A car scanning tool could be one of the best investments you make, whether you are a car fanatic, a professional mechanic, or someone who likes to tinker with their car and doesn’t want to pay expensive diagnostic fees at the local mechanic. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the best diagnostic tools for your car. In fact, the tool usually pays for itself after the first time it is used.
With an OBD (on-board-diagnostics) code reader, car owners can figure out what’s wrong with their car’s different parts and systems, such as the suspension, engine, airbag, and anti-lock braking system.
For your car to run as it should, each of these systems needs to work as well as it can. With a car code reader, you can find out how the car is doing and if it is safe to drive. In short, having an OBD will make sure that you don’t have to pay a lot to fix your car.
Any basic car diagnostic tool can read error codes like SRS, Check Engine Light, and Management Light. For higher-end models with more features, you may need more advanced diagnostic tools. There are a lot of diagnostic tools on the market, and they come with different features and cost levels. It might be hard for you to choose the right one.
1. Innova CarScan Pro 5210
+ A lot of info
+ Big Screen
+ How to fix things
– A short wire
Most other diagnostic tools can’t tell you as much about your car as the scanner can. The 2.8-inch colour screen on the CarScan Pro 5210 from Innova is very bright. Because the screen is long and narrow, you can see more information about your car, such as live data, fault codes, and a pre-inspection check.
There are LED lights that light up red if there is a problem that won’t go away, yellow if the problem comes and goes, and green if there are no problems with your car. The Pro 5210 has a Bluetooth connection that lets you link it to your phone or tablet. It does more than just show the usual error codes. You also get to use the free Repair Solutions2 app from Innova.
With its 9-key interface, this is one of the easiest OBDII scanners to use. But the CarScan Pro 5210’s cable is only 27 inches long. The size of the tool makes it feel big, especially when compared to the Ediag YA-201, which is lighter and smaller.
The price of the Innova CarScan Pro 5210 is high, but the features it comes with more than make up for it. If you want to know what’s really wrong with your car, you should get this.
2. Ancel BD310
Good tool for figuring out what’s wrong with a car. This is a twofer.
+ An extra wireless car screen
+ Portable scanner or one that can be used with a phone
+ It’s small and light.
– A simple user interface
The Ancel BD310 is one of the best tools for figuring out what’s wrong with a car. It works well as a hand-held scanner and can be linked to your tablet or phone through Bluetooth. The tool has a nice big screen that makes it easier to figure out what’s wrong with your car. The tool comes with an extra display that can be added to the car’s dashboard. Think of this as scanning the engine’s key parameters.
The BD310 is only 5.1 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches and weighs only 0.6 ounces. It weighs 5.4 ounces and can fit in the glove box of your car. The 2-inch colour screen is made up of icons and is a little small, but it’s easy to figure out. This is true whether you want I/M inspection readiness test or performance details like engine timing, coolant temperature, and engine speed.
Graphs or numbers can also be used to show the numbers. It is easy to hang over the hood because it has a 56-inch cable. You can try to figure out what’s wrong with the engine while you keep an eye on it. The BD310, on the other hand, only has a simple four-key interface. This makes it very hard to get around. The mode button on the side lets you choose between wired operation and Bluetooth.
3. Autel AutoLink AL539
This is the OBDII scanner that we recommend and that a lot of people buy.
+ It has a stand.
+ Tests of batteries
+ Includes electrical multimeter
– You have to charge batteries.
– You can’t use an OBD scanner and an electrical metre at the same time
The AutoLink AL539 from Autel is a popular OBDII scanner because it has a lot of extra features that other OBDII scanners don’t have. For example, it has a built-in multimeter that can be used to check electrical connections and find burned-out cables or annoying electrical shorts. It’s important to know that the multimeter doesn’t work with the OBDII scanner. It doesn’t work with anything else.
The AL539 multimeter has connectors for checking voltage, current, and even if there is a break in the wire. The lithium-ion battery is used to check the voltage of the alternator, the fuses, and the gas gauge. The tool doesn’t show live information like the temperature of the coolant, the speed of the engine, and other things. But it can quickly run a full readiness key before an inspection.
The LED lights show three kinds of results: red for permanent problems, yellow for temporary problems, and green for no problems. Even though it has rubber bumpers, the AutoLink AL539 from Autel is pretty small and light. The device is about 10.6 ounces and is about 6.7 by 3.6 by 1.4 inches.
The diagnostic tool has a unique leg that can be pulled out and used to make it stand up. It also comes with a long 58-inch cable and a 2.8-inch colour screen that is easy to see. There are icons on the screen for most of the most important functions, and the 8-key interface is easy to understand.
4. ThinkOBD 100
It’s a cheap, small scanner that’s great for fixing cars quickly.
+ Light and small
+ Live data are shown
– 4 keys to press
– A small TV
The ThinkOBD 100 scanner is small and doesn’t cost a lot of money. It weighs 5.6 ounces and is great for making repairs on the side of the road, diagnosing problems quickly, and running tests before an inspection. But the scanner doesn’t have enough depth to explain more complicated car problems.
It’s small enough to fit in any car’s glove box. If you want to update the firmware, it comes with a handy USB cable. But the scanner’s screen is only 1.8 inches, which is smaller than most of its rivals. It’s not as easy to hold as it should be, and it doesn’t show information as well as it should. On the home screen, there are simple links for Setup, Help, Lookup, and Diagnose. On top, there are also four yellow circles that don’t do anything.
The simple four-button keypad is the only way to interact with the scanner. In addition to showing fault codes, the ThinkOBD 100 shows the spark advance, engine speed, and other live car data. But the information can go on for more than 38 pages, which can get very annoying very quickly.
To turn off the check engine light, you can easily figure out what’s wrong. To find out what the error or fault is, you may have to manually type the code into the device’s lookup section. The ThinkOBD 100 scanner doesn’t offer many ways to fix problems or explain what’s wrong. This makes it the second-best tool for diagnosing problems with cars.
5. Jethax OBD2 Scanner
It is one of the simplest scanners to use to fix things on the side of the road.
+ Small and easy to carry
+ Simple to put in the OBD port
+ It has a light built in.
– No status LEDs
– The Bluetooth range is great
One of the easiest OBDII scanners to use and take off is the Jethax OBD2 Scanner. It has an LED flashlight built in to light up the diagnostic port on the car. The device has ribbed sides that make it easy to pull out. The tool is only slightly bigger than Autel’s MaxiAP AP200. It is 1.8 by 1.7 by 0.8 inches.
But, at 0.7 ounces, it is lighter. The device only has one red LED that is always on. The scanner can connect to an iPad, iPhone, or Android through Bluetooth 4.0. The tool doesn’t have an app, but the QR code on the box lets you open several diagnostic apps, like Torque Lite.
When you connect the OBDII scanner to the OBD port and then to your phone, you can see live data. Along with fault codes and automotive gauges, the system can run a set of acceleration tests.
It has a Bluetooth range of 28 feet, which is about the same as other scanners. The best thing about this car diagnostic tool is that it only costs $30. It tells you what’s going on inside the car and is easy to plug in.
6. Topdon ArtiLink 500
It is a universal scanner with codes for each manufacturer that the user can look up.
+ Manufacturer specific codes
+ Big screen
+ Light on OBD plug
The Topdon ArtiLink 500 has built-in manufacturer codes that make it useful for many different things. But it doesn’t have enough general information about how to fix things. The OBD scanner costs half as much as a professional scanner but has most of the same features.
The ArtLink 500 is big and bulky, and it weighs about 10.2 ounces. It comes with a 54-inch cable with a lighted plug that makes it easy to connect. Using the USB cable that comes with the scanner, you can update it. The ArtiLink 500 has a 2.8-inch colour screen that shows a lot of fault codes.
It also gives you a pre-inspection readiness report that helps you figure out what the error codes mean. There is an 8-key interface, which is less efficient and lets you choose from common categories. The Topdon ArtiLink 500 can show you real-time information about your car and let you graph it.
The OBD scanner has all the basic codes that are unique to the car’s maker. This lets it do more than just use generic codes. After you plug it in, you should be able to find the problem without much trouble. The check engine light is easy to turn off. But the ArtiLink 500 doesn’t give the same advice on how to fix things as other scanners do.
7. ThinkDriver Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner
If you keep the app up to date, this scanner is easy to use.
+ Maintenance functions
+ This software is great.
+ The sides have soft grips
– App comes at a cost
– Needs to be turned on
It’s easy to plug in and take out the ThinkDriver Bluetooth OBDII scanner. It emphasises taking care of the vehicle. Even though it’s easy to use, the ThinkDriver Bluetooth OBDII scanner takes a long time to start up. You would need to verify your email, set up an account, and activate your hardware. You will also have to regularly update both the firmware and the app.
When you first use it, you should plan to spend 20 minutes on it. If you don’t update the app, you won’t be able to get any information about cars. But it’s worth the wait because the ThinkDriver is more thorough and detailed than its competitors.
The dark interface will show you everything you need to know, like live car data, fault codes, a full Health Report, and an I/M readiness test before an inspection. The ThinkDriver Bluetooth OBDII scanner has one of the few apps that can quickly reset the maintenance light for things like replacing the EGR valve or changing the oil.
This scanner has soft grips that make it easy to put it in place and take it out. With a Bluetooth range of 30 feet, the scanner can connect quickly to any Apple or Android device.
The fact that the ThinkDriver app doesn’t work like other free software is one of its biggest problems. It’s good for about a year, after which you’d have to pay $15 per car. People who like to change their own engine oil should still buy the scanner.
8. SeekOne SK860
+ Guarantee for life
+ Big colour display
+ Rugged design
– Large and heavy
The SeekOne SK860 is a winner because it can do many things, has a big colour screen, and comes with a lifetime warranty. One of the best OBDII scanners on the market is this one. The scanner is 7.8 inches long, 3.8 inches wide, and 1.2 inches tall, and it costs around $100. It weighs 11.2 ounces, which can make it feel heavy and big in your hands. You don’t have to be careful with the SK860 because it is built to last and has soft rubber bumpers.
It has a colour screen that’s 2.8 inches wide and a cord that’s 58 inches long. The eight buttons and icon-based interface make it much easier to use than most low-cost scanners. The scanner has an I/M pre-inspection readiness key with only one button. The lights flash green (no fault codes), yellow (problems that come and go), and red (major problems) (permanent-problem codes).
The scanner shows live data, readings from the oxygen sensor, the speed of the engine, and the temperature of the coolant. It can find the problem quickly and turn off the check engine light.
9. Launch CR529 OBD2 Scanner
We recommend this scanner because it is a good deal.
+ 2 years of guarantee
+ Lifetime updates
+ Rugged design
– Not quick enough
– Heavy and big
The Launch CR529 OBDII scanner is almost as good as a professional scanner because it is easy to use, built to last, and can get updates for life. The best part is that you can get it for a low price. It measures 6.5 by 3.8 by 1.2 inches and weighs only 10.5 ounces. The scanner, on the other hand, is bigger and heavier, which can be a problem when you’re trying to fix something.
The case of the CR529 is ribbed to protect it if it gets dropped. The tool has a 2.8-inch colour screen that shows everything from the status of the oxygen sensor to engine misfires, as well as fault codes and real-time data from the car. Anything can be printed using the USB port. But the explanations on the CR529 OBDII scanner aren’t as good as those on other scanners.
The scanner has a layout of 8 keys, and one of them is for a pre-inspection readiness test. The scanner has LED lights that light up green when the sweep is clean, yellow when there are temporary problems, and red when there are permanent problems. A 43-inch cable can be used to connect to any port quickly.
10. Nexpeak OBD2 NX501
It is an easy-to-use scanner that can read both generic fault codes and codes that are specific to a certain manufacturer.
+ A bright show
+ Guarantee for life
– Heavy and big
One of the bigger and heavier car scanners on the market is the Nexpeak NX501. But the features go beyond the usual car checks. For example, the software can be updated for free for life, and the OBD cable is 5 feet long. The NX501 is tough and comfortable to use because it has soft rubber bumpers.
The NX501 looks at the oxygen sensor and the battery and figures out what many generic and manufacturer-specific fault codes mean. At 2.8 inches, the screen is big and bright. It has a lot of different coloured icons for different things. With colourful fever graphs, you can see everything from how hot the coolant is to how fast the engine is going.
It’s easy to switch between scanning tasks with the tool’s 8-key navigation. The NX501 is one of the most popular OBDII scanners because it has a padded case, a long OBD cable, and free software updates for life.
11. FOXWELL NT301 OBDII Diagnostic Code Reader
With this diagnostic code reader, you can quickly figure out what’s wrong with the car.
+ Error code definitions
+ Diagnostic code reader
+ System for early warning
– There’s no power button
– Software isn’t easy to use.
Foxwell has been making OBDII scanners for cars for more than 9 years. One of their best-known products is NT301. The code reader is made to help you quickly understand your car. It also tells you what each error code means so you can figure out what the problem is. The best part is that you can easily erase or reset the codes when you’re done fixing the car, if you want to.
The diagnostic code reader has a great early warning system that can help people find possible problems or dangers in their car before they get out of hand. It comes with the standard green, yellow, and red LED lights that show what’s going on with your car.
On the scanner, you can see live data from the car’s sensors in both graph and text form, so you can spot problems before they get worse. The scanner has features for basic maintenance and technical features. With the improved model, you can check the fuel trim, the EGR valves, and the O2 sensors.
It’s easy to use and doesn’t need batteries, a tablet, or a smartphone. When running a diagnostic, you don’t have to worry about being cut off. You just have to plug in the scanner, and it will do the diagnostic right away.
Foxwell’s code readers have used the NT301 to test thousands of OBD-compatible cars, hybrids, and light-duty trucks to improve performance and compatibility. The Foxwell NT301 makes it easy to print diagnostic data that your mechanic can use as a guide when he or she works on your car. You don’t have to pay extra to run the diagnostic on its own.
The tool can also automatically decode and get the VIN. The scanner can save PIDs, which makes it easier to figure out what’s wrong with each car. You wouldn’t be disappointed with the NT301, whether you use it at work or at home.
But there are some big problems with it. Since it doesn’t have a power button, you have to plug it into your car or computer to get it to work.