Our editors pick the products & services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Learn more.

Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner 2020 Buying Guide

An excellent diagnostic scanner lets you identify the cause of engine issues and empowers you to make essential repairs. For home mechanics, this is a great way to save money on your repair budget. It’s even more crucial for professional automotive technicians to perform services like oil reset, DPF regeneration, SAS calibration, battery registration, ABS bleeding, bi-directional control, and even injector coding, key coding, ECU programming, etc. Professional automotive diagnostic scanners can do all of this and more. 

As an automotive technician, you must know how important the customers’ satisfaction is and that your auto repair shop cannot provide good services to your valuable customers without a reliable automotive diagnostic tool. Such a useful scanning tool can perform not only accurate diagnosis but also offer various special advanced service functions for a wide range of vehicles. It goes beyond identifying the source of the check engine light

The problem for many of us is figuring out which car diagnostic tool to buy. Do you need that $2,000 tool—and conversely, will a $100 device have the features you need? The answer for most is somewhere in the middle. You can get a full range of features from an automotive scan tool without spending a fortune.

In this buying guide, we’ll identify the key features you need to pay attention to when shopping for an automotive diagnostic tool and review some of the top models on the market in 2020. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or an automotive technician, knowing what you’re looking for is the first step. 

But first, let’s see what the editor recommends!!

Top 5 Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner 2020 (Editor’s Picks)

Editor's PicksProduct ModelOur Rating
Best OverallLaunch X431 V PRO9.5/10
Runner UpLaunch CRP129E9.5/10
Best Budget BuyBlueDriver8.5/10
Best ValueFoxwell NT624 Elite8.5/10
Also for ProsAutel MK8087.5/10

Bonus: If you are just looking for a cheap OBD2 car code reader, read my review of the Top Reliable but Affordable OBD2 Scanners for Car Owners 2020 HERE

Professional Automotive Diagnostic Tools Buying Guide

Benefits for DIYers

When the warning lights on your dash illuminated, they’re responding to trouble codes that have been generated by your engine’s computer. 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 identify and repair engine problems quickly. 

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 DIYersBluedriver

BlueDriver
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scanner
4.64.6 / 5
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
4.44.4 / 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.

Top Brands

There are a lot of scan tools out there to choose from. So how do you find the best? There are four that we recommend for both product quality and customer service: Autel, Launch, Foxwell, and BlueDriver.

Foxwell

Website: https://www.foxwelltech.com/?flag=y

The range of tools in Foxwell’s catalog is robust, covering everything from primary code readers to professional models with programming capabilities. As an online retailer, they’re easy to reach when you need customer service, and their products are well-regarded for their accuracy and diagnostic speed. 

=> Recommendation: Foxwell NT624 Elite

Foxwell NT624 Elite offers divert functions at a reasonable price for any home mechanic.
Check Price at Amazon

BlueDriver

Website: bluedriver.com

As a relatively new contender in the automotive scan tool market, BlueDriver’s innovative system pairs a wireless adapter with a smartphone app. BlueDriver products get high marks for convenience and are designed with regular drivers in mind rather than professionals. Because of this, their products are easy to understand and use, even if you’re not a car expert.

=> Recommendation: Bluedriver

Bluedriver, designed by North American Auto Technicians, works perfectly on any OBD2-compliant vehicle.
Check Price at Amazon

Autel

Website: https://www.auteltech.com/

Autel’s primary focus is on the research and development of intelligent automotive diagnostic systems. Their scan tools are among the most advanced on the market, with a wide range of included service and diagnostic functions. If you’re looking for the most innovative scan tools on the market, Autel is the brand you’ll want to go with.

=> Recommendation: Autel MK808BT

autel maxisys elite
Autel Maxisys Elite is made for professionals ONLY.
Check Price at Amazon

Launch

Website: https://en.cnlaunch.com/

Launch scanners give mechanics the best bang for their buck. Their diagnostic equipment is designed for professionals but sells at a great value that makes them affordable for home mechanics. Their emphasis on global technology development also gives their products broad vehicle compatibility. 

=> Recommendation: Launch X431 V+

Launch X431 V+ offers 26 advanced functions for 10,000+ models.
Check Price at Amazon

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:

Auto 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 NT624 Elite are excellent choices in this group.

Foxwell NT624 Elite
Foxwell NT624 Elite OBD2 Automotive Scanner
4.24.2 / 5
Home mechanics looking for an affordable all-system code reader should buy the Foxwell NT624 Elite. It reads and clear codes from all electronic modules, giving drivers a complete picture of their car’s health.

Professional Car Diagnostic Tools

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 are 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 Autel Maxisys Elite.

Autel X431 V+
Launch X431 V+ Full-System Automotive Scanner
4.44.4 / 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 Expect to Pay?

$100-$1,000

DIY-ers should expect to spend somewhere around $100 – $1,000 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 the one’s hobbyists and home mechanics won’t use anyway, things like ECU coding that require 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 MK808BT. The Budget Buy is the Bluedriver that is only about $100. Somewhere in the middle is the FOXWELL NT624 Elite, which costs you around $250.

Autel MaxiCom MK808BT
Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT Diagnostic Scan Tool
4.64.6 / 5
The Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT is the best mid-range diagnostic scanner and is suitable for experienced home mechanics.

$1,000-$3,000+

A professional automotive technician or diagnostic specialist is most likely looking at a budget from $1,000+ 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 the budget around $1,000 to $1,200, you can buy a professional car diagnostic tool like Autel Maxisys Elite, my favorite choice ever. It can do almost everything in your shop, from Oil Reset to ABS bleeding, key programming, or ECU coding/programming.

Autel Maxisys elite
Autel Maxisys Diagnostic Scan Tool
3.83.8 / 5
The convenience and flexibility of the Autel Maxisys Elite will be worth the investment for professional garages.

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 do 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:

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

The special part of Bluedriver is it can work smoothly on any OBD2 vehicles.
Check Price at Amazon

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 NT624 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. 

FOXWELL NT624 Elite, costs around $250, but can diagnose all systems in all cars.
Check Price at Amazon

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 MK808BT, a perfect pick for you if you’re an experienced home mechanic.

Autel MK808BT lets you perform 21+ service functions.
Check Price at Amazon

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.

Launch X431 V+ allows you to test various components individually.
Check Price at Amazon

Key/ECU Coding and Programming

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

Autel Maxisys Elite can do special things that not any other in the list can.
Check Price at Amazon

What Else Should You Consider?

Functionality and compatibility are the most important considerations when you’re shopping for a scan tool. There are other factors you’ll want to pay attention to as well, however, including:

  • Intelligence. The most common smart feature on diagnostic scanners is an Auto VIN option that instantly identifies the make and model. While intelligent features can be helpful from an efficiency standpoint, they’re not as crucial to the overall operation as other factors.
  • Speed. This is primarily a concern for professional garages that need to diagnose a lot of vehicles. A higher processing speed allows the scan tool to quickly read and process data, allowing you to respond to the repairs promptly. Look for a scanner with a quad-core processor for the fastest diagnosis.
  • Accuracy. A diagnostic tool is useless if it’s not giving you the correct information. Accuracy can be difficult to verify, one of the main reasons it’s essential to buy a scan tool from a reputable brand with a reputation for quality.
  • Updates. Some scan tools come with lifetime free updates, while others will require a paid subscription after a certain length of time. Pay attention to how the updates happen, as well. Updates through Wi-Fi directly on the scanner are the most reliable, saving you the need to worry about your operating system’s compatibility. 
  • Customer Support. Troubleshooting problems with a scan tool can be frustrating. A reliable and responsive customer support line avoids this hassle so you can spend your time fixing cars, not tinkering with the device itself. 
  • Community. Not all vehicle problems are easy to diagnose. A strong community of scan tool users can help you solve tricky repairs and issues and share general knowledge to help you use your scan tool more effectively. 
Best professional automotive diagnostic scanners
The best professional automotive diagnostic scanner differs from one to one because of different customers’ needs and shop size.

Best Professional Car Diagnostic Tools Review

1. Launch X431 V PRO Automotive Diagnostic Tool

Launch X431 Pro
Launch X431 Pro: Excellent Bi-directional Scan Tool
4.44.4 / 5
Professional mechanics looking for a fully-functional scan tool will love the Launch X431 V Pro.

Professional mechanics looking for a fully-functional scan tool will love the Launch X431 V Pro. It includes more than 30 repair functions, along with ECU coding capability for tuning or remapping the engine computer.

The diagnostic functions on the Launch X431 V Pro are extensive, too. The inclusion of functional testing is especially helpful for speeding up your repairs. It can also perform full-system diagnosis, read sensor data, and trouble codes from system other scan tools neglect.

Professional mechanics also need a scan tool that will work with various vehicles, and the broad compatibility of the Launch X431 V Pro satisfies that need. With an 8″ touch screen and an advanced Android operating system, it’s easy to access all the data and functions you’re looking for on this impressive scanner.

Launch X431 V PRO Automotive Diagnostic Tool
The Launch X431 V Pro includes more than 30 repair functions, along with ECU coding capability for tuning or remapping the engine computer

Pros

  • Full-system diagnosis with bi-directional control
  • Built-in camera
  • Supports ECU coding and adaptation
  • Over 30 reset and repair functions
  • Wi-Fi enabled for one-key updates
  • Coverage for more than 10,000 vehicles (150+ brands)

Cons

  • Higher cost
  • Updates are only free for the first two years

Verdict: Advanced functions like bi-directional control and ECU coding make the Launch X431 V Pro the ideal automotive scanner for a professional mechanic.

Check Price at Amazon

2. Launch CRP129E Car Diagnostic Scanner

Launch CRP129E
Launch CRP129E Professional OBDII Scan Tool
4.44.4 / 5
It’s an excellent choice for advanced home mechanics or as a travel diagnostic tool for professionals.

The diagnostic functions on the Launch CRP129E make it an excellent choice for advanced home mechanics or as a travel diagnostic tool for professionals. It can read sensors and trouble codes from the four major systems, in addition to performing useful functions like real-time battery monitoring, oxygen sensor tests, and more.

We also appreciate that you can record and export data you read on the Launch CRP129E. The automatic health report function is a fast, easy way to get a complete picture of your car’s health at a glance.

Along with diagnostics, the CRP129E also supports essential repair functions. Since you can reset the tire pressure or throttle position in your home garage, that opens up more options for at-home repairs and saves you money at the mechanic.

Launch CRP129E Car Diagnostic Scanner
The Launch CPR129E can perform useful functions like real-time battery monitoring, oxygen sensor tests, and more

Pros

  • 4-system diagnosis (engine, transmission, SRS, ABS)
  • Record and graph live data from up to 10 PIDs simultaneously
  • Five reset services, including oil light and TPMS
  • 5″ HD touchscreen is easy to read and navigate
  • Broad compatibility (57+ brands supported)
  • Free lifetime upgrades

Cons

  • Repair functions limited for a professional tool
  • No bi-directional control

Verdict: The 4-system diagnosis and reset functions of the Launch CRP129E make it an excellent choice for advanced home mechanics and professionals on the go.

Check Price at Amazon

3. BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD2 Scanner

BlueDriver
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scanner
4.64.6 / 5
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.

The BlueDriver system is aimed at everyday car owners and drivers. It can read engine codes from any OBD2-compatible vehicle, which is most of the cars and trucks on the road today. For select manufacturers, it also performs 4-system diagnosis (transmission, ABS, SRS, and engine). This auto scan tool is currently available for select model years of 13 manufacturers. This includes common brands like Ford and Toyota but leaves out some major names, notably Chevrolet and Jeep. If you’re buying BlueDriver for its enhanced codes, double-check its compatibility with your car before you pull the trigger. 

You don’t have to be a repair expert to take advantage of BlueDriver. The Repair Reports function gives vehicle-specific suggestions and explains the meaning of trouble codes. Even advanced DIYers can benefit from this extra insight and make faster repairs with BlueDriver.

That makes it the ideal diagnostic tool for home mechanics of all experience levels. 

BlueDriver is the best car scan tool for drivers who want to easily monitor their vehicle’s performance.
The Enhanced Diagnostics of BlueDriver is currently available for select model years of 13 manufacturers.

Check Bluedriver Vehicle Coverage HERE

Pros

  • Allows continuous monitoring
  • Easy to install and use
  • Works with both Android and Apple devices
  • Repair Reports function provides verified fixes from certified mechanics
  • Customizable dashboard
  • Free and automatic updates

Cons

  • Enhanced codes only available on select vehicle models
  • No service or programming features

Verdict: The convenience of BlueDriver is its main advantage. It’s the best car diagnostic tool for drivers who want to easily monitor their vehicle’s performance.

Check Price at Amazon
A video about BlueDriver

4. Foxwell NT624 Elite OBD2 Automotive Scanner

Foxwell NT624 Elite
Foxwell NT624 Elite OBD2 Automotive Scanner
4.24.2 / 5
Home mechanics looking for an affordable all-system code reader should buy the Foxwell NT624 Elite. It reads and clear codes from all electronic modules, giving drivers a complete picture of their car’s health.

Home mechanics looking for an automotive scanner that won’t break the bank will love the Foxwell NT624. It’s a comprehensive car diagnostic tool that can read codes from all electronic modules. It’s reliable across vehicle models, too, performing just as well on US brands like Chevy and Ford as it does on Japanese vehicles like Nissans, or European brands like BMW.

Home mechanics will also love the quick set-up. You can start using it right out of the box and running scans is easy, no matter your experience level. Updates are easy, too, and you’ll get them free for life, no need for paid subscriptions. It basically pays for itself the first time it spares you a trip to the mechanic, making it a smart investment for everyday car owners. 

Foxwell NT624 Elite is compatible with a lot of brands
it performs on US brands like Chevy and Ford as it does on Japanese vehicles like Nissans, or European brands like BMW.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • All-system diagnosis
  • Free updates for life 
  • Includes the 2 most common reset functions (oil light and SBC/EPB)
  • Compatible with 61 vehicle manufacturers

Cons

  • Repair and service functions too limited for professional mechanics

Verdict: Home mechanics looking for an affordable all-system auto scan tool should buy the Foxwell NT624 Elite. It reads and clear codes from all electronic modules, giving drivers a complete picture of their car’s health. 

Check Price at Amazon

5. Autel MK808 Professional Diagnostic Testers for Cars

Autel MK808
Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Diagnostic Scan Tool
4.54.5 / 5
It’s an excellent mid-price option for repair professionals. While it lacks more advanced coding functions, its rugged, accurate diagnostics greatly value the money.

Autel is another top name in diagnostic scanners, and their MaxiCOM MK808 Scan Tool is one of the most affordable options with the full-system diagnosis you’ll find. You can diagnose everything from the emissions to the headlights, and its fast, precise operation means you’ll get that data quickly (and can trust it to be accurate).

The repair functions on the Autel MK808 are relatively comprehensive, as well. While it doesn’t offer advanced coding and programming capabilities, it goes beyond an ordinary scan tool with features like DPF regeneration and BMS reset.

Professionals will also appreciate the design of the Autel MK808. Its sturdy housing is easy to grip and resists damage from drops and impacts, and the intuitive menu layout makes navigation a breeze.

Autel MK808 Professional Diagnostic Testers for Cars
The Autel MK808 goes beyond an ordinary scan tool with features like DPF regeneration and BMS reset

Pros

  • Full system diagnosis
  • Reset functions including TPMS, DPF, and BMS
  • Quad-core processor for accurate, fast diagnosis
  • Compatible with most vehicles from the US and Europe
  • Easy to navigate 7″ touchscreen
  • Great value for the included features

Cons

  • No programming or re-learning capabilities
  • Doesn’t include active testing

Verdict: The Autel MK808 is an excellent mid-price option for repair professionals. While it lacks more advanced coding functions, its rugged, accurate diagnostics greatly value the money.

Check Price at Amazon

6. Launch X431 V+ Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

Autel X431 V+
Launch X431 V+ Full-System Automotive Scanner
4.34.3 / 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.

Professional mechanics who work on vehicles from around the world will get a lot of use out of the Launch X431 V+. It’s compatible with more than 10,000 car makes—and it doesn’t just perform basic OBD2 diagnostics, either. All-system diagnosis and advanced features like key fob programming make it an impressive all-in-one tool for any garage.

For most hobbyists, the Launch X431 V+ is more scan tool than you’ll need. Since it’s designed for professionals, non-experts may find the included instructions a bit confusing at first. Having said that, advanced DIY-ers will appreciate the range of reset functions and will find the tool intuitive to use, with a large built-in memory for storing vehicle information. It also comes with 2 years of free updates and costs about $400/year to update after that, so it has a lower ongoing cost than other professional automotive tools. 

It’s compatible with more than 10,000 car makes and offers tens of advanced functions.

Pros

  • Bi-directional communication allows active testing
  • Supports key programming and ECU coding
  • Fast diagnosis with Auto-Detect
  • Wide range of reset and service functions
  • Compatible with more than 10,000 vehicle models
  • Optional Heavy Truck add-on
  • 2 years free updates included

Cons

  • Some users have difficulty pairing to wireless OBD2 connector

Verdict: The Launch X431 V+ is the best value you’ll find in professional auto diagnostic tools, offering the same robust diagnostic and programming functions as scanners that cost 4-5 times as much.

Check Price at Amazon

7. Autel MS906BT Automotive Diagnostic Tool

Autel MS906BT
Autel MS906BT Automotive Diagnostic Tool
4.44.4 / 5
For professionals who do need advanced coding capabilities, the Autel MS906BT will meet your needs

For professionals who do need advanced coding capabilities, the Autel MS906BT will meet your needs. It even includes key fob programming and a range of more than 20 other useful repair functions, which empowers you to make a wide range of repairs or even upgrade and tune vehicles.

With “active tests” and OE-level diagnostics, the Autel MS906BT gives you the power to accurately troubleshoot any engine issue. The MaxiFix community is a helpful resource here, too, giving you an easy source for proven repair advice.

Using the Autel MS906BT is easy, too, thanks to its wireless capability. This compact and portable diagnostic scanner might not come cheap, but it’s worth the investment for professionals who need broad functionality and vehicle compatibility.

Autel MS906BT Automotive Diagnostic Tool
The Autel MS906BT includes key fob programming and a range of more than 20 other useful repair functions

Pros

  • Supports ECU coding and adaptation
  • Wireless operation with a range of over 150 feet
  • 23+ service functions including IMMO key programming
  • Full-system diagnosis with bi-directional testing
  • Knowledgeable online community for extra repair advice
  • Compatible with 80+ manufacturers from the US, Asia, and Europe
  • Compact, portable design

Cons

  • Most expensive option on the list

Verdict: The Autel MS906BT supports a wide range of repair and diagnostic functions, including bi-directional testing and key fob programming. Its powerful performance and its easy operation and knowledgeable online community make it worth the higher purchase cost for repair professionals.

Check Price at Amazon

8. Launch CRP129X Diagnostic Tool for Cars

Launch CRP129X
Launch CRP129X Automotive Scan Tool for Enthusiasts
4.64.6 / 5
It’s identical to the Launch CPR129X when it comes to diagnostic and repair functions.

The Launch CRP129X is very similar to the CRP129E above. They’re identical when it comes to diagnostic and repair functions. You’ll get the same 4-system scanning, reset procedures, and diagnostic health reports from the CRP129X.

Where the CRP129X exceeds the CRP129E is in its design and performance. It has a built-in Wi-Fi connection that allows you to update the device without connecting it to a computer, and you can do so by clicking a single button. Updates are free for life, too, so you never need to worry about the scanner going out of date.

The design of the interface on the Launch CRP129X is also slightly better. A higher-resolution screen is easier to read even in low light conditions. Also, it includes a keypad navigation option in addition to the touchscreen, letting you use it more easily when your hands are dirty from making repairs.

Launch CRP129X Diagnostic Tool for Cars
You’ll get the same 4-system scanning, reset procedures, and diagnostic health reports as the CPR129E from the CRP129X

Pros

  • The option of navigating with keypad or touchscreen
  • 4-system diagnosis with full OBD2 mode support
  • Record and print sensor data 
  • Battery monitoring and voltage test
  • Includes TPMS reset and throttle adaptation
  • Compatible with 57+ brands
  • One-click updates through Wi-Fi are free for life

Cons

  • Doesn’t support full functions for all manufacturers
  • No coding or adaptation functions

Verdict: The Launch CRP129X adds one-click Wi-Fi updates to the robust functionality of the Launch CRP129E, making it a more convenient option for both home mechanics and professionals.

Check Price at Amazon

9. Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT Professional Car Diagnostic Tool

Autel MaxiCom MK808BT
Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT Diagnostic Scan Tool
4.64.6 / 5
The Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT is the best mid-range diagnostic scanner and is suitable for small garages and advanced.

The Autel MaxiCOM is a comprehensive diagnostic tool for an experienced home mechanic. The menu layout is designed for quick access of the most often used diagnostics and features. It can diagnose and reset all dash lights, including the oil, ABS, and SRS systems, so it’s very handy as a troubleshooting tool in a home garage. You’ll also love how affordable the updates are. They’re free the first year, and around $120/year after that.

The vehicle compatibility of the Autel MK808BT is broad but inconsistent. It can communicate with more than 80 vehicle manufacturers but not for all service functions. ABS bleed is one function many mechanics have issue with since it won’t work consistently on common vehicles like Jeep Cherokees (along with other models). This is the main reason it’s not recommended for all professional mechanics, along with the lack of active testing and ECU coding functions. It could work in small garages, but it’s not as feature-rich as the two options above.

Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT is the best professional car diagnostic tool
Autel MK808BT can communicate with more than 80 vehicle manufacturers

Pros

  • Diagnoses all vehicle modules
  • 21 service functions, including IMMO reset and key programming
  • Option of wireless or hardline connection
  • Compatible with US, European, and Asian vehicles
  • Includes 1 year of free software updates
  • Excellent customer support through data manager

Cons

  • Not all functions available for all vehicles
  • No ECU coding capabilities

Verdict: The Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT is the best mid-range car diagnostic scanner and is suitable for small garages and advanced hobbyists. 

Check Price at Amazon

10. Autel Maxisys Elite Professional Auto Diagnostic Tool

Autel Maxisys elite
Autel Maxisys Professional Diagnostic Scan Tool
4.14.1 / 5
The convenience and flexibility of the Autel Maxisys Elite will be worth the investment for professional garages.

The convenience and flexibility of the Autel Maxisys Elite will be worth the investment for professional garages. It’s able to wirelessly communicate with all OBD2-equipped vehicles and performs more tests and service functions than most scanners on the market. 

The main complaint from professional mechanics about the Autel Maxisys is with its programming functions. They work great for BMW and Mercedes vehicles but aren’t available for any other models, an issue for garages that work on a variety of cars. Accessing advanced functions also requires a paid subscription after 2 years, and it’s not cheap at $1,200 a year. It’s worth the expense for larger garages but may not be something you can afford in a smaller shop. 

Autel maxisys elite is the best choice if you are finding the professional car diagnostic tool
Autel Maxisys Elite work great for BMW and Mercedes vehicles.

Check Autel Vehicle Coverage HERE

Pros

  • ECU programming for BMW and Mercedes
  • Easy to use touchscreen interface
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Wide vehicle compatibility
  • Efficient diagnosis of complex vehicle issues
  • Allows performance enhancement and ECU customization
  • Includes 36+ service functions

Cons

  • Higher price point
  • $1,200 Autel subscription required to update after first 2 years

Verdict: The Autel Maxisys Elite belongs in a professional garage. It’s capable of diagnosing, servicing, and customizing most vehicles a customer brings in. 

Check Price at Amazon

The Final Thoughts

After thorough research, it’s clear all 5 of these tools have their strengths. The biggest difference between them comes down to functionality. Professional mechanics who need coding and active testing will want to spend the extra money for the Autel Maxisys Elite or Launch X431 V+. Between the two, the Launch X431 V+ worked most consistently with the broadest range of vehicles and is the best value for a professional diagnostic scan tool.

Home users can save themselves some money by honestly evaluating which features they need. Are you at the experience level to replace the tires, change the oil, and make similar repairs at home? In that case, service functions like TPMS reset or oil light reset will be big money-savers, and something like the Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT will be worth the investment. Those who are looking for more basic diagnostic information may get more out of something like BlueDriver, especially given its continuous monitoring abilities. 

The bottom line is that knowing what you need from your scanner is going to determine which is the best for your garage. Hopefully the tips in this buying guide have given you some insight into the abilities (and limitations) of these professional car diagnostic tools. 

Read more: 10 Best Bidirectional Scan Tools Review 2020 [Update]

FAQs

1. What are the differences between Autel Maxisys Elite and Autel Maxisys Pro (MS908P)?

You can see the Maxisys Elite as the upgraded version of the Maxisys Pro. They offer the same functions and vehicle coverage, but the improved components in the Maxisys Elite give it a longer battery life and faster processing speed. The Maxisys Elite is also compatible with USB 3.0 and can operate better in extreme temperatures.

2. What is difference between Launch X431 V and Launch X431 V+?

The X431 V+ has a larger screen that’s easier to read and navigate. It also uses a quad-core processor, compared to the dual-core processor in the Launch X431 V, and has a larger memory capacity, enabling it to perform diagnostic scans more quickly. While both units have on-board Bluetooth support and one-click update, the X431 V+ also has the option for wireless report printing.

3. Does Launch X431 V+ support super car like Ferrari, Maserati, or Lamborghini?

Some super-charged engines are supported, including Ferrari and Maserati. In addition to basic diagnostic functions, it supports service functions like clutch PID, gear learning, and throttle adaptation. Unfortunately, the Launch X431 V+ does not support Lamborghinis.

4. Can Launch X431 V+ relearn crank position and idle?

Yes, for most supported vehicles.

5. Why is the Launch X431 V+ not listed on Launch Tech USA website?

The Launch X431 V+ is sold exclusively in the United States through their authorized Amazon distributor and can’t be purchased directly from the company on their website. This is why you won’t see the product listed on that page.

6. Does the Autel MK808BT diagnose US made vehicles?

Yes, the Autel MK808BT is compatible with over 80 manufacturers, including vehicles made in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

7. Does Autel MK808BT comes with Bluetooth connection? Can it work without WI-FI?

The Autel MK808BT has Bluetooth support built-in. It also has the option of a wired connection so you can use it when there’s no Wi-Fi available.

8. Can Autel MK808BT relearn the idle?

No, the Autel MK808BT does not support that function. If you need the ability to relearn idle, you’ll want to look at the Maxisys Elite reviewed above.

9. What’s the difference between the Foxwell NT624 Elite and the NT614 Elite?

The main difference is that the Foxwell NT614 Elite is a 4-system diagnostic tool, able to read information from the engine, transmission, ABS, and SRS. The Foxwell NT624 Elite is an all-system diagnostic tool. It can read information from all electronic modules, including those listed above as well as things like the climate control.

10. Is theFoxwell NT624 Elite able to turn off a check engine code?

The NT624 Elite can clear the trouble codes that turn on the check engine light. If the check engine light comes back on after you’ve cleared these codes, theirs is likely an ongoing issue in the engine that needs to be fixed.

11. Will the Foxwell NT624 Elite show previous history codes?

Yes. The Foxwell NT624 Elite can read all codes, including permanent codes and previous history codes.

12. Will BlueDriver device display “short term and long term” fuel trim data?

Yes, you can view the fuel trim data under the Live Data section for most vehicles. You can check whether it’s compatible with your vehicle on the BlueDriver website.

13. Do you need an internet connection to use BlueDriver?

You can use many of the diagnostic functions of BlueDriver without an internet connection, including reading and clear codes, reviewing freeze frame data, running smog checks, and viewing live data.

More advanced features do require an internet connection. These include VIN decoding and repair reports, as well as retrieving service bulletins, recalls, and maintenance schedules. You’ll also need an internet connection to update the software or share reports.

14. Is BlueDriver compatible with all phones and tablets?

BlueDriver works with all iOS devices running operating system version 10.2 or later. It’s also compatible with Android devices running version 6.0 or later. Keep in mind you will need a Bluetooth connection to use your device with BlueDriver, something that may not be available on all Android tablets. The BlueDriver app is not currently compatible with Windows devices.

15. Which vehicles are compatible with BlueDriver?

BlueDriver can read engine codes from all consumer vehicles sold in the United States or Canada after 1996. Enhanced codes are available for many popular manufacturers, including BMW (2005 and later), Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai (2011 and later), Mazda, Mercedes (2005 and later), Mitsubishi (2008 and later), Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

 If you want to verify which features will work on your vehicle, head over to BlueDriver’s FAQ. There’s a form where you can enter the make, model, and year of your vehicle to get a specific list of BlueDriver’s compatibility.  

Read moreBest Actron Scanners / Code Readers Review 2020

Tim MillerFounderOBD Advisor

I’m Tim Miller from Denver, Colorado. I’m the founder of obdadvisor.com, an automotive blog about "Auto Diagnostic Tools and Repair Guides". My fan page is facebook.com/autozikcom. I've been working as an automotive mechanic and blogger for over 10 years writing articles to share my experiences and expertise.

Web: https://www.obdadvisor.comEmail: [email protected]
Follow me:

36 thoughts on “Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner 2020 Buying Guide”

  1. I was after a bluetooth obd2 scanner for a long time but the bluedriver is the one I went for. Well worth the money and its something I just keep in my car nowadays. It works on the majority of cars and its so simple to use.

  2. For ordinary users, Bluetooth OBD scanners are more suitable. They can also do full-system diagnosis and also provide special tools like Reset BLEED, Reset TBMS, Reset TDPF, Reset Oil, Immobilizer/Keys and so on. EZcheck and EasyDiag are both good choice.

  3. Charles M. Gerarrd

    Your Comparison Check-List Pros/Cons Criteria is not the same per each model…it’s all over the place like a scatter-brained blonde.

    You ought to respectfully take the time & do an APPLES TO APPLES Comparison.

    Like ECU Reprogramming versus other Models with ECU Programming for example.

    Blondes are great when you’re out drinking with the boyz & getting smashed but feckless in the real-world & not even worth keeping around sober even if they give a good BJ.

    This article is worthless.

  4. Thank you for your great information.
    I’m from Libya and I’m an industrial instrument and control engineer, I have good experience in dealing with programmable test equipment. I’m going to open workshop for cars with diagnosis tools, I want my workshop is the best and I’m still confused which is the best scan tool for me!
    My workshop will focus on Germany cars like Mercedes Benz and BMW, also modern asian car , So which the best scan tool is suitable for me, I don’t care for the price?

  5. Hi
    I run an OBD1 car, a 1997 BMW E36. Is there any diagnostic tool on the market for this? I live jn the UK and am a keen home mechanic.
    Thanks

  6. I Tim,I live in the Caribbean we mostly have Japanese cars here,what would you consider a good tool to have for these cars,to read airbags an and lights etc, thanks.

  7. I’m confused to select one of the professional scanner for my workshop, I don’t for modules update but it’s important to be able to reprogram some part like if replace ABS.
    Also, it’s important to be affordable, so witch scanner (Autel MaxiDas DS808K or Launch X431 V+ or….) can you advise!

    1. You will find that the functions offered by Launch X431 V+ are about the same with DS808K. They offer various service functions for technicians and work reliably. But the prices are a bit different.
      Then if you want to save some bucks, consider DS808K.

  8. I am a Independent Repair Technician that wants my own scanner for home and my neighbor that is versatile (works on many cars and as many functions as possible) but has LIFETIME UPDATES. Not looking for a second career at home but friends/family seem to have car issues and I want to help them if possible. What you suggest under or around $500 ? I have looked myself silly at Autels , Foxwells , Launch and even Zurich can’t seem to make a decision

    1. Can you tell me more about your needs, the tests, and the service functions you might frequently do on the cars? Are all of the cars OBD2-compliant (made after 1996)?

  9. I am a independant car repair agent and i want to have my own scanner. they vehicles that I will be dealing with are europeen and asian vehicles. toyota/nizan, kia, Mitsubishi etc. what
    scanner will be most appropriate?

  10. Hi Tim
    I enjoy reading your reviews. Can you advise if you have any information for these tools that specifically relates to Australian Holden cars from 2002 onwards to present? I would like to buy a scan tool that can do ABS and SRS diagnosis and reset, module and key pairing and ABS bleed as a minimum. If it can also reflash modules for different tune levels would be a bonus. I could buy a Tech 2 clone but they have some important limitations…..
    Thanks.

  11. Hi,
    I need an affordable , easily to use and best diagnostic tool for my Audi 1.8 2000 year model and petrol injector. One that can read most error codes and reset this errors. Has bluetooth functionality. Please advise
    Thank you.

  12. Hello mister miller nice to meet you I live in Ethiopia Addis Ababa I am planing to start a business which provide Mobile auto diagnostic service light cars trucks and heavy duty vehicles or can say all in one not just diagnostic also full system repair the job is promising in our city so as a starter what do you advice me to by affordable device for me to by which can do all service in one device I look forward for your answer tnx

  13. Hi Tim
    Is there like a one in all diagnostic tool especially for Korean, German and Japanese . That does the followings
    Full system diagnostic
    Key fob coding
    Ecu coding
    Reads n clear all error codes
    ABS, SRS transmission diagnostic & data stream
    O2 sensor live data
    Engine diagnostic mil reset.
    Will be needing it for a Kia sportage and very old Audi A4

  14. kingbolen auto scanner center

    Best scan tool blog we have seen.
    Please be mind
    Launch 2 years free update
    Autel 1 year free update

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top