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One of the most dreaded experiences of a car owner is the small “ding” and the new light appearing when an alert light comes on their vehicle’s dashboard. Some lights may be simple to understand, such as “bulb out” or “door ajar”. Other lights, though, can have many different meanings not explained by just the presence of the light itself. These lights require the best OBD2 scanner.
The best OBD2 Scanner is a tool necessary in any home mechanic or car enthusiast’s collection, but it is also extremely useful to regular drivers. Having the ability to read the codes behind the lights appearing on the car’s dash is a comfort for any car owner.
OBD2 Scanners come in many different varieties. It is important to research what type of scanner to use before purchasing one to ensure it will work with the vehicle it will be used for. Some OBD scanners only work for certain years of cars or even certain makes of vehicles. When thinking through these details, it becomes clear that some options available may not be the best OBD2 scanner for the job.
It is also important to look at the features of the scanner when searching for the best OBD2 scanner to purchase. A simple scanner will read a code of letters and numbers that can later be researched to show what the problem is while some of the best OBD2 scanner types will display the problem in clear and simple language. Some scanners may even display the severity of the problem along with how to fix it.
Some OBD2 scanners can save data and graph a vehicle’s history in its system. Other systems can erase the codes that are causing the light even if the problem has not yet been solved. This is nice for when a small problem arises that does not need tobe fixed, but the vehicle owner does not want the light to stay on.
There are many models and levels of OBD2 scanners available. In the following article, we will look into different models of the tool. We will evaluate the different scanners based on price, ease of use, compatibility, capability, user-friendliness, design quality, portability, and pros and cons. With this information we will help to uncover the best OBD2 scanner.
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool
The BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool is the first tool we will review while searching for the best OBD2 scanner. This device is a unique and easy-to-use scanner. It works by plugging a small piece into the vehicle and then this small device sends the code information through Bluetooth to an app on the user’s smartphone. It can be used with any Apple or Android device.
This scanner reads codes from the check engine light, ABS, airbags, and more. It can erase codes and record live data. The interactive smartphone app allows for many extra features. Included in these features is interactive data mapping, which provides information on the given codes in simple to understand language, and even provides possible solutions for the presented problems.
These features make this product a front-runner while we are looking for the best OBD2 scanner.
The price of this scanner is very low compared to other scanners on the market. It is available on Amazon for around $100.
Ease of Use *****
This OBD2 scanner is extremely easy to use. Smartphone owners already know how to work the phones that they own and many of these same owners are extremely comfortable installing and working applications on their device. Because of the app feature, users of this scanner can access its capabilities without learning how to use a new device.
It is also simple to use because the codes are converted into easy-to-understand language. The random letter and number combinations provided by many scanners do not have to be researched with this tool. The problems are presented clearly and solutions are shown simply on a smartphone screen.
It reads many types of codes, making it the only scanner needed for the vehicle owner.
The compatibility of this device can be divided into two sections.
When looking at the usability of the smartphone application, this scanner is extremely compatible. It works with both Apple and Android platforms. It runs through Bluetooth so having a specific cord is not an issue.
When looking at the types of cars that this scanner works with, it is not quite as compatible. It works with many makes and models of cars and a vast variety of vehicle years, but it is reported to not work well with non-American cars. If the vehicle being diagnosed is not an American-made vehicle, this may not be the best OBD2 scanner to choose.
This device is extremely capable for the average user. A typical vehicle owner will be able to use this device to read any code and diagnose problems that their vehicle is showing. It can record live data and erase codes, making it usable slightly past the normal use of an OBD2 scanner.
This device may not be as capable for a mechanic in a shop. More expensive scanners will provide more detail about potential issues and will be able to store more vehicle data than this particular model.
With that being said, this may not be the most capable or the best OBD2 scanner for an employee in a mechanic shop, but with its low price and many features it is still a very useful device for the average scan tool user.
This scanner is as user friendly as it is possible to be. It displays information on the user’s own smartphone and gives access to information that many scanners cannot provide all in one small tool.
Design Quality *****
The BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool has a great design. It is small and fits right into the OBD scan port. The application for smartphones is easy to use and beautifully designed as well.
This device is as portable as devices can get. It is small enough to be easily stored inside of the vehicle and its information can be accessed anywhere through the user’s smartphone.
- Easy to understand readings
- Smartphone application
- Does not work well with non-American cars
- Needs smartphone and Bluetooth connection
- Fewer features than more expensive scan tools
INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool
The INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool is another affordable option for an OBD2 scanner. It has a small device that plugs into the OBD port of the vehicle. This device is connected by a short cord to a handheld device. This handheld device has a large display screen to show the information that the scanner reads.
The display screen is brightly lit and easy to read. It shows a large amount of information at once. The scanner works with any type of vehicle made after 1996. It reads check engine lights along with ABS and SRS codes. It also has the capability to erase read codes from the vehicle’s dashboard.
A unique feature of this scanner is its ability to check the vehicle’s charging system. It can check the ability of a car’s battery and alternator, which can be extremely helpful when trying to discover why a vehicle will not start.
This scan tool is also extremely affordable and can be found for around $105.
Ease of Use ****
This OBD2 scanner is easy to use with its large display screen. It shows large amounts of information directly on the tool. It displays more information than just the letter and number code, presenting users with the actual problem in easy-to-understand language.
This scan tool is extremely compatible, as it can be used on any make or model of vehicle newer than 1996. Vehicles older than 1996 require an OBD1 scanner instead of an OBD2 scanner.
The INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool is capable of being used by most vehicle owners. It may lack features that are provided by larger and more expensive scanners, causing it to not be the best fit for workers in mechanic shops. At home users will receive all the help they need from this small tool.
This scan tool is very user friendly. It is easy to use with a simple plug in and an easy-to-read and brightly lit screen. The only thing that may make it less user-friendly is that it is a new device to learn how to operate instead of hooking up with an already familiar device like a smartphone.
Design Quality *****
The design quality of the INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool is great. Its screen has good customer reviews and it is small enough to be portable.
This device has a small design, making its portability great. It is easy to store inside of a vehicle so it is accessible when needed most. The design of the screen also has great customer feedback.
- Easy to use screen
- Battery and alternator checking capability
- No smartphone app
- Fewer options than more expensive models
Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Scanner Diagnostic Scan Tool
The Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Scanner Diagnostic Scan Tool is a complex device with many unique features, the first of which is a huge touchscreen display. This device is like a tablet for vehicle troubleshooting. It has rubber handles for ease of use and safety of the device. It has an OBD2 cable plug to read codes on vehicles. It has a slot for an SD card for storing data. It even has a USB port so that the device can be hooked up to a printer to print off scan results.
When the tablet is turned on it will be in diagnostic mode, but this can be turned off and the device can be used like a tablet. It has wireless internet so it can be used to look up car information. This can be used in many ways, like to search for solutions after reading a vehicle’s problem codes.
One high-tech feature of this product is VIN auto-detect. This application on the scan tool can automatically read what vehicle the OBD2 cord is connected to without the user having to manually enter the VIN.
When the OBD2 cord is connected, many options appear on the screen to read including the oil reset light, electronic parking brake, tire pressure monitoring system, battery monitoring system, brake bleed, diesel particulate filter, immobilizer keys, injectors, steering angle sensor, electronic suspension systems, throttles, windows, doors and roof, seats, odometer, language change, and even the headlamps. With a capability list like this, there is not much that this scan tool cannot do.
The scan tool also has an app called MaxiFix. With this application, methods to fix vehicle problems for specific codes are given and the user can even connect to a forum of other users to see how the problem has been fixed by others in real life.
This product is much more expensive with its many features than other types of OBD2 scanners. It can be found for around $500.
Ease of Use ***
This scanner has many features all in one device, but this does take away from its ease-of-use. This is a high-tech tool that will take most vehicle owners some time to learn.
The Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Scanner Diagnostic Scan Tool is very compatible. It can be used with any vehicle 1996 and newer. The type of vehicle can be read with the automatic VIN detection or manually submitted so that the correct codes for the car type are shown.
As shown by its many features, this scan tool is about as capable as it could get.
This tool is user-friendly and completes many tasks, but may have an overwhelming amount of information to learn when it is first being used.
Design Quality *****
This product has a great design from its large screen and rubber edged outside to its multitude of features inside.
While this device is larger than other types of OBD2 scanners, it is still small enough to allow it to be portable. It can be kept in a vehicle and used when needed fairly easily.
- Has many useful features
- Great design
- Compatible with all newer vehicles
- May be a lot to learn at first
Launch CRP129 Code Reader OBDII Scanner Scan Diagnostic
The Launch CRP129 Code Reader OBDII Scanner Scan Diagnostic is a high functioning OBD2 scanner for a middle ground price. It is able to clear check engine codes along with ABS, SRS, and Transmission codes. It is able to erase codes from a vehicle’s dashboard as well. It is able to read more data than other OBD2 scanners in these areas, like the electronic parking brake, oil service light, and steering wheel sensor.
The scan tool works on all types and makes of vehicles made after 1996. It requires a software installation so the first time it is used it can take longer than a normal code read time.
This product has a mid-range price and can be found for about $200.
Ease of Use ***
This scan tool is easy to use in the way that it displays information on its screen. It does not have a smartphone app however, and its software installation takes away from its ease-of-use as well.
This device is very capable as it reads codes from any type of car made after 1996 and can read deeper into codes than other types of OBD2 scanners.
The Launch CRP129 is user friendly and has many great customer reviews, but its software installation can be inconvenient and more challenging than necessary.
Design Quality ****
This tool has an attractive and easy-to-use design, though it is small so the print on the screen may be more difficult to read than other options available on the market.
This device’s small size makes it portable. It can stay in a vehicle so it can be used anywhere.
- Median price
- Reads codes on all makes of cars
- Reads deeper into codes than other scanners
- Needs software installation
- Small screen
- No smartphone application
Best OBD2 Scanner – Conclusion
After looking through each of these scanners and comparing them on a basis of price, ease of use, capability, user-friendliness, design quality, portability, and pros and cons, we can see a clear winner for the best OBD2 scanner: the BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD2 scanner.
It is easy to use with a smartphone app, shows detailed information in an easy to understand way, and allows users to erase codes and store data. It is found at an affordable price and can be easily used by vehicle owners across the country. It is small and extremely portable, and the application on the user’s smartphone allows information to be viewed over Bluetooth instead of having to sit next to a device attached to the vehicle itself.
The BlueDrive Bluetooth Professional Scanner stands out as the best OBD2 scanner on the market today. After our research and considering its capabilities, we believe it deserves 5 out of 5 stars.