Best OBD2 Scanner Reviews & Compared in 2018

The best obd2 scanner system allows self-diagnosing and proper reporting on the status of your car’s various systems.

The OBD system has actually been around since the 1980s with early versions simply letting you know there was a problem with some kind of malfunction light. But for these early car instruments, it would still be up to a human hand to establish what and where the issue was.

The modern OBD uses a digital communications portal. These more advanced processes offer real time data as well as a series of standardized diagnostic trouble codes. This gives the vehicle owner and anyone working on the car the ability to quickly identify and remedy vehicle problems.

Our obd2 scanner reviews will be the stepping stone of deliberation for your research, helping you find a superior system with all the right features within range of your budget.

Our Top Recommended OBD2 Scanners

INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader with ABS and Battery Backup for OBD2 Vehicles
  • INNOVA 3100
  • Quick drive cycle verification and state emissions readiness check
  • Describes cause of “Check Engine” light on any vehicle built after 1996
  • Price: See Here!
Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus
  • INNOVA 3160
  • Advanced functions and features like airbag diagnostics and live data
  • Easy to use even for the most inexperienced
  • Price: See Here!
BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
  • Autel MaxiScan MS300
  • Excellent price for this easy-to-use unit
  • Can retrieve VIN numbers on 2002 and newer models if they support Mode 9.
  • Price: See Here!

Best OBD2 Scanner Reviews

1. INNOVA Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader

INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader with ABS and Battery Backup for OBD2 Vehicles


  • Find out right away the cause of the “Check Engine” light on any vehicle built after 1996.
  • When connected, this OBD2 refreshes every 30 seconds, meaning repair issues will be identified promptly.
  • The all-in-one LED screen allows quick drive cycle verification and state emissions readiness check.
  • This device will empower any vehicle owner, giving them greater control of maintenance before small issues become major problems.

  • Promotional material boasts the device’s ability to return real-time reports but doesn’t mention users have to pay for them.
  • It’s been reported that this OBD2 device will not read the majority of car systems regardless of make or model.
  • The screen has been known to die and release a smoky smell immediately after.
The INNOVA Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader has ABS and a battery backup for use with OBD2 vehicles. With this OBD II scanner on deck, you’ll never have to wonder what the “ABS” or “Check Engine” light means. Find out immediately. See if your car could pass an emissions test.

This INNOVA scan tool comes with the manufacturer’s unparalleled tech support from a staff of fully certified ASE technicians. Best of all, you’ll not only be able to read trouble codes in plain language, but – miracle of miracles! – you can use your personal device to turn the “Check Engine” light off. INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader with ABS and Battery Backup for OBD2 Vehicles

The INNOVA Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader is perfect for professionals and DIY-ers. Its advanced features provide high end solutions while its operational simplicity is an exceptional entry level tool, saving every user time and money. This web-based best car diagnostic scanner will let you accurately determine issues, assess repair costs and gauge difficulty levels.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer INNOVA
Product dimensions 12 x 8.5 x 2.5 inches
Item Weight 1 pound
Model number 3100

2. Actron Enhanced AutoScanner Plus

Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus


  • This updated auto diagnostic tool has Trilingual, CodeConnect, expanded ABS coverage and three million solutions to over 4.3 million verified fixes.
  • All fixes have been officially reported and verified by ASE certified technicians.
  • The device displays all nine global OBD II modes of data and has enhanced code definitions.
  • Advanced domestic ABS code coverage allows the reading and erasing of vehicle information you may not need.

  • The device is apparently useless for any vehicle built after 2010.
  • This scanner has been shipped with defective cords.
  • Professionals have said this product may be too complex for the DIY-er.

Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus
The Actron Enhanced AutoScanner Plus leads in OBD2 scanner reviews of the best OBD2 scanners. It’s compatible with vehicle models 1996 and newer, and OBD-II and CAN. The device has expanded ABS and Asian code coverage and plays back a data stream through screen graphing. Another exceptional features included in the Actron OBD2 scanner is custom data listing for live graph and data info. There’s freeze frame data, print data support, drive cycle mode and compatibility with trilingual functionality. There is optional battery power, a USB port for field updating and the ability to display generic OBD2 and manufacturer specific coding.

The Actron Enhanced AutoScanner Plus captures and analyzes data, effectively helping vehicle owners and professionals who work on vehicles prioritize troubleshooting. You’ll have access to probable solutions based on reported model-specific fixes through CodeConnect, a database of trouble codes and verified solutions for reasons why the check engine light might come on. There is also a range of other advanced features built into the AutoScanner Plus.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer Actron
Product dimensions 8 x 7.7 x 1.8 inches
Item Weight 1.3 pounds
Model number CP9580A

3. BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool

BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android


  • The BlueDriver Sensor and BlueDriver App are engineered to work exclusively with one another.
  • The use of this OBD2 scanner is simplified through the use of your personal device, giving you access to free app updates and more.
  • You can read and clear enhanced codes for the Ford, GM, Toyota, Chrysler and a continually growing library of models.
  • With this device, manage advanced test results, freeze framing, smog checks and live data.

  • Consumers have complained this scanner does not read all vehicles equipped with ODB2 ports.
  • The Bluetooth connectivity has been known to fail.
  • Owners of the device have contradicted the company’s claim that the app requires no purchases to fulfill its purpose.

BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android

Designed for use in conjunction with iPhone, iPad and Android devices, the BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool can read and clear trouble codes should that pesky check engine light comes on. The device has code definition, reported fixes and possible causes of issues. This Bluetooth OBD2 scan tool can read and confirm CEL codes for all makes and models.

Developed by professional engineers, the BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool is trusted by auto experts everywhere and has been thoroughly tested for licensing and certification for Android and Apple devices. Designed to be read as easily as a code reader but with a range of features associated with more expensive handheld scan tools, even the most complex procedure is controlled by your smartphone or tablet. This means portability, data saved, interactive graphing of live data and free updates of the app.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer Lemur Vehicle Monitors
Product dimensions 2.2 x 1.9 x 1 inches
Item Weight 2.4 ounces
Model number LSB2

4. Autel MaxiScan CAN Diagnostic Scan Tool for OBDII Vehicles

Autel MaxiScan MS300 OBD2 Scanner Code Reader, Turn Off Check Engine Light, Read/ Erase Fault Codes, Check Emission Monitor Status Diagnostic Scan Tool


  • The easy two button design makes reading and clearing data a snap.
  • The Autel scanner supports all CAN protocols and all other standard OBDII protocols.
  • The device works with any OBDII standard U.S., European and Asian vehicles manufactured post-1996.
  • This product can retrieve VIN numbers on 2002 and newer models if they support Mode 9.

  • Users have reported the product will recognize an issue but supplies no info about what that problem is.
  • Many post-1997 owners argue that, despite the manufacturer’s claim otherwise, this OBD scanner will not diagnose Hondas.
  • Looking for support, buyers have been told by Autel the company does not make this model.

The Autel MaxiScan CAN Diagnostic Scan Tool for OBDII Vehicles is a vehicle code reader that supports all OBD2 protocols with a focus on CAN procedures. Though compact, this is one of the best diagnostic scan tools for capturing the same information as any of its larger, more expensive counterparts. The device has a two button design with an integrated 16 pin OBD2 plug and requires no other cables. There’s an easy to read LCD back lit screen, DTC definitions and a multilingual menu. You can read and clear generic, pending and manufacturer unique codes on any domestic, European or Asian vehicle made in 1996 and beyond.

The MaxiScan will make maintenance and service on your car an easy task. The Autel MaxiScan CAN Diagnostic Scan Tool for OBDII Vehicles works with any OBD-II model built after 1997. It supports all CAN and OBD2 protocols. The device holds 7,000 trouble codes and descriptions, using manufacture specific diagnostic trouble codes to determine why the check engine light came on.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer Autel
Product dimensions 6.3 x 2 x 9.1 inches
Item Weight 8.8 ounces
Model number MS300

5. INNOVA 3160 with ABS/SRS Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles

INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool with ABS/SRS and Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles


  • This INNOVA scanner has advanced functions and features like airbag diagnostics and live data.
  • Even the most inexperienced user will find this tool an easy way of learning how to maintain and service their car.
  • The device interacts with all OBD2 procedures, displaying information on the LED display.
  • Perform fast state emissions readiness tests and verify drive cycle standards.

  • The device doesn’t necessarily cover as broad a range of models as advertised.
  • The product has died as a result of lack of use even after a change of batteries.
  • Consumers have complained the device’s information can be misleading.

The INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool with ABS/SRS and Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles is easily a best OBDII scanner for reading “Check Engine” warnings on domestic and foreign cars, SUVs, light trucks and minivans built in 1996 and beyond. This includes all CAN diagnostics, as well as the diagnosing of SRS and ABS codes on newer GM, Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Toyota models. It provides enhanced SAE views, records, graphs and plays back live PCM data streams. The unit can be updated via a USB connection and any Windows device.

The INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool with ABS/SRS and Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles delivers on its promise. Throughout our automotive scan tool reviews, the INNOVA 3160 consistently demonstrated how its ABS and CAN scanning allows the viewing, recording and playing back of live PCM data streams, giving you needed info for dealing with that unwanted “Check Engine” light. From its multi-language features to enhanced SAE live data, this device will quickly reveal the best ways to maintain your systems.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer INNOVA
Product dimensions 7 x 3 x 10 inches
Item Weight 2 pounds
Model number 3160

6. Actron CP9575 AutoScanner

Actron CP9670 Auto Scanner Trilingual OBD II


  • While managing sophisticated operations, the CP9575 is a tool easy to learn and operate with one hand.
  • The Actron auto scanner is compatible with all 1996 and thereafter vehicles with OBD II and CAN utility.
  • Prominent features allow for deep analysis of data, including snapshots of sensor readings from the vehicle’s central computer.
  • You’ll have access to Internet updates on coding, definitions and software, access to live engine data, and support in English, French and Spanish.

  • The device has been known to state what should be a viable post-1996 car is not compatible for coding.
  • Customers have complained the device is not layman friendly and read outs are difficult to understand.
  • The auto scanner does not come with a USB cable for managing updates.
If you want the best automotive diagnostic tool, take a close look at the Actron CP9575 AutoScanner. It’s a scan tool developed with professional grade production at a code reader price. It offers freeze frame data, live engine information, I/M monitoring, state OBD checks, and over 15,000 generic and manufacturer specific code definitions. The device has an easy to read display and can be operated with one hand. With the Actron CP9575, you can also use, a diagnostic repair site.

The Actron CP9575 AutoScanner has an easy to follow screen and a simple four button operation. Users will have access to 15,000 code definitions compatible with every 1996 and newer vehicle with OBD2 and CAN. Interact with and review data produced by your vehicle’s various diagnostic subsystems with ease, knowing exactly what’s going on at all times. With its portable size and ability to power itself, the unit can be taken and stored almost anywhere. Its function puts it high on any list of OBD2 scanner reviews.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer Actron
Product dimensions 10.3 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
Item Weight 11.2 ounces
Model number CP9575

ScanTool OBDLink LX Bluetooth: Professional Grade OBD-II Automotive Scan Tool for Windows and Android - DIY Car and Truck Data and Diagnostics


  • You can turn any Windows or Android device into a diagnostic and performance monitoring tool.
  • With its simple functionality, you can check diagnostic codes, make informed repair decisions and clear the check engine warning.
  • The BatterySaver tech puts the device to sleep so it can be left plugged in without draining the vehicle battery.
  • OBDLink has an advanced algorithm that allows connection to more compliant makes and models than any other auto diagnostic scanner.

  • The device has created drive-ability issues with certain cars after being connected to the scanner.
  • Trying to use this product has caused personal devices to lose their ability to pair.
  • Use of this item has resulted in ABS break and throttle failure, and other issues apparently caused by serial communication error.
The ScanTool OBDLink LX Bluetooth is a high end scan tool that can be run through various Android and Windows devices. This is a cost effective Bluetooth OBD2 scanner solution that produces four times faster than the competition.

With its ease of use, you’ll have the device ready to go in seconds. There’s hacker-resistant wireless security, compatibility with third party apps like DashCommand and Torque, and the ability for long term installation without draining the car’s battery.

ScanTool OBDLink LX Bluetooth: Professional Grade OBD-II Automotive Scan Tool for Windows and Android - DIY Car and Truck Data and Diagnostics

The ScanTool OBDLink LX Bluetooth lets you use any Windows or Android device to manage diagnostic operations on any OBD compliant vehicle produced after 1996. It’s a smart and affordable option with user friendly interfacing and a hacker-proof setup. This product is also the choice for anyone that wants access to proprietary GM and Ford vehicle networks.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer ScanTool
Product dimensions 1.8 x 0.9 x 2 inches
Item Weight 1.1 ounces
Model number 427201

8. Autel Maxidiag Elite Live Data Multifunctional Scan Tool

Autel Full System Scanner MD802 Maxidiag Elite OBD2 Diagnoses for ABS, SRS, Engine, Transmission,EPB, Oil Reset


  • The one button operation initiates auto-scanning and displays all modules on screen.
  • You can acquire live data graphing for the ECU.
  • It can shut off warning lights for many domestic, European and Asian vehicles.
  • You will be able to perform extensive vehicle system checks for electronic operations regarding the chassis, body, powertrain and more in 10 test modes.

  • Customers have received “new” devices that were already registered and no longer under warranty.
  • This scanner reportedly will not support any GM cars produced before 2013.
  • The product has been shipped without the promised SD card.
  • Tech support is reportedly unresponsive to customer requests.
Considered one of the best OBD2 scanners, the Autel Maxidiag Elite Full System and Live Data Multifunctional Scan Tool is an all-in-one solution for reading, diagnosing and clearing trouble codes coming from your engine, airbags, transmission and more. Find the cause of your ABS failures and manage them accordingly. The quick erase feature lets you clear codes with the push of a button and to turn off warning lights as needed. The device reads live data streams, supports 10 test modes based on the latest J1979 OBD II specs and can print data through your PC.

Getting the best diagnostic scanner means taking an objective look at the Autel Maxidiag Elite Full System and Live Data Multifunctional Scan Tool. It reads codes, erases codes, supplies freeze frame and offers live data. The device presents I/M readiness, vehicle information and component testing. There’s data graphing and a code tips technology guide for finding the root cause of trouble codes. Like all Autel scanners, expect a quality performance.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer Autel
Product dimensions 14.6 x 3.9 x 8.7 inches
Item Weight 3.9 pounds
Model number MD802

9. Launch OBD2 Scanner Diagnostic Scan Tool

Launch Creader VII+ OBD2 Scanner ABS SRS Transmission and Engine Code Reader Diagnostic Scan Tool


  • The device has a broad range of powerful features, including complete data stream display in wave form and historical data playback.
  • The code scanner supports several languages, including Spanish, English and French.
  • The OBD2 scanner reads and erases codes on A/T, ABS and SRS systems as well as supports EGN, and TCM.

  • Internet customers were surprised after contacting Launch customer support and learning the company does not sell its devices online.
  • There have been complaints that the product has a slow response time.
Launch’s OBD2 Scanner ABS SRS Transmission and Engine Code Reader Diagnostic Scan Tool has high end functions with the capacity to manage multiple systems: ENG, TCM, ABS and SRS. It supports DLC location hints, DTC help and data stream display in wave form. The device also provides historical data playback and recording.

Among the best OBD scanner features are a high definition diagnostic 3.5 inch LCD true color display, a 16 PIN OBD diagnostic connection and user friendly, full OBD functionality for maintaining systems in a broad range of vehicles.

The Launch OBD2 Scanner ABS SRS Transmission and Engine Code Reader Diagnostic Scan Tool is the most professional auto scanning tool a car owner will work with. Use it to track how your vehicle is performing and catch errors before they become expensive mistakes. It is definitely the best OBD2 scanner for the price.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer Launch
Product dimensions 9.2 x 7.8 x 1.7 inches
Item Weight 2.3 pounds
Model number 301050116

What is an OBD2 Scanner?

OBD2 scanner reviews
OBD2 scanner

An OBD2 scanner is a resource used to troubleshoot check engine and ABS warning lights.

The OBD II is a standardized on-board computer system installed in cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. The OBD2 scanner is an efficient and streamlined way to determine what’s wrong with a vehicle without a lot of physical investigation. The current OBD system has been required in every vehicle that’s come off an assembly line since 1996.

Unlike the initial OBD system, the OBD II system uses the same communication protocols, code designations and an uniformed connections across vehicle manufacturers. Uniformity means the best automotive diagnostic scanner will provide access to data through a general resource. This makes determining issues in auto systems a simple process as all manufacturers are using the same codes to recognize issues.

With a library of standard codes, even a novice can use an OBD2 scanner to see why their warning lights are on, empowering them to better manage their vehicles. The OBD II scanner gives professional mechanics the opportunity to approach a problem before having to take a vehicle apart. The OBD II system saves everyone incredible amounts of time and money that would have gone into finding issues before they could be solved.

Go through OBD2 scanner reviews, you’ll find the technology has made diagnostic scanners accessible for everyone. These devices basically consist of a module, a screen and utilize a cable to connect to a vehicle’s OBD II port under the dashboard. Now, any time an ABS or check engine light comes on, owners can use the scanner to read trouble codes related to the warning. The more sophisticated OBD2 diagnostic tool may tell you exactly what the issue is and how to solve it. Owners can also investigate online, entering the codes or using proprietary websites like the ones Ford and GM run to gauge the problem.

These devices can also use the OBD2 to see if a vehicle is ready for inspection readiness such as passing an emissions inspection.

The OBD system grew out of regulations established by the California Air Resources Board with specifications implemented by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

What problems can an OBD2 scanner discover in your car?

best OBD2 scanner for the moneyWhen you see that “Check Engine” or “ABS” light, you can run your car over to the shop or you can run a self-diagnosis with the best OBD2 scanner for the money. Here are some of the more common problems it can detect before you have serious problems.

  • Issues with Oxygen Sensors

Oxygen sensors monitor oxygen as it burns. Faulty sensors will not provide the data you need and your gas mileage will suffer.

  • Issues with the Gas Cap

A scanner will give you an error if vapors are leaking out the gas cap. This means the cap isn’t tight or it’s cracked. Vapors can disrupt the fuel system, increasing emissions and reducing mileage.

  • Issues with Wires and Spark Plugs

Plugs are going to fail, but if you don’t replace them in a timely manner you get that misfire where your vehicle’s acceleration jolts in short bursts. Replacement is an easy process and getting it done sooner than later ensures your engine stays at peak.

These are only a few of the issues an OBD2 scanner can help detect, saving you time and money.

What are the benefits of having an OBD2 scanner?

benefits of having an OBD2 scannerUsing a check engine light scanner, you will be supplied with codes based on issues that are affecting vehicle performance. Researching codes will be a lot easier than lifting the hood and trying to piece together answers.

One of the important aspects of your OBD II scanner will be can you view data. Depending on the depth of a scanner, you can get a device that can diagnose everything from engine load to water temperature, but you also want a product that has a freeze frame feature. This feature lets you capture data for later review. This is a great tool for verifying a problem should you bring the vehicle in, but your guy can’t find that clicking sound you complained about, even after a test drive. Captured data provides a starting point for figuring out what happened and what may need to be done.

Professional grade scan resources can also have graphics that allow techs to watch onscreen parameters while the engine runs. Some higher end consumer machines have the same capability, but you’ll need to have a computer or laptop and several hundred dollars for the scanner. There are also OBD II auto scanners that connect your computer or other personal device directly to the OBD system, letting you review data on the screen or print data.

Though there are relatively cheap versions that claim to have this capability, these tools can be disappointing in performance. If you really want the ability to capture, print or record scanned data, be ready to spend up to $150-$400.

Types of OBD2 Scanners

The OBD II system is broken down into codes derived from numbers and letters. Each character in the sequence relates to a general or model specific component of a vehicle. Combined, all the digits create a message that prompts a narrowed reading of what could be causing your check engine or ABS light to come on. To find and define these codes, you need a diagnostic code reader, but you also want the right type. Here are three of the most common devices and what makes them affordable, convenient and practical resources.

  • Basic Handheld OBD2 Scanners

Handheld OBD2 scanners are excellent products for consumers and on-the-go professionals. These devices are portable and, while they may not have the facility of the larger, higher grade tools used in shops, you can utilize handheld functionality that comes pretty close. If you have to spend a little more, remember being able to effectively read OBD code is going to be invaluable. You will know what operations your car needs immediately, saving time and money.

A device like the INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool is definitely at the high end of pricing, but it’s also one of the finest handheld code readers for cars you will ever find. It provides a level of info processing alongside a user friendliness that cuts well above the competition. It has a colorful display and lays out issues in comprehensive detail.

At the other end of the price spectrum that still promises a great return is the MaxiScan Diagnostic Scan Tool from Autel. It is repeatedly lauded among automotive diagnostic scanner reviews from mechanics both casual and professional. It can retrieve thousands of codes and provides a head start for dealing with vehicular issues.

  • Professional Handheld OBD2 Scanners

top OBD2 scannerProfessional grade code scanners for cars will be more expensive. If you’re working out of a shop or being paid to work on cars in your garage, the investment is definitely worth it. You want a quality tool that doesn’t merely pull up OBD codes. You may benefit from a device that breaks down the details and even provides a few resources for resolving the problem. You may also want a compact design for portability.
The ScanTool OBDLink MX certainly fits the bill. This check engine light code reader transforms a Windows or Android tablet or smartphone into an automotive scan tool using an app that’s compatible with a number of third party apps like DashCommand and Torque. The combo of the scanner and app accelerates processes up to 400 percent faster than the closest comparable product.
The user will appreciate there are no subscription fees or data plans, hidden costs or fees, or ads associated with the OBDLink. This is a top OBD2 scanner with Bluetooth. You will be able to use PC diagnostic software not available on an OBD2 only interface. With this solution in place, you can control windows, door locks and remotely start supported GM models.

  • Mobile OBD2 Scanners

A portable or mobile OBD2 code reader can be the same thing. The unique difference is portable devices have compact profiles. They’re usually small enough to be carried in a pocket or glove compartment. On the whole, they perform fast diagnosis and the right device will give you enough data to manage your OBD.

A mobile device is a product that can be carried with you, but it may not necessarily be compact. Generally, these devices will have a more complex production. Mechanics may use one around the shop or have one in the truck. The best professional automotive scan tool in this category will monitor sensors, speed, RPMs, power input and output, engine temperatures, fluids, transmission and more. They can have multiple dials and readings that likely may not make sense to the typical car owner.

The check engine code reader in this category could consist of an entire kit with an array of accessories that creates a comprehensive diagnostic system for the most demanding productions.

Overall, these mobile products can be expensive but are definitely worth it for anyone looking to make a living in the auto repair industry.

How to Use OBD2 Scanners?

The OBD II is a diagnostic monitoring system built into a vehicle’s PCM. It was designed to alert drivers and mechanics of issues with a vehicle’s operation using a library of codes related to emissions, transmissions, core temperatures and more.

In 1996, the original OBD system was replaced with the more sophisticated OBD II. Various bodies came together and designed an on-board diagnostic library of error codes that worked across all models and makes of vehicles. This meant an uniform system that didn’t require unique codes used by varying auto makers for basically the same operation.

The system is specific. There are potentially millions of code combinations that could be either generic or manufacturer specific. Not even the most experienced auto professional could track them. This is where an OBD2 scanner comes into play, saving everyone tremendous time. Once hooked up, the device will read through the OBD and find issues that need to be addressed and relaying that information on its screen.

Sample Code: P0305

The “P” refers to the powertrain. Other characters can include “B” (body), “C” (chassis) and “U” (network communication). The next character in the sequence (“0”) refers to the SAE. If that were a “1,” it would imply the issue is likely manufacturer specific. The next number relates to the affected subsystem – in this case a “3” for ignition problem or misfire – and the final two digits (“05”) indicate the exact problem. In this instance, a misfire in the fifth cylinder.

 the best OBD2 scannerAs complex as it sounds, the best OBD2 scanner simplifies the process, saving on the time it takes trying to find a glitch by going under the hood. The scanner also eliminates the possibility of not managing an issue. It is not unusual for an owner to take their vehicle in because of an issue they noticed, but the shop being unable to replicate the problem, even after a test drive or getting their hands dirty. The owner themselves can use a scanner to run a diagnostic and, if they have the right device, record code errors. This gives them something to show mechanics and providing a place to investigate.

The best automotive scan tool can have a broad range of features for effective monitoring of the OBD2. All any of them require is attaching the unit to the OBD through the connector under the dash. You turn the ignition key without starting the engine. Follow any required instructions which may include entering a VIN, make, model or engine type. If you have a professional grade model, you may be able to pair the device with more than one vehicle.

You will eventually get the option to check for trouble codes. Once you’ve made the selection, the device will go to work. What it returns will depend on the type of scanner. Some may only provide codes. Others may return detailed information about the code. Another unit could provide information on how to go about solving the problem. You can get a manual that lists the codes or hit the Internet.

Whether you go with the best OBD2 Bluetooth device or something that stands out in OBD2 scan tool reviews, trust that its use is going to be win-win.

OBD1 and OBD2 Scanners: Are They So Different?

Vector drawing of a help signOverall, gauging the differences between the original OBD and the OBD2 scanner is literally comparing apples to brain surgery.

At the tail end of the 20th century, it was determined there needed to be a significant shift in auto industry diagnostic development. It was decided there should be a cohesive system that provided commensurate results and allowed fast and reliable information for better management of vehicle issues.

The OBD1 became the foundation on which this new system would be built.

On-board Diagnostic: Original Version

The OBD1 uses the same basic principles as the OBD2, except it was designed for a specific purpose. This was to have a tool to test and manage the then hot button issue of emissions control. The idea was to apply a device to see if a vehicle could pass an emissions test. Only, more often than not, drivers either ignored the tech or vehicles that were tested beforehand did not pass anyway.

On-board Diagnostic: Next Generation

On-board Diagnostic

The OBD2 was initially designed to significantly improve on emission control testing. It succeeded, providing better messaging formats and signaling protocols. But on top of that, the new system came to incorporate standardized trouble codes that owners and shops could use to locate and correct all forms of engine problems. This meant an ever-evolving library of codes for troubleshooting almost any issue one might come across in any American, European or Asian vehicle.

  • Scanning

The OBD1 has its own line of scanners, but these products will only review the car’s emission systems. You connect it to the vehicle console and run it for a thorough diagnostic of protocols related to that system. The scanner will return information the owner can use to correct issues. Considering its single purpose, the OBD1 scanner performs well, returning exceptional diagnostic results.

As the features for emission control testing is incorporated in OBD2 devices, advancements in auto scanning technology has focused on improvement in scanners for the OBD2. This means an incredible range of options for the best scan tool for the money. We have access to devices that can perform diagnostics on any car manufactured post-1996 through potentially millions of codes.

  • Software

Unlike the OBD1 with its narrow purpose, the most relevant software is being designed for the OBD2. They are easy to install and use, in some cases making one’s personal device the scanning tool through Bluetooth.

  • Summary

OBD scan resources will always provide relevant data. Owners and mechanics will then have a basis for correcting issues whether its specifically for emission control or for the tranny. But the OBD2 device can serve the same purpose as the OBD1. If you own a car made in 1996 or younger, you really want a scanner for the OBD2 as the OBD1 will not be able to perform the functionality that you need.

OBD1 tech has had little movement over the last two decades. Not surprisingly, finding an OBD1 device is going to require a little digging on the shopper’s part. As stated, vendors are selling OBD1 scanners and attributing OBD2 tech to them, so browse with care.

The advent of OBD2 options continues to expand, including offering the convenience of Bluetooth, print outs and freeze frame. For today’s car owner, the OBD2 code reader should be the focus if you’re on the prowl for the best car scanner.

Bluetooth OBD2 Scanners

best OBD2 scannerHere is a list of the top 10 reasons why, if you’re in the market for an OBD2 scanner, you want Bluetooth with the best OBD2 scanner.

  • Wireless connectivity.

A Bluetooth scanner removes the need for wires and other cumbersome accessories. This can be a benefit if a lot of your operations are mobile. You’ll no longer have worry about having cables every time you want to perform a diagnostic test. Best of all, a Bluetooth device will free you up. You won’t be relegated to sitting in the car or standing close to the vehicle’s driver’s seat.

  • Affordability.

The tech has become so common, it’s extremely cost effective. The incorporation of Bluetooth no longer costs what it might have even a few years ago. While the best Bluetooth car reader may still cost a little more, the trade off in convenience is worth it.

  • Full automation.

Bluetooth doesn’t require the user have a lot of background in tech. Typically, the pairing will occur simply by being within a few and up to 30 feet of the target.

  • Significant compatibility.

With its standardized wirelessness, Bluetooth’s exceptional level of compatibility is almost guaranteed. Devices will find and connect to each other, even if they aren’t from the same manufacturer or model.

  • Minimized interference.

Bluetooth can intuitively avoid interfering with other wireless devices. It uses both frequency hopping (transmitting signals by rapidly switching frequency channels) and low grade wireless signals.

  • Low consumption of power.

The tech absorbs very little energy because of its use of low power signals. As a result, expect it to use less electrical and battery power. This will be good for your mobile devices as a Bluetooth auto scanner will not diminish the battery output.

  • Sharing information and voice.

It is common for Bluetooth devices to share information via compatible devices. If you’re using a personal device, Bluetooth will let you quickly distribute code and troubleshooting information.

  • A personal network.

In most cases, you are not limited to how many devices you can connect to with Bluetooth. This will save a lot of time if you’re quickly moving from vehicle to vehicle performing diagnostics.Bluetooth original icon

  • Bluetooth is easily upgraded.

Upgrading Bluetooth is not only standard, it’s easy. In many cases, thanks to its wireless connection, upgrades can often be done in the background. And even as the tech advanced, the new benefits have never replaced the old ones, making backward compatibility a seamless transition.

  • The technology is not going anywhere.

Bluetooth is becoming the norm for communication between computers, people, printers, televisions and much, much more. It’s being used to open garage doors, turn on lights in the house and quickly scan OBD2s. Bluetooth is worldwide and you can bet it’s going to be the standard in tech advancement for some time. Expect card reader manufacturers to create more and more products that are Bluetooth compliant.

Points to Consider When You Buy an OBD2 Scanner

OBD2 scannerThe first step in choosing an OBD2 scanner is deciding how you want to use it. A basic device can still be the best auto scanner your money can buy if all you want to do is read engine codes and erase them in order to get that pesky ABS or Check Light off your dashboard. If you want to determine how simple the operation of a scanner, look at the interface. The fewer buttons there are, the easier to use – and probably less expensive – the unit will be.

Take note that low cost devices are more likely to have compatibility issues. They will lack proven features as well as lack of access to common models. They may not have the programming you need to cover the right protocols for your vehicle. Before buying a cheap auto scanner, find your vehicle’s specific protocols by checking the label located under the hood. You can also talk to the guy that regularly works on your vehicle before buying an inexpensive device.

Higher end units will require more coin, but you can expect them to have more functions and less possibility of incompatibility. If you want a scanner that excels, you want features like the ability to diagnose airbag and anti-lock brake systems. On-screen definitions will be beneficial as opposed to just getting the codes. Consider the advantages of being able to freeze and print data. You may want live data, being able to view engine sensors and performance in real time even as you drive. You want a device that utilizes resources that are easily updated. Vehicle protocols are constantly changing and you always want access to the latest information when performing your diagnostics.

Among other attributes you want in a good OBD2 scanner is memory for saving data for later viewing, graphing, sharing or printing. There are some devices that can retrieve and display VIN information which will be useful on vehicles which have been rebuilt or the VIN has been tampered with.

The last step before buying your auto scanner is to spend a little time on our site going through an extensive compilation of OBD2 scanner reviews, info about the best OBD2 software and how to make informed decisions about your purchase.

OBD2 Scanner FAQ

To help you find the most efficient OBD2 auto reader, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about these devices.

What does the “Check Engine” light really mean?

The check engine and ABS light will come on when the OBD2 system has detected a malfunction in your engine’s operation. That light will stay on until the car’s computer system believes the issue has been rectified. The warning could mean something easily remedied, such as a cracked gas cap allowing the leakage of vapors or it could signal a serious issue to address like problems with the transmission.

What is the OBD II?

In 1996, an uniform computer interface resource was released for new cars and has been in place ever since. Through the OBD, you can use a scanner to perform diagnostics on a vehicle and return standardized coding that will determine what could be wrong with the vehicle without spending a lot of time under the car or hood.

What exactly will an OBD2 scanner do?

The diversity of code coverage can be complex, let alone weaning through compatibility issues. An OBD2 scanner will research and compile any and all aspects related to your specific vehicle and provide the information you need to manage any issues regarding temperature, fuel, pressure, pistons and pretty much any other aspect of the engine.

Besides OBD2 and diagnoses, what else can I do to ensure my vehicle runs well?

Maintain your vehicle by closely following the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. Turn off the engine before gassing up and always see that the cap is secure and tight. You’ll save money as gas won’t evaporate and you’ll protect the environment by halting the release of vapors into the air. Here’s a great video for a few more tips.

Can an OBD2 system be damaged, modified, repaired or deactivated?

In general, any component related to the OBD2 should not be tampered with as any modification changes the certified configuration to a non-compliant configuration. Changing, deactivating or overriding the system in any way is actually a Federal offense. Should the OBD2 become damaged, it can be repaired, but the work requires the return to its original state using qualified and appropriate aftermarket parts or certified performance chips.


best obd2 scannersWe’ve given you a lot to think about regarding car instruments.

Code reading scanners help owners have smarter conversations about their vehicles. These devices give professional mechanics a starting place for managing engine problems. Using codes, they minimize the investigation required before actual work can be done. OBD2 scanners are easy-to-use and powerful tools that will save when you’re stranded on the side of the road or in a dank parking lot. The best obd2 scanners keep you on the road, and give you the chance to keep personal devices powered. And if there is ever a problem with your vehicle power, try getting some of the best jump starters in advance!
We believe what we’ve compiled is a great start to finding the car instruments you need to improve your driving experiences.