[Tested] 5 Best Affordable Bi-directional Scan Tools for 2024

Tim Miller

Quick Recommendation:

Choosing the best bidirectional scanner can be challenging with so many options available. That’s why we’ve got you covered with this post.

Led by Jack Gannon, our testing team has rigorously evaluated 14 different bi-directional scanners, considering various budgets and purposes of use.

After two weeks of comprehensive testing, we have handpicked the top 8 bi-directional scan tools that fulfill all demands.

Testing Records

TesterOBD Advisor’s Testers
Testing dateOct 1st, 2023 – Oct 14th, 2023
Number of tested products14
Number of tested cars9

Best Bi-directional Scan Tools Comparison Chart

Note: Active tests, service and advanced functions may vary on different vehicles.

N/A: Unknown

[Editor's Pick] INNOVA 5610
Thinkdiag2
ANCEL X7
AUTEL MK808BT PRO
TOPDON Lite 2
Customer Rating4.9/54.2/54.8/54.6/54.6/5
ACTIVE TESTS
Limited
Limited
Full systems
Full systems
Full systems
DIAGNOSTICS
Full-system diagnosis
Live data
Diagnostics report
-
Topology map
-
-
-
-
-
SERVICE FUNCTIONS
Number of functions
10+
15+
10+
28+
28+
ABS Bleeding
TPMS relearn
Crank relearn
Throttle relearn
-
ADAS calibration
-
-
-
-
-
ADVANCED FUNCTIONS
Key programming
-
ECU coding
-
-
ECU programming
-
-
-
-
-
VEHICLE COVERAGE
Car & light trucks
Car & light trucks
Car & light trucks
Car & light trucks
Car & light trucks
DESIGN & HARDWARE
Processor
N/A
N/A
4-Core
4-Core, 1.8 GHz
4-Core, 2.0 GHz
Memory
N/A
N/A
2GB
4GB + 64GB
2G+64G
Android OS
11.0
5.0 Android/ 9.0 iOS
10.0
11.0
10.0
Screen size
3.5"
-
10.1"
7"
8"
Battery capacity
5000mAh
5000mAh
7000mAh
5000mAh
12600mAh
Wireless connection
-
AFTER-SALES SERVICE
Free update
Lifetime
1 year
2 years
1 year
2 years
Waranty
1 year
1 year
1 year
1 year
1 year
Update fee
$0
$99.95/year
$99/year
$150/year
$430/year
Customer service
9/10
8/10
9.0/10
7.5/10
9.0/10
Check Price
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Best Bi-directional Scan Tools Review

#1. INNOVA 5610 [Editor’s Pick]

INNOVA 5610

INNOVA 5610

★★★★★
★★★★★
4.9/5

Price: Under $500

INNOVA 5610 may not be the best for active tests, but its reliability and lifetime free updates make it a good choice for those on a budget who need bi-directional control.

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Repair solutions app for phone
  • Lifetime free update

Cons

  • Limited bi-directional controls

The INNOVA 5610 is a pricier choice for home mechanics, and it stands out as the only scanner with a wired connection in this post. However, this is not a disadvantage because the INNOVA 5610 comes with a 6-foot cable, which is quite impressive for a scanner. However, we must note that it has limitations when it comes to supported tests. It mainly focuses on active tests related to the powertrain module, the most essential part of one vehicle. We’ve tested around 10 actuation tests that are available like cooling fan, fuel pump, fan speed test, etc. The tests work reliably, and the communication between the scanner and the vehicle is smooth. The vehicle responds immediately to each command.

Despite this limitation, we still recommend the INNOVA 5610 for a few good reasons. It’s fast, so it responds right away when you give it a task, and the connection to the vehicle is reliable.  So, if you’re new to using scanners and want an option that can handle important tasks, the INNOVA 5610 is a good choice. It’s fast, easy to use, and has a reliable wired connection.

Today’s best INNOVA 5610 price:

Read more: INNOVA 5610 Scanner: Cheapest Bi-Directional Scanner With Free Lifetime Updates

#2. Thinkdiag2

Thinkdiag 2

Thinkdiag 2

★★★★★
★★★★★
4.2/5

Price: Under $150

Thinkdiag2 is the cheapest yet reliable scan tool that offers a wide range of active tests, thorough diagnosis, and service functions for improved vehicle maintenance and performance.

Pros

  • Support CANFD protocol
  • Cheap
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Occasional bugs

Let’s go for a more low-budget bidirectional scanner called Thinkdiag2, which is ideal for individuals who perform car repairs at home. When we downloaded the app and connected it to the scanner, we noticed that the app took up a lot of space on our phone (it used 1.75GB) compared to other diagnostic apps.

Despite this, we are impressed by the range of tests that the compact scanner can perform. While it may not offer complete testing for all car parts, it still provides us with control over essential components such as the turbocharger and EGR system, among others. However, we occasionally encounter software issues that cause the app to malfunction. These connectivity problems occur only 3 to 4 times during our tests, typically after 1 to 2 hours of continuous use. Nevertheless, the scanning and response speed of the scanner are still good.

We are pleasantly surprised that the Thinkdiag2 can program keys, although it’s not compatible with every vehicle. This function works reliably for about 70% of the vehicles we tested and programming a key takes less than 3 minutes without any issues.

If you want a bidirectional scanner but don’t want to spend a lot of money, Thinkdiag2 is a good choice. 

Today’s best Thinkdiag2 price:

#3. ANCEL X7

[5% Off Code: OBDADVISOR]

ANCEL X7

ancel x7

★★★★★
★★★★★
4.8/5

Price: Under $500

The ANCEL X7 scanner is a versatile tool for car diagnostic tests, offering essential functions, with reliable Bluetooth connectivity and a long-lasting battery life.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Strong Bluetooth connection
  • Long battery life
  • ECU coding for VW/ Audi

Cons

  • Unavailable on Amazon
  • Few service functions

Our testers were pleasantly surprised by the ANCEL X7’s excellent build quality and modern design, especially considering its price point of under $500. The scanner surpassed our expectations in terms of durability. 

During actuation tests, the ANCEL X7 stood out with its extensive options for the PCM modules, offering more than 30 choices. Similar to the Autel MK808BT, the ANCEL X7 establishes a strong connection with the vehicle, ensuring an immediate response to the scanner’s commands. It also offers full bidirectional functionality, although there may be some tests that are lacking for specific vehicles. However, in general, it provides the most popular and commonly used tests for all vehicles.

Our testers were particularly impressed by the ANCEL X7’s impressive battery life. It lasted an entire workday with moderate use, which is a definite advantage. One aspect that disappointed us during testing was the lack of special functions offered by the ANCEL X7. We only found a few commonly used ones like key programming and ABS bleeding. While these functions are reliable, we expected more from a professional scanner like this.

Today’s best ANCEL X7 price:

#4. Autel MK808BT Pro

Autel MK808BT PRO

Autel MK808BT PRO

★★★★★
★★★★★
4.6/5

Price: Under $1,000

Autel MK808BT PRO is the best choice for DIYers that want an advanced yet versatile bi-directional scan tool to work on a wide range vehicles.

Pros

  • Fast
  • Wide vehicle coverage
  • Top-notch special functions

Cons

  • Quite complex interface

If the two options above are out of your budget, then we have a slightly more affordable option called the Autel MK808BT. While it claims to be a full bidirectional scanner, it offers full active tests on most vehicles that we’ve tested. However, we did notice that a few uncommon cars may lack certain actuation tests, such as the fuel injector disable feature.

One impressive aspect we admire about the Autel MK808BT is its strong connection with every vehicle. During our tests, we haven’t encountered any issues with the connection becoming loose, even when we conducted tests outside the car. The scanner consistently responded immediately, which we found to be quite reliable.

We recommend the Autel MK808BT for DIYers who work on some cars, it supports a wide range of vehicles. So if you’re a family mechanic with a variety of vehicles to take care of, the Autel MK808BT is the best option for you. However, the battery is not ideal for heavy workloads as it drains by 30% only after 1 hour of use with moderate usage.

Today’s best Autel MK808BT price:

#5. TOPDON PHOENIX Lite 2

TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2

TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2

★★★★★
★★★★★
4.6/5

Price: Under $1,000

TOPDON PHOENIX Lite 2 is an affordable investment for both professionals and hobbyists, with advanced features and powerful performance.

Pros

  • Wide range of functions
  • Wide vehicle coverage
  • Strong Bluetooth connection
  • User-friendly

Cons

  • No Topology Map
  • High update fee ($430/y)

The TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2, is similar to the Launch X431 V Pro in that it offers full bidirectional control and delivers on its claims. We particularly like the sleek and modern design of the TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2, which sets it apart. In terms of performance, this scanner is impressively fast, connecting to vehicles in a matter of seconds, even faster than the Launch X431 V Pro. The scan speed and actuation tests it performs are also quick and smooth. 

The Bluetooth connection is strong, allowing for a wireless bidirectional experience, even at a distance of 5 meters from the vehicle. Battery life is also excellent, lasting throughout the entire testing process with about 70% charge remaining after 3-4 hours of continuous use and multiple tasks.

However, it’s important to note that TOPDON cannot beat giant brands like Autel and Launch in terms of vehicle coverage, some functions may not be available for different vehicles, such as key programming functions that only worked on 75% of the vehicles we tested. Nevertheless, in terms of performance, we didn’t notice any major differences compared to the Launch X431 V Pro. Even the ECU Coding functions performed well, as we successfully tested numerous coding functions of the TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2 on different vehicles.

An additional standout feature of the TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2 is its Topology Map function. This impressive feature allows for a complete vehicle scan and generates a map in less than 2 minutes. Overall, we consider the TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2 to be a reliable option for professionals, although it has slightly less vehicle coverage compared to the Launch X431 V Pro.

Today’s best TOPDON PHOENIX Lite 2 price:

Read more: TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2: Top-Rated Bi-Directional Scan Tool For Professionals


What’s Next

So this is the end of my review. Hope you can find a suitable bi-directional scanner through this post.

And I’d love to hear from you now:

  • Is there any product on my list suitable for you?
  • Is there anything I can improve in my review post?

Comment below.

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