ELM327 adapters are not stand-alone devices. They are basically dongles that pair with an ELM327 software package installed on a computer in order to run diagnostics. If you are using a smartphone or tablet then your device needs to have an ELM327 app before you can do anything with an ELM327 interface.
So what are the best ELM327 apps on the market right now? Below is a brief look at the apps that work best on iOS and Android devices.
Table of Contents
- 1 ELM327 App: Top Picks for iPhone, iPad
- 2 Best ELM327 Apps for Android
- 3 ELM327 Software Packages
- 4 ELM327 Firmware
ELM327 App: Top Picks for iPhone, iPad
1. Car Scanner ELM OBD2
Car Scanner ELM OBD2 works with all OBD2-compliant vehicles. It connects to mobile devices via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which makes it perfect for mobility. More importantly, this app features diagnostic functions, a trip guide and car performance tracker.
With it you can view and clear engine codes. By doing so it allows you to turn off the Check Engine Light. Each code comes with a description thanks to the rich library of code definitions.
Additionally, the app displays tons of data, including custom PIDs, Mode 6, emission readiness status and live sensor data. The latter is presented as gauges that you can use to view the performance and fuel efficiency of your car.
Download: Car Scanner ELM OBD2
Compatible Adapter: Gemwon ELM327 Wifi OBDII Wifi Adapter
2. OBD Auto Doctor
Compared to other ELM327 apps, OBD Auto Doctor is perhaps the best at information gathering and reporting. Besides reading and clearing ECU codes, this application can pull a car’s VIN, CVN, freeze frame data, emission status and live data.
While the ability to reset the CEL is the highlight of this app, its live data is just as important. With it you can know how your engine is performing. Additionally, it helps you plan better thanks to its fuel economy gauges that show things like the amount of gas remaining, distance to empty, miles per gallon and so much more.
Download OBD Auto Doctor
Compatible Adapter for OBD Auto Doctor: wsiiroon Car WiFi ELM327 Adapter
3. Carista OBD2
Carista is one of the most popular OBD2 apps out there, and rightfully so. It not only allows you to read/clear ECU trouble codes and turn off the Check Engine Light, but it also supports checking of other systems.
More specifically, you can read and erase codes from the SRS and ABS systems. With the premium version of the app you can also do service reset, EPB retraction and TPMS functions
Download: Carista OBD2 App
Carista’s Compatible Adapter: Carista OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter
Best ELM327 Apps for Android
1. Torque Pro
Torque Pro can read and clear both current and pending trouble codes from the engine. In other words it can help you determine the cause of the Check Engine Light and even turn off the light.
On top of that, this ELM327 app monitors sensors, including the very important O2 sensors. With data from those sensors you will know whether your car will pass federal and state emissions.
One of the standout features of Torque Pro is that it has a built-in dynamometer for displaying live data. Some of the information that you will get include torque, horsepower, fuel trim, RPMS, transmission temp and many more that show your car’s efficiency and fuel economy.
Download: Torque Pro
Compatible ELM327 Adapter: ELM327 Mini Interface Bluetooth Adapter
2. OBD Fusion
OBD Fusion offers three main functions. First, it allows you to turn off the Check Engine Light by reading and clearing engine trouble codes.
Secondly, the app has a built-in fuel economy monitor that helps you plan your trips. It shows such information as amount of fuel, miles per gallon, distance to empty and so much more.
Finally, OBD Fusion offers tons of gauges and graphs that show you how your car is performing in real-time. You can view information like mass air intake, RPM, acceleration, speed, engine temp etc.
Download: OBD Fusion
Compatible Adapter for OBD Fusion: Vgate iCar Pro Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE) ELM327 Adapter
DashCommand excels at three things. The first is reading and clearing engine codes. With a built-in database of code definitions, you can use the app to turn off the Check Engine Light.
Secondly, DashCommand is an excellent monitoring tool for your fuel economy and car performance. It has gauges that display fuel flow rate, fuel level, amount of fuel left in tank, time to empty, distance to empty, torque, braking, acceleration, engine speed, boost vacuum etc.
Finally, this ELM327 app works as an emission status monitor. It lets you run I/M readiness tests to determine whether your car will pass emission checks.
Compatible Adapter for DashCommand: Foseal Bluetooth OBD2 Adapter
ELM327 Software Packages
If you would rather use your ELM327 adapter with a PC you can do so thanks to the multiple OBD2 software that work seamlessly with ELM327. Many developers have created OS-specific diagnostic software that caters for users of Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and pretty much any other operating system.
OBD2 Software for Windows
FORScan is compatible with all versions of Windows starting from Windows 2000 all through Windows 10. This ELM327 covers Ford, Lincoln, Mazda and Mercury cars and light trucks.
With it you can read and clear generic as well as manufacturer-specific codes that are related to the engine. As such, it allows you to reset the Check Engine Light.
Additionally, the software can read sensor data and display it either as text or PIDs. It supports service procedures as well as test diagnostic procedures.
EngineCheck also works on Windows 2000 and all newer versions of the OS.Contrary to FORScan that’s only compatible with a few brands of cars, this particular ELM327 software covers all gas-powered cars that were manufactured from 2001 and diesel cars that were made from 2004.
In terms of functionality, EngineCheck allows you to read and clear engine codes. It therefore makes it possible to reset the Check Engine Light. Additionally, the software can display freeze frame data, live sensor data, on-board test completion status and fuel system status.
freediag is a bit different from other ELM327 software for Windows. Why do I say so? Because currently it only supports a command line interface (CLI). If you know your way around CLI you’ll find this software quite interesting.
It’s primarily designed to diagnose and reset the Check Engine Light. It can do so on virtually any OBD2-complaint car. In total, this software supports 5 main protocols (ISO 9141, ISO 9141-2, ISO 14230, SAE J1850 (PWM and VPW) and SAE J2818/KWP1281/VAG) as well as the Mercedes Gearbox Protocol.
OBD2 Software for Mac OS X
Goserial is a nice little OBD2 software that’s completely free. It’s basically a terminal interface that lets you read and clear Check Engine Light and emission-related codes. You can use goserial on any Apple computer running Mac OS X 10.4 or a newer version
Read more: Best OBD2 Software Packages Review 2019
One thing that confuses many ELM327 buyers and users is the firmware version used. To date there are only 12 official versions, namely 1.0, 1.0a, 1.1, 1.2, 1.2a, 1.3, 1.3a, 1.4,1.4b, 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2.Although all the versions are still in circulation, the most common are v1.3 all through v2.2.
Unless you’re an advanced user of ELM327 diagnostic tools, chances are you won’t be able to tell the difference between these versions. They all have the same basic diagnostic functions. However, like most other techtools, the newer the version the more stable it will be
Watch Out For Clones and Fakes
There are several cloned and fake versions of the original ELM327. What happened is that when ELM Electronics first introduced v1.0 they did not copy protect it. As a result, many different unofficial versions have been created by other manufacturers and made available for users.
While some clones are fairly stable, others are worryingly buggy. Even so, your best bet is sticking with the official versions of ELM327. Do not be tempted to pick a version that sounds like “the latest”.
For example, there are some manufacturers who claimed to upgrade the code used in v1.4. Those manufacturers went ahead and released v1.4a and v1.5. In truth, both v1.4a and v1.5 are in fact copies of v1.2 masquerading as newer versions. So if you buy them you’ll likely get a device that still has the same bugs and issues associated with v1.2.