If you bought your car after 1996 and have come to this site, chances are that you are looking for the best OBD2 scanner for your car. The very operation of your car may depend on the efficiency of your OBD scanner. However, when you search for the best scanner in the market, you might get a lot of confusing information.
The fact is – you have to balance your budget against the features you expect your scanner to have in order to make the right choice. This is a long-term investment and you shouldn’t necessarily just grab the cheapest model. Your vehicle’s efficiency and your overall experience may depend on it.
This guide has been created after much research and deliberation to evaluate the best options in the market, you can now go through these OBD2 scanner reviews and information to aid in your search.
Our Recommended Top 11 OBD2 Scanners
|1. INNOVA 3160 Scanning Tool with ABS/SRS Plus Live Data|
** Editor's Choice - Best ODB2 Scanner **
|11 x 7.7 x 3 inches||Our Review||9.3|
|2. ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner|
** Best Budget ODB2 Scanner **
|8.9 x 6.9 x 1.4 inches||Our Review||9.0|
|3. Actron CP9580A OBD2 Enhanced AutoScanner Plus||10.9 x 8 x 1.5 inches||Our Review||8.0|
|4. Actron CP9575 Auto Car Scanner||10.3 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches||Our Review||8.5|
|5. INNOVA 3100 Scan Tool and Code Reader with ABS and Battery Backup||12 x 8.5 x 2.5 inches||Our Review||8.6|
|6. INNOVA 3150 Code Reader ABS/SRS OBD2 Vehicles||10.9 x 7.7 x 3.1 inches||Our Review||8.7|
|7. OTC (3111PRO) Scanner Trilingual OBD II, CAN, ABS, Airbag||12 x 4 x 3 inches||Our Review||7.7|
|8. Autel MD802 Scanner MaxiDiag Elite||14.6 x 3.9 x 8.7 inches||Our Review||8.0|
|9. Autel DS708 Automotive Scanner Diagnostic and Analysis System||17.3 x 6.7 x 21.6 inches||Our Review||8.6|
|10. Launch CRP129||5.9 x 1.2 x 2.4 inches||Our Review||8.2|
|11. ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX||1.8 x 2 x 0.9 inches||Our Review||8.2|
Tips On Choosing The Best OBD2 Scanner
When you are reading through automotive scanner reviews, some of the following tips would help you make an informed decision and get the best value for your money:
Start With Compatibility
When you start your research, make sure that the first factor on your mind is compatibility. There would be no point in spending all that time looking for the best option, only to find that it is not compatible with your vehicle. Thankfully, modern OBD2 devices do not have compatibility problems too frequently but you should still double check to make sure before you finalize the purchase. If you are buying your scanner from an online source, you can always send the seller or reviewers a question.
You Can Get Additional Storage
The modern scanners available in the market have one great feature that OBD1 scanners did not have – they come with storage. This means that you don’t have to keep your scanner in your hand as your road test goes on to check the readings. The storage capabilities would ensure that you can safely finish your drive, then come back to your garage where the scanner would have stored all the information for you to check.
Choose An Updateable Device
You want your OBD2 scanner to be up to date at all times. There are a lot of affordable scanners in the market and the upside to them might be the price but the downside is manual updating. Instead, you can invest a little bit more and choose to go for a scanner that that updateable scan tools for your device. You will find this functionality in most professional models.
Know Which Features To Invest In
There are certain features that are worth the additional investment. For instance, an airbag or abs scan tool is well worth the extra money spent. This system will not only allow you to see the codes but will also describe them. You can reset the definitions after you have read them, print certain information that you need, view real-time engine performance, and retrieve the VIN when you sell or buy a car.
Understand The Protocols
There are 5 protocols that your OBD scanner will adhere to. In most cases, you will find a compatibility between one of these protocols and your car. However, your scanner cannot be effective if its protocol does not match with that of your car. As such, you need to ensure that this condition is satisfied before you buy the scanner. Studying the connector pin can often reveal the protocol of the car.
Purchase The Right Screen
There are different kinds of screens available with scanners. The quality of the screen would determine how clearly you can see the information displayed by the scanner. Also, lower costing scanners have bad screen quality as compared to expensive and pro-grade ones. The best option to go for is an LCD screen that comes with backlighting because it would allow you to view the results no matter what the outside conditions are.
Our Top 11 OBD2 Scanner Reviews
1. INNOVA 3160 Scanning Tool with ABS/SRS Plus Live Data
** Editor’s Choice – Best ODB2 Scanner **
SRS Codes – The SRS or “Supplemental Restraint System” (airbags) is checked by the scanner when the car is started to ensure that your safety is a top priority and there are no faults in the airbags during a collision.
ABS Codes – In an average situation, the ABS codes would inform you about a possible repair to the system and there have been instances when their codes have helped during emergency maneuvers.
Handy Accessories – The complete package includes a reference guide, pouch, USB cable wire, OBD2 cable wire, and the scan tool itself.
Bigger Size – This device is not compact in any way and is actually 10 inches in size. It might not be a good option for those who have a toolbox with limited space.
2. ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner
** Best Budget ODB2 Scanner **
Here is a solid model at a great price. Of course, as with most things, there is a little bit of “you get what you pay for”. However, if your needs are modest and you just want to get some basic functionality, this is a great choice.
- Simple operation
- 128 x 64 pixel display provides an adequate information display with brightness and contrast control
- Includes an insulated cable that is 2.5 feet long
- 3-year warranty
3. Actron CP9580A OBD2 Enhanced AutoScanner Plus
Code Lookup Library – With the CP9580A by Actron, you would not only be provided codes with their definitions but the device would also direct you towards possible solutions in its library.
ABS Codes – Most code readers don’t offer the ABS function which is useful when the “Anti-Lock Brake System” or ABS light is on. This device from Actron does it pretty well.
Amazing Features – There are a host of amazing features that validate the price of this great scanner. Some features are freeze frame, live data, State OBD checks, and print data.
Compatibility Issues With Some Features – Some features of the OBD2 might not work with all models of cars.
4. Actron CP9575 Auto Car Scanner
Backlighting – It is easy to read the screen of this scanner because of backlighting and you would never complain about a reflective or dim screen ever again.
Data Freeze – You can freeze frame while the scanner is churning out information to ensure that no important data is missed by you during your scan.
Online Update – Unlike other scanners where you have to take a lot of trouble to ensure that the device stays updated, the CP9575 updates online. This makes it fuss-free.
Multiple Languages – French, Spanish and English are the available languages for not just manuals and menu but also code definitions.
5. INNOVA 3100 Scan Tool and Code Reader with ABS and Battery Backup
Different Functions and Modes – One of the modes is the Freeze Frame mode that displays the screencap where an error has been detected. There is a little icon on the top for the same. The ABS mode is also offered.
Emission Test – The scanner informs you when you are ready to take an emissions test. The LED system lets you know whether the car is okay (green), whether a problem needs to be sorted (yellow), and if you have failed (red).
Auto Refresh and Code Definition – A 30-second auto refresh function is offered in the Innova 3100 along with diagnostic codes with definitions.
6. INNOVA 3150 Code Reader ABS/SRS OBD2 Vehicles
ABS and SRS – This is an amazing tool with both SRS and ABS that enhances your safety. When you turn on the car, you would be informed if your airbag system is working efficiently and whether the anti-brake system needs any repair.
LED Emission Test – The LED system lets you know whether the car is going to pass the emission test (green LED), whether a problem needs to be sorted (yellow LED), and if you have failed (red LED).
Battery Backup – Most Innova scanners come with battery backup, allowing you to check the readings even when you switch off the engine of your car.
Small and Lightweight – The device is quite compact in size and extremely lightweight.
7. OTC (3111PRO) Scanner Trilingual OBD II, CAN, ABS, Airbag
ABS, CAN and SRS – The OTC 3111PRO has both SRS and ABS and watches out for your safety. When you turn on the car, you would be informed if your airbag system is working efficiently. The anti-brake system would also be checked for malfunctions. It works for domestic, European and Asian systems.
Live Data – Live data is an interesting feature that allows you to see the problems and scans of your car in real time.
Dual Graphing – To offer you a thorough comparison, dual PIDs can be seen side by side in this scanner.
8. Autel MD802 Scanner MaxiDiag Elite
Global Touch – The biggest benefit of this scanner is its coverage as it covers almost all models in geographical locations in Europe, Asia, and US.
Live Data – The live data feature allows you to see the problems and scans of your car in real time, complete with real-time graphs.
Print – If there is any information that you would like to print, then you can do so because of the print feature of the Autel MD802.
No Battery Backup – Unfortunately, it depends on external sources of power.
9. Autel DS708 Automotive Scanner Diagnostic and Analysis System
Wi-Fi Scanner with Touchscreen – Because this system has Wifi capability, the scanner would offer coverage throughout your workshop area. It is also equipped with an intuitive and large touchscreen that makes navigation quite easy.
Advanced ABS – The ABS system of the touchscreen has advanced diagnostic capabilities and it makes the results much more accurate and quite fast as compared to other scanners.
Live Data Recording and Playback – You can diagnose your car’s problems in real time because you would be using the live data playback and recording feature of this device.
Dual Processor – The dual processor of this device ensures that these host of features are supported without the device lagging or getting heated up.
10. Launch CRP129
ABS, SRS, Transmission and CAN – This scanner not only offers ABS, SRS and CAN modes but also acts as a transmission scanner for your car.
Good Coverage – Almost 40 car models are covered by this scanner and it has compatibility across EU, Asia, and US.
Free Updates With Code Definitions – You would be able to get the codes with definitions and troubleshooting tips with this scanner.
Resetting Functions – Apart from the standard 4 systems, this scanner can also reset steering angle, maintenance lights, and parking brake.
11. ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX
Compatible With Everything Except Apple – Apart from Apple devices, you can use this bluetooth scanner with any other PC, smartphone or tablet to read the information.
Additional Protocols – Apart from the 5 standard protocols of OBD, there are two additional provided with this scanner – MS-CAN for Ford and SW-CAN for GM.
Sleep and Battery Saving Feature – Even when you leave this scanner plugged into your car, it wouldn’t drain the battery because of its special sleep and battery saving feature.
What Is The Best OBD2 Scanner?
The concept of a best diagnostic scan tool is a redundant one because there are many options in the market that claim to be the best car scanner. As such, the “best” varies according to what the consumer wants.
If you are out to buy the best option and not just any mediocre one, you have to be willing to spend some money. However, it is also true that this is a one-time investment that you would not be making again anytime soon. You might as well spend something now and make the decision after good research.
Here are some things that the perfect OBD2 scanner should have, according to customer expectations:
Instructions – Scanners of top quality always come with extensive instructions so that the user’s life is made much easier. Imagine spending a lot of money on a scanner and not knowing how to use it. That is the worst possible situation.
As such, instructions might seem like a small part of the buying process but they are extremely important in choosing an OBD2 reader because if the scanner does not come with instructions, it is basically useless.
The customer support of the brand or company should also be accessible all the time to help out the user. A lot of frustration can be avoided by taking this factor into account.
Screens – There are many kinds of screens in scanners and different kind of users tend to prefer different screen types. On an average, however, most users prefer backlit screens. The backlighting is provided by LCD and makes the process fuss-free.
The screen of the engine scan tool has a lot of information to read and with backlit LCD, users can decipher and read the information much easier. The functions of the screen are equally important and the best scanners tend to have a lot of information for the user on the viewfinder. For instance, some scanners only display the code but the best ones display the description of the code as well.
Compatibility – When an average user is looking for a scanner, the biggest thing on their mind is compatibility. The best kinds of scanners would have utmost compatibility because they have been tested on multiple makes and models of vehicles.
If you go through the OBD2 scan tool reviews, you will notice that most reviewers bring up problems of compatibility in the scanner and this puts everyone off the brand itself. The software and functions that the scanner comes with should also be compatible with the model. Otherwise, all that research and hard work would be money down the drain.
Features – Finally come the features of the OBD2 scan tool where most time is spent by buyers and reviewers. There are many features in a scanner – some useless and others, not so much. The best features, however, are those that offer amazing value for money.
This includes freeze frame, data recording, live data, and other features with non-continuous text. When these features come with the addition of affordable price, users are generally a lot more satisfied and happy with their scanners.
How To Use OBD2 Scanner?
All scanners have different instructions attached to them but, in general, these are the steps to follow to use an average OBDII scanner:
Connecting The Scanner To The Vehicle
There would be a connector port located right in the driver’s compartment of your vehicle. Connect your OBD2 code reader to that port.
Then, don’t start the engine but turn on the key. You will see the scanner prompt you for different kinds of information like the VIN number of your vehicle, model, make, and engine type. You would also be offered several instructions on the screen. Follow these instructions and insert the information that is being asked.
Understanding the Codes
This is part where you get to explore the menu choices and understand what trouble codes are available. If you have bought an affordable OBD scanner, you would only get a code that looks random. Look at your manufacturer’s manual to find out what it means.
If you have spent ample money on your auto code scanner, the screen would not only display the trouble code for you but you would also be given a description of what that code means. Sometimes, you get a pamphlet with the scanner to understand these codes. Other brands offer an in-depth guide in the form of a CD-ROM for you to use. When in doubt, just use the internet for help.
Basic Menu Options (I/M Inspection)
One of the menu options would be I/M or “Inspection and Maintenance”. If the MIL of the car is off, you would need to drive your car around so that the PCM is satisfied that the fault is now corrected. The time taken largely depends on the manufacturers but I/M readiness tests usually take a couple of days and not more.
This is an important feature because when you take your car for inspection to a DMV or an independent body, they would have their own scanners that they will plug into your vehicle. At that time, your best automotive scanner will reveal that I/M readiness has not been met and you won’t be supplied with a sticker. If you want to score well on the emission test, make sure you use this option frequently.
Advanced Menu Options (View Data)
The view data option allows you to investigate further into a problem. You would be allowed to see the real numbers that the PCM receives from the sensors. You can also check other things like the temperature of air and water, O2 sensor, RPM, engine load, and various other areas of the vehicle that frequently cause trouble.
This can be done in real time with pro scanners. Various pro scanners also allow you to directly connect your best OBD2 scan tool to your laptop so that you can sit indoors and perform your analysis. Others come with batteries so that this job is made easier. There are software programs available that let you connect your laptop to your vehicle as well.
What Is The Difference Between OBD1 and OBD2 Scanners?
For an average person, OBD1 and OBD2 scan tool are no different from each other. However, there are marked changed between OBDi and OBDii in terms of scope and coding. Here are some common differences to keep in mind when you are going through auto scanner reviews:
Installation And Connection Process – A vehicle scan tool is usually installed at a port that is located under the dash of the vehicle. As such, there were frequent problems of reaching the port. The OBD2 port, on the other hand, is located quite conveniently in the driver’s compartment. As such, connecting is a breeze.
Reliability – The very reason why OBD1 was replaced by OBD2 is that it was unable to meet the demands of the changing vehicles and users. As such, OBD1 is, by definition, less evolved and reliable than OBD2. ODB2 is the advanced technology while OBD1 is a technology of the yesteryear.
Engine Check – OBD1 is a tool that only reads the codes and specializes in nothing. The OBD2 scanner of the modern world, on the other hand, has become the best tool to sort out the most common problem of the check engine light blinking repeatedly. The tools allow the user to go in depth about the light and investigate the reasons.
Engine Efficiency – Every driver wants to know if the engine of their vehicle is performing efficiently or not. The OBD1 scanner fulfilled this purpose to a certain extent. However, the OBD2 scanner is considered to be the last word in engine efficiency because of its myriad features and uses.
Chip Replacement – OBD1 chips could be replaced but because of this feature, they were weak tools, especially when it came to data storage. On the other hand, the formation of OBD2 is such that the chip is irreplaceable and embedded. It updated and reprogrammed on a frequent basis but it is never removed.
Speed – OBD1 is extremely slow as compared to OBD2 because the former is the older technology while the latter is more modern. Not just that, they both cover different amounts of data in the speed which makes OBD2 all the more better.
Software – It was difficult to find an OBD1 tool but it was nigh on impossible to find its software. On the other hand, OBD2 tools are easily available and their software programs are usually open source in nature. This makes OBD2 much user-friendly because open sourced software programs reduce frustrations related to availability.
Satisfaction – Because OBD1 was not that common in nature, it was available after much difficulty. Only pro users purchased it because using it was hard. On the other hand, OBD2 tools can be purchased online and from anywhere else and come with instructions to make their use fairly easy. This adds a lot more customer satisfaction to OBD2 as compared to OBD1.
Advancement – While an OBD scanner is as advanced as it will ever get, OBD2 is constantly changing. There are now bluetooth versions of this scanner and wireless versions as well.
Different Types of OBD2 scanners
OBD2 car scanners come in three main types and are mostly handheld in nature. They are compact in size and are connected to the vehicle directly. They can also be based on the device and mobile in nature. The device based versions use a smartphone app to read the information. Here are the types of scanners you can buy:
Basic Handheld OBD2 Scanners
These are basic in nature and come with the following features.
- Cost Effective – For people who are looking for an OBD2 scan tool that wouldn’t drill a hole in their pocket, basic handheld scanners are the best because they can be purchased at a very low cost.
- Easy Use – Using basic handheld scanners doesn’t take any great knowledge. They have simple instructions attached to them and can be used by anyone.
- Reading and Erasing Codes – The essential and most popular function of a basic handheld scanner is reading the engine codes and erasing them.
- Simple Functions – These scanners are bought by those people who just want to confirm or recheck what the mechanic has told them. They can be used for carrying out simple repairs.
- Meant For Common Vehicles – If you have a vehicle model that is quite common, then you can easily get away with a basic handheld scanner with its simple functions.
Professional Handheld OBD2 Scanners
These scanners are a bit advanced and come with a host of features as compared to basic scanners.
- More Programming Choices – Because these scanners are professional in nature, they come with a host of programming choices that would allow pro-users to get in-depth information about a problem.
- Better Compatibility Options – While basic scanners only work with common and popular vehicle models, these professional scanners are tested on a variety of vehicles are would also work with uncommon vehicle models.
- Internal Storage – Apart from the additional features, they also offer ample internal storage options to the users.
- Easier To Make Adjustments – It is easy to make adjustments to the vehicle on the basis of the reading from the scanner because it is quite accurate and specific.
- Better Customer Support – Additional support from the brand’s customer service center is provided with professional handheld scanners.
Mobile OBD2 Scanners
This kind of OBD scanner is extremely small in size and works with a mobile app.
- On Board Diagnostics – The data is read by a mobile scanner from diagnostics located on-board the vehicle and this accounts for the compactness of the scanner.
- App Based Scanner – The scanner works in tandem with an app. It is through this app that users can see the results displayed by the scanner.
- Uses A Tablet or Smartphone – The app where the results are displayed is usually loaded and installed in a tablet device, PC or smartphone. Thus, such a device is essential to use these scanners.
- Cost Effective – These mobile scanners offer a host of features but they are still cost effective because they depend on other devices and tools as well.
- No Screen – The small size is also because the device has no screen of its own. It doesn’t need a screen since it uses the app for communicating information.
Advantages Of Using OBD2 Scanners
Finding the best OBD2 scan tool and using it has tremendous advantages:
Scans All Electronic Units In The Vehicle – Most processes in a modern vehicle are handled by multiple computer systems. This also includes the main systems like fuel injection, auto transmission, and ignition system of the vehicle. There are sensors in the vehicle that transmit information constantly the these computing systems.
Because of this function, the vehicle always performs at top efficiency. As technology has improved, these computing systems have become extremely advanced and handle a lot of information at a particular time. By having an OBD scanner in the car, this humongous amount of information is sorted properly without any problems or breaks.
Peace Of Mind – Because of the best code scanner, owners are granted a certain amount of peace of mind. They don’t need to worry about the little processes in their expensive vehicles. If the check engine light is blinking, they can pinpoint the problem in a small time without visiting the mechanic. They also have a ready means to confirm what the mechanic is saying and have lesser risks of getting duped during emergency situations. More than that, they know they are getting value for their money – both for their vehicle and their scanner.
Simplicity – Using a scanner is extremely easy and simple. On top of that, going for a good brand automatically means having access to the customer support system that is there to help users with any problem they might face while using the device.
Installation is an easy process and the owners can connect the OBD2 scan tool to their car’s OBD2 port themselves using the cable cord that comes with the device. After inputting the relevant details, they just need to follow the instructions. Reading the codes is easy even in the basic handheld devices. The codes pinpoint the exact area that is causing problems in the car.
Affordable – No matter what the budget of a user might be, there is an OBD2 scanner for them. The most basic scanners can be purchased for as little as $50 and the professional versions are slightly costlier. The features decide the cost of the scanner and owners should know that if they want an affordable option, they can easily find one from local stores, manufacturer websites, and online stores like Amazon. Money is also saved in terms of regular trips to the mechanic on the smallest of problems in the car.
Helps To Pass Emission Tests – There are many states in the US that require vehicle owners to have regular emission tests. Also, if the car’s check engine light is blinking, the emission seal would not be given to the car. By the I/M readiness function of the scanner, users can now ensure that they will pass the emission test before they even visit the DMV centre. The center would have its own scanner that would further confirm the emission results of the car.
Factors & Features To Consider When Buying OBD2 Scanners
While purchasing an OBD code reader, there are some important factors to keep in mind. By ensuring that all these factors are ticked off the list, you can ensure that you are buying the best possible option that money can buy. Even while considering these factors, you should remember that it is not necessary to make your purchase by the book.
For instance, if you have a low budget, you cannot have a scanner with every available feature. Some concessions have to be made. Balancing the requirements with the price is the idea behind all these factors:
There are some top brands of OBD2 code scanner tools. These include Innova, Actron, Autel, OTC, Equus, and Autolink. If you are tired of looking for the best OBD scanner, you can choose the top models offered by these brands because the brand name is of immense importance when the efficiency and health of your car is at stake. These brands have a good reputation and have been in the industry for a long time.
If you have a strict budget, you need to stick to it when you are buying the best OBDII scanner. However, thanks to the great options in the market, a low budget doesn’t need to have the last word. You can find a good scanner that falls within your budget and still meets your basic requirements. If you veer outside the scope of the top brands, you would be giving up on reliability but might get a few extra features. If you stay with the top brands, you would get the basic features but they would still perform as promised. When price is a constraint, you have to make a choice.
Quality and Design
Cheaper models would be bulky and hard to move around. However, there are mobile scanners that are cheap and compact at the same time. However, these need additional devices like a mobile app, software program, and a smartphone/tablet/PC to work. The quality and design of the scanner is extremely important because it would decide how easy it is to operate the scanner.
The OBD1 scanners only worked for popular vehicle models but with OBD2, you can now have most vehicle models scanned in no time. However, some scanners are still model specific and might not have all the protocols. Just to be safe, always ensure that during research, the scanners you are going through would be compatible with your vehicle.
There are scanners available that are weatherproof and not vulnerable to water, heat, humidity and similar weather elements. These scanners last for a long time. Durability and sturdiness is also decided by the material with which the body of the scanner is made. By ensuring that the chosen scanner is durable, you would be able to enjoy its use for a long time in the future.
Accessories like a translation manual for code, cord, and user guide are also essential while buying a scanner.
Bluetooth OBD2 Scanners
With the advancement of OBD2 technology, wireless and bluetooth OBD2 scanner tools are now available in the market. These scanners fall under the category of mobile scanners and are extremely affordable because they are dependent on other devices to function.
An OBD2 bluetooth scanner uses the bluetooth technology to work and give results about the internal working and issues of a vehicle. It is quite different from a traditional OBD2 scan tool in the way it functions and how it is used. Here are some things you should know about OBD2 scanner bluetooth:
Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner vs Traditional OBD2 – Traditional scan tool OBD2 devices come with a screen. They are plugged into the OBD2 port of the vehicle and then the screen displays all the information. Bluetooth devices, on the other hand, have no screen.
They are still plugged into the car but after that, the device is paired with the Android, Windows or Apple phone using a passcode. The OBD2 app on the smartphone acts as the information portal for the bluetooth OBD2 scanner and gives the users all the information they need.
The best bluetooth OBD2 scanner is also equipped with storage facilities that traditional OBD devices may or may not have (depending on the cost and make of the device).
Why Buy Bluetooth OBD2 Device – There are many benefits of buying a bluetooth OBD2 and they are as follows:
- Simple Use – It is extremely easy to use a bluetooth OBD2 and people who have been using traditional devices would find them even easier. Installation is a simple process because some people have problems maneuvering the screen of traditional OBD2 but a bluetooth device runs through an app and everyone is familiar with the interface of their smartphone.
- Affordable Price – While traditional devices all come in different budgets, if all the features are needed then the cost is invariably high. However, bluetooth scanning devices are cost effective because they are compact. It is simple and affordable to download the supporting apps and software programs as well.
- Great Design – The design and size of bluetooth scanners is extremely compact and petite. They can be carried around because they are lightweight and the design is not bulky at all. Another great benefit is that they come in a beautiful design that can be matched with the interior of the car.
- Battery Support – Almost all bluetooth OBD2 scan tool devices have battery support and they do not suck any power from the car’s engine or anywhere else. This also means that they have a backup power source in them which can be useful at times. There is a power saving capability in these devices as well.
- Good Coverage – Unlike OBD and OBD2 devices, bluetooth automotive scan tool options are compatible with almost all vehicle models because they have a great coverage and are reliant on the app instead of the device itself.
Best OBD2 Scanner Brands
Actron OBD2 Scanners
The best scan tool in the market is by Actron.
Multiple Options – This company is known for its electronic testers and diagnostic tools that are reliable and always perform well under any conditions.
Different Budgets – Actron caters to different budgets as well and this makes them the ideal choice for a lot of people.
Reliable Brand – Because buying an OBD2 scan tool is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly, a lot of people simply go for Actron because they know they can rely on the brand.
Experienced – Actron is quite popular in the industry of vehicle repair and was founded in 1964.
Innova OBD2 Scanners
If you are looking to buy the best diagnostic scan tool in the market, you cannot go wrong with Innova.
World Renowned – Innova has established its expertise in OBD2 scanner in the world and has a stellar reputation that is has earned over the years.
Multiple Options – Innova not only offers diagnostic reporting tools but it also manufactures testing equipment. This is a trusted brand that has years of experience under its belt.
Recommended Models – A couple of recommended models by Innova include the 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool that has ABS/SRS with Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles, 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader that comes with ABS and Battery Backup and 3150 Diagnostic Code Reader that comes with ABS/SRS.
Autel OBD2 Scanners
Autel is one of the best companies for people who are looking for a professional OBD II scanner.
Both Automotive and Consumer – The company supplies and manufactures professional grade equipment and diagnostic tools for both the automotive industry and general consumers.
Reliable Brand – This is a reliable brand with years of experience that you can trust if you are looking for the best OBD2 scanner for the money.
Different Budgets – Autel caters to different budgets as well and you can get a good scanner if you go with this brand.
Recommended Models – A couple of recommended scanner models from Autel include Autel MD802 MaxiDiag Elite Scan Tool and Autel DS708 Automotive Diagnostic and Analysis System.
OTC OBD2 Scanners
Some of the best OBDII scanner tools in the market are by OTC and this is a brand with a stellar reputation.
Global Reach – This is a brand that is known worldwide for its scanners and tools. As such, it can be trusted by consumers because of its experience in the industry.
Auto Diagnostic – The electronic and auto diagnostic scanner section of OTC is where this brand specializes.
Variety of Products – There are a variety of products available with OTC for different requirements of consumers. Apart from diagnostic scanners, they also have equipment and specialty tools.
Recommended Models – A few recommended models from OTC include the 3111 OBD II with CAN and ABS Scan and Trilingual Scan Tool.
Autolink OBD2 Scanners
Autolink is one of the low budget brands catering to those people who want the best OBD scanner without drilling a hole in their pocket.
Affordable Brand – The prices of Autolink scanners are pretty low and they are durable enough to last for a long time. However, the brand has not compromised on quality at all. For people who are willing to spend a bit extra on their scanner, OTC has some professional and high quality options as well.
Autel Association – Autolink is a brand that does so well because it is under the wing of Autel.
Equus OBD2 Scanners
Equus not only has the best auto scanner tools in the market but they also offer equipment for testing and tuning along with tachometers and gauges.
Same Company As Innova – Equus and Innova are two brands under the same company and, as such, consumers can expect the same specialization from Equus that they do from Innova.
Great Customer Service – One thing that separates Equus from other brands is its technical support. The customer service is exemplary, as mentioned by various reviewers of the products of this brand.
Recommended Models – Since Innova handles the diagnostic side of things, the recommended models are the same, namely 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool that has ABS/SRS with Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles, 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader that comes with ABS and Battery Backup and 3150 Diagnostic Code Reader that comes with ABS/SRS.
OBD2 Scanner FAQ
If this is the first time that you are performing an automotive scan tool comparison and are about to make your first purchase, you might find these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) useful:
How Do You Know If The OBD2 Device Is Working?
A car’s state usually determines how efficiently an OBD device is working. When you plug the OBD2 scanner into the port of the car, you need to click on the scan button and the device will start doing its job of scanning all the functionalities of the vehicles. An indication of the OBD2 device being ready is the flashing of the Check Engine light when the ignition is turned on. After that, the light shouldn’t blink or stay turned on while you are driving, unless some problem is detected in real time.
How Do You Troubleshoot OBD2?
When it comes to troubleshooting, it is best to trust the manual or CD ROM that comes with the OBD2 device. The manufacturer will include steps of troubleshooting the device yourself. If you still cannot figure it out, you can always use the customer support service to speak to an executive of the OBD scanner company. You can also use the self help page provided on the manufacturer website. Sometimes, an erratic OBD2 can be sorted out by simply updating it. There are, generally, no blanket troubleshooting steps because every brand differs from every other.
Is There Any Relationship Between The OBD2 Test and Tailpipe Test?
A common problem people face is that they pass the tailpipe test but when it comes to OBD2, they still fail. This is because they fail to see that OBD2 includes a number of components and the tailpipe is just one of those parts. If the tailpipe test of your vehicle is okay, it means that the exhaust is working efficiently. However, the OBD2 is failed because some part other than the exhaust (like the fuel system) is causing issues.
Should You Care About Brands While Buying An OBD2 Device?
Yes, the brand name is extremely important while buying an OBD2 automotive scanner. If you go for a good and reputed brand that has a number of devices out there in the market, you would not only have a certain amount of trust in your device but you will also get to go through a number of reviews from customers. Plus, bigger brands like Autel and Actron have an amazing customer service. A good brand would grant you peace of mind about the fact that you have utilized your investment.
How Do You Know If Your Car Has OBD2?
Almost all the cars in the US have an OBD2 or OBD device installed in them. If your car is of an older model, you would find the OBD2 scan tool somewhere in the area of the dashboard. With newer models, however, you would find it right under the seat of the driver. When you pull the seat up, you would be able to see it. If you are having trouble finding the port, you could visit your mechanic for help.
Other Automotive Diagnostic Tools
Apart from an OBD2 diagnostic tool, there are other automotive diagnostic tools that you can buy to ensure that your car is always working properly. These tools are vital to your toolbox because having them in your arsenal would ensure that you don’t have to take a trip to the mechanic and waste time, money and energy on the smallest of issues.
If you have some basic knowledge about cars and how they work, you could troubleshoot some of the things yourself. You can also improve the efficiency of your car and reduce the environmental impact by using tools like OBD2 on a regular basis. Here are a few examples of some other automotive scan tools that you can buy:
Timing Light – The purpose of a timing light is to check for any positive circuit. If the positive voltage of your car is working properly, the timing light would light up.
Tire Pressure Gauge – It is necessary to have the right pressure in the tire of your car. This is why it is important to have a tire pressure gauge. This diagnostic tool would let you know when you have filled too much air or too little air in the car. Accidents are often caused because of air pressure issues in the car.
Battery Voltmeter – Your car’s battery determines the life of your car’s engine. As such, you need to have a tool at your disposal that would ensure the health of your battery. A battery voltmeter measures the battery’s voltage. The red probe of the voltmeter is for the positive side while the black one is for the negative side.
Coolant Temperature Gauge – Everyone knows the function of the coolant but few people take care of the fact that its temperature should be regulated. If the engine gets too hot, it means that the parts are rubbing against each other and too much heat is getting generated. This, in turn, would lower the efficiency of your car and might cause it to breakdown. If the engine is cold then the car simply won’t start because the fuel is not igniting. The coolant temperature gauge takes care of all these concerns.
Tire Tread Depth Tool – This diagnostic tool is there to help you measure the depth of the tread of your tires. The probe of the tool reaches into the groove of the tire before it presses down on the gauge in order to give you accurate readings.
Where To Buy An OBD2 Scanner?
You can buy an OBD2 scanner, transmission scanner or any other diagnostic tool from a number of sources. The main considerations of your choice include – the variety available, access to the top brands, price, discounts and sale, and replacement option.
You also want to get the manufacturer’s guarantee with the product you buy. It also helps to have access to customer reviews from people who have actually used the device and shared their experience. The following are a few sources from where you can buy an OBD scanner:
Local Store – The biggest benefit of going to the local store is that you get the device instantly and can start using it. You can browse around and also replace a defective piece quickly if you have a rapport with the local store owner.
However, the problem is lack of options. Local stores only have a few brands and they do not have all the models. If you have made a shortlist of OBD2 scan tool models, you would not find half of them at the local store. Plus, the prices are usually fixed and you get little to no discount at local stores.
Manufacturer’s Online Store – If you have decided on a brand and want to buy an OBD2 scanner from that brand only then you will find the online store of the manufacturer pretty useful. This is because all the models you want would be available on the website. You would also get the guarantee and warranty attached with the device.
You can rest assured that you are getting a genuine product when you make your purchase from the online store of the manufacturer. These stores rarely have price discounts, however. But you also get access to open sourced and updated software programs related to your scanner.
Online Stores Like Amazon – This is the best option to go for because it has the benefits of both the above options without any of the problems. First of all, you will enjoy an immense amount of variety across various brands. You can get your hands on the best cheap OBD2 scanner because sites like Amazon frequently have sales and discounts on popular products.
You can read through the first hand reviews of customers while you are making your choice. If you have previously eliminated a model from your final list because of the price, you might just find your OBD2 scanner for sale and make the purchase.
Making A Decision
Have you gone through all your options and are looking for the best scan tool in the market? Do you want your car to be working at its most efficient level possible? Are you tired of frequent trips to the mechanic and shelling out precious bucks for small issues?
Then you need to get your hands on an OBD2 tool that will change the life of your car and enhance your driving experience.
Go through our detailed reviews and our buying guide and make your decision. Buy your OBD2 scanning device now and say goodbye to frequently blinking check engine lights and failed I/M tests.
A recap of our top picks:
1. ** Editor’s Choice – Best ODB2 Scanner **
INNOVA 3160 Scanning Tool with ABS/SRS Plus Live Data
2. ** Best Budget ODB2 Scanner **
ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner