Important Note: OBDLink announced to fire the OBDLink MX (both Bluetooth and WIFI version) from 2020 and will focus on OBDLink MX+, the upgraded version OBDLink MX.
OBDLink MX+ vs. OBDLink LX, which one is better? If you’re looking to buy an OBD2 adapter, then chances are you’ve asked that question a few times.
Good news – we’ve done all the hard work for you. This hands-on review compares OBDLink’s MX+ and LX scan tools to help you pick the more suitable one for you.
Table of Contents
OBDLink MX+ Vs. OBDLink LX: Complete Comparison Table
|Enhanced OEM support||9/10||N/A|
|Advanced service functions||6/10|
(with Carista OBD2 app or FORScan)
(with Carista OBD2 app or FORScan)
(with Carista OBD2 app or FORScan)
(with Carista OBD2 app or FORScan)
|Supported operating systems||iOS, Android, Windows||Android, Windows|
*Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2
OBDLink MX+ Vs. OBDLink LX: Detailed Comparison And Review
It’s a very sensible comparison considering the two devices are practically the same in size. They both measure 1.97 x 1.77 x 0.91 inches (50 x 45 x 23 mm). And even though the OBDLink LX is a tad bit heavier (4 oz. compared to the MX+’s three oz.), the difference is negligible.
That small size is significant because you can leave these pocket-sized adapters plugged in the car. You’ll still get plenty of legroom, and the scanner will relay real-time live data as you drive or test the vehicle.
Apart from size and weight, what else did we consider when comparing the OBDLink MX+ vs. OBDLink LX?
- Functionality: what diagnostic functions can you do with each OBD2 scanner?
- Vehicle coverage: are they compatible with domestic vehicles? What about foreign cars? Will they work on your car, truck, or SUV?
- App compatibility: which apps can you use with these OBDII Bluetooth scan tools?
- Extras: what else does each scanner bring to the table apart from its OBD functions?
With that said, let’s get down to the good stuff.
OBDLink MX+ Vs. OBDLink LX: The Key Similarities
The OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX are both products of OBDLink. Therefore, it’s sure that they’ll have a few things in common. Below are the main similarities between these two scan tools.
Bluetooth OBD2 Adapter
Both scanners connect to the car’s ECU wirelessly via Bluetooth. They are OBD2 Bluetooth adapters, which means that they interface the ECU with a smartphone or computer. You can then run diagnostics straight from the phone or computer.
Just in case you’re wondering, both the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX use Bluetooth version 3.0 with 128-bit data encryption. It’s not only sufficiently fast, but it’s secure as well. Plus, you can get a stable connection from 262 feet away from the car. Therefore, whichever of the two you pick, you can enjoy (almost) unlimited mobility as you run diagnostics on a vehicle.
By the way, OBDLink has two other adapters – the OBDLink EX and OBDLink SX – that connect via USB. They are excellent options if you’re not a fan of wireless connectivity. In which case, you’ll have to sit in the driver’s compartment as you run diagnostics.
There isn’t any difference in the types of vehicles covered by the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX. Both scan tools are designed for OBD2 cars, light trucks, and SUVs. Although they are compatible with domestic (American) and foreign (European and Asian) vehicles, they don’t work on electric or hybrid cars.
Just an FYI, OBD2 vehicles are 1996 and newer models. Therefore, if your car was made in 1995 or an earlier year, you can’t use either of these OBDII scan tools. But if it’s a 1996 or newer model, then you can use any of the two. Plug it into the OBD2 port of the car, and you’ll be good to go.
Check Engine Light Diagnostics
At the very least, both the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX will allow you to diagnose the Check Engine Light (CEL). You can read and erase all the codes that are related to the check engine light. Additionally, both of these OBDLink scanners can check emission readiness and display live data from the engine.
With a PID rate of 100 PIDs per second, you can rest assured that the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX will plot graphs of live data faster than most other scanners out there. Depending on the app you use, you can customize the dashboard and its gauges to get specific parameters first.
For example, you can set your dashboard to display MPG, RPM, throttle position, engine speed, and any other parameter that you want to view instantly.
Compatibility With Third-Party Diagnostic Apps
First off, both the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX come with two free OBD2 apps: OBDLink for smartphones and OBDwiz for Windows PC. That’s good already because you can use these OBD2 tools straight out of the box.
But if you don’t like either of those two apps, you’ll be glad to know that the two OBD2 adapters are compatible with a ton of third-party apps. You can use the MX+ with iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OBD2 apps like Carista, DashCommand, Torque Pro, OBD Auto Doctor, ScanMaster, and AutoGaugeX.
The OBDLink LX, on the other hand, works with Android, Windows, and Symbian diagnostic apps like Torque pro, DashCommand, ScanMaster, OBD Auto Doctor, AutoGaugeX, and OBDScope.
Free Lifetime Updates
Software updates are necessary for a scanner. It would help if you upgraded it so that it’s compatible with car models that are released in later years (with new auto tech). Luckily, the OBDLink MX+, just like the OBDLink LX, comes with free software updates for the scan tool’s lifetime. If OBDLink introduces new features, you’ll get them straight to your device. Plus, there’s every possibility that these two devices will be compatible with yet-to-be-released vehicles.
In addition to all the above, our two highlight scan tools come with battery saving technology. You can leave them plugged in the car, but they won’t drain your car’s battery. That’s because they automatically go to sleep when they detect inactivity.
Besides, they’re equipped with overvoltage protection that prevents them from catching on fire even when there’s a load dump. And to give you some peace of mind, OBDLink grants a 3-year warranty on these OBD2 dongles.
OBDLink MX+ Vs. OBDLink LX: The Key Differences
That’s everything that the OBDLink MX+ has in common with the OBDLink LX. Time to look at where they differ.
First and foremost, the OBDLink MX+ is designed for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows devices. You can pair it with an iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, Android phone, or Windows phone, and it will work. Just make sure that you have a working app on the device.
It’s not all good news for OBDLink LX, though. While it’s perfectly compatible with Android, Windows, and Symbian operating systems, it doesn’t work on iOS and Mac-based devices. Therefore, if you use an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, you’re (unfortunately) locked out of the OBDLink LX party.
While the OBDLink MX+ supports OEM-level diagnostics for specific car brands, the OBDLink LX doesn’t support any OEM-level diagnostics. OEM stands for an original equipment manufacturer. Thus OEM-level diagnosis refers to the ability to scan manufacturer-specific systems.
With the MX+, you can pull P1 codes (manufacturer codes) for GM, Ford, Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Infiniti, Hyundai, Kia, and Honda. Those are just a handful of car brands, but it’s better than the LX that doesn’t support any OEM-level functions.
As far as vehicle protocols, both the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX support all OBDII protocols. That covers ISO 15765-4, ISO14230-4, ISO 9141-2, J1850 VPW, and J1850 PWM.
In addition to those above, the OBDLink MX+ also adds single-wire CAN for GM (GMLAN), single-wire CAN for Ford (SW-CAN), and mid-speed CAN for Ford (MS-CAN). These protocols offer more functions. Take the MS-CAN, for example, which gives you access to the body and infotainment units.
Unfortunately, the OBDLink LX doesn’t support any of these additional protocols. It only covers OBD2 protocols and nothing else. Therefore, if you want OEM-level access to multiple systems, it makes more sense to consider the MX+ over the LX.
Speaking of multiple systems, the OBDLink MX+ allows you to diagnose the engine, ABS, SRS, transmission, TPMS, and a ton of other systems. There’s a catch, though. The range of what you can do depends on the OBD2 app that you use. Therefore, make sure to download and install an app that offers all the functions that you need.
What about the OBDLink LX? If you choose this OBD2 adapter, you won’t be able to diagnose any other system apart from the engine. Granted, it can check for emission readiness, but other than that, you can only view and clear engine codes.
Again, the range of functions that you’ll get depends on the app you choose. When pairing with the right apps (like Carista) or software (like FORScan), they offer about the same abilities based on the apps or software they work with.
For example, Carista OBD2 app lets you perform electronic diagnostics (reading, clearing codes and dashboard light reset) of all modules in the vehicle such as the ABS, SRS, transmission, TPMS, etc.
The icing on the OBDLink MX+ cake is that it can do bidirectional controls. You can perform active tests on any compatible vehicle. Such tests include locking and unlocking doors, starting the car remotely, etc.
On the contrary, OBDLink LX doesn’t support bi-directional controls. Thus, if you occasionally find yourself in need of performing bi-directional tests, you may want to forego the LX in favor of the MX+.
PROS and CONS of OBDLink MX+
- Compatible with iOS, Android, Windows and MacOS.
- Offers OEM-level access to on-board systems.
- Supports more protocols than the LX.
- Diagnoses more systems apart from the engine.
- Can perform bidirectional controls.
- Costlier than the LX.
- Occasionally loses connection (you must update firmware before use).
PROS and CONS of OBDLink LX
- Works smoothly on Android and Windows devices.
- Performs thorough engine and emissions diagnoses.
- Supports all OBD2 protocols.
- Can diagnose the check engine light.
- More affordable than the MX+.
- Can only diagnose the engine, not any other system.
- Can’t pull manufacturer-specific diagnostic data.
In our big OBDLink MX+ vs. OBDLink LX debate, which one suits you best? If you’re looking purely at functionality, then the MX+ offers significantly more than its compatriot. While it supports OEM-level diagnostics, bidirectional tests and can access more systems beyond the engine, the LX doesn’t do any of that.
If, however, you want a basic scanner for diagnosing the check engine light and nothing else, then you’ll love the OBDLink LX. Its attractively low price tag makes it an ideal tool for beginners who are more interested in checking the engine than anything else.
Q: Will the OBDLink adapter do ABS and SRS codes?
A: The OBDLink MX+ will do ABS, SRS, and many other codes. However, the OBDLink LX won’t. The latter can only do engine codes.
Q: What version of Bluetooth do OBDLink adapters use?
A: Both the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX use Bluetooth v3.0 for faster data transfer and higher security.
Q: Will these OBDLink OBD2 adapters work on my car?
A: If your car is OBD2-compliant – i.e., manufactured in or after 1996 – then both the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX should be compatible.
Q: What app can I use with the OBDLink OBD2 adapter?
A: They both come with the OBDLink and OBDwiz apps for free. But you can also use third-party apps like Carista, DashCommand, Torque Pro, OBD Auto Doctor, ScanMaster, and AutoGaugeX. Just keep in mind that the OBDLink LX is not compatible with iOS and Mac-based apps.
Q: Will these work on diesel engines?
A: Yes, the OBDLink MX+ and OBDLink LX scan tools are compatible with gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles that are OBD2-compliant.
Q: Can you drive with these OBD adapters plugged in?
A: Yes. They have a power-saving feature that prevents the adapters from draining your battery.