and check engine lights
- Diagnose transmission, ABS, and SRS systems
- Supports graphics and text display for live data
- Store and print data easily
- Free lifetime upgrades
- Advanced functions not compatible with all vehicles
- Navigation of menus isn’t very intuitive
- Some users report difficulty updating
9. Autel MaxiLink ML629 OBD2 Scanner
The MaxiLink line of scanners from Autel offers professional diagnostic power at an excellent value. The Autel ML629 is no exception.
Full System Diagnostics
You’ll get a full diagnosis of 4 different systems with the Autel ML629 (engine, transmission, ABS, and SRS). The interface impressed us with its ease and simplicity. You don’t need to be an expert to retrieve all vehicle trouble codes. There’s also a look-up feature so you can easily see what the codes mean.
The test functions are fairly comprehensive on the Autel MaxiLink ML629. Data can be viewed graphically and printed via PC. There is also an on-board memory card for saving diagnostic information.
One great thing about the Autel ML629 is that it will work with almost every vehicle made after 1996. It supports both OBDII and CAN diagnostics, and is updated to work with the most recent model years. This applies to transmission diagnostics, too, not just engine codes.
- Easy to navigate and use
- A full diagnosis of 4 systems
- Supports all 10 OBDII modes
- Graph and print data
- Built-in code lookup function
- Requires PC to print data (no Mac compatibility)
- Limited service and reset functions
10. Foxwell NT510 for BMW OBD2 Scanner
Finally, let’s look at the Foxwell NT510. Another entry in the mid-range price point, it’s the best transmission scanner if you want to perform active tests without spending a fortune. As is often the case, though, you’ll trade compatibility for functionality. The advanced functions on the Foxwell NT510 are BMW-specific.
We’ll start by saying even the core diagnostic functions on the Foxwell NT510 are impressive. With non-BMWs, it functions as a universal code reader. Along with reading and clearing codes, you can save data for playback and print it to a computer. You can find transmission scanners to do this far much less, though. The Foxwell NT510 is really only worth the investment if you can use the advanced features.
For BMW owners, the Foxwell NT510 is a no-brainer. It can read codes from all major systems, including TPMS and climate control—systems other scanners often neglect. The Foxwell NT510 also supports active testing, letting you better diagnose engine problems.
- Universal code reader (OBDI and OBDII)
- Reset oil, airbag, and other dash warning lights
- Full system diagnosis
- Service functions include DPF regeneration and throttle adjustment
- Supports active testing
- Limited compatibility (designed for BMWs)
- Registration and updates can be difficult
The first question you have to ask yourself is how many features you’re looking for. While it’s true that you’ll usually pay more money for more features, this isn’t true in every case.
Compatibility is another big factor it’s important to pay attention to. If you’re lucky enough to own a Volkswagen or BMW, for instance, there are scanners designed specifically for you. Other vehicle owners will need to check the specific manufacturers supported by the scanners above.
One thing hand-held scanners can’t offer is continuous monitoring. Something like the BlueDriver of FIXD scanner can be plugged into your OBDII port long-term without draining your battery. This can let you detect transmission problems as they happen.
Considering all factors together, our top pick for the best transmission scanner is the Launch CRP123X. It has all the diagnostic functions most drivers need, and at a price anyone can afford. The ease of use is another point in its favor, as is its wide compatibility.
Having said that, there are advantages to all of the transmission scanners on the list above. We hope you have a better idea now of how to choose the right one for your vehicle!