Table of Contents
- 1 What is a BMW Scanner?
- 2 Why a Scan Tool for BMW?
- 3 What Should I Consider Before Buying A Scan Tool for My BMW?
- 3.1 Compatibility/Coverage: Does it work with my BMW car?
- 3.2 Functionality: Which systems can it diagnose?
- 3.3 Accuracy: A good scanner must do what it is designed for
- 3.4 Price: Pay for what you need only
- 3.5 Mobility: A wireless scanner or a cabled one?
- 3.6 Active Tests: Does it allow bi-directional communication?
- 4 What is the best Scan Tool for my BMW today?
- 5 Best BMW Scan Tool
- 5.1 1. FOXWELL NT510 Elite Full-System Scanner for BMW
- 5.2 2. AUTOPHIX 7910 OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner for All BMW
- 5.3 3. Creator C310+ V11.7 Code Reader for BMW/MINI
- 5.4 4. AUTOPHIX 7810 BMW OBD2 Scan Tool
- 5.5 5. BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scanner
- 5.6 6. Carly Universal Diagnostic Adapter for BMW
- 5.7 7. iCarsoft V2.0 BMW Code Reader
- 5.8 8. MAOZUA C110+ Latest V4.5 Code Reader
- 5.9 9. iCarsoft BMW/Mini i910 OBD2 Multi-System Scanner
- 6 The Bottom Line
What is a BMW Scanner?
You may know that a BMW scan tool is a must for any DIYers or enthusiasts that frequently work on vehicles made by BMW.
But what is it?
A BMW OBD2 scanner is a diagnostic system that is specifically designed and made for one or many series of BMW’s vehicles. These are designed based on deep researches on BMW vehicle systems to give accurate diagnostic reports and give the right fix guides.
This kind of scan tools cannot work on almost other car makes because of compatibility issues but for BMW’s owners, they offer excellent experiences.
Most BMW scanner tools can work on BMW, MINI, and Roll-Royce cars.
Why a Scan Tool for BMW?
A BMW needs a BMW scan tool like the engine needs oil.
A scanning tool can save you hundreds of dollars and hours per year at auto repair shops. Also, it can help you understand your car better. Once you understand it and give it the right care, it will be a good boy.
All products listed in this review are well within the budget of a hobbyist, and you’ll be surprised by some of the professional features they offer. All of them allow you to diagnose engine problems in your home garage. Many also give you access to programming and calibration tools that can spare you the expense and hassle of a visit to the dealership.
But before you buy something,
Let’s find what to consider first!!
What Should I Consider Before Buying A Scan Tool for My BMW?
Each of us needs different scanning tool because we have different cars, different needs, different budget, etc. The most important factors to think about when you’re making your decision are compatibility, functionality, Accuracy, and Active Tests.
Compatibility/Coverage: Does it work with my BMW car?
Compatibility is the first and most important factor to consider. Make sure that the tool can function well on your car.
Most products can at least read codes and run OBD2 tests on all vehicles made after 1996. However, all of the scan tool’s features may not be available for all models, years, and engine styles.
If you have both old and newer vehicles, look for an OBD2 scanning tool with OBD1 vehicle coverage like FOXWELL NT510 Elite.
Functionality: Which systems can it diagnose?
Functions of a scan tool can be divided into 3 groups:
- OBD2 test modes
The OBD2 diagnostic protocol is specific to engine problems. It doesn’t include all trouble codes related to other systems, such as the transmission, airbags, battery, or brakes. There are 10 OBD2 test modes you can do on your car by using a full OBD2 scanner. With OBD2 tests, you can read and clear DTCs, view freeze frame data, live data, I/M readiness test, O2 sensor test, etc.
- Non-OBD2 system diagnosis
Beside OBD2 tests, a scan tool can have the ability to scan non-OBD systems like ABS, airbag, transmission, etc.
- Service functions
Some advanced diagnostic tools let you reset things and do special service functions like oil reset, DPF regeneration, SAS calibration, battery registration, ABS bleeding, injector coding, key fob coding, ECU programming, etc.
Accuracy: A good scanner must do what it is designed for
We’ve spent hundreds of hours using and testing tens of scan tool before picking the best ones for this review. Accuracy is one of the most important factors we consider and we have to make sure that all scanners listed in our reviews are reliable and give users accurate diagnostics reports as built.
Price: Pay for what you need only
There are thousands of scanner out there pricing from $10 to $,6000+. It is hard to find the right one if you don’t know what you need and what you don’t need. Like buying a mobile phone, buy what you need, not what they offer. If you don’t like selfies, why do you pay for the front camera?
If you simply need to read and clear dashboard trouble codes, reset the MIL, and do some other regular diagnosis for car owners, a code reader around $50 like Creator C310+ is enough. But if you are an experienced DIYer and want to do more complicated services like battery registration, oil reset, or ABS bleeding, etc. it may cost you around $170 to $200. A diagnostic tool like FOXWELL NT510 Elite is suitable for you.
Mobility: A wireless scanner or a cabled one?
If you prefer moving while scanning, take a wireless Bluetooth scanner like Bluedriver.
Keep in mind that a Bluetooth scanner may be slower than a cabled one. Make sure that the connection is good enough.
Active Tests: Does it allow bi-directional communication?
OBD2 scanner tools without bi-directional communication can only diagnose by reading codes. They can’t send information or commands back to the engine computer. If you want to run active component tests, code the keys, or reprogram the ECU, look for a BMW scanning tool with bi-directional control ability. In this case, the FOXWELL NT510 Elite would be a good choice.
Read more: More bi-directional scan tools reviews can be found here.
What is the best Scan Tool for my BMW today?
Best Overall: FOXWELL NT510 Elite
NT510 Elite is an excellent option for those who want to do car maintenance at home and for mechanics who code injectors frequently. NT510 Elite can work on BMW/MINI cars made from 1987 to 2019.
Runner Up: AUTOPHIX 7910
AUTOPHIX 7910 is a perfect choice for you if you want to have various functions from a reliable scanning tool to diagnose and fix issues in your BMW/MINI/Rolls-Royce made in 1996 or newer. Many people appreciate the convenience of AUTOPHIX 7910, which still has all the functions most drivers need.
Best Budget Buy: Creator C310+
Creator C310+ is the best affordable option. It is made for those who want to find out why their dashboard error lights are on. Somebody may think that this code reader is cheap because it cannot do much. That’s true. It’s just made to do exactly what it is designed for and what you pay for.
Want to read more? Let’s go!
Best BMW Scan Tool
1. FOXWELL NT510 Elite Full-System Scanner for BMW
The Foxwell NT510 is a full-system diagnostic tool with a wide range of reset and diagnostic functions. It reads all OBD2 and OBD1 codes, including pending and manufacturer codes, as well as supporting all 10 OBD2 modes. This scanner tool can also diagnose non-OBD2 systems in BMW cars from transmission and anti-lock brakes to the climate control or tire pressure.
Even more impressive, the device enables you to do bi-directional/active tests of components like actuators and valves, which makes it a lot easier to locate and repair the underlying cause of any trouble codes. With Foxwell NT510 Elite, you can perform a wide range of repair and maintenance tasks. The ability to reprogram the tire pressure and IMMO systems gives you the freedom to do more DIY repairs, saving you a lot of money and time waiting at the mechanic shop.
- Read and clear trouble codes for all major systems
- Bi-directional and active testing of most systems
- TPMS reset and IMMO
- Record, playback, and print diagnostic data
- Ready to use with BMWs directly out of the box
- Can read OBD1 codes from BMWs made from 1987-1996
- Compatible with newest 2020 BMWs
- Higher cost
- A bit slow scanning
Bonus: It’s recommended that Foxwell NT510 should go with a Protective Case for Foxwell NT510 .
If you are a BMW professional technician, specialized garage owner or DIY guy who regularly works on BMWs and you need a scanner with advanced features, Foxwell NT510 is a must-have tool.Check Price at Amazon
2. AUTOPHIX 7910 OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner for All BMW
The AUTOPHIX 7910 is another option that will work for both home garages and as a quick scanner for beginner mechanics. The drop-proof case and silicone keypad resist damage, even in high-use situations.
This engine scanner starts by reading and defining trouble codes clearly and easily. Like other professional car diagnostic tools, it doesn’t stop at engine codes but shows diagnostic information for all major systems. After a quick scanning, you will find everything causing issues to your engine. Especially, the robust special features of the AUTOPHIX 7910 exceed those of any other hand-held scanner available for BMW home garages. It offers 22 special functions in all from resetting the oil light, clearing adaptations, to bleeding the ABS. All are available for any BMW model, regardless of makes or model year (from 1996 up to date).
- Stable and reliable
- 22 special functions for BMWs
- Rugged drop-proof case
- Diagnosing all major systems
- DTC lookup library for code definitions
- Easy to use and navigate
- Wide compatibility
- Requires Windows 7, 8, or 10 to update
- Manual isn’t well written
I’ve been testing a lot of BMW scanners in the market but AUTOPHIX 7910 is a rugged and fully functional option for both technicians and hobbyists I have ever known.Check Price at Amazon
3. Creator C310+ V11.7 Code Reader for BMW/MINI
The Creator C310+ is specifically built for BMW and MINI cars and supports all the functions a home mechanic needs. Along with reading and erasing codes related to the engine, transmission, airbag, and ABS, Creator C310+ defines them and shows you the exact issue behind the code found.
This code reader resets all dashboard warning lights as well as supports the calibration of the steering angle sensor (SAS) and allows component testing on the ABS and airbag systems. It also shows the live data in both graphic and text formats. You’ll save yourself hundreds of dollars and hours a year at the mechanic with the Creator C310+.
- Easy to use
- Durable, reliable, and stable
- Resetting all dash warning lights
- SAS calibration
- Very portable
- DTC lookup with code definitions
- Long-life free updates
- An adapter is required for BMW cars made between 1997 and 2000
The Creator C310+ is the best OBD2 multi-system code scanner for BMW DIY-ers on a budget.Check Price at Amazon
4. AUTOPHIX 7810 BMW OBD2 Scan Tool
The AUTOPHIX 7810 is a professional BMW troubleshooting tool with intuitive navigation that also makes it suitable for any car owners and hobbyists. It diagnoses engine codes on all OBD2 vehicles. For BMW vehicles, this product goes a step further to include ABS and SRS diagnosis. With this full OBD2 scanner, you run any OBD2 test modes including O2 sensor, EVAP system, I/M readiness tests, etc.. Keep in mind that you’ll always be up to date with the latest diagnostic information for life.
One helpful function you’ll find on the AUTOPHIX 7810 is battery management that enables you to replace and register a battery without a visit to the shop. Furthermore, some of the other advanced features include steering angle sensor calibration and clearing adaptations.
- Compact and affordable
- Durable and Reliable
- Full OBD2 test modes
- ABS and SRS diagnosis on BMW
- Repairing Solutions with verified fixes
- Advanced functions include BMS and DPF
- SAS Calibration and adaptations clearing
- Not compatible with vehicles made prior to 1998
- Sometimes crashing if you run too many processes at once
The AUTOPHIX 7810 is a perfect choice for you If you like the AUTOPHIX 7910 but don’t really need the full range of professional features and want to save more money.Check Price at Amazon
5. BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scanner
BlueDriver is a excellent OBD2 scanning tool for BMW drivers to stay on top of their vehicle’s health. Once it’s plugged into your OBD2 port, you can leave it there full-time without draining the battery. You’ll know the instant a code triggers, and it continuously monitors emissions, alerting you to developing issues. When a code does come up, BlueDriver’s Repair Report shows both the code definition and suggested fixes for your specific vehicle. Saving data and code reports to your phone is simple, and you can send them via e-mail when you want to share the reports with mechanics.
BMW is one of the manufacturers supported for BlueDriver’s enhanced codes. This allows scanning of all electronic systems, including ones often neglected by hand-held scanners, such as climate control.
- Easy to Use with an iOS or Android smartphone/tablet
- Reliable and Durable
- Enhanced diagnostics for ABS, SRS, climate control
- Repair reports from certified mechanics
- Free lifetime updates
- Enhanced codes only available on BMWs made after 2005
- No coding/programming functions
Bluedriver has been used by thousands of DIY and car enthusiasts in North America because of its divert functions, reliability, and affordability.Check Price at Amazon
6. Carly Universal Diagnostic Adapter for BMW
Carly Adapter is specifically built for experienced DIYers and professional technicians. This tool is capable of doing any repair or diagnosis that goes through the OBD2 port.
This adapter can be plugged into a BMW OBD2 port full-time, letting you easily scan for trouble codes and read live data at any time. Since it uses your phone or tablet, saving and exporting reports is easy. You will be impressed by its quick and accurate reading all BMW trouble codes.
Similar to BlueDriver, the Carly Universal Adapter communicates wirelessly with a smartphone or tablet. One advantage of Carly for BMW is that it can be used with the official Carly app as well as third-party OBD2 apps. Remember that, what you can do with the scan tool depends almost on the app you use. With the Carly-brand apps, anything beyond OBD2 diagnosis requires a paid subscription. Having said that, you can also use other apps with the Carly adapter, which may give you access to those features for less.
- Full OBD2 modes
- Compatible with Android and iOS devices
- Lite version of Carly app available for free
- Capable of coding/programming
- A paid subscription is applied to the full version of Carly app
Only buy Carly OBD2 Adapter if you are an experienced home mechanic or a professional BMW diagnostic specialist.
7. iCarsoft V2.0 BMW Code Reader
The iCarsoft V2.0 is a BMW troubleshooting tool built for home mechanics with fast and accurate diagnosis on all the vehicle’s electronic systems.
This iCarsoft scanner can read and clear all OBD2 codes, including pending codes, and define them in the DTC library. The Full OBD2 functionality lets you run all test modes including oxygen sensor, EVAP system tests, viewing freeze frame and live data, etc. In addition, iCarsoft V2.0 enables you to perform other non-OBD2 diagnostic functions of all electronic systems like the transmission, airbags, anti-lock brakes, BMS, diesel particulate filter (DPF), and more.
- Accurate, fast full-OBD2 functions
- 8 non-OBD2 systems diagnosis
- Compatible with all BMWs made after 1996
- Combined DTC look-up library
- Easily save and print diagnostic data
- A bit costly
- No bi-directional control capability
If you are a home mechanic working with OBD2 BMW/MINI/Roll-Royce vehicles, buy iCarsoft V2.0. It is built for you.Check Price at Amazon
8. MAOZUA C110+ Latest V4.5 Code Reader
The Maozua C110+ is a compact and fully-functional BMW OBD2 code reader for multi-system diagnosis at an affordable price. Most BMW diagnostic code scanner in this price point can only read OBD2 codes and data. The Maozua C110+ diagnoses all electronic systems, including climate control and dashboard instruments. This goes above and beyond even most enhanced readers, which often stop with the 4 main systems (engine, transmission, SRS, and ABS).
This engine tool can scan codes on the majority of BMWs made in 1997 and later. For advanced system codes, though, the compatibility is more limited. Remember that it doesn’t read ABS codes from high-emission cars made 1997-2000, for example, and can only read and clear codes for F-series vehicles, so double-check the compatibility for your BMW before buying.
- Very compact design
- Full code reading and OBD2 tests
- Ready to start scanning straight out of the box
- Easy to read color LCD screen
- ABS, SRS, transmission, and IMMO system included
- Long life free updates
- Can’t test battery
- 8 series not supported
If you are on a tight budget, the Maozua C110+ is an affordable choice. Though it does have some compatibility gaps compared to other options, it does what it’s designed for.Check Price at Amazon
9. iCarsoft BMW/Mini i910 OBD2 Multi-System Scanner
The iCarsoft i910 is an affordable and portable hand-held scanner. You can take your diagnostics beyond OBD2 without a hassle and at a great value. This product has full OBD2 functionality. Despite its small size, it has a very easy to read screen, with a full-color display that’s especially helpful for viewing live data and freeze frame data. One plus is this BMW tool is very convenient, too, weighing less than a pound and easily fitting in a glovebox.
Many BMW drivers considered this device one of the most affordable ways to diagnose four major systems: engine, transmission, SRS, and ABS.
Figuring out how to use this BMW diagnostic tool can be tricky, as the included instructions aren’t great. Once you’ve learned what it can do, though, you’ll be overwhelmed by the iCarsoft i910.
Note: Compatibility confirmation is required for vehicle produced before 2005 or after 2014
- Full OBD2 test modes and code reading
- Read and clear transmission, ABS, and SRS codes
- Excellent value for included features
- Compact and portable design
- Durable and Accurate
- The instructions manual is hard to understand
- The screen is a bit small
If you are a high-level BMW car owner who wants to perform more than standard maintenance, iCarsoft i910 is an excellent choice.Check Price at Amazon
The Bottom Line
The truth is, all of the scan tools above are reliable options for reading BMW trouble codes. The question comes down to which features you want beyond those OBD2 basics. No matter which way you go, a scan tool will more than pay for itself in the long run by saving you money on repairs. You really can’t lose with any of these impressive tools!
Read more: Honest Review of the Best Toyota Scan Tools