Best professional automotive diagnostic scanner 2020/2021 | Best OBD2 scanners 2021 review

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Are you a DIY looking for a professional OBD2 scanner or a technician finding a professional automotive diagnostic scanner that can provide the best services ranging from OBD2 functions (e.g. MIL reset, O2 sensor test, I/M readiness, etc.), system diagnostics (e.g. ABS, airbag, transmission, etc.), or service functions (e.g. ABS bleeding, bi-directional control, injector coding, key coding, or ECU programming, etc.)?

I’ve got you covered!

But, many are asking “Which is the best match for me and my budget? Do I really need that $1,000 tool – and conversely, will a $100 scanner can do what I need?”

In this article, I will review the top professional car diagnostic tools in the market from 2020 to 2021 and show you how to choose the right one.

Read on to find out the right OBD2 scanner for your specific need and pocket. Choose the group of scan tools you want below and go with me!!

Best professional car diagnostic tools comparison chart

ModelPrice*RatingRecommended for
Bluedriver$119.959.8/10DIY-ers
Launch CRP129E$2599.3/10DIY-ers
Autel MK808$4799.7/10Experienced
DIY-ers
Autel MK808K$7999.4/10Professionals
Launch X431 V+$1,1999.7/10Professionals
Autel Maxisys Elite$2,8998.9/10Professionals

*Prices were updated on September 1st, 2021.

This article shows you the best OBD2 scanners and the best professional automotive diagnostic scanners
The best professional automotive diagnostic scanner differs from one to one because of different customers’ needs and shop sizes.

Best OBD2 scanners for beginners

Price range: $30-$100

Are you new to diagnosing car problems on your own? With universal OBD2 scanners, you can easily carry out checks on your vehicle’s key components. These tools allow you to perform diagnostics on multiple vehicle brands, unlike OBD1 that are usually manufacturer-specified.

ANCEL AD310, FOXWELL NT301, and Bluedriver are the best OBD2 scanners for beginners on the market. We’ll take a look at these scanners, comparing their features and functions. 

Best cheap OBD2 scanners for beginners comparison chart

BlueDriver
BlueDriver - Editor's Pick
Check Price
Foxwell Nt301
Foxwell NT301
Check Price
“Ancel
Ancel AD310
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.7
4.5
4.6
Price range$119-$129$59-$69$29-$39
ConnectionBluetoothCableCable
OBD2 functionsFullFullFull
Enhanced codes
(ABS, Airbag, Transmission)
YesNoNo
System diagnosticsFull SystemEngine SystemEngine System
Reset functionsCheck Engine Light ResetCheck Engine Light ResetCheck Engine Light Reset
Vehicle CoveredCars, SUVs, light trucks from 1996 and newerCars, SUVs, light trucks from 1996 and newer.Vehicles sold in the United States from 1996 till date and all cars sold in the EU and Asia from 2000 till date.

Best cheap OBD2 scanner for beginners: BlueDriver, FOXWELL NT301, or ANCEL AD310?

Design and Connection

All three OBD2 scanners have a classic, compact design. So, you can easily carry them anywhere you go. 

ANCEL AD310 and Foxwell NT310 both feature a cable that easily fits into your vehicle’s 16-pin OBDII DLC. The scanners boot up when you connect the cable to the DLC. The cable then serves as the communication link between your car and the scanner. 

BlueDriver, on the other hand, doesn’t need any cable to work. Instead, it uses a Bluetooth connection. All you have to do is plug it into the car’s OBD2 port, install the BlueDriver App on your smartphone/tablet (Android and iOS), and you can perform diagnostics on your vehicle. 

For convenience, BlueDriver is your best bet. You get all the benefits of a wired OBD2 scanner without the drawbacks of having to hang back and spend all your time diagnosing behind the steering wheel. You can move around your vehicle, although you still have to be within 30 feet of the scanner, while diagnosing faults from a comfortable position in your garage

BlueDriver
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
4.7
Beginners and enthusiasts who want professional-level system diagnosis and enhanced code reading should go for the BlueDriver.

OBD2 functions and Enhanced codes

All three universal scanners support all OBD2 protocols, such as ISO 9141-2, ISO 14230-4, SAE J1850 PWM, ISO 15765, and SAE J1850 VPW. They perform full OBD2 functions, including reading and clearing error codes, freeze frame data, accessing live data, executing I/M readiness test, O2 Sensor test, on-board monitor test, component test, and reading of vehicle Information. However, only BlueDriver can read and clear enhanced codes, such as ABS, Airbag Transmission, TPMS, Climate Control, and others. 

So, while all three tools can serve OBD2 diagnostic purposes, only BlueDriver supports enhanced diagnostics. For that, it gets my recommendation.

BlueDriver
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
4.7
Beginners and enthusiasts who want professional-level system diagnosis and enhanced code reading should go for the BlueDriver.

System diagnostics and reset functions

All three scanners are primarily engine code readers. They diagnose what causes the “Check Engine Light” to come on and then reset it. The ANCEL AD310 and Foxwell NT301 only diagnose the engine system. However, BlueDriver can read and clear error codes in the ABS, SRS, and other vehicle systems. So, if you’re looking to perform just engine checks, then any of the three scanners can go. 

However, to diagnose more systems beyond just the engine system, you should go with BlueDriver.

BlueDriver

BlueDriver

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Read more: Never Buy BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool Before Reading This Guide

Vehicle coverage

ANCEL AD310 works on all OBD2-supported vehicles sold in the United States from 1996 till date and all cars sold in the EU and Asia from 2000 till date. BlueDriver, on the other hand, supports all cars and light trucks with the model year 1996 or newer. Foxwell NT301’s vehicle coverage includes all cars and SUVs from 1996 and newer. With an OBD1-OBD2 adapter, the NT301 can also work with OBD1 vehicles from 1994 to 1995. 

All three universal OBD2 scanners have extensive vehicle coverage. As long as your vehicle is OBD2-compliant, you won’t have any issues using any of the tools. So, I’ll recommend any one of those scanners. 

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone and Android is ideal tool for beginners and enthusiasts who want professional-level system diagnosis and enhanced code reading
BlueDriver supports all cars and light trucks with the model year 1996 or newer.

Weaknesses

For a beginner scanner, Foxwell NT301 could use a better and clearer instruction manual. Even its menu can get complicated at times. Aside from that, the only thing I don’t like is its protective casing, of which there is none, save some rubber protection around the edges.

BlueDriver doesn’t support Windows phones. If you want to use another mobile app, you might have to jump through some hoops to get it to work properly. Although it doesn’t occur all the time, the Bluetooth connection can sometimes drop or slow down. Lastly, adding advanced features like fob reprogramming and ECU coding would make this scanner perfect, although those are only for experts. 

ANCEL AD310 is generally suitable for only absolute beginners since it largely has only basic functions. It also lacks the feature to scan some codes like the ABS system, stability, airbag. It doesn’t support some Nissan and other brand models, so it may be best to contact the manufacturer before buying. Although the manual doesn’t mention it, it can connect to your computer, but it doesn’t come with the required yet outdated Mini-B USB cord.

BlueDriver

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Foxwell NT301

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Ancel AD310

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Read more: ANCEL AD310: Classic Universal OBDII Code Reader Review

Best Professional OBD2 Scanners

Price range: $150-$500 [for experienced home mechanics] 

As a home mechanic, the right professional OBD2 scanner can quickly become a wondrous tool in your hand. These scanners allow you to read trouble codes, analyze operational data, and arrive at the cause of the vehicle’s problems. But what are the top professional OBD2 scanners for home mechanics that you can rely on?

We’re going to review and compare Foxwell NT614 Elite, Launch CRP129E, and Autel MK808. Placing them side by side will help you make the right buying decision in earnest.

Best Professional OBD2 Scanner comparison chart

Autel MK808
Autel MK808 - Editor's Pick
Check Price
Launch CRP129E
Launch CRP129E
Check Price
“Foxwell
Foxwell NT614 Elite
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.6
4.4
4.4
Price range$455-$499$249-$269$179-$189
OBD2 functions10/10*10/1010/10
System diagnostics10/107/107/10
Advanced service Functions8/106/105/10
IMMO Key coding8/10N/AN/A
Vehicle CoverageCars, SUVs, light trucks, 12V HD trucks from 1996 and newerCars, SUVs, light trucks, 12V HD trucks from 1996 and newerCars, SUVs, light trucks, 12V HD trucks from 1996 and newer

*Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2

Best Professional OBD2 Scanner: Autel MK808, Launch CRP129E, or FOXWELL NT614 Elite?

OBD2 Functions and System Diagnostics

All three scanners perform full OBD2 functions. These functions include reading and clearing error codes, showing freeze frame data, live data, I/M readiness status, oxygen sensor test results, requesting on-board monitoring test, component test, vehicle information, and checking system status, and DTC lookup.

Foxwell NT614 Elite provides an affordable way for home mechanics to diagnose troubles in vehicles’ engine, transmission, ABS, and airbag/SRS systems. The Launch CRP129E is also a four-system scan tool, allowing you to check the same systems as the NT614 Elite. On the other hand, the MK808 is a full system diagnostic tool. It can check the engine, transmission, SRS, EPB, chassis, ABS, steering, and any other vehicle systems. 

MK808 is the professional OBD2 scan tool of choice because it offers full system diagnostic functionality, which allows for comprehensive vehicle checks. If you’re looking to diagnose just the engine, transmission, ABS, and SRS systems, then I recommend buying the NT614E. 

Foxwell NT614 Elite

Foxwell NT614 Elite

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Advanced Service Functions

Advanced service functions of NT614 Elite include activation or deactivation of SBC systems, programming the clutch pedal, sensor calibration, and adaptations. NT614 Elite also allows reset services such as oil light reset, and EPB reset service, which both ensure the smooth running of the vehicle. 

 Foxwell NT614 Elite
FOXWELL NT614 Elite OBD2 Scanner
4.4
NT614 Elite may not offer as many functionalities as the other two, but its advanced service functions can prove itself as one of the best professional car diagnostic tools for home mechanics.

CRP129E takes it further with three additional service reset functions, which include TPMS reset, throttle position reset, and steering angle calibration. 

Launch CRP123E
LAUNCH CRP129E OBD2 Scan Tool for TCM Eng ABS SRS Code Reader
4.4
The CRP129E is another professional OBD2 scanner for home mechanics that offers a number of service functions and allows the diagnosis of the most important systems in a vehicle: engine, ABS, airbag, and transmission.

Interestingly, Autel MK808 has even more service functions, over 25 in number. These service functions include oil reset, SAS calibration, adding and disabling IMMO keys, injector coding, battery registration, DPF regeneration, ABS bleeding, odometer, and others. 

Autel MK808
Autel Scanner MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Car Diagnostic Scanner
4.6
Autel MK808 is an ideal scanner for experienced home mechanics or new auto technicians. It has more than 25 service functions, allowing you to do so much more. The fact that it’s a full system diagnostic tool makes a must-have if you want to find out the problems in any system.

Without a doubt, the Autel MK808 stands out when it comes to advanced service functions. Notably, it allows for IMMO coding, which NT614 Elite and CRP129E don’t offer. 

With MK808, you can read the IMMO code of specific car models, add and match new keys to the car, and delete keys that it doesn’t need.

If you want a tool with comprehensive service functionality, I recommend MK808.

However, if you just need some specific service functions, Launch CRP129E is an excellent choice.

The CRP129E is one of the best professional OBD2 scanner for home mechanics that offers a number of service functions and allows the diagnosis of the most important systems in a vehicle: engine, ABS, airbag, and transmission.
Launch CRP129E is an excellent choice for you due to its specific service functions

Vehicle coverage

If you intend to work on any OBD1 or OBD2 vehicles from 1996 to 2020 models, Foxwell NT614 Elite will be a good pick. The CRP129E supports cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans after 1996 up till some 2019 vehicles. While the CRP129E works with 57 car brands, Autel MK808 supports over 80 brands. The scanner works with different car models from 1996 and newer. So when it comes to making a choice based on vehicle coverage, you won’t go wrong with the Autel MK808.

Any of these scan tools will be compatible with any OBD2-compliant vehicles. So there isn’t so much of a headache making a choice in that regard. 

Weaknesses

Autel MK808 provides free updates for the first 12 months, but you’ll have to pay after that. Also, to avoid compatibility issues with exotic vehicles, we recommend checking the vehicle compatibility before buying it. 

Some people have complained about the information provided on its IMMO function. In short, it can’t add new keys. Also, the wireless connection of this professional OBD2 scanner doesn’t include Bluetooth. 

Launch CRP129E runs on a battery, which means that you have to keep it charged to use it. This advanced OBD2 scanner can perform multiple features on many car brands, but like many other scanners, it is limited by the features or data your OEM decides to share. Its many features mean that it costs a bit extra, and you may have to purchase some advanced features separately. 

Foxwell NT614 Elite is quite limited when it comes to system diagnostics. It can’t diagnose other vehicle systems apart from the engine, ABS, SRS, and transmission. Sometimes, reading data can be slow on this device, and it isn’t always compatible with newer models.

Autel MK808

Autel MK808

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Launch CRP129E

Launch CRP129E

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Read more: Autel MK808: Full-system OBD2 scan tool with IMMO review

Best professional automotive diagnostic scanner  

Price range: $750-$1,300 [for pros] 

We have seen the best diagnostic scanners for beginners and home mechanics. But what if you’re an expert looking for the right tool to assist in figuring out what the problem is at a professional level? 

A professional automotive diagnostic scanner for you must have advanced system diagnostics, service reset functions, programming, and coding. 

Here, we’ll be looking at the Autel MP808K, Launch X431 V+, and Autel MS906BT. These are the top professional car diagnostic tools you can always count on. 

Best professional car diagnostic tools comparison chart

Launch X431 V+
Launch X431 V+ (Editor's Pick)
Check Price
Autel MP808K
Autel MP808K
Check Price
“Autel
Autel MS906BT
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.5
4.6
4.8
Price range$1,149-$1,249$769-$829$1,259-$1,359
System Diagnostics10/1010/10*10/10
Advanced service Functions9/10 7/108/10
Coding/Programming8/106/108/10
Vehicle Covered10,000+ vehicle models, including Cars, SUVs, light trucks, 12V HD trucks, 24V diesel trucks from 1996 and newer80+ vehicle models, including sars, SUVs, light trucks, 12V HD trucks from 1996 or newer80+ vehicle models, including cars, SUVs, light trucks, 12V HD trucks from 1996 or newer

*Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2

Best professional automotive diagnostic scanner: Autel MP808K, Launch X431 V+, or Autel MS906BT?

Advanced system diagnostics

Autel’s MP808K and MS906BT are both full system automotive scanners, covering the engine, transmission, ABS, SRS, EPB, steering, light, and fuel systems – making it a perfect tool for pros. 

Autel MS906BT
Autel MaxiSys MS906BT with MV108 Automotive Scan Tool
4.8
Its relative, Autel MS906BT, has more reset functions. If you want an Autel product with more special functions, stable ECU coding, buy the MS906BT.

In addition, the scanner can diagnose several modules available in a vehicle, including ECM, PDM, PCM, TPM, EPS, ABS, SCCM, ACS, and BCM. Autel MS906BT differs in that it supports bi-directional control over different vehicle systems and components.

Launch X431 V+
LAUNCH X431 V+ PRO Elite 4.0 Bi-Directional Scan Tool
4.5
If you want the best professional car diagnostic tool for professionals, buy Launch X431 V+ to enjoy its extended models, advanced diagnostics, programming, and ECU coding functions.

Launch X431 V+ is also a full system diagnostic scanner. With the tool, you can carry out active tests for the ECM, ABS, TCM, BCM, SAS, TPMS, BMS, light system, A/C system, fuel system, etc. 

This automotive diagnostic scanner also supports extended modules for more comprehensive vehicle checks. With these extended modules, you can perform ADAS calibrations (ADAS mobile), inspect hidden parts of the engine, braking system, and fuel tank (videoscope), and activate all vehicle sensors (x431 TSGUN). (However, you’ll have to buy these extended modules separately.)

Autel MP808K
Autel MaxiPRO MP808K OBD2 Diagnostic Tool
4.6
Autel MP808K is a reliable, professional vehicle diagnostic tool that lets you perform OE-Level diagnostics. It best serves auto enthusiasts, professional auto technicians or mechanics looking for comprehensive service functions and advanced system diagnostics.

Autel MP808K suits those that are looking to have a full-system diagnostic tool with a number of important service functions

If you’re willing to spend a little extra on extended modules, I recommend Launch X431 V+. The tool provides the most extensive system diagnostics of the three.

Launch X431 V+

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Read more: Launch X431 V+: Professional auto scan tool (with ECU coding) review

Advanced maintenance/service functions

The Autel MP808K and Autel MS906BT automotive scanners allow you to perform several maintenance functions, including oil reset, EPB reset, injector coding, throttle position reset, SAS calibration, ABS bleeding, IMMO coding, language change, suspension, seat, odometer, A/F setting, airbag reset, headlamp, turbocharging, trans adaption, CHG tire size, cylinder, and TEC learn. 

However, not all of these reset functions work on all cars. You may have to check a car’s compatibility with the scanners’ manufacturer. 

Also, the Autel MP808K supports a maximum of 23 reset functions, while the Autel MP906BT has 31 ones.

If you want the best professional car diagnostic tool for professionals, buy Launch X431 V+ to enjoy its extended models, advanced diagnostics, programming, and ECU coding functions.
Launch X431 V+ has multiple special service functions, which include oil reset, fuel injector coding, brake reset, SAS reset, and so on.

Notably, unlike Launch X431 V+, Autel MP808K and Autel MS906BT cannot service TPMS. Launch X431 V+ also has multiple special service functions, which include oil reset, fuel injector coding, brake reset, SAS reset, battery reset/maintenance, ABS blessing, electronic throttle initialization, TPMS reset, gear learn, SRS reset, engine reset, transmission system reset, steering angle calibration, etc.

The Launch X431 V+ supports TPMS reset and other reset functions, which puts it above the other two scan tools in this category.

Launch X431 V+

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Autel MP808K

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Autel MS906BT

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Read more: Autel MS906BT: Professional Car Diagnostic Tool Review

Coding/Programming

All three automotive diagnostic scanners have full ECU coding capabilities (MP808K only supports ECU coding for some models). This feature allows you to improve vehicle performance by setting a new code for the ECU. Additionally, Launch X431 V+ supports offline and online ECU coding. 

Another common feature is their support for programming key fobs for corrupt and lost keys in various vehicles. Their key programming functions include adding, deleting, and reprogramming keys, rewriting smart keys, resetting keys, etc. 

However, with the Launch X431 V+, you won’t need a PIN code to perform those key programming functions. 

So, Launch X431 V+ is the best choice considering its support for both offline and online ECU coding and not requiring a PIN code to program keys. 

Launch X431 V+
LAUNCH X431 V+ PRO Elite 4.0 Bi-Directional Scan Tool
4.5
If you want the best professional car diagnostic tool for professionals, buy Launch X431 V+ to enjoy its extended models, advanced diagnostics, programming, and ECU coding functions.

Vehicle coverage

For Autel MP808K and Autel MS906BT automotive diagnostic scanners, compatible vehicles include over 80 makes. If the vehicle isn’t OBD2-compliant, you can get an OBD1-OBD2 connector or adapter. 

In addition to supporting over 10,000 vehicle models, the Launch X431 V+ scanner supports a heavy-duty module (Heavy Duty 3.0) that allows for diagnosing heavy-duty vehicles and diesel trucks. This definitely puts Launch X431 V+ on top of the pecking order. 

Launch X431 V+

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Weaknesses

Autel MP808K has 23 reset functions, but it can’t service the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). This feature is in demand by most professionals who want to turn off the TPMS light in some vehicles. Also, you may have to confirm which one of those reset functions work on your vehicle. The same goes for ECU coding. Apart from that, it perfectly fits the professional scanner category well.

Autel MS906BT has excellent battery life, but it still needs to be recharged. Recharging, however, isn’t as fast as it could be, but it is manageable. The other thing to note is that, like the Autel MP808K, it can’t service TPMS. You get free updates for the first year, although they are limited. After that, you’ll need to pay for newer updates. 

Launch X431 V+ uses state of the art tech, which is why it costs slightly higher. The manufacturer includes a generous warranty and 2 years of free updates. After the first two years, updates cost around $400 per year.

Launch X431 V+

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Autel MP808K

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Autel MS906BT

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Read more: Autel MS906BT: Professional Car Diagnostic Tool Review

Best scan tool with ECU programming/coding

Price range: $2,500-$5,500 [for pros]

The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) controls the major functions of a vehicle. An ECU programming tool allows you to reprogram a car by transferring a ROM file to a permanent storage in the ECU. 

As a professional auto technician, choosing the right ECU programming tool can be quite a fix.

Here, we’re going to compare the best ECU programming tools today. We’ll take a look at Autel MaxiSys Elite, X431 PAD V, and Autel MaxiSys Ultra

With any of these tools, you can effectively reprogram a car to your customer’s specifications. 

Best ECU programming tool comparison chart

Launch X431 Pad V
Launch X431 Pad V - Editor's Pick
Check Price
Autel Maxisys Elite
Autel MaxiSys Elite
Check Price
“Autel
Autel MaxiSys Ultra
Check Price
Customer Rating
5
4.4
4.5
Price range$3,359-$3,659$2,799-$2,999$4,799-$5,199
Advanced service functions10/109/10*9/10
Bi-directional controls10/109/1010/10
ECU coding/ programming10/109/1010/10
Supported protocols10/108/1010/10
Vehicle Coverage10/10
(99% of models in the world.)
9/10
(90% of models in the world)
10/10
(99% of models in the world)

*Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2

Best ECU Programming Tool: Autel Maxisys, Launch X431 PAD V, or Autel Maxisys Ultra?

Advanced service functions

Launch X431 Pad V features 50 reset service functions, including IMMO key coding, gear reset, SAS reset, TPMS reset, AFS reset, DPF reset, injector coding, oil reset, ABS bleeding, GEARBOX, BMS reset, EGR adaptation, ETS reset, etc. 

For Autel MaxiSys Elite and Ultra scan tools, you get over 36 advanced service functions, including steering angle reset, suspension reset, oil light reset, injector coding, sunroof initialization, seat calibration, DPF regeneration, ABS bleeding, IMMO service, ABS bleeding, AFS headlamp reset, battery reset, language change, ODO reset, tire reset, airbag reset, A/F reset, gearbox reset, and TPMS reset.

You should go for Launch X431 Pad V if you’re looking for a tool that allows for more advanced service functions.   

Launch X431 PAD V
LAUNCH X431 PAD V Automotive Scan Tool
5
Suppose you’re an professional auto technician working in a medium to large auto repair shop and you want a tool to diagnose, code, or program almost any vehicle, you should buy the Launch X431 Pad V. It also comes with 15 OBD1 adapters for that purpose.

Bi-directional controls

All three programming tools support bi-directional controls, which allow you to locate an issue without having to rip everything apart. Right from your scan tool, you can control the parking lamps, tail lamps, headlamps, front wiper, rear wiper, parking lamps, license plate lamps, A/C compressors, daytime running lights, cooling fan, door switch, and windows, and oil pressure warning lamps. 

This way, you won’t have to drive your car or use in-car controls to recreate the problems it had. You can actuate solenoids and actuators with any of the scanners and send specific instructions to check the working status of specific components or systems.

Any of the three scanners will do the job for you when it comes to bi-directional controls. 

Autel MaxiSys Elite

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Autel MaxiSys Ultra

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Launch X431 PAD V

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Read more: Autel Maxisys Elite: Why many technicians at big shops are using it?

Coding/ programming

Autel MaxiSys Elite, and Autel MaxiSys Ultra, and Launch X431 PAD V allow you to carry out both ECU programming and ECU coding. 

They all support online and offline coding, but Autel MaxiSys Elite only supports ECU coding and programming in the US. 

With ECU coding, you can program an empty ECU to arrive at the garage or customer’s specifications. You can also reprogram second-hand ECUs and match ECU components. 

On the other hand, ECU programming allows you to download the latest version of the software from the internet and program it to the car’s ECU. 

With this feature, you can easily reprogram vehicle control modules and adaptive data after replacements or repairs. 

Launch X431 PAD V professional automotive scanner comes with 15 OBD1 adapters for that purpose.
Launch X431 PAD V is designed for advanced ECU coding, ECU programming and key programming on a wide range of vehicles.

We recommend the Launch X431 PAD V for advanced ECU coding, ECU programming and key programming on a wide range of vehicles.

Launch X431 PAD V
LAUNCH X431 PAD V Automotive Scan Tool
5
Suppose you’re an professional auto technician working in a medium to large auto repair shop and you want a tool to diagnose, code, or program almost any vehicle, you should buy the Launch X431 Pad V. It also comes with 15 OBD1 adapters for that purpose.

Supported protocols and vehicle coverage

Launch X431 PAD V covers virtually all car brands in the world and includes 15 adapters to extend coverage to OBD1 vehicles as well. Autel Maxisys Elite is also widely compatible with vehicle brands globally, covering over 10000 vehicle brands. On the other hand, the Autel Maxisys Ultra covers a modest 80+ vehicles including some supercars.

Autel MaxiSys Ultra
Autel MaxiSys Ultra Automotive Diagnostic Scanner with 36+ Service Functions
4.5
We recommend the Autel MaxiSys Ultra to professional mechanics who want OE-level functionality and advanced ECU programming in solid scanner hardware and don’t mind paying extra for more.

However, MaxiSys Ultra supports more protocols than the other two scanners. Its supported protocols include DoIP, PLC J2497, ISO-15765, SAE-J1939, ISO-14229 UDS, SAE-J2411 Single Wire Can (GMLAN), ISO-11898-2, ISO-11898-3, SAE-J2819 (TP20), TP16, ISO-9141, ISO-14230, SAE-J2610 (Chrysler SCI), UART Echo Byte, SAE-J2809 (Honda Diag-H), SAE-J2740 (GM ALDL), SAE-J1567 (CCD BUS), Ford UBP, Nissan DDL UART with Clock, BMW DS2, BMW DS1, SAE J2819 (VAG KW81), KW82, SAE J1708, SAE-J1850 PWM (Ford SCP), SAE-J1850 VPW (GM Class2).

Autel MaxiSys Elite
Autel Maxisys Elite Scan Tool J2534 ECU Programming
4.4
If you’re trying to save some bucks but still want an effective ECU programming tool with support for multiple advanced service functions, buy the Autel MaxiSys Elite.

MaxiSys Elite supports fewer protocols, including ISO 9141-2, ISO 14230-4, SAE J1850 PWM, ISO 15765, SAE J1850 VPW, Highspeed, Middlespeed, Lowspeed and Singlewire CAN, GM UART, UART Echo Byte Protocol, Honda Diag-H Protocol, TP 2.0, TP 1.6, SAE J1939, SAE J1708V. 

Launch X431 Pad V supports the least number of protocols. It supports ISO 9141-2, ISO 14230-4, SAE J1850 PWM ISO 15765 CAN, SAE J1850 VPW, D-PDU API, J2534, RP1210, DoIP.

Despite that, the Launch X431 PAD V is our recommendation in this regard. It is a great fit for professional mechanics looking for a diagnostic scanner that supports almost any car they may encounter.

Launch X431 PAD V

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Weaknesses

Launch X431 Pad V is a high-end device with high-end pricing. For the first year after purchase, you get to download updates for the device for free. However, you pay for updates in subsequent years. It lacks the Smartlink Remote Diagnosis feature, which allows you to diagnose vehicle’s remotely without a Launch scanner or other tools on-site. However, it can perform Remote Diagnosis if you have a Launch device on-site. 

Autel MaxiSys Elite first drawback is that it doesn’t support ECM reprogramming for GM vehicles, although it fully supports ECU coding. The touchscreen can sometimes be too sensitive when using the device, so it takes some getting used to. Renewals are also pricey after the first year, although that isn’t uncommon for scan tools in this category. 

Autel MaxiSys Ultra is an IP limited version, which means it won’t work in Europe. Some other Autel products have this limitation so you should check that it isn’t before buying it. Autel’s customer service can be better, but they always respond to emails.

Autel MaxiSys Elite

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Autel MaxiSys Ultra

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Launch X431 PAD V

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Read more: Autel Maxisys Ultra Vs. Elite Vs. Launch X431 PAD V: Comparison and Review

Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Software

Nowadays, technology has made it easier to diagnose what’s wrong with our vehicles. With a professional diagnostic software, you can troubleshoot issues with your vehicles, clear ‘Check Engine Light,’ and improve its performance. Some auto diagnostic software products are compatible with all PC-based or mobile-based scan tools. Others only work with specific adapters.

TOAD Pro, OBDWiz, and AutoEnginuity are some of the best automotive diagnostic software for professional mechanics. While they all boast of exciting features, there are some differences you might want to know before getting one. 

Best professional automotive diagnostic software comparison chart

TOAD Pro - Editor's PickOBDWizAutoEnginuity
Operating systemsWindows® XP / Vista / Windows® 7 / 8.0 / 8.1/ 10 operating system (32 and 64 Bit)Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10Windows® XP / Vista / Windows® 7 / 8.0 / 8.1/ 10 operating system (32 and 64 Bit)
Price range$79-$119Free (when you purchase any qualifying OBDLink scan tool)$249.95 (together with AutoEnginuity scan tool)
OBD2 functions10/10*
10/1010/10
System diagnostics5/103/109/10
Advanced service functions3/106/10N/A
Coding/ Programming8/107/10N/A
Vehicle Coverage8/108/108/10

*Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2

Best professional automotive diagnostic software: TOAD Pro, OBDWiz, or AutoEnginuity?

Operating systems

AutoEnginuity scan tool uses Windows operating system. It is compatible with Windows® XP / Vista / Windows® 7 / 8.0 / 8.1/ 10 operating systems (32 and 64 Bit). TOAD Pro also requires the same operating system.  

OBDWiz is also a Windows PC-based diagnostic software, with support for Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. 

There’s really no significant difference between the three diagnostic software when it comes to the operating system. So I will recommend any of them.  

Toad Pro

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OBD2 Functions and System Diagnostics

All three software supports five OBD2 protocols, which include SAE JI850 PWN, SAE JI850 VPW, ISO 9141-2, ISO 14230 KWP, and ISO 15765-4. With AutoEnginuity, you can perform various OBD2 Functions such as read and clear error codes, bi-directional control, reset adaptations, view maintenance tests, automated VIN decoding, and live vehicle sensors. 

OBDWiz also has similar OBD2 functions such as read and clear DTCs, freeze data frame, monitor tests, and PID values display.  

TOAD Pro’s OBD2 functions include read and clear trouble codes, freeze frame data, 02 sensor test, on-board monitoring test, evaporative system leak test, and VIN.

AutoEnginuity provides access to a selection of vehicle systems, which include the engine, ABS, instrument cluster, airbags, chassis, body, and transmission system. 

However, TOAD Pro only diagnoses the engine and transmission systems, with no support for ABS, SRS, brakes, and airbags. It even gets worse with OBDWiz, which only reads the engine system.

We recommend AutoEnginuity for its ability to diagnose problems in multiple vehicle systems, allowing for comprehensive car checks. 

Toad Pro

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Advanced service functions

OBDWiz diagnostic software combines with its adapter to provide advanced service functions such as TPMS reset, ABS bleed, program keys, and E-brake. 

Toad Pro only resets service lights, and there’s no advanced service functions information for AutoEnginuity, although ToadPro has in-depth manuals for different car brands. 

AutoEnginuity has a separate tool for service resets on BMW Mini that you’ll have to buy differently.

You’ll have to buy the OBDWiz to be sure of the service reset functions you need.

Toad Pro

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Coding/programming

With the right OBDLink scan tool, OBDWiz can prove very useful in tuning your car. It allows you to disable artificial engine noise, enable LED headlights, and even change the speedometer settings. 

When it comes to ECU coding or OBD2 programming, TOAD Pro is the best choice here. It allows you to tune your cars or customer’s cars, which involves editing and reprogramming the vehicle’s data codes. There’s no coding/programming features offered by AutoEnginuity.

toad Pro
TOAD Pro - Affordable ELM327 OBD2 Programming Software
4.7
TOAD Pro is a professional OBD2 programming software built for repair shops, mechanics, and even “under the shade tree” mechanics who want to conduct extensive scans and ECU programming while saving thousands of dollars over the years. 

Vehicle coverage

AutoEnginuity works with all OBD2 and EOBD IV+ compliant vehicles. Together with an OBDLink scan tool, OBDWiz supports almost all cars, SUVs, and light trucks sold in the US from 1996 to date. 

The only exceptions are electric and hybrid vehicles. Meanwhile, TOAD Pro supports cars, SUVs, and 12V trucks made or imported into the United States after January 1996. 

Toad Pro

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Read more: TOAD Pro: Perfect OBD2 Programming Software For Laptop

Weaknesses

TOAD Pro doesn’t work with other OS apart from Windows, including Android, iOS, Linux, or macOS. Also, the connected adapter has to be an ELM327 adapter for it to work. To make a connection, you can use a USB cord or wireless setup. But the USB cord that comes with it is quite short, so you might have to use wireless more often.

OBDWiz has limited system diagnosis functionalities. It can only read codes from the engine system; it doesn’t support the diagnosis of other vehicle systems like ABS, transmission, TPMS, etc. OBDWiz also has limited advanced maintenance options. Although it can be great for tuning your car, it can’t program your ECU. It also only works with Windows.

AutoEnginuity can be difficult to use for beginners, and its help section isn’t so great.  On features, it can perform all OBD2 tests and scan multiple systems, but it doesn’t have any maintenance/reset functions, not even CEL. Besides that, it can’t code or program an ECU.

TOAD Pro | OBDWiz | AutoEnginuity

Final thoughts

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast, home mechanic, or professional automotive technician, there’s a scan tool built just for you. 

These scanners are essential for reading and clearing diagnostic trouble codes and other advanced diagnostics on your vehicle. Choosing the right scanner can be problematic, especially when you’re not sure which one fits your skill level, and that’s why we put together this guide. 

Below, you’ll find a brief recap of the scanners we’ve handpicked for the very varied needs of pros and beginners car repairers:

Best Universal OBD2 Scanners for Beginners: BlueDriver

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Best Professional OBD2 Scanner [for home mechanics]: Autel MK808

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Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner [for pros]: Launch X431 V+

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Best ECU Programming Tool [for pros]: Launch X431 PAD V

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Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Software [for pros]: TOAD Pro

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So, go get the OBD2 scanner that fits your needs and start diagnosing car problems without stress. 

Read more: Tim’s Review of the Best OBD2 Bluetooth Scanners 2021

Automotive Diagnostic Tools Buying Guide

Having a professional automotive OBD2 diagnostic scan tool is beneficial for both DIYers and Auto Repair Shops in many ways
Benefits of having a professional automotive OBD2 diagnostic scan tool for DIYers and Auto Repair Shops

Benefits for DIYers

When the warning lights on your dash are illuminated, they’re responding to trouble codes that your engine’s computer has generated. For the engine, these codes are grouped under a diagnostic protocol known as OBDII. Short for “on-board diagnostics,” the OBD system is standardized across vehicle manufacturers, allowing mechanics to quickly identify and repair engine problems. 

The engine isn’t the only system that puts out these trouble codes, either. You can troubleshoot errors in everything from your tire pressure to your airbags with the right code reader. These codes aren’t standardized, however, and can’t be read by all OBDII scan tools. 

That’s where a professional scan tool comes into play, giving you access to error codes and other helpful data primary code readers won’t provide. Other benefits of a professional automotive diagnostic scanner are as follows:

Make Repairs Yourself Instead of Paying A Mechanic

Some vehicle issues require professional expertise, but others are simpler and can be easily (and cheaply) repaired at home. With a scan tool, you can identify the problem and its severity, gaining the knowledge you need to make small repairs yourself. Once those repairs are made, an automotive scan tool allows you to clear the error code and turn off the check engine light, too. 

Preparing for State Emissions Tests

Much of the information included in OBD2 diagnostics is related to your vehicle’s smog emissions. With a professional automotive scanner, you can identify issues with the emission system before you go to the inspection, saving you both time and money.

Gain Insight Into Engine Health And Performance

Professional car scan tools read a range of parameters and data. Logging this information lets you identify trends and developing issues before they’re a big problem. When you do need to go to the mechanic, you’ll walk in knowing the exact issue you need to have fixed, giving you peace of mind that you’re not being ripped off.

Recommendation for any beginnersBluedriver

BlueDriver
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scanner
4.6
The convenience of BlueDriver is its main advantage. It’s the best car scan tool for drivers who want to easily monitor their vehicle’s performance.

Benefits for Auto Repair Shops

Automotive scanners don’t just read trouble codes and record module data. Professional models also allow you to interact with the engine, making necessary repairs and adjustments. If you’re a professional mechanic, there are a few key features you’ll need in a diagnostic tool:

More services to offer to your customers

A scanner with coding and programming capability allows you to go beyond necessary repairs. You can add services like making new key fobs or tuning the engine, things your customers would otherwise have needed to have done at a dealership.

Expanded vehicle coverage can grow your customer base

Professional scan tools can diagnose and repair vehicles from dozens of manufacturers. The more cars and trucks you’re able to work on, the more potential customers you have nearby.

Improve speed and efficiency

We all know time is money. Speed can be especially important in automotive repair, where customers are eager to get back on the road. Along with high processing speeds that scan trouble codes, many professional tools have intelligent features that automatically gather information from the engine. The inclusion of bi-directional control is another big time-saver, identifying failing valves or solenoids so you can get the right to repairs.

Better accuracy

A diagnostic tool is useless if you can’t trust the information it gives you. Industry experts have vetted professional tools from trusted brands so you can count on the accuracy of their readings.

Recommendation for Auto Diagnostic Specialists/big shopsLaunch X431 V+

Autel X431 V+
Launch X431 V+ Automotive Diagnostic Scanner with 30+ Service Functions
4.5
The Launch X431 V+ is the best value you’ll find in professional diagnostic scan tools, offering the same robust diagnostic and programming functions as scanners that cost 4-5 times as much.

Bonus 2: Best Launch scan tools and code readers 2021: Never buy it before reading this guide

Types of Automobile Diagnostic Scanner

Not all code readers are created equal—and it’s not just a matter of which brand makes them. Different models are suitable for specific users, so you want to make sure you get the right one for your needs. While there are a lot of different styles of automotive scanner out there, the ones you’re most likely to come across include:

OBD2 Scan Tools for DIY

This is the type of scanning tool that most DIYers want. It goes beyond a code reader, providing multi-system diagnosis and some service functions, but it is more affordable than OE-level diagnostic tools meant for professional garages. Bluedriver and Foxwell NT614 Elite are excellent choices in this group.

Foxwell NT614 Elite

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Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanners

Service functions, coding, and programming capabilities are the main advantages of professional diagnostic tools. You can tune, remap, and otherwise customize the ECU and perform tens of service and diagnostic functions. They’re more expensive and, therefore, what they can do is excellent. However, this type of diagnostic tool ONLY suits professionals working in auto repair shops. If you are a professional automotive technician or diagnostic specialist and ECU programming is not your priority, think about the Launch X431 V+. But if you regularly program ECU of BMW or Mercedes Benz vehicles with J2534, consider taking the Autel Maxisys Elite.

Launch X431 V+
Launch X431 V+ Full-System Automotive Scanner
4.5
The Launch X431 V+ is the best value you’ll find in professional car diagnostic tools, offering the same robust diagnostic and programming functions as scanners that cost 4-5 times as much.

How Much Should I Pay?

$100-$500

DIY-ers should expect to spend somewhere around $100 – $500 for a high-quality diagnostic scanner. Models in this price range typically include full-system diagnosis and service functions such as Oil Reset, ABS Bleeding, Injector Coding, EPB Reset, BMS Service, SAS Calibration, DPF Regeneration, etc. The features they omit also tend to be what hobbyists and home mechanics won’t use anyway, things like ECU coding requiring more advanced knowledge to do successfully. A typical choice for you, if you want to have such a scan tool around $500, is the Autel MK808K. The Budget Buy is the Bluedriver, only about $100. Somewhere in the middle is the FOXWELL NT614 Elite, which costs you around $250.

BlueDriver
BlueDriver - Best OBD2 scanner for beginners for iOS & Android
4.6
It costs you only about $99.95 to own this perfect Bluetooth OBD2 adapter plus the full version Bluedriver app with life-time FREE update.

$500-$1500+

A professional automotive technician or diagnostic specialist is most likely looking at a budget from $500+ to $3,000+. Expect to be on the higher end of that spectrum if you need more sophisticated service functions or complicated performances like car key coding, programming, or ECU mapping. With a budget of around $1,000 to $1,200, you can buy a professional car diagnostic tool like Launch X431 V+, my favorite choice ever. It can do almost everything in your shop, from Oil Reset to ABS bleeding, from bidirectional control to key programming, or ECU coding.

Autel X431 V+
Launch X431 V+ Full-System Automotive Scanner
4.5
The Launch X431 V+ is the best value you’ll find in professional car diagnostic tools, offering the same robust diagnostic and programming functions as scanners that cost 4-5 times as much.

Bonus: Best Autel scanner 2021: Never buy it before reading these reviews [updated]

Compatibility and Vehicle Coverage

The OBD2 code system is universal on all vehicles made in 1996 and later. Most professional car diagnostic scanners have broad compatibility for essential diagnostic functions, but the same may not be true of the service functions, “active tests,” or multi-system diagnostic abilities. 

With BlueDriver, for example, you can read necessary information from any vehicle with an OBD2 port. It can also read and clear Enhanced Codes for ABS, SRS, and transmissions systems, but not all cars. Those services are only available for select brands and vehicle model years. 

The same is true of more advanced professional scanners. The Autel Maxisys Elite is compatible with more than 10,000 models, but not all service functions will be available for all of them. The most limited is the J2534 ECU programming, which can only be done on two manufacturers BMW and Mercedes. 

The bottom line is that you should pay close attention to which features are offered for vehicles when you’re shopping for diagnostic tools.

Key Features

Automotive diagnostic tools don’t just read trouble codes and record module data. Professional models also allow you to interact with the engine, making necessary repairs and adjustments. If you’re a professional mechanic, there are many crucial features you’ll need in an advanced auto diagnostic tool:

These are five key features that are included in professional automotive diagnostic scanners
Five main features of Automotive Diagnostic Tools

Full OBD2 Diagnostic Functions

The OBD2 diagnostics consists of ten modes. These include reading and clearing codes, retrieving live and freeze frame data, and conducting emissions tests. Many cheap code readers will only give you access to half of these modes or less. For the most accurate diagnosis, DIYers will want to get a scanner with full OBD2 functionality like the Bluedriver

BlueDriver

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All System Diagnosis

Scanners that can read trouble codes from all the electronic modules in a vehicle are ideal for advanced DIYers and necessary for professionals. The OBDII system doesn’t catch all engine problems. In a professional garage, you need a scanner that can read all electronic modules, giving you a complete picture of the engine’s health. You’ll find many scanners in the price range from $200 to $300, like the FOXWELL NT614 Elite that not only lets you diagnose all systems but also perform several service functions like Oil Reset or EPB services. The average price goes up if you also want to get information from other electronic modules like climate control.

Reset and Service Functions

The term “service functions” is a catch-all for a range of repair functions included in auto scanning tools. One of the most common is oil reset, allowing you to turn off the oil light on your dash and reset the parameters after an oil change. Other essential functions include DPF regeneration, ABS bleeding, TPMS reset, adjustments to the throttle or suspension, etc. Generally speaking, reset and service functions will be more important from a professional standpoint than they are to DIY-ers, though they can be helpful in home garages, as well. You will find the essential service functions (26 ones) in the Autel MK808K, a perfect pick for you if you’re an experienced home mechanic.

Active Tests/Bidirectional Control

Also called “active testing,” bidirectional control allows the mechanic to activate or test mechanical components on demand. This process tells you if individual actuators, valves, and pumps function the way they should, allowing for more efficient and effective repairs. If you’re looking to do such tests, buy the Launch X431 V+, one of the best bi-directional scan tools today.

Read more: 10 Best Bidirectional Scan Tools Review 2021 [Update]

Key/ECU Coding and Programming

Car key/key fob/ECU coding or programming is primarily used to change keys, tuning, and remapping engines to optimize their performance, allowing you to make changes to the engine computer’s parameters and settings. It’s also helpful for making software updates and troubleshooting issues with fuel efficiency or engine power.

Read moreBest Actron Scanners / Code Readers Review 2021

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