Top 7: Best OBD2 Scanner Reviews
I have been in the car diagnostics and repair business over ten years, and I know the struggle of picking out the best OBD2 scanner personally. This question often comes up every time I am talking to car enthusiasts or novice mechanics.
With a little help from my team, I compiled some of the best scanners on the market for a range of application . We arrived at a conclusion after a not-so-friendly deliberation. Before we get to the top 7 obd2 scanners, we’d like to go through a few basics first.
What Does OBD2 Scanner Do?
OBD stands for On Board Diagnostics. All vehicles manufactured post-1996 are required to have one of these systems. On a very basic level, the OBD collects and compiles information related to emissions.
This system can, however, collect a series of complex electrical information depending on the vehicle manufacturer and vehicle make and model.
An OBD2 Sensor is a handheld device that plugs into the system to retrieve this information. What the sensor does exactly largely depends on the type. The conventional sensor shows code which can be cross-referenced to figure out what exactly is wrong with the vehicle.
More advanced equipment lets the user know what the particular problem is and how to resolve it. The OBD2 scanner can also reveal impending problems that have not yet shown up on the dash light for you to perform pre-emptive repairs. The device may also remove any error codes on your vehicle once you resolve the issue.
The Best OBD2 Scanner For Cars
(Full OBD2 Scanner Reviews Below)
How To Choose OBD2 Scanner
Type Of Vehicle You Are Working On
One of the major components of selecting a scanner is the type of vehicle you are working on. OBD2 systems are standard, but there are roughly five variations in hardware communications.
If you are only working on one car, essential equipment that is compatible with your vehicle is sufficient. You may need a more complex system if you are working on various makes and models or a new model car.
The Information You Want To Receive
OBD2 scanners are only legally mandated to reveal emission related information. Any additional features or information is entirely up to the equipment manufacturer.
If you’re only interested in remaining compliant with US Environmental Protection Agency regulations, a cheap, basic tool will work. If you want to access more information that is not related to emissions, you need a more advanced system.
Static Or Up-Scalable
There are OBD2 versions that are static which just means that you need to buy new equipment if you upgrade to a newer vehicle model if you start working on a car that is not compatible with your machine.
These are often cheap and straightforward to figure out. An auto mechanic, for example, would find an up-scalable version much more useful. This scalability only means that the software can be updated as needed to use on newer model vehicles.
Remember those car manufacturers are constantly upgrading and adjusting their vehicles and ODB systems. This updatable equipment is also a good choice if you want to invest in a sensor for the long-term.
Most cheap to mid-priced OBD2 scanners typically offer basic information in the form of code. It is all up to you to figure out what the code means, usually by looking it up on a relevant database .
High-end equipment typically offers code and brief information about what the code means, such as why the engine light is on, so there is no need to cross-reference any information.
7 Best OBD2 Scanners
We used the above criteria to come up with a list of the seven best scanners you can buy today. Note that we have categorized each scanner based on what it does best or what if offers the user.
What is the best scanner for one person may not be the same for the next so keep in mind what you want to get out of your equipment before making a final choice.
Support for the BlueDriver is second to none, which is why it continues to sell so well & retain their position as the best OBD2 scanner on the market. From their in-app pro tips to their 24/7 customer support, it’s entirely likely that this is the last OBD2 scanner that you’re going to need.
The BlueDriver OBD2 Scanner app is readily available on both android & iOS devices. It’s an incredibly easy to use app, and really sets it apart from other OBDII scanners on the market.
This app also connects to the internet for additional resources and help that you might need in your diagnostics or subsequent repairs or modifications. This type of technology is pretty new in the industry especially because you don’t have to jump through hoops to get access to online information.
Finally, the scanner has bluetooth capabilities, so you don’t have to be tethered to the vehicle you are working on. You have the freedom to work and move as you please while you run your diagnostics.
As the runner up to the BlueDriver for the competition for the top rated OBD2 scanner, the ANCEL AD310 is powerhouse for the price. While it might not claim the top actual spot in our competition, we do consider this the best OBD2 scanner for the money.
The ANCEL AD310 has a simplistic design that is incredibly easy to use, even if you have your mechanics gloves on. While it isn’t a bluetooth OBD2 scanner, it certainly is a great option for the price. You won’t be able to go running around your garage while you’re using it, but the 2.5 foot long cable will allow you to sit comfortably in the driver’s seat while you work.
One of the nicer features of this OBDII scanner is that there isn’t any need for batteries or chargers. The scanner actually pulls all its energy from your vehicle while it is plugged in, so there is one less thing you need to worry about!
You have probably noticed a lot of AUTEL equipment on this list, but we can’t help that this is an excellent manufacturer.
We like this particular version because it has decent capabilities for its price range. It is a good choice for a novice mechanic who wants to start diagnostics with something basic or an advanced DIY enthusiast who knows his way around codes.
You get all the basic vehicle information such as CVN, CIN, and VIN . It’s also an excellent choice for performing a quick drive cycle verification and emission readiness test.The equipment is easy to navigate and treads the fine line between basic and advanced equipment.
4. BAFX PRODUCTS 34t5 Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool – Best Scan Tool For Home Mechanic
This scan tool offers a good range of compatibility with major car manufacturers. It is an excellent choice if you need to scan for problems at home. You probably won’t know how to fix the issue, but you will have a good idea of what the problem might be.
You also get the generic manufacturer information and clears codes. If you have a phobia of getting ripped off by mechanics, this is a good purchase.
We like that you can plug it up to your PC and a decent range of diagnostic codes. If your main aim is to check emission readiness quickly and efficiently, this is the perfect and inexpensive tool for it.
Finally, we have the best scan tools for the average DIY car enthusiast. This equipment is relatively cheap and offers necessary information you might need before taking your car for repairs or attempting to fix it yourself.
One downside to this model is that you will end up needing to install a 3rd party app on your phone in order to use it. Unlike the best OBD2 scanners on our list, this model does not have either a readout display or an included app. While there are a few free apps out there, it is very likely that you will end up needing to pay for this app.
This OBD2 scanner is another one of the professional grade equipment that we liked. This model is particularly useful for the novice mechanic who has little experience with diagnostics.
It has a comparatively simple learning curve and has all the capabilities you would need to perform a competent vehicle analysis.
The model covers a broad range of vehicle manufacturers, makes and models. You can run diagnostics on European and Asian cars and works on a variety of languages if English isn’t your first language.
These languages include Russian, German and Portuguese among others. It also works on Android OS and might be a good option if you don’t have big money to spend on a scanner.
This scanner is an excellent choice if you are easily impressed with the technology. The LCD screen means the information is easy to decipher.
You also get all the necessary information you might need about what is wrong with your car or any impending trouble that you should address as soon as possible.
We like that the software can be updated online and for free . This update is something that you can do by yourself with basic computer skills, and also means that you can keep your scanner for a long time or until you need a better scanner with more features.
Finally, it erases codes for ABS and Powertrain which is always useful to have in a personal auto scanner.
If you want a professional scanner without the high learning curve, the VEEPEAK Mini is as good it gets. This device is a wireless scanner which means that you have the comfort to move around or work from a comfortable desk.
It is highly portable and is especially useful if you regularly buy and sell used cars. It even comes with a portable bag to keep the equipment dry and safe if it’s something you’d like to store in your vehicle and retrieve as need arises. The scanner offers all the essential data you would need to make an informed decision on a used vehicle.
Again, this scanner reads and clears trouble codes . It is the most reliable and portable option in this segment, and we also like that it is very affordable and usable even by a novice car enthusiast.
OBD2 Scanner Vs Tuner
As you might have figured out by this time, an OBD2 Scanner just collects the information stored in the OBD sensor. This capability just means that it tells you what’s wrong with the car but doesn’t fix or rectify the problem.
At best, the scanner will clear the code so, for example, you can get rid of the check engine light on the dashboard.
A tuner, on the other hand, configures the vehicle to take care of the problem reported by the OBD2. The software is available on the internet, but we highly recommend that you get your car to a professional mechanic for a tune-up.
This software is highly generic and can make your vehicle worse rather than better. Let a competent mechanic figure out what the problem is and recommend the best course of action.
The OBD2 scanner is still very useful because you are already aware of the problem, so there is little chance that the mechanic will take advantage of you.
We hope you enjoyed reading this list of the best OBD2 scanners on the market and gained some useful information for your use. This compilation was very personal for us because we know what we had to go through during those initial stages of working with car diagnostics.
We have worked with a lot of different tools, and we are more than happy to share our experiences and professional opinion with you.
Let us know in the comment section if there is anything you think we left out, or simply share your thoughts and opinions on what the best scanner might be. Which scanners have you used in the past and what was your experience?
Don’t forget to share this information with other car buffs and enthusiasts who you think will find the information useful.