You’re bound to get a gut-wrenching feeling whenever the Check Engine Light comes on. Is it a faulty catalytic converter? Perhaps a problem with the O2 sensor? Or maybe something as simple as a loose gas cap?
To get the answer you’ll need to do an OBD diagnosis. If you have the right OBD scanner it will pinpoint every single fault in your car. One way of ensuring that the diagnosis is accurate and speedy is by using a dedicated scan tool.
In case you drive a GM vehicle, you’ll be glad to know that there are several GM scan tools available for your purchase. Today we look at the 5 best GM scan tools.
Don’t have time to read the whole review? Well, it’s good that we have a summary table that you can quickly go over. It highlights the main features of each GM scan tool reviews.
|Product Name||Compatility||Main Functions||Rating||Action|
|Inova 3123||OBD1 GM cars||Engine, transmission and ABS diagnosis||4.2/5||See Details|
|VXDIAG VCXNANO||All GM cars||Functionality depends on paired|
|OTC 3111PRO||OBD2 GM cars plus selected Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, |
|ABS and airbag|
|Foxwell NT510||OBD2 GM cars but supports software for selected non-GM models||Full system|
|iCarsoft i900||OBD2 GM cars||Full system|
PRODUCT REVIEWS: THE TOP 5 GM SCAN TOOLS
1. INNOVA 3123 OBD1 GM Code Reader
A simple and affordable GM scan tool, the INNOVA 3123 allows you to reset your car’s Check Engine Light. It accesses onboard systems safely and reads codes. Once you know what each code means you can fix the associated problems and thus reset the service light.
OBD1 compatible: works on most OBD1 cars from General Motors, specifically those manufactured between 1982 and 1995. It actually supports the diagnosis of trucks as well. But the vehicle’s weight must not be more than one ton.
ECM and ABS diagnosis: as far as functionality goes, you can use the 3123 to retrieve engine, electronic transmission and ABS codes. When you connect the device it will show a blinking light to indicate the diagnosis. Every detected fault will be displayed as a code.
Diagnostic helper: it is one thing to get the codes but understanding what they mean is quite another. Most ordinary car owners may find it hard to interpret a code and identify the fault in a car’s system.
Luckily the INNOVA 3123 gives code definitions and illustrations. You can choose to view them either in English, French or Spanish.
Compact size: the best scan tools are those that are portable and easy to store. The 3123 is all that. With a weight of 11.2 ounces and dimensions of 10 x 2 x 6 inches, this handheld scanner tucks away in a toolbox easily.
- Rugged construction makes it durable.
- Multilingual. Supports English, French, and Spanish.
- Comes complete. You don’t need to buy anything else to use this GM scan tool.
- Package includes codebook to guide you in diagnosis and interpretation of codes.
- Very affordable.
- Doesn’t support diesel vehicles.
- The strictly OBD1 device, therefore it can’t diagnose GM vehicles manufactured from 1996 onward.
Who is it built for?
The INNOVA 3123 is undoubtedly one of the least complicated GM scanners. That, alongside its affordability, makes it ideal for beginners and ordinary car owners. But remember, your car needs to be a GM for this scanner to work.
Bonus: Best OBD1 Scanner
2. VXDIAG VCX NANO WiFi GM scan tool
The VXDIAG VCX NANO is a vehicle-to-PC interface that offers access to a car’s systems. You can use this GM scan tool to diagnose your car’s onboard systems and reset the Check Engine Light.
It works on Windows PCs and supports XP and later versions of Windows. For the best performance, you may want to use the 32-bit version of either Windows 7 or Windows 10. Those two support several GDS software (more on that in a short while).
Extensive vehicle coverage: this is what sets the VCX NANO apart from other GM scan tools. It is capable of diagnosing virtually all GM vehicles, including Delta and Epsilon models. Finding a scan tool that diagnoses those two types of vehicles comprehensively is usually very hard.
Supports GDS & GDS2…: so what exactly are these? Well, GDS stands for Global Diagnostic System. GDS & GDS2 are diagnostic software that installs on a specific PC and performs particular diagnostic functions.
GDS2 is particularly more important when you have the VCX NANO scanner. The scanner is the adapter while the GDS2 is the software.
They also can read and clear codes, provide freeze frame data, perform vehicle identification (VIN and ECU part numbers), support resets and customization functions, and control/monitor output functions of certain systems like O2 sensors.
…and SAE-J2534-1 & SAE-J2534-2: the VCX NANO also supports SAE-J2534-1 and SAE-J2534-2. These are standards that allow a vehicle’s systems to communicate with a scan tool or PC used for diagnostics.
Essentially, the two standards make it possible to diagnose emission systems in a car. So on top of all the systems that the GDS2 diagnoses, you can also run tests on emission systems if you have the SAE-J2534-1 and SAE-J2534-2.
Compatible with third-party applications: well, this is rather obvious considering GDS and SAE-J2534 are practical applications. Even so, it’s worth mentioning that the VCX NANO works alongside third-party diagnostic applications.
As mentioned already, those two it also supports GM TIS2WEB and Tech2Win among many others. Those two are particularly awesome because they enable you to diagnose the primary systems in a car, including ABS, engine, transmission, and airbag.
- Comes with one year warranty.
- VXDIAG offers new updates on this tool whenever they are available.
- Compact design. Measures 7 x 5.2 x 1.7 inches and weighs 9.6 ounces.
- Works very fast in diagnosis and reprogramming.
- Supports the most important diagnostic standards and third-party applications like GDS, SAE-J2534, GM TIS2WEB and Tech2Win.
- To receive firmware updates you’ll need to have a paid account in GM’s TIS2Web portal. It costs roughly $55 to open the account, so that’s an added cost that some people may not fancy.
- Doesn’t work on Mac computers, only compatible with Windows PCs.
Who is it built for?
Ordinary GM car owners. If you drive a GM model you will find this GM scan tool very helpful. That goes for OBD1 (1982 to 1995) and OBD2 (1996 to date) vehicles.
It is just an adapter, but when paired with a good diagnostic application you can perform virtually all diagnostic functions. Plus it is easy to use, even beginners can use it with ease. You only need to know how to operate a computer.
3. OTC 3111PRO Trilingual Scan Tool
If you’re completely new to OBD tools then the OTC 3111PRO is the perfect scanner for you. It only makes sense to get a hang of vehicle diagnostics using this simple and specialized scan tool.
While it covers several mainstream vehicle models, the device impresses even more when used as a GM scan tool. So if you own a car that was manufactured by General Motors you may want to consider making the OTC 3111PRO your go-to scanner.
It actually packs some very impressive features. Check them out below:
OBD2 compatible: this GM scan tool works on OBD2 cars and light trucks. These are 1996 and newer vehicles. It covers gas, diesel, and hybrid cars, which is a huge plus because scan tools rarely have that capability.
Besides those manufactured by GM, you can also use it to diagnose 1996 to 2010 Ford and Chrysler as well as 1996 to 2009 Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai.
ABS and airbag diagnosis: the scanner reads and clears codes for anti-skid braking system (ABS) and supplemental restraint system (SRS or simply airbag). It retrieves problem codes for those two systems.
So will it turn off the service light? Yes, it will, but only if you’re dealing with the SRS or ABS light. The scanner will identify the problem and once it is fixed the service light will turn off.
Superior assistance: perhaps the best feature of them all, especially for beginners and ordinary car owners. This GM scan tool features a library of code definitions for those who don’t know code meanings.
Additionally, it has over 4 million verified fixes that you can access with just one touch of a button. Even if you won’t be able to fix the problem yourself at least you will understand it thoroughly.
Vehicle identification: alongside diagnosis, the scan tool features an AutoID function that automatically identifies a vehicle. It provides the VIN and year/make/model of the car.
Live data: every piece of data is relayed in real time. Even better, the tool supports dual PID graphing. Meaning you can view two PIDs at the same time and compare them.
You have the option to record and playback the data. Alternatively, you can save everything on a PC for more analysis. The package includes a USB cable for that.
- Well-sized and portable unit. Measures 12 x 4 x 3 inches and weighs 1.7 pounds.
- Updates easily via PC.
- Multilingual. Supports English, Spanish and French.
- Provides option to save and view files on PC. You can print them out.
- Easy to use. Doesn’t require any professional knowledge.
- The limited scope is a major drawback. You can’t read codes for the engine or other systems beyond ABS and SRS.
Who is it built for?
The limited scope may be a disadvantage to technicians but not to a beginner. After all, it is made for starters. And that explains the simple design, few functions, and vast built-in library.
4. Foxwell NT510 GM diagnostic tool
For its price, it’s hard to imagine that the Foxwell NT510 supports actuation of components, system tests and programming control modules. But it does all that and so much more.
This GM scan tool is a simple-to-use handheld device that allows comprehensive diagnosis of vehicle systems. By default, it doesn’t come with any software.
You have to create an account on Foxwell’s official website (http://www.foxwelltech.com/) and download one free software from there. Actually, you can download additional software to increase vehicle coverage beyond GM models.
Supports OBD2 GM cars: by default, the NT510 is a GM scan tool. It is designed to diagnose GM cars and light trucks manufactured between 1996 and 2016. Those are OBD2 compatible vehicles.
Having said that, you should also know that you can download and install diagnostic software for other vehicle models too. The Foxwell website has NT510 software that makes it compatible with BMW, Jaguar, Ford, Land Rover, VW, Hyundai and many more.
Full system scanner: functionality is where this GM scan tool really excels in. It covers all electronic systems available in a car. That includes the engine (ECU), transmission and even chassis systems.
Basically, you can use it to read and clear trouble codes for all those systems and thus reset service lights. Additionally, the scan tool supports oil reset, ABS module test, key fob function test and fuel injector test.
Compact design: the Foxwell NT510 is quite a compact device. It has a weight of 1.45 pounds and dimensions of 7.9 x 1.5 x 3.9 inches. That’s very easy to hold in your hand or store in a toolbox somewhere inside the car.
Impressive interface: first off, this GM scan tool has a very simple and self-explanatory keypad. It is menu-driven and finding your way around the menus shouldn’t be hard thanks to the 2.8-inch color display.
On it, you can view live sensor data either in text or graph format.
- Comes with one year warranty and 18-month free software upgrade.
- Multilingual. Supports English, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Dutch, Swedish and Hungarian.
- Easy to navigate through diagnostic menus.
- Supports the wide array of diagnostic functions.
- Can work on non-GM vehicles if you choose to install their software.
- Updates are only free for 18 months. After that you have to pay $60 for each set of the update.
- While the scan tool works with Windows PCs, it is not compatible with Macs.
Who is it built for?
The Foxwell NT510 is a professional-grade GM scan tool meant for beginner and DIY technicians. Its comprehensive coverage makes it ideal for specialized diagnosis of GM cars.
Bonus: Foxwell NT510
5. iCarsoft i900 General Motors Diagnostic tool
Whether you’re trying to turn off the Check Engine Light, retrieve trouble codes or run system tests, the iCarsoft i900 will deliver. The only condition is that the car should be a GM model.
Other than that you can rely on this scan tool for pretty much any diagnostic task. It packs some pretty cool features. Here are the highlights.
OBD2 coverage: this GM scan tool supports OBD2 vehicles manufactured by GM. More specifically, it works on cars and lightweight trucks made from 1996 to date.
Full system diagnosis: the iCarsoft i900 supports several test modes. They include the popular ISO9141, CAN Bus, j1850 and KWP2000. That is why it has outstanding diagnostic capabilities.
In precise terms, it reads and clears trouble codes while providing live data stream. The GM scan tool covers all available electronic systems in the car such as SRS, ABS, engine, transmission, chassis, EPS, and alarm.
That makes it perfect for resetting service lights and the Check Engine Light. Additionally, you can perform I/M readiness, O2 sensor, and Evap system tests.
Easy-to-use interface: first of all, this scanner is generally eye-catchy. The body and design are pretty elegant.
Secondly, it features a 2.8-inch LCD screen for easy navigation through the menus. With a display of 240 x 320 resolution, everything comes in crispy clear fashion.
You can view live data streams, freeze frame data, live PCM and vehicle information (VIN, CVN, and CID).
Lightweight: the device is made for easy portability and storage. It weighs 300g and measures 121 x 86 x 26 mm.
- Offers comprehensive help in form of code definitions and repair advice.
- Features comprehensive functionality that supports full system diagnosis.
- Ergonomic and attractive design.
- Sophisticated yet simple to use.
- Works on all OBD2 GM vehicles.
- Probably not the easiest GM scan tool to understand, especially for beginners.
Who is it built for?
This GM scan tool is best for technicians, whether you are a DIY person or own an auto shop. It boasts wide coverage and supports full system diagnosis. That’s professional-level service right there.
All the above GM scan tools are very great. They are the top 5, so it doesn’t matter which one you pick it will serve you. Just make sure it is compatible with your vehicle and has the features you essentially need.
Still feeling spoilt for choice? Here’s our recommendation on how to choose the most suitable GM scan tool for you:
1. iCarsoft i900
No other GM scan tool packs more impressive functional features than the iCarsoft i900. Besides the outstanding ability to diagnose EVERY electronic system in a vehicle, this device is easy on the eyes too. And it comes at a very affordable price of just over $100.
2. VXDIAG VCX NANO
Now when it comes to functionality, this GM scanner wins hands down. There’s a simple reason for that, it is technically an adapter that supports virtually every diagnostic application out there.
Meaning if you have it there’s really no system you can’t access in the car. The only issue is that you have to choose your third-party applications right.
3. Foxwell NT510
It is primarily a GM scan tool but you can download software for other vehicle brands as well. That increases the scanners coverage in a massive way.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There you have it, a complete review of the top 5 GM scan tools. If you own a GM vehicle and are thinking of purchasing one of these for yourself feel free to pick from our list.
The scan tools come in different prices and with varying capabilities. Be rest assured that there’s one that will fit your needs almost perfectly.