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Best ELM327 OBD2 Software for Laptop/PC 2020 (Review and Guide)

If you are reading this article, there is a fair chance that you are searching for a suitable OBD2 software package for your ELM327 interface. Often, your Malfunction Indicator Light /Check Engine Light will have come on, and you would like to know why and reset it. There are so many automotive diagnostic software packages out there that it’s challenging to pick the ideal one for you. 

OBD2 refers to the On-Board Diagnostics system common to all cars manufactured from 1996. The main advantage of an OBD-II ELM327 software setup is that they provide accurate data on a range of metrics with no mechanical intervention required. They monitor all the major components of a vehicle, and depending on the marque, a selection of optional sensors generates data for wear and tear, emissions, and efficiency analysis.

We’ll look at the various brands on offer and discuss their pros and cons. We’ll also check out the differences between the paid and free versions of the same software. We aim to cover a wide range of budgets, so there’ll be something for everyone who reads on.

Fist, let’s check out the Editor’s Picks!!

Best OBD2 Software / ELM327 Software 2020 (Editor’s Picks)

Editor's PicksProductOSOur Rating
Best OverallTOAD ProWindows9.5/10
Runner Up OBD Auto Doctor
Windows,
Mac
9.5/10
Best Budget Buy FORScanWindows8.5/10
Also Great TouchScanWindows8.5/10
Best for EU Vehicles EOBD FacileWindows,
Mac
7.5/10

What Is OBD2 Software for ELM327 Interface?

OBDII software is designed for a laptop/PC (Mac OS, Windows, or Linux Operating Systems) to connect with a vehicle via an ELM327 interface and collect, analyze, share, and store your OBD2 data. Over time, it has spawned a competitive niche of software providers, specializing in analytics, diagnostics, and reprogramming.

How Does OBD2 Car Diagnostic Software Work?

OBD2 employs a network of sensors located around the engine, transmission, and drivetrain of your vehicle. This network collects and transmits data using an agreed industry protocol. The data are then analyzed to give the user a description of the car’s performance, general health, and emissions.

The OBD-II software can be downloaded from the providers’ website and installed on a laptop or PC, just like any other application. Once installed, the computer is connected to the car with either a wireless ELM327 adapter or an OBD2 physical cable.

All cars now have an OBD2 connector socket, which connects via a USB OBD2 adapter to your laptop. The OBDII USB software can capture, organize, and display this data. Some brands can also reprogram your ECU to improve efficiency and performance.

OBD2 ELM327 Software Buying Guide

What Are The Benefits Of OBD2 Auto Diagnostic Software?

OBD2 diagnostic software allows the average car owner to diagnose their vehicle’s problems before taking it to the repair shop. You can test your emissions, make sure your brakes are functioning well, and clear any faults without paying your mechanic. Some OBD2 programming software packages allow you to remap your car’s ECU chip, increasing both power and efficiency.

The most significant advantage of computer OBD2 software is it can analyze and display the data from your vehicle. You can view the information in intuitive charts and graphs, which makes it much easier to understand. It helps you get the maximum utility from your data, and you can also store and share your findings with a growing network of other users.

Apart from giving the motorist confidence about their vehicle’s health, the primary motivation for using OBD software is saving time and money. You can avoid expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes wholly unnecessary trips to your service mechanic.

It’s becoming essential for a professional mechanic to present data analysis to the customer in an understandable and widely shared format. Having all the metrics stored and easily accessible helps the pro-mechanic provide the best customer service.

Typical Prices And Update Information

There’s a range of price points from the low hundreds to thousands of dollars. Most offerings have several options, from free basic options and free trials to paid, full versions. The prices vary between hobbyist systems and professional setups. Some packages come with proprietary OBD-11 scanners and cables; others are software only.

Operating System Requirements

Not all OBD2 software packages for laptops are compatible with all the major operating systems (Windows, Mac, or Linux). It’s essential to ensure that your intended device and operating system (OS) are supported before deciding to buy. We will look carefully at this for each product we consider.

Vehicle Coverage

Although OBDII generates data according to an agreed industry standard, at least five popular protocols may apply. Different software packages cover different makes of vehicles, so it’s essential to buy the software that will meet your present and future requirements. 

Free Versions Versus Paid Versions

Most software providers will release a free version with basic functionality. They enable the full version once you decide to hand over your cash. You’ll need to weigh up the functions you require against the price you’re willing to pay. We’ll look at the purchasing options for each of the products I include in this post.

Key Features Every OBD-II Software Should Have

No two systems are the same, but some essential functions are common to all OBDII software. The most critical needs for most amateurs are the Check Engine Light, error codes, and resets. All the following OBD2 scanner software packages have these capabilities. Standard features include:

  • Real-time data collection – to assess current performance
  • Fuel consumption and mileage information
  • Check Engine Light diagnostics
  • Preparedness test for emissions
  • Freeze frame – this records the engine state at the time a fault occurred
  • Intuitive graphs and charts present and compare data
  • Fault code identification – there are thousands, which all need decoding
  • Fault code clearing – once resolved, this resets the fault and the warning light, and so much more
OBD2 software
There are OBD2 Car Diagnostic Software Packages for MAC, WINDOWS, and LINUX

Best OBD2 Software / ELM327 Software Review

We’ve spent hours using and testing the software packages before writing this review. Let’s go!!

1. Toad Pro – Professional Automotive Diagnostic Software

Operating System: Windows

toad pro review
TOAD Pro - Affordable ELM327 OBD2 Programming Software
4.74.7 / 5
TOAD Pro is the best OBD2 programming software that is affordable and works well with any ELM327 interface.

Toad Pro is suitable for experienced enthusiasts and professional mechanics. Apart from the more practical applications like the CO2 emissions readout, reading error codes, resetting your Check Engine Light, you can create a personalized dashboard with all your favorite data displayed as convenient graphs. Another key feature of the Toad Pro setup is that it can reprogram your car’s ECU. Editing the values allows you to increase both fuel efficiency and performance. Always follow local laws and declare any changes you make to your insurance company as required. Bi-directional controls, adaptations, and actuator functions are among the vast features that this professional automotive diagnostic software lets you do.

There appears to be no free version of this software; however, you will need their included scanner to make it work. There’s currently a hefty discount off the usual price of $397, down to $117.  For this, you will receive the OBD/ECU diagnosis and remapping software bundle, with the ELM327 scanner, comprehensive manuals, and lifetime software updates. There’s a very generous 1-year money-back guarantee, should you not remain happy with the product. This OBD2 programming software works perfectly for Windows XP right up to Windows 10, but there is no support for Linux or Mac OS.

Researching customer reviews for Toad Pro reveals a consensus of high quality and great functionality. People are satisfied with the range and depth of the information they can monitor, and the simplicity of bundling everything you need to get started. One common complaint is that the software is too complicated and that some features are not easily accessible. The take-home message seems to be Toad Pro is for people who already know the basics of OBD.

Toad Pro is an excellent OBD2 software for windows which can reprogram your car ECU.
Toad Pro is an OBD2 software for laptop/pc capable of diagnosing error codes

Pros

  • Great value with scanner included
  • An extensive library of technical guides 
  • Toad Pro can read a vast array of data compared to some simpler options
  • Remapping/editing function included

Cons

  • Toad Pro does not support Dodge Ram, Jeep, Land Rover, Tesla
  • No Mac OS or Android version

Toad Pro comes with the ELM327 adapter included. It supports USB, Bluetooth, and WIFI connections for data transfer and mapping updates. You will need to specify which connection type you require when you order. 

You get a lot of software for your money with this bi-directional scan tool software for laptops. The price is remarkable when the ELM327 adapter comes as a part of the package and lifetime software updates. There’s so much functionality for such a low price tag.

Check Price
A video of Toad Pro

2. OBD Auto Doctor OBD2 ELM327 Software

Operating Systems: Mac, Windows, Linux

OBD Auto Doctor provides software that reads both generic and manufacturer-specific OBD trouble codes (DTCs). The software will clear the all-important Check Engine Light faults and contain a massive DTC database with more than 14000 DTCs. Emissions test data is supported, enabling the owner to resolve any issues before booking an expensive test appointment with their mechanic. 

There’s a free version, but the functionality is minimal. Even clearing the Check Engine Light faults isn’t supported. You need to buy a subscription for US$5/month or USD$20/year to access many useful features. Alternatively, 3 Price points are available for the Pro version; Express, Standard, and Business. They cost US$39.95, US$59.95, and US$119.95, respectively. It is a single, one-off payment, not an ongoing license agreement.

Hitting the web for customer reviews reveals some similar comments. For example, the software syncs to the ELM327 quickly and easily. It met people’s expectations in all cases, and they were able to reset errors, faults, and warnings easily and with no pain. Overall, people enjoy using OBD Auto Doctor, and it sounds like they have created a very user-friendly interface.

OBD Auto Doctor software is available for Mac OS, Windows, and Linux. (Windows 7 and later, Mac OSX10.12 or later, and any recent instance of Linux). It has the usual features we would expect, but you’ll need to buy the separate scanning hardware to access your data. There are lots of good-looking analytics features, including custom charts, graphs, and real-time monitoring displays.

If you are ready to pay for one of the full versions, this software looks great. Once you have it set up, it’s very usable, but there are issues about storing and sharing historical data, test results, and analytics. Overall, it’s a thumbs up.

Pros

  • Connects seamlessly
  • WiFi Dongle or Bluetooth connections are solid
  • There is a free version to get a flavor before you buy

Cons

  • Free version provides too few essential functions
  • No facility to upload info to a cloud service
  • Not entirely stable, with logon not possible unless scanner is connected

OBD Auto Doctor software requires a standard ELM327 adapter (Bluetooth or WIFI), which you buy separately. ELM327 Mini adapter is highly recommended.

Developer website: https://www.obdautodoctor.com/tour

Free Download: https://www.obdautodoctor.com/download

3. FORScan ELM327 Software

Operating System: Windows

FORScan is arguably more popular as an app than a computer-based software. Functionally, it’s just as good on a computer as it is on a smartphone. It allows you to read and erase DTCs from all available systems.

In addition to that, this software can display live sensor data, test status, and service procedures. Its most significant consideration comes in vehicle compatibility. Although it’s an OBD2 software, FORScan only works on Ford, Lincoln, Mazda, and Mercury vehicles.

FORScan is for DIYers and enthusiasts who need deep access to onboard systems. It offers significantly more than entry-level software.

Pros

  • Can read and clear engine codes. As already mentioned, a software that does that also allows you to reset the Check Engine Light.
  • Gives you access to codes from other systems like transmission, ABS and SRS. As such, you can use FORScan to reset warning lights for those systems
  • Displays live sensor data
  • Can display the status of onboard tests and also run test diagnostic procedures
  • Runs service procedures
  • Supports multiple hardware adapters, including ELM327, J2534, CANtieCAR, OBDLink EX/OBDLink MX+, and ELS27 (STN1170).

Cons

  • Not entirely compatible with all vehicle brands. Please check above for compatible makes
  • Doesn’t install on Mac or Linux computers

If you buy FORScan, the best USB adapter for it is the OHP ELM327 FORScan USB Adapter

Developer Website: https://forscan.org/index.html

Free Download: https://forscan.org/download.html

Read more: Best FORScan Adapters Review 2020

4. TouchScan OBD2 Software

Operating System: Windows

Touchscan is excellent for clearing your check engine light, reading trouble codes, and monitoring your car in real-time. You can design custom dashboards and graphs to display your data, and it has the all-important emissions readiness testing functions.

There is a free 2-week trial available, at the end of which you will need to pay. The standard version costs US$29.95, but there are add-ons available, discounted to around US$60 per vehicle manufacturer. Their Pro-addon costs US$24.95 and contains lots of more in-depth technical functions, including sensor calibration.

A popular feature is an integral database for trouble codes, so clearing faults is a straightforward process. They offer free updates, so there are no surprise charges for keeping your software up to date. Reports are that the customer service is very responsive and knowledgeable, and they typically respond promptly via email.

Along with the standard features, TouchScan OBD offers real-time tracking and display of all your sensor data displayed as a chart, which is much more comfortable to diagnose a fault. TouchScan is Windows only for versions; VistaSP2, Windows7, Windows8, Windows8.1, and Windows10.

This PC OBD2 software presents itself as a comprehensive package at a very reasonable price. It’s designed to be intuitive to use, and has excellent customer support should you encounter any problems.

Pros

  • Free 2-week trial
  • Cheap initial purchase cost
  • Comprehensive set of functions with the basic software

Cons

  • Manufacturer add-ons are expensive

Touchscan works with all standard ELM-327 adapters. My recommendation is the OBDLink EX.

Developer Website: https://www.obdsoftware.net/software/touchscan

Free trial: https://www.obdsoftware.net/software/touchscan/trial

5. EOBD Facile ELM327 Software

Operating Systems: Mac OS, Windows

Free Download: https://www.outilsobdfacile.com/software-eobd-facile-elm327.php

Another well presented diagnostic software tool with all the critical functions is EOBD Facile (EOBD is the European version of OBD2). With a built-in library of 11,000 error codes in the basic version of this software, you can quickly diagnose and clear faults. It supports almost all cars in Europe, but the more paid version has a range of more in-depth functions. There are too many to mention here, but there’s a complete list on their website.

There’s a free download with some essential functions, plus two other versions with extra features. The Basic package costs around €39.90 with the fully-featured Plus coming in at approximately €59.90.

If you already own a scanner, this software will work with it, so there’s no need to buy extra hardware. Customers enjoy using the application and find it intuitive, comparing it favorably with other software.

European customers should take a look at EOBD Facile. It has all the diagnostics and fault identification tools most people will need. Download the free version before buying to confirm that it functions well and reads all the codes and data you require. There are versions for Macbook OS X and Windows 7, 8.0, 8.1, & 10.

If you are in Europe or you service European marques, EOBD Facile is the right choice. It’s not expensive, and you can try it out for free in a trial version.

Pros

  • Free trial
  • Good Value
  • Works with your current scanner

Cons

  • Targeted at the Euro market
  • Some WiFi connection issues

All ELM 327 adapters are supported, along with EM320, 320 & 323. They recommend you buy their KlavKarr hardware, but any generic interfaces will work fine. I would buy OBDLink EX for Windows and BAFX Products for iOS if I were you.

OBD2 Free Software Full Version List

OBDwiz

Operating System: Windows

Free Download: https://www.obdsoftware.net/downloads/obdwiz

The people who develop TouchScan makes OBDwiz. As you would expect, the two are similar in functionality. OBDwiz can read and erase engine codes, test emissions readiness, monitor fuel economy, and display live sensor data.

Whether you want your data as text or graphs, this OBD2 software for Windows will deliver. Plus, it can record and save the data. That may come in handy when you need to analyze the data later on.

Like the TouchScan, this OBD2 software for Windows is most suitable for ordinary car owners. It’s simple enough and doesn’t cost a lot.

Pros

  • Works on ALL OBD2-compliant vehicles
  • Can read and erase engine codes. The software can reset the Check Engine Light
  • Offers real-time display of sensor data in text and graphical formats
  • Displays vehicle information; both VIN and calibration ID
  • Can monitors fuel economy and give statistical data,s including max, min and mean values
  • Dashboards are customizable
  • Free software updates for the life of the software

Cons

  • Only works with Windows systems
  • Not free
  • Does not support the diagnosis of other systems besides the engine

The most recommended USB adapter for OBDWiz is OBDLink SX

PCMSCAN

Operating System: Windows

Free Download: https://www.palmerperformance.com/downloads.php

PCMSCAN is a diagnostic software package that works on all OBD2-compliant vehicles. It is compatible with generic OBD2/ELM327 hardware interfaces.

This professional automotive diagnostic software can work with most versions of Windows, from Windows 95 to Windows 8. Unfortunately, there’s no version for Mac or Linux systems. Also, if your version of Windows is newer than Windows 8, there’s a chance this OBD2 software won’t be able to install.

Regardless, it features highly customizable dashboards & gauges, Drag Strip & Dyno, data logging, DTCs, etc.

Pros

  • Reads and clears engine trouble codes. As such, PCMSCAN can tell you why the Check Engine Light is on. And you can use it to reset the light.
  • Displays live sensor data from over 220 sensors
  • Supports data logging. You can record and playback diagnostic data. You can also print the data
  • Can display the status of monitored tests (both continuous and non-continuous tests)
  • Has built-in alert systems to notify you when a condition has been achieved. You can modify the terms to whatever you want. E.g., you can let the software inform you when a new code is recorded.
  • Drag Strip has a timer and countdown that measure launch and reaction times
  • Dyno measures the horsepower and torque of aftermarket parts

Cons

  • Only works on Windows OS
  • Doesn’t support the diagnosis of other systems besides the engine

Who is PCMSCAN made for?

PCMSCAN is designed for ordinary car owners. It’s simple to use and installs on almost all versions of Windows.

Read more: https://www.palmerperformance.com/products/pcmscan/index.php

Engine Check

Operating System: Windows

Free Version Request Form: https://www.enginecheck.co.uk/requestform.php

If you are in the market for an OBD2 software that can reset the Check Engine Light, then Engine Check is worth considering. Compatible with OBD2 vehicles, this software can display live engine data, freeze frame data, fuel system status, etc.

Pros

  • Reads and clears stored and pending engine codes. By doing so, Engine Check allows you to reset the Check Engine Light.
  • Provides code definitions to help you understand the code better and how to fix the problem
  • Displays live engine data either as text or in graphical format
  • Can read freeze frame data and fuel system status
  • Shows the status of onboard tests
  • Can save and print diagnostic data

Cons

  • Compatible with Windows PCs only
  • Doesn’t have professional-level diagnostic functions

Who is Engine Check made for?

Like most other OBD2 software on our list, Engine Check is designed for the ordinary car owner. Although it’s a premium product, you can try it for free.

Car Scanner ELM OBD2

Operating System: Windows

Free Download: https://www.carscanner.info/

Car Scanner ELM OBD2 is a free piece of software for reading and erasing engine DTCs. Codes come with definitions to help you understand the problem and how to fix it.

An OBD2 software for Windows, Car Scanner ELM has a highly customizable dashboard. It can read live data as well as freeze frame data. Besides, the software displays plenty of information like MPG, brake distance, speed timings, custom PIDs, etc.

Pros

  • Compatible with ALL OBD2-compliant vehicles
  • Reads and clears engine codes. Can reset the Check Engine Light.
  • Provides definitions.
  • Can display live sensor data in text and graphs
  • Monitors fuel economy and can tell you fuel rate in MPG
  • Gives performance data like brake distance, speed timing, and brake timing

Cons

  • No version for Mac or Linux
  • Offers only basic diagnostic functions

Who is Car Scanner ELM OBD2 made for?

This OBD2 free software full version is designed for ordinary car owners. It’s simple enough to understand and comes free of charge.

ScanMaster ELM237 Software

Operating System: Windows

Free Download: https://www.wgsoft.de/download/scanmaster-elm

Car Scanner ELM OBD2 is a free piece of software for reading and erasing engine DTCs. Codes come with definitions to help you understand the problem and how to fix it.

As an OBD2 software for Windows, Car Scanner ELM has a highly customizable dashboard. It can read live data as well as freeze frame data. Besides, the software displays plenty of information like MPG, brake distance, speed timings, custom PIDs, etc.

Pros

  • Compatible with OBD2-compliant vehicles
  • Designed to work correctly with ELM327 hardware interfaces
  • Can read and erase codes in all the primary systems, including engine, transmission, ABS, and powertrain
  • Shows status of I/M readiness
  • Monitors O2 sensors
  • Displays fuel economy parameters
  • Shows engine performance (horsepower)
  •  The dashboard can be customized for touchscreens

Cons

  • Comes with German as the default language
  • Only compatible with ELM327 diagnostic devices

Who is ScanMaster ELM made for?

The ScanMaster ELM is for enthusiasts and hobbyists. It packs an impressive range of features, including live data, DTCs, fuel economy parameters, engine performance gauges and many more.

Final Thoughts 

People’s requirements vary according to their circumstances, so the most effective options for a professional mechanic may be different from those of an experienced hobbyist or home tinkerer. Aside from a wide range of prices, this software niche varies significantly in the functions they include.

There’s considerable variation in the prices, licensing terms, update schedules, and other fees. The most expensive is not always the most suitable, however. Some products come bundled with scanners, cables, software, access to technical information libraries, and direct customer support.

Hope this article will help you decide which is the right OBD2 USB software package for you.

FAQs

Q. I am not a technical person. Will I be able to understand the laptop OBD2 software?

A. Some professional brands are aimed at trained technicians, but there are less complicated hobbyist versions. Some packages come with training and support through videos and online manuals. There is something to suit everybody.

Q. Will PC OBD2 software save me money?

A. Generally yes. You will make fewer trips to your mechanic.

Q. Can I reprogram my car’s ECU with OBD-2 software for PC, and is it legal?

A. Some brands of OBD-2 software allow for this, others can only clear faults. Toad Pro has this facility. Generally, you are required to inform your insurance company and update any DMV related documentation

Q. Can I measure performance with OBD-II software?

A. Yes, you can accurately assess your 0-60mph times and calculate your optimum fuel consumption. There are several performance-related analytics and diagnostics.

Q. Will my PC or Laptop run OBD2 diagnostic software?

A. As long as you have a recent version of Windows or OSX, then there will be a package for you. You need to confirm which version you require when you download.

Q. How do I install OBDII software on my computer?

A. The same way you install other software – you download it from the website then follow the installation instructions.

Q. Can I try the software for free?

A. In some cases, yes. For example, Toad Pro does not offer a free trial, but Touchscan and OBD Auto Doctor both do. You should check out their websites for details.

Q. Does it matter what car I own?

A. No, all recent cars are compatible with OBD2 diagnostic software. You may need a software add-on, depending on whether you are in Europe or the US.

Q. Where can I learn about OBD2 scanner software?

A. Some providers organize online training courses and offer technical libraries. There are lots of Youtube videos to watch for both beginners and experts. There are also large online communities of users, and plenty of forums if you need advice.

Q.  Will using OBD2 software invalidate my warranty?

A. This is a very important question. If your car is still under warranty, you need to check with your warranty plan provider.

Q. So which software should I buy?

A. This depends on your circumstance. For a professional setup try AutoEnginuity. If you are a novice, try one with a free trial, or a fee basic version. There is something for everyone.

Read more: 10 Best OBD2 Apps for Car Diagnostics 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]
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2 thoughts on “Best ELM327 OBD2 Software for Laptop/PC 2020 (Review and Guide)”

  1. It should be noted that the freeDiag software does not support ISO 15765-4 CAN, (SAE J2480), which is probably the most common protocol used with ELM327 adapters in modern, (2008+), cars.

  2. Even in 2020 there are still several motorbikes and ATV’s which are NOT OBD2 compliant like:

    Regal Raptor (Raptor, Daytona and Spider 350)
    AJP (PR7)
    Benelli (BN600)
    CFmoto (Terralander X8)
    Zongshen (RX3)
    Zhejiang (TR125)
    Hyosung (GT650RC)
    Scomadi scooters
    Riya scooters
    Quadro scooters
    and more…

    I wrote a new software (freeware) which can scan the Delphi MT05 ECU and which can be adapted also to other ECUs by editing an XML file.

    Detailed description and download here:
    https://netcult.ch/elmue/HUD%20ECU%20Hacker/

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