The KARFANS K120 OBD2 scan tool is a new entrant to the world of OBD scanners. It comes packed in a carrying case that doubles up as a storage facility.
Table of Contents
KARFANS K120 Overview
Obviously, that’s a noble idea on the manufacturer’s part, especially to those who are looking to purchase a portable OBD2 code reader.
It’s not a big tool. It weighs just over one pound and can easily fit in a hand.
Even if you’re not planning to keep it somewhere in the driver’s compartment you certainly won’t tire carrying it around. Inside the case are a USB cable and a user manual.
Overall, it’s safe to say that the KARFANS K120 is packaged nicely. But as you probably already know, packaging should be the least of your worries.
The usefulness of an OBD2 code reader entirely depends on its compatibility and functionality.
Detailed Review of KARFANS K120
This scanner is basically designed for OBD2-complaint vehicles that are made and sold in the US. Just in case you need clarification, OBD2 cars are those manufactured post-1995.
They have a 16-pin connector where an OBD2 scan tool plugs into. So if your car was made in 1995 or earlier this scan tool won’t work.
Also, it doesn’t actually work on all OBD2 vehicles. The car you’re trying to check should not be more than 12V. Meaning its compatibility is limited to cars and light trucks only.
Most other tools of its price and functional range rarely cover diesel engines and almost never support hybrids. So that’s a plus for those who drive diesel vehicles and hybrids.
As long as we are talking compatibility, the KARFANS K120 supports USB connectivity. You can plug it into a computer and update the software for free. Unfortunately, you can’t use it on a Mac system.
Features and Functionality
Diagnostic Trouble Codes
As an OBD2 code reader, the KARFANS K120 can read and erase fault codes. It does so for engine control unit (ECU) codes. To put it simply, this device can pull and clear engine codes.
Those are the codes that usually trigger the Check Engine Light (CEL) or the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL). After pulling the codes you can go ahead and fix the associated problem.
Once that is done the KARFANS K120 will then clear that code and the CEL/MIL will turn off.
Every code comes with a description to help you understand the problem.
That allows you to judge whether it needs professional attention or if it’s something you can sort the DIY way. Either way, you won’t have to spend time and money visiting the shop just to get an engine diagnostic scan.
Having said that, this device falls short in a very big way. It only scans the engine and no other system beyond that.
You can’t use it for SRS, ABS, transmission and other system diagnostics. So if you’re looking for a full system scanner this one will disappoint.
Built with an I/M hotkey, the KARFANS K120 allows you to check your vehicle for emissions readiness and drive cycle verification.
It probes the various emission-related systems, including the EVAP canister, separator, and gas tank to ensure that they are working as they should.
So what does that mean? It means this device will tell you whether your car is ready for emissions inspection.
You will know if you will pass your local and federal smog tests without having to visit the shop. That should save you some time and money that you would have spent at the shop.
While basic I/M readiness checks are great, Mode 6 and Mode 8 tests are even better. However, KARFANS don’t really state if this device supports both (or any).
Mode 6 is especially important in some situations because it pinpoints all sorts of emission-related problems, including those that haven’t triggered a code or affected emission monitors.
Some people consider misfire count (part of Mode 6) to be essential. If you are one of them you won’t like how the KARFANS K120 is vague and unclear about its emission check capabilities.
You basically can’t tell whether or not it supports that kind of scan on your vehicle.
It may not access all the onboard systems nor run all emission tests, but for those that it does this OBD2 code reader does a great job providing real-time data streams and monitoring.
It basically offers live engine and emissions data and also reads freeze frame data. You can use the information to pinpoint and fix any engine or emission system problems in your vehicle.
Additionally, the OBD2 scan tool tracks and reports battery health.
KARFANS K120 vs ANCEL AD410 vs Bluedriver Comparison Chart
Great as it is for checking the ECU and I/M readiness, the KARFANS K120 still lacks in some aspects. That’s especially true when you consider that it doesn’t access as many systems as some other scanners do.
In case you are not completely sold on this OBD2 code reader, you could consider an alternative.
Two of its closest compatriots are the Ancel AD 410 and BlueDriver Bluetooth OBD2 scan tool.
While the BlueDriver is a wireless adapter that requires a mobile device and diagnostic app, the Ancel AD 410 connects to the OBD port using a cable – much like the KARFANS K120.
Here’s how they compare in functionality:
Karfans K120 (Universal) OBD 2 Scanner
ANCEL AD410 Enhanced OBD II Vehicle Code Reader
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android
4.3 / 5
4.3 / 5
4.4 / 5
|Compatible with OBD2 cars||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports CEL/MIL reset and emission Test||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supports ABS, SRS Tests||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Bottom Line||KARFANs K120 OBD2 code reader is perfect for a car owner.||ANCEL AD410 is built for any car owners.||Useful and well worth the money;|
Highly recommend for DIYers and car owners.
Who is it for?
This OBD2 code reader is perfect for a car owner. It allows you to identify minor engine problems by yourself.
With it, you will be able to pinpoint an issue before visiting the shop for repair.
Plus it helps when you need to run emission tests, so overall it’s a great product for the ordinary car owner.
The Bottom Line
Although it performs well in engine diagnostics, you get the feeling that the KARFANS K120 could do more.
The manufacturer could add Mode 6 and Mode 8 tests to compensate for what it lacks in system access. That way it could have been a device fully dedicated to resetting the MIL and running comprehensive emission tests.
Having said that, it’s actually quite nice for a tool that costs quite cheap. Most other devices in its price range won’t offer nearly as many functions as it does.
With it, you can feel safer knowing that you can run engine diagnostics and emission checks yourself.