10 Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanners 2022 [Comparison & Review]

Today I will share my experiences with the top 10 best professional automotive scan tools after 6 years of using and testing them.

So, if you are asking:

“What is the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner for me? – or

Do I really need that $1,500 scan tool with ECU coding? – and conversely, 

Will a $500 professional OBD2 scanner with bi-directional control do what I need?”

This post is for you.

My advice is:

Buy something above your current needs because your skills will get better soon after a while.”

For example, if you don’t need any ECU coding now, your best choice is definitely the Autel MK808, a bi-directional scan tool with 28+ advanced service functions.

But, I recommend you consider a bi-directional scan tool with ECU coding and 31+ advanced service functions like LAUNCH X431 V+ PRO. 

If your question is: “What is the best scan tool that does everything?”,

“Autel Maxisys Ultra is always the top choice.”

Trust me.

After reading this review, you will find a professional auto diagnostic tool that is 1,001% right for you and the vehicles you are to work on every day.

Let’s begin with a quick comparison of the top 5 professional scan tools for 2022:

ModelsWhy?Price RangeAction
Editor's Pick
launch x431 v plus

Launch X431 V+ PRO
Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner (with ECU Coding)

For Professional
Under $1,300Check Price

Read review
autel mk808

AUTEL MK808
Best Professional OBD2 Scanners (with Bi-directional Control)

For Backyard Mechanic

Under $500Check Price

Read review
ThinkDiag

ThinkDiag
Best “Affordable but Professional” Car Diagnostic Tool

For Backyard Mechanic
Under $150Check Price

Read review
Editor's Pick
Autel Maxisys Elite

LAUNCH X431 PAD V
Best Professional Scan Tool with ECU Programming

For Mid-sized Shop
Under 3,000Check Price

Read review
Autel Maxisys Ultra

Autel Maxisys Ultra
Best High-end Automotive Diagnostic Scanner That Do Everything

For Professional Shop
Under 5,000Check Price

Read review

Now,

Look below, navigate to a group of scan tools that most fits your current needs and budget and go with me!!

Table of content:

Group #1: Best Professional Automotive Scan Tools with ECU Coding (Only Under $1,500)

Group #2: Best Professional OBD2 Scanners with Bi-directional Control (Under $500)

Group #3: Best “Affordable but Professional” Car Diagnostic Tools (Under $150)

Group #4: Best Professional Scan Tools with ECU Programming (Only Under $3,000)

Group #5: Best High-end Automotive Scan Tools That Do Everything (Under $5,000)

BONUS: If you’re learning to do it yourself, want to test a used car or getting to know the insight of the problems before talking to the mechanic, read this post instead: The 9 Best CHEAP OBD2 Scanners for 2022 Review

Group #1: Best Professional Automotive Scan Tools with ECU Coding

Price range: Only Under $1,500

Suitable Users: Professionals

Bi-directional controls and ECU coding are always the priority when searching for a professional car diagnostic tool.

LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro and LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+ meet that search. 

Check out the in-depth review to see why I say so!

#1. Launch X431 V+ Pro

Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

launch logo
  • Scanner type: Bi-directional Scan Tool
  • Fit For: Experienced enthusiasts
  • Vehicle type: Car/Light truck/Heavy-duty truck
    (Gasoline/Diesel)
  • Connection type: & Corded
  • Work on: OBD2 & OBD1 Vehicles
  • Price range: Under $1,500

4.8

Vehicle coverage

4.8

Versatility

4.8

Easy to use

4.5

AutoVIN

3.8

Buy this scan tool if you want to …

Read trouble codes of all systems
Try and fix it yourself
Test used cars/light trucks of multiple brands before buying
Perform bidirectional controls (active tests)
Code a car’s ECU
Perform advanced service functions

DON’T buy it if you want to …

Program a car’s ECU

Pros

  • Wide range of coverage
  • A lot of useful special functions for professionals
  • AutoAuth for FCA, SGW vehicles
  • 2-year free update
  • Loud warning reminds users to remove the VCI after diagnosis

Cons

  • Unreliable AutoVIN function
  • Cannot use ECU coding without buying a subscription

What Makes Me Like LAUNCH V+ Pro?

My overall impression of Launch X431 V+ Pro is very positive. 

You will find that it can do all of the features as advertised.

V+ Pro is really more than enough for a professional like me.

Below is the experiences I’d like to share with you after 6 years of using it: 

1. I don’t worry about vehicle coverage anymore

I love the large vehicle coverage and versatility of this LAUNCH diagnostic scan tool.

There are two issues that I believe you frequently encounter when repairing vehicles:

  • The diagnostic tools’ functions are NOT ENOUGH.
  • The diagnostic tools CAN NOT cover all the vehicles you want to fix.

I was in a similar situation 6 years ago, and my decision to buy a V+ scanner helped me get through that difficult time.

The Launch X431 V+ Pro can cover more vehicles than any scanners else I’ve used. 

LAUNCH V+ Pro Elite can work on OBD2 & OBD1 vehicles.
LAUNCH V+ Pro can work well on any car you have.

I can diagnose even special vehicles such as VAG cars or diesel Fords. 

OBD1 cars (before 1996)? Yes. You can cover them in your shop’s list.

Sometimes, I want to scan OBD1 vehicles at the shop. 

Even a high-end Autel MaxiSys Elite can’t meet my needs. 

But V+ Pro comes with all the connections for OBD2 and OBD1 vehicles.

So it can work well on any car you have.

LAUNCH V+ Pro can do everything an $8,000 Snap On scanner does, but for 1/6th of the price. 

With X431 V+, you can take control of all systems, find the possible causes of problems, and repair them yourself.

For example, this scan tool programmed one of my customers’ 2020 BMW M2 headlight control modules 3 months ago

Without the ECU coding function, I would have had to let my client take his car to the dealer.

Last week, it scanned the Ford F150’s ABS and told me that the ABS pump was dying and needed replacing.

I can say that LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro is a universal diagnostic machine for all cars.

It’s a real-life saver in most situations.

2. I can offer more services and get things done much faster 

LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro also offers all the features you would expect from an upgraded version of X431 V Pro.

With LAUNCH X431 V+, you can perform 31+ advanced service functions, such as

  • ECU Coding,
  • Oil Reset, 
  • TPMS Reset, 
  • IMMO, 
  • ABS Bleeding, 
  • Injector Coding, 
  • Throttle Adaptation, 
  • Gear Learning, 
  • Suspension Reset, 
  • Seats Calibration, etc. 

Many guys ask me these questions: 

“What’s the difference between X431 V and V+? “

“Why should I put forth $300 extra and get this one instead of X431 V ?”

Let me show you the special functions of Launch X431 V+ Pro that V Pro does not have:

  • LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro supports Guiding Functions for AUDI, SKODA, VW, and SEAT while LAUNCH X431 V does not support this function.
  • X431 V+ has a 10” screen, which is 2 inches larger than X431 V Pro 4.0’s. This allows you to display 15 data streams at the same time. 

There was a time in 2017, software updated on V+ only allowed users to view only 4 DATA PIDS at a time. 

It was really inconvenient to analyze and troubleshoot car problems. 

But LAUNCH has fixed it in the next updated version.

  • It has a higher battery capacity of 7,000mAh

Compared to V Pro 4.0, this scan tool allows you to work with it 1.49 times longer and avoid frequent charging.

  • LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro can work on heavy-duty vehicles (but you need to buy an HD module separately to use this function).
  • It runs faster with Android 9.0, with 8-core CPU.
Launch X431 V+ Pro Elite vs. Launch X431 V Pro
LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro Elite also offers more special features that V Pro does not have.

Read more: Launch X431 V+ Pro Elite 4.0 Vs. X431 V PRO 4.0: Which Should a Professional Buy?

3. I love the simple set-up and registration

Another bonus is the ease of set-up and registration.

Some reviews on Amazon mentioned that they had to email tech support to ask for the required information before registering. 

But that was not my case when receiving the X431 V+. 

The Serial Number and Activation Code came in the registration with the product. 

So after unboxing, I could register the device in minutes.

Note: 

You’d better NOT LOSE the initial registration paper that comes with the product. 

From my experience, you will need it if you reinstall the scanner’s program in the future.

I suggest that you should make some copies of that paper and store them in multiple locations in your home or your garage.

What I dislike?

The only issue I’ve had while using LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro is the unreliability of the AutoVIN function. 

This V+ Pro Elite failed to detect the VIN on some Lexus, Jeeps, and BMW in my shop. 

As a result, I had to enter the VIN manually. 

I hope the manufacturer will fix this issue for a better user experience.

Vehicle Coverage

LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro Elite can work on more than 150 car brands worldwide, including pre-96 vehicles. 

According to the seller’s description, this scan tool is compatible with all Chryslers. 

But, based on my experience, it will only support Chrysler vehicles up to 2017.

It is best to check the LAUNCH official website for detailed vehicle coverage before purchasing. 

If not, you may regret buying a useless scanner.

Key Takeaway

V+ PRO is an excellent addition to your toolbox.

It’ll pay for itself after the first use.

To me, as a mechanic for over 14 years, LAUNCH X431 V+ Pro is the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner I’ve ever used!

Its vehicle coverage, functionality, and reasonable price make this scan tool the best diagnostic machine for all cars today.

I highly recommend X431 V+ to you if you’re a professional looking for a reliable and affordable companion.

Check its latest price now:

Launch X431 V+ Pro Elite

Rating

#2. LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+

Professional Automotive Scan Tool with ECU Coding

launch logo
  • Scanner type: Bi-directional Scan Tool
  • Fit For: Experienced enthusiasts
  • Vehicle type: Car/Light truck/Heavy-duty truck
    (Gasoline/Diesel)
  • Connection type: & Corded
  • Work on: OBD2 & OBD1 Vehicles
  • Price range: Under $1,500

4.5

Easy to use

4.5

Versatility

4.9

Tech support

4.7

Live data graph

3.9

Buy this scan tool if you want to …

Try and fix it yourself
Code a car’s ECU
Read trouble codes of all systems
Perform advanced service functions
Perform bidirectional controls (active tests)

DON’T buy it if you want to …

Program a car’s ECU

Pros

  • Great car coverage
  • FCA AutoAuth
  • Solid design
  • Reliable Bluetooth connectivity
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Slow refresh rate when displaying more than 8 graphs
  • Cannot use ECU coding without buying a subscription

What Makes Me Like LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+?

LAUNCH PRO3S+ is another potential scan tool for professionals despite not having more special functions than V+ Pro Elite. 

Only 1 year after being launched on the market, PRO3S+ has received a lot of positive feedback from even choosy users.

Here are what I like about this scanner:

1. I can satisfy more clients and earn more money

I was impressed by the variety of new capabilities of the PRO3S+. 

You can perform almost any advanced service function by using this professional car diagnostic tool.

I bought this scan tool in September last year and used it many times on the 2004 Ford F150 Lariat, 2015 Honda Odyssey, and 2009 Lexus ls 460. 

The functions I’ve tried on these cars are: 

  • Battery initialization, 
  • Injector testing, 
  • ECU coding, and 
  • Key programming.

It was amazing that PRO3S+ did all the tasks flawlessly.

However, LAUNCH will disable all online key features, including ECU coding, after the 2-year free update period expires. 

So, you have to buy a subscription of $399/year to continue using those advanced functions.

2. I love it because it is beautiful, fast, and strong

You’ll love the wise design and strength of LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+

The scan tool interface is very smooth and fast. 

Much faster than my prior X431 V Pro.

The tablet is heavily built with a solid protective case

Another nice little feature is the VCI (Vehicle Communication Interface) is securely stored on the side of the scan tool case. 

Thus, you can avoid losing it when it’s not in use.

LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+ wise design
VCI is securely stored on the scan tool’s case when not in use to avoid loss.

I also like that the tablet has remarkable battery life. 

I first used this scan tool on a 2018 Ford. 

I did a compression test to see cylinder contributions inside the Powerstroke ECM. 

After the test, the battery fell from 75% to 70% only

3. The third feature I appreciate is the Bluetooth connectivity

The wireless connection allows me to move around the car freely without being restrained by the limited cable length. 

When performing an EVAP test, I can use this to activate valves and see if they are leaking.

LAUNCH X431 PRO3S Bluetooth connection
The Bluetooth connection allows you to move around the car freely, for example, when performing an EVAP test.
4. I’m also pleased with the excellent Customer Support of the seller Ucar Tech

If you’re nervous about buying LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+ from the seller Ucar on Amazon just because the country of origin is China, don’t be. 

I can assure you that this scan tool will never let you down. 

The fact is that LAUNCH is made in China regardless of where you buy it. 

The manufacturer then sells them to distributors all over the world

It means that once you need help, LAUNCH USA also needs to contact LAUNCH Tech to help solve your problems.

Their tech support was extremely helpful in answering all of my questions before and after I purchased the scanner.

Here are my personal experiences with customer service:

Example 1: 

Before purchasing, I had a few questions about the compatibility of the ABS brake bleed function on a 1999 Chevy Tahoe. 

So I contacted the Ucar seller. 

Later that day, I received a response from him. 

The question was answered in a .docx file.

This file contained a step-by-step guide for checking vehicle compatibility on the LAUNCH website.

Example 2: 

I emailed their Tech support six months after purchasing this scan tool.

As I knew, LAUNCH X431 PROS3+ includes a two-year free update

But, when I checked the subscription under my account in August of 2021, I discovered that the update expires exactly one year from the activation time.

Then I sent an email to their after-sales mailbox [email protected] and asked for help. 

After a week, the issue with the 2-year update on my device was fixed.

How helpful their customer support is! 

It’s hard to find a vendor who will follow up with you on how the product is doing after 6 months of purchase, right?

As you can see, LAUNCH and Ucar really understand that their customer service is what drives their company’s success. 

And this gives me even more confidence to purchase their products in the future.

What I Dislike?

1. The descriptions of this product on Amazon are NOT true

It is stated at the beginning of the product description on Amazon that it comes with a videoscope, ADAS, Heavy Duty Module, X431 Printer, and so on. 

However, all of these abilities are unusable without buying additional modules.

The seller should have made everything clear from the start. 

So buyers do not feel scammed when they do not receive what was advertised.

2. The graph refresh rate is slow

Another issue is the ability to smoothly graph a maximum of 8 data PIDs on screen at the same time.

In fact, it is still usable with 12 graphs, but the graphing refresh rate slows. 

4-8 graphs on a screen will allow the scan tool to function properly.

But I can honestly say that hasn’t been a big issue for me.

Vehicle Coverage

LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+ is compatible with more than 150 car brands worldwide for both OBD2 and OBD1 vehicles.

However, some advanced functions, such as key coding or ECM replacement, are only available on certain cars. 

Thus, you should refer to the X431 vehicle coverage website to find details about your car’s supported functions.

Key Takeaway

If you’re a professional looking for a scan tool to work with OBD1 and OBD2 vehicles, nothing but the LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+ is the right choice. 

Buy it, and you will find why LAUNCH X431 PROS3S+ is considered by many auto DIY guys as a game changer.

Check its latest price now:

LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+

Launch X431 Pro3S+

Rating

Group #2: Best Professional OBD2 Scanners with Bi-directional Control 

Price Range: Under $500
Suitable Users: Backyard mechanics

Bi-directional scan tools under $500?

They do exist!

In this group, I will walk you thru the Autel MK808 and XTOOL D7, the best choices for backyard mechanics.

#1. Autel MK808

Best Professional OBD2 Scanner with Bi-directional Control

  • Scanner type: Bi-directional scan tool
  • Fit For: Home mechanics, Experienced enthusiasts
  • Vehicle type: Car/Light truck
    (Gasoline/Diesel)
  • Connection type: Corded
  • Work on: OBD2 Vehicles
  • Price range: Under $500

4.4

Live data

4.7

Service functions

4.5

Bi-directional

4.5

Battery life

3.9

Buy this scan tool if you want to …

Try and fix it yourself
Read trouble codes of all systems
Perform advanced service functions
Perform bidirectional controls (active tests)

DON’T buy it if you want to …

Code a car’s ECU

Pros

  • Comprehensive live data
  • Bi-directional control
  • 28 service functions
  • Shop manager & Data manager function
  • PDF report for later diagnosis

Cons

  • Hard to locate features
  • Annual subscription fee
  • Battery troubles

What Makes Me Like Autel MK808?

Autel MK808 is the best option for a scanner with bi-directional under $500. 

Yet, bi-directional control was added in June 2022 to compete with XTOOL D7. 

So which one is better? 

Or are they at the same level? 

Read on to find my experiences with both of them:

1. I was absolutely impressed by MK808’s live data stream

When I selected this function, the screen showed the data list for modules like A/C system, oxygen sensor control, throttle module, etc.

It’s convenient to transmit the parameters into a graph, which helps me check my car’s real-time performance in color lines.

Recently, I worked on a 2011 Chevy HHR with an ABS and traction control light on. 

Typically it’s due to the wheel speed sensors

But I checked those sensors first, and the live data showed me they were fine. 

It turned out it was the steering column positioning sensor.

It’s so easy to pinpoint the trouble areas using the live data from Autel MK808!

2. With Autel MK808, you are armed with 28 powerful service functions.

You can:

  • Program keys
  • Bleed pressure-assisted brakes,
  • Code the injector, 
  • Calibrate tire sensors, etc. 

with this professional car diagnostic tool.

Autel MK808 service functions
Autel MK808 provides you with 28 powerful service functions. This lets you let you fix many car issues by yourself without someone’s help.

Below are some of the situations when I test the service functions on my clients’ cars:

Situation #1: 

It was 2 weeks after I bought MK808. 

My customer’s key fob on the 2015 Honda Civic was no longer recognized after the car battery died and the battery was replaced. 

I was able to reprogram the key with the MK808 with no trouble.

Situation #2: 

Last month, I performed the “auto bleeding” procedure on the ABS module in a 1998 Chevy K1500 and did a crankshaft sensor relearn on a 2004 Savanna 6.0L.

3. Record everything about the cars you fixed

I also love this scanner because it has a “Shop manager” and “Data manager” for storing recorded historical problems

Thus I can take them as a reference when I encounter some hassles.

  • Shop Manager: keep your customer information, data files, and vehicle records.
  • Data Manager: save your data report in PDF.

If you’re a backyard mechanic, these functions are so useful because you can save everything about the cars you fixed.

4. I love how easy it is when performing a full scan 

I can choose to receive the report in PDF form, which is very professional looking and neat.

What I Dislike?

1. The first time I used it, I was confused when locating its features

The way Autel MK808 organized some functions is kind of weird. 

For example, you would expect the injector buzz test to be in the service menu. 

But it’s actually in the diagnostics menu.

So, it will take time to discover every corner of this scanner before becoming familiar with it.

2. I sometimes forgot to charge it

Another gripe about Autel MK808 is that it is operated by an internal battery instead of through an OBD2 port. 

This may not be a big problem, but the scan tool can’t read a code if you forget to charge it.

But what makes I love about the battery is that it keeps a stable connection between the scanner and the vehicle even if the car battery is low while cranking.

3. Paying a fee of $125/year may make you annoyed

Actually, this is not a big deal to me. 

But, I have to mention it here for backyard mechanics. 

I own a repair shop, so paying a yearly subscription fee to update newer vehicles is essential. 

But don’t worry, all the current functions and vehicle coverage are available for use whether you pay for the update or not.

Vehicle Compatibility

Autel MK808 works well on 80+ car makes worldwide (1996 and newer).

However, some service functions are not universally compatible depending on each car’s make and model. 

For example, I couldn’t program the key fob on a 2014 Acura RDX or program the rear window regulator on a 2007 VW EOS.

Make sure to contact