Have you ever been stuck with a check engine light?
They can be confusing and frustrating because they don’t actually give you any information.
All they tell you is that something is wrong.
You know you need an OBD2 scanner to read the code, but shopping for a scanner can be just as confusing.
There are inexpensive handheld devices, pricey professional equipment, and all kinds of options in between.
Which one is right for you?
The INFOGRAPHIC below is a simple guide that tell you things to consider when picking an OBD2 scanner.
[Note: Click on image to view the full version]
Here’s my take on the OBD2 scan tool buying guide from the infographic:
Types of OBDII Scanners
The first thing you need to do is narrow down what type of scanner you need.
Basically, there are three different categories of OBDII scanners. There are basic code readers, DIY scanners, and professional equipment.
Basic code readers are the least expensive scanners.
They’re the ones you can find at any auto parts store. You plug them into the diagnostic port of your car and they read any Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) that come up.
Most of these basic code readers just tell you the code, but not what it means.
The easiest way to figure out what the code actually means is to just look it up online.
The next step up is DIY scanners.
These are more advanced than basic code readers.
Not only do they read DTC’s, they often tell you what they mean plus a lot more. For a little more money, you get a lot more features.
A lot of these can connect to your mobile device via Bluetooth or Wifi.
They can tell you what’s going on in your car like MPG, ABS and SRS info, and more information that your car might not tell you. Some of them even offer graphing capabilities.
DIY scanners offer a lot of bang for the buck.
If you need something really serious you can get professional equipment.
These are expensive tablet sized machines that tell you absolutely everything about what’s going on in your vehicle.
Some of them even work on heavy duty commercial trucks.
These are the way to go if you operate a shop and work on many different types of vehicles on a regular basis.
What Kind of OBD2 Scanner Do I Need?
It’s easy to determine what type of obd2 scan tool is right for you once you figure out your needs.
If you just need something that will tell you what your check engine light is saying, save some money and get a basic code reader.
Don’t bother paying for extra features if you’re never going to use them.
Warning: The most popular basic code reader on the market is the BAFX model 34t5 Scanner. However, it only works for Android, so if you’re an Apple user, you’ll have to choose one of the other options.
If you’re an enthusiast who wants to know a little bit more info about your car on top of reading DTC’s, I recommend a DIY scanner.
I personally really like these because of the excellent value.
A lot of them come in under the $100 mark with a ton of features. Connectivity to my mobile devices is a must for me. I love the slick, easy to use mobile apps that a lot of these obdii scanners come with.
They make car diagnostics fun!
Reference: In my opinion, BlueDriver OBD2 Bluetooth is the best DIY scanner. If I had to pick one, it would be the BlueDriver. The whole package makes for an outstanding value.
As for the professional gear, I’d really only recommend something like that if you really need it for work.
If you have your own shop and need OEM level diagnostics or you’re working on commercial trucks, by all means, get some serious professional equipment.
If you’re just a regular gearhead like me, it’s simply not worth the money.
STOP! Don’t skip this: It’s truly a business expense for real professionals who need something powerful on a regular basis. Click here if you really want to know what is this!
How to Find the Best OBD2 Scanner?
There are a lot of resources online that can help you shop for the right scanner and you’ve got one right here! Check out our other articles here on this site for reviews of specific scanners and tips on which ones are the best.
I highly recommend reading our Best OBD2 Scanner Reviews & Comparison 2016 article for an in-depth look at some of our favorite diagnostic tools on the market right now.
However, we’re not the only resource for good information on automotive diagnostic tools.
A good old fashioned way to get recommendations for quality scanners is to ask someone who knows.
Do you have a mechanic that you trust and visit regularly? Ask what he uses or recommends.
Is there a certain parts store that you frequent? Do the people working there know you by name? Ask which obd2 scanners they use and what they think would be good for you.
The professionals you trust will often point you in the right direction.
The Bottom Line
The market is so saturated with different kinds of scanners. Shopping for them can make your head spin!
Narrowing down what you actually need the equipment for is the first step to finding the right one for you.
Ask yourself what features you want and need.
- Do you just need something that will simply read and clear codes?
- Do you want the scanner to tell you what the codes mean?
- Would you rather have corded or wireless?
- Do you need to save or graph the data you collect?
- Will the scanner be used for your business?
- Do you need to diagnose ABS or SRS?
- What is your budget?
Simply asking these kinds of questions will quickly narrow down the crowded field of products to choose from.
Our goal is to inform you and help you make the right purchase.
We only wanted the best obd2 diagnostic equipments on this list, so we went through hundreds of professional and consumer reviews, looked at the age of the popular products, and narrowed them down to what you just read.
We based our recommendations on what matters to the customers of these products.
We know cars and the hard-working people who repair and maintain them. Like everything else in your toolbox, you expect your scanner to get the job done every time.
You need something you can depend on.
Take a look at the facts, take a look at our opinions, and buy the best obd2 scanner that’s right for you!
- Choosing a scan tool that’s right for you – aa1car.com
- Shopping Tips for Selecting an OBDII compatible scantool – obdii.com
- How to choose a CODE READER – alpha-bid.com