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 on-board diagnostic scan tool 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?
Today I’m going to show you how to buy a best OBD2 scanner / code reader online meet with your needs.
But First, take a look at 3 most prominent on our list here:
(Including 1 vehicle owner code reader, 1 DIY scanner and 1 Professional diagnostic scan tool)
A great unit for showing multiple and detail codes as well as easily clear codes. Reasonable price is plus.
Compact, cheap, easy to use, work well and exactly.
A handy device and reliable product, can provide a lot of information and work well on most of modern cars.
Sometime you have to try 2-3x to erase the codes.
Don not work on some cars that have advanced features.
Limited on some western car models.
If you are looking for something to read code. Come with this device, you will not regret for money.
Useful and well worth the money. Highly recommend for DIYers and car owners.
This device is excellent enough to use and save thousands of dollars.
Buyer’s Guide: How to choose the best car diagnostic tool?
The INFOGRAPHIC below is a simple guide that tell you things to consider when picking an obdii 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.
BEST CHOICE: BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool
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.
BEST CHOICE: Innova 3160g Code Reader / Scan Tool
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.
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 2017 below 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 automotive scan tools they use and what they think would be good for you.
The professionals you trust will often point you in the right direction.
In the end of this buying guide, it’s really up to you which scanner is right for you.
Look at your wants, look at your needs, and look at your budget. Use your resources, read our articles, and find the best obd2 scanner that will make your life easier!
Let’s See The OBD2 Code Reader Comparison Table
|BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth for Android||4.5 / 5||See Details|
|Oxgord Direct Scan and Read Out||4.1 / 5||See Details|
|Foseal WiFi Adapter for iOS & Android||4.4 / 5||See Details|
|Veepeak WiFi Adapter for iOS and Android||4.5 / 5||See Details|
|IdeaPro Bluetooth Wireless for Android||4.5 / 5||See Details|
1. BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool for Android Devices
Works Great Right out of the Box. Bafx Products 34t5 is the best bluetooth scanner for Android.
Basic scanners have come a long way in recent years with wireless connectivity.
A very popular example is the BAFX model 34t5.
It claims to be the only OBD reader in its class that really works on all vehicles sold in the US model year 1996 or newer. While it’s unlikely that it’s truly the only one on the market with such versatility, it does indeed work with every OBD II interface.
Just plug the scanner into your diagnostic port and use one of the compatible third party apps like Torque on your Android device to communicate with the scanner.
It comes with PC software, but not a mobile app.
Bear in mind, this scanner is not compatible with iOS.
2. OxGord MS300 CAN OBD II Scanner, Direct Scan and Read Out
This is the most traditional scanner on our list.
It’s an old fashioned hand-held scanner with a built-in cord to plug into your diagnostic port.
It reads both generic and manufacturer-specific trouble codes and clears them with ease. If you’re looking for a simple user interface and don’t want to mess around with wireless connection, this is the scanner for you.
The simple 2-button operation makes it easy for anyone to use.
The downside of the simplicity of this scanner is it doesn’t give you the wide range of information or features that other scanners at this price point can offer.
3. Foseal Car WIFI OBD2 Scan Tool for iOS & Android
Foseal is a wireless scanner that works via WiFi. This means it sends its own WiFi signal to connect to your device rather than using Bluetooth.
This can be a disadvantage if you want to use the internet on your device at the same time you’re connected to the scanner.
It’s compatible with over twenty different apps and works with both Android and iOS.It’s a good pick if you only intend to use a smart phone or tablet to connect to the car.
It’s not a bad obd ii scanner, but it’s not the best or most versatile model for the money.
4. Veepeak Mini WiFi OBD2 Scanner for iOS iPhone iPad and Android
The Veepeak scanner is very similar to the Forseal model.
It has one type of connectivity for two types of devices. It’s a WiFi scanner that works with both Android and iOS. If you want Bluetooth, the Veepeak VP11 is a Bluetooth scanner that only works with Androird.
One cool feature of the Veepeak is the female diagnostic plug on the oppose side of the scanner where it plugs into the car.
That means you can get an extension cord if you need more range. This is handy if the diagnostic port of your car is in a weird spot and you need to be able to read the scanner from a distance.
Keep in mind the extension cord is sold separately.
5. IDEAPRO OBD2 Bluetooth Scanner for Android
IDEAPRO makes a few different, but similar models of scanners. This particular model is a Bluetooth scanner for Android.
The Bluetooth scanner also has PC compatibility, but it requires a Bluetooth card.
Like all of the other scanners, it reads codes, clears codes, and gives you info about your car on your mobile device.
A great bonus of this device is it comes with the Torque Pro app for free which is normally $5. That really adds to the value of this already low-cost device.
Compatibility is very similar to the BAFX model for about half the price.
The Bottom Line
Since all of the scanners in this category have very similar functionality aside from the OxGord, all you need to do is decide what kind of connectivity you like.
I personally prefer Bluetooth over WiFi.
It prevents confusion in your mobile device forgetting your home WiFi and connecting to the new WiFi from the scanner.
With Bluetooth, you can just stay on your home network while connected to the scanner.
I recommend the BAFX 34t5.
I’m the most confident that one will work with absolutely any OBD-II car.
However, it only works for Android, so if you’re an Apple user, you’ll have to choose one of the other options.
Let’s See The DIY Scanner Comparison
|BlueDriver Bluetooth Scan Tool for iOS & Android||4.5 / 5||See More|
|ScanTool 427201 Bluetooth Scanner for Android & Windows||4.3 / 5||See More|
|Autel AL519 AutoLink Enhanced Scan Tool with Mode 6||4.5 / 5||See More|
|INNOVA 3150 Diagnostic Scan Tool with ABS/SRS||4.4 / 5||See More|
|Innova 3040c Scan Tool with Live Data Color Screen||4.5 / 5||See More|
Review of 5 Best OBD2 Scanners for DIY
1. BlueDriver Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool for iOS & Android
You are looking for a DIY scanner? I would seriously consider the BlueDriver Bluetooth Scanner.
BlueDriver is one of the most advanced Bluetooth OBD2 scanners on the market.
For just under $100, it can do just about anything that much more expensive professional scanners can do.
It comes with a free app that works exclusively with the device that you plug into your diagnostic port. The app is intuitive and user friendly. The fact that it was designed specifically to communicate with the BlueDriver scanner makes for effortless connection and seamless integration.
The scanner even has a QR code on top, just scan it with your phone and the app will be ready to download for no extra charge.
This scanner/app setup gives you the benefits of free app updates, saving data, interactive graphing of live data, and portability.
With most scanners, you find the code and then you’re pretty much on your own for how to fix what’s wrong.
With BlueDriver, they have a database of over 4 million fixes corresponding with specific codes.
These repairs are certified by real auto mechanics so you know you’re getting good information. Bluetooth OBD scanners are still a fairly new technology and BlueDriver is easily one of the best.
With its slick app, Android or iOS compatibility, and ABS/SRS reading abilities, you can’t do much better for the money.
In my opinion, BlueDriver is the best obd scanner on the market 2017.
2. ScanTool 427201 OBDLink LX Bluetooth Scan Tool for Android & Windows
ScanTool 427201 OBDLink LX is a budget proposition scanner with more features than the more basic models. It has a few things in common with the BlueDriver like Bluetooth connectivity and a dedicated mobile app.
This one is big on energy saving and security.
It encourages you to leave the scanner plugged into your car so that it’s constantly collecting data. It has a sleep mode that won’t let the scanner drain your car’s battery.
The ScanTool 427201 OBDLink also has a multi-layered link security system that is completely hacker-proof.
No need to worry about security with this scanner.
The app that the scanner comes with is pleasing to the eye with smooth gauges and detailed graphs. Everything is easy to use and all of the data is easy to read.
If you don’t like the app, it’s also compatible with third party apps like Torque from the Play Store.
It’s worth noting that it lacks iOS compatibility and ABS/SRS abilities, but it’s also half the price of the BlueDriver.
If you don’t see yourself needing an ABS/SRS feature and just want a scanner that can give you info about your car like trouble codes and MPG info, this could be the right scanner for you.
3. Autel AL519 AutoLink Enhanced OBD ll Scan Tool with Mode 6
There aren’t any bad OBD2 scanners on our list, but the Autel AL519 is one of the weaker contenders.
It’s like a basic scanner with a few bonus features; some more impressive than others.
The first thing you’ll notice is the sharp color screen. While the screen looks pretty, it mostly only displays rather basic information.
It can read and clear OBD2 codes and not much else.
No graphing and no ABS/SRS.
It can, however, go online for updates. This will keep it relevant for future vehicles, but it is unclear what updates will become available.
Another neat feature is a One-Click Readiness Key.
This is a button that does a quick state emissions test on your car. However, this is irrelevant if your state does not require regular emissions tests.
Again, it’s not a bad scanner; it’s just hard to recommend it against other scanners in this price range.
4. INNOVA 3150 Diagnostic Scan Tool with ABS/SRS for OBD2 Vehicles
The Innova 3150 is one of the heavy hitters in corded OBD2 scan tools. It has a unique feature that allows it to read not only OBD 2 codes, but also OBD1.
Not all OBD2 scanners can read OBD1 codes.
It can diagnose check engine lights on cars going back to the early eighties that are equipped with OBD1 before OBD2 was adopted in 1996.
This scanner can also conveniently read ABS and SRS problems.
This has one of the best screens of all the corded scanners in this category. It’s not full color, but it has nice big font and very clearly tells you codes and what they mean. It can even tell you what the codes mean in English, French, or Spanish.
While this is a nice, feature rich scanner, I don’t understand the price tag.
At around $155, it’s over triple the price of the lowest priced scanner in this category for not much more quality or features.
5. Innova 3040c OBD2 Scan Tool with Live Data Color Screen
The Innova 3040c is an outstanding value for a corded handheld OBD2 diagnostic tool.
It has an easy to read backlit color screen that displays all kinds of useful information.
On top of reading and clearing OBD2 DTC’s, it can also detect problems with ABS and SRS.
It even does a battery/alternator test to assist with tracking down starting issues. No more messing around with a multimeter to test your battery.
This smart scanner can record, graph, and play back live data that it collects from your car.
One of my favorite features is the freeze frame that shows you details like coolant temp, fuel trim, and more at the time the check engine light was set. This is nice for knowing exactly what’s going on in your car when it trips a malfunction indicator lamp.
The biggest downside to this scanner is the short cable.
If you want to collect data while driving, I recommend using an extension cord so you can use it more comfortably.
DIY Scanner Summary
All of these scanners are so good that it’s tough to narrow down just one to recommend.
It really depends on what you’re looking for in a scanner.
If I had to pick one, it would be the BlueDriver Bluetooth scanner.
For just under the $100 mark, you’re getting every feature you could possibly need with a slick mobile app and a huge database of fixes for what’s wrong with your car.
It not only diagnoses, it guides you through the next step of fixing your car. It does this through an intuitive interface that’s a pleasure to use.
The whole package makes for an outstanding value.
Speaking of value, if you want a wireless scanner that you can just leave in your car that will read codes and also gives you information like MPG, the OBDLink LX Bluetooth is the scanner for you.
While it is half the price of the BlueDriver, its lack of iOS compatibility and ABS/SRS reading make it less versatile and useful as a diagnostic tool.
Looking for something a little old fashioned?
The Innova 3040c is the best of the corded handheld scanners.
It gives you tons of information on a gorgeous color screen and specializes in really tracking down what’s wrong with your vehicle.
The handy battery/alternator test makes it useful for a lot more than just reading your check engine light.
Professional Grade Diagnostic Equipment Comparison
|Autel DS708 Automotive Diagnostic and Analysis System||4.2 / 5||See Details|
|Fcar F3-G Advanced Professional Diagnostic Scanner||5.0 / 5||See Details|
|Autel MaxiSYS MS906 Auto Diagnostic Scanner||4.9 / 5||See Details|
1. Autel DS708 Automotive Diagnostic and Analysis System
The Autel DS708 or MaxiDAS is a carefully engineered diagnostic system made to replicate OEM scanners.
This makes it a great alternative to OEM scanners for independent shops.
It works on over 50 different vehicle makes giving it a wide range of usability. Since it’s a professional tool, it does much more than just read codes. It can give you live data on your vehicle, program your ECU, initialize sensors, and more.
It has an intuitive user interface with its 7 inch full color touch screen.
With its WiFi capability, it can wirelessly connect to printers to print off saved data and receive software updates.
You get one free year of software updates from Autel.
At around $845, this certainly isn’t cheap, but it is the most budget friendly professional scanner on our list.
It would make a great asset to a small shop or an enthusiast’s garage.
2. FCAR Universal Original Professional Diagnostic Tool - Best of The Best OBD2 Scanners on The Market Today.
A truly professional unit, the Fcar F3-G is a beast. 🙂
This scanner gives you the more information on more vehicles than any other scanner on our entire list.
It goes beyond reading and diagnosing regular passenger cars, it also does heavy duty trucks, utility vehicles, and just about everything else that it can be plugged into.
It includes a generous amount of different kinds of connectors making it truly universal.
The F3-G can scan makes and models that you’ve probably never even heard of. It can conduct test on all sorts of components of your vehicle like injectors, brake cylinders, and compression. The device even has a built-in micro-printer.
Fcar is renowned for not only making some of the most powerful and versatile diagnostic equipment on the market, but also for their outstanding customer support. If you send a question their way, they will not take long to help you out in a friendly and timely fashion.
They know that their products are used by professionals, so they offer professional service.
The biggest and most obvious downside to this device is the price tag.
At just under $3,500, it’s a serious investment.
It’s truly a business expense for real professionals who need something this powerful on a regular basis.
It’s the ONLY option on our list if you need to run regular diagnostics on heavy trucks or other commercial vehicles.
3. Autel MaxiSYS MS906 Auto Diagnostic Scanner
Autel’s MS906 is the next generation of the DS708.
It can do everything that the DS708 can do, but better and faster.
While the DS708 uses the MaxiDAS diagnostic system, the newer MS906 uses something called MaxiSYS. The two diagnostic systems are similar; MaxiSYS is just more sophisticated and provides more information.
It runs on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system making it similar to consumer tablets.
If you’re already familiar with that OS, you’ll be right at home with this device.
It has a nice big 9.7” touch screen giving it a real tablet feel.
Various connectors offer vast compatibility with different vehicles.
About $1,350 asking price is high, but fair for one of Autel’s premier products.
Professional Grade Diagnostic Scan Tool Summary
These three professional scanners are just that – professional.
Their high prices make them tough to recommend for any casual mechanic who just needs something to diagnose the cars in his garage.
However, if you’re in a business where you have all kinds of vehicles coming into your shop every day, these scanners can put you at a huge advantage.
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re working on heavy duty rigs, the Fcar F3-G is your only choice.
It’ll be painful to make the initial purchase with that sky high price tag, but you’ll quickly see that it’s worth the money once you start using it.
If you’ll never need to scan anything other than American, European, or Asian passenger cars, trucks, vans, and SUV’s, I recommend the Autel MS906.
The hardware and software are both very easy to use for any mechanic.
It’s tough to recommend the other Autel over this one since the MS906 is just better than the Autel DS708 in every measurable way other than price.
The price of the MS906 is easily justified for a professional scanner.
The Buttom 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 automotive diagnostic scanners 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!
Now it’s your turn. I want to hear from you.
What do you think of this obd2 scanner review?
Leave a quick comment below. I’ll be around today to reply to comments and answer questions.
- 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