LAST UPDATED: February 10, 2018

The Best OBD2 Scanners (Review & Buying Guide) in 2020

Best Choice bafx bluetooth obdii BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII
Premium Pick autel mk808 Autel MaxiCOM MK808
Best Value The Best OBD2 Scanners (Review & Buying Guide) in 2020 OxGord OBD2 Scanner Code-Reader-Reset Tool

OBD2 scanners allow you to efficiently diagnosis and troubleshoot car problems. The biggest advantage of these scanners is that they use a standardized format, which makes them compatible with a large range of manufactures and models.

In this buying guide we share the top products available so that you don’t have to spend time on the research. Whether you’re a mechanic or a proactive car owner, investing in the best OBD2 scanner is a smart idea for the longevity of your vehicle.

The Best OBD2 Scanner

This ODB2 Bluetooth scanner is a solid purchase for those using the Android and Windows platforms. Keep in mind that those on the iOS platform will not be able to take advantage of the BAFX Products 34t5. This scanner guarantees compatibility with all USA consumer vehicles that were manufactured in 1996 and beyond. Furthermore, the durable design of this unit means it can take a beating in the tool bag and still function as designed.

In-depth diagnostics can be achieved as real-time info is provided. This can help you get to the root of a problem faster. Additionally, graphical data logging can be organized so that you can better understand the information that’s being recorded. A drawback of this product is that it cannot read ABS, SRS and TPMS codes. You need specialized tools to get access to this information. It’s recommended that the Torque Pro app is used in conjunction with this OBD2 Bluetooth scanner for optimal use. Overall, this scanning tool allows you to locate problems before they become serious and cause you more damage.

Key Features
  • Compatible with Windows and Android platforms
  • Works with all USA vehicles manufactured in 1996 and beyond
  • 2 year manufacturer warranty
Specification
  • Brand BAFX
  • Model 34t5
  • Weight 2.88 ounces

This ANCEL OBD2 Bluetooth scanner has a relatively large LCD display (128 x 64 pixels) that comes with contrast adjustment and white backlight.  The screen shows the code and its meaning, which is helpful because you will not need to search online for the meaning of the error code. The definition of the code is displayed once you click on the error code itself. One of the highlights of the ANCEL AD310 is that a comprehensive range of protocols are supported, which includes CAN, J1850 VPW, J1850 PWM, KWP2000 and ISO9141. This device can save you a trip to your local mechanic as you can detect faults by yourself. It’s a straightforward DIY kit that saves time and money.

For this Bluetooth OBD2 scanner to function the 16 Pin OBD2 protocol must be used, and a 12-volt vehicle battery must be used. Freeze frame and live feed data can be viewed so that detailed information can be gathered. It means you can get to the root of a problem in the minimum amount of time.

Key Features
  • Supports CAN, J1850 VPW, J1850 PWM, KWP2000 and ISO9141
  • 16 Pin OBD2 protocol
  • Large LCD display (128 x 64 pixels)
  • 12V vehicle battery
Specification
  • Brand ANCEL
  • Model AD310
  • Weight 12 ounces

This is one of the more expensive OBD2 Bluetooth scanners on the market, but for the cost you’re getting a lot of value and it has excellent functionality. BlueDriver makes use of a database with over 6.6 million fixes by using the manufacturer, model, year and error code. The free BlueDriver app is part of the appeal of this product, which makes problem diagnosis and troubleshooting a straightforward process.

This product is certified to work with Android and Apple devices. Furthermore, it’s compatible with all the major car manufacturers, which includes Volkswagen, Honda, BMW, Nissan, Toyota, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. The BlueDriver OBD2 scanner is a comprehensive tool that can help you figure out the problems that might be affecting your car. It saves you from making a trip to your mechanic every time there is a potential fault with your vehicle.

Another highlight of this product is the live data that can be shown as a graph. The experienced individual that understands the data can quickly figure out what problems are causing the error code. Furthermore, the data can be highly customized so that it’s viewed in a way you can interpret it best.

Key Features
  • Free BlueDriver app
  • Draws from database of over 6.6 million fixes
  • Apple and Android compatible
  • Live data
Specification
  • Brand BlueDriver
  • Model LSB2
  • Weight 1.6 ounces

FIXD designed a OBD2 Bluetooth scanner that’s compatible with vehicles manufactured in 1996 and beyond. It tells you why the engine light might be on in a way that’s understandable by the average driver. A FIXD app is available for download that allows for an efficient method of locating a problem and fixing it.

A two-to-three sentence definition of the error is given so that even the beginners among you will understand the problem. Furthermore, the impact on the car of each problem is given so that you can understand the severity. The cost of this scanner will pay for itself in the form of lower repair costs. By detecting potential problems early on you can get them fixed before they turn into more expensive problems. Furthermore, the app tells you the estimated cost of repairs for the detected problems.

A highlight of the FIXD scanner is the real time error detection, which means you’ll be notified of a problem as soon as it develops. Also, multiple vehicles can be tracked by linking the app with a number of devices at the same time.

Key Features
  • 2-3 sentence definition of the error
  • Compatible with all vehicles manufactured in 1996 and beyond
  • Estimates cost of repairs
Specification
  • Brand FIXD
  • Model 723120297388
  • Weight 0.96 ounces

The OxGord OBD2 Scanner Code-Reader-Reset Tool is designed to diagnose issues with U.S.-based cars, SUVs, trucks, or vans that are OBDII compliant and are model year 1996 and newer. The device weighs just 8.1 ounces and is comfortable to use due to its small size and two-button operation. It instantly turns on once you plug it into your vehicle and reads both clear generic and manufacturer error codes.

This scanner uses an OBDII Data Link Connector as a power source, so you don’t need to worry about batteries or a charger. The LCD screen reads 3,000 generic codes, clears troubled codes known as DTCs, and shuts off the check engine light. This unit is great for beginners because all you have to do is plug it in and cross reference the code with the user manual or look it up online.

In addition, this device can retrieve vehicle identification numbers (VINs) on vehicles that are model year 2002 and newer that have mode 9 support. Another great feature of this device is its affordable price.

Key Features
  • Lightweight
  • Two-button operation
  • No batteries or charger required
  • Retrieves VIN information
Specification
  • Brand OxGord
  • Model FBA_Master-MS300-Variation
  • Weight 8.1 ounces

The Autel MaxiCOM is a premier OBD2 Bluetooth scanner that has a number of highlights. The wireless 4.5 hours worth of use is convenient for professionals to use this unit in the field. It comes equipped with a clear seven-inch LCD screen, A9 processors and 32GB memory unit. Therefore, this scanner is able to store and process the data on the device without needing to use a PC or smartphone. The display has a touchscreen interface, which allows for the input of fast commands. This is handy when you need to execute a diagnostic of a problem in poor conditions fast.

The Autel MaxiCOM MK808 scanner can detect problems from US cars manufactured in 1996 and beyond and 2000+ for EU-based cars. What sets this OBD2 scanner apart is the comprehensive array of problems that it can diagnose. This includes brakes, the engine, oil-related problems and battery management. Furthermore, multi-language support has been added to aid those that do not have English as their first language. AUTEL has included a comprehensive 12-month warranty with free updates and support for a number of technical problems.

Key Features
  • 7 inch touchscreen LCD display
  • Comprehensive 12 month warranty
  • A9 processors and 32GB memory unit
  • 4.5 hour battery life
Specification
  • Brand AUTEL
  • Model MK808
  • Weight 5.65 pounds

KOBRA designed a competitive OBD2 scanner that has several positive points. It can read codes from all US cars manufactured 1996 to 2018 and help you figure out the problem behind an error code. It makes use of a 3,000 code definition database that helps you understand the meaning behind each code. It can be frustrating when the engine light turns on without any idea about the reason. This scanner helps you figure out the nature and severity of the problem. Additional information means you can better judge if there is a need to visit a mechanic.

Compatibility is great here as you can use Windows, Apple and Android-based devices. However, a WiFi signal must be used to make a connection. This model is an upgraded one based on the feedback of customers of previous versions. Also, a one-year, money-back guarantee is provided, which should give you peace of mind regarding the purchase.

The KOBRA wireless OBD2 car code reader can be combined with a number of apps, such as OBD Fusion, DashCommand and OBD Car Doctor. Choose the app that you like the most and use this scanner to be proactive about the health of your vehicle.

Key Features
  • 3000 code definition database
  • Compatible with US cars manufactured 1996 to 2018
  • 1 year money back guarantee
Specification
  • Brand KOBRA
  • Model OBD Scanner
  • Weight 3.04

Best OBD2 Scanner Buying Guide & FAQ

What is an OBD2 Scanner?

OBD2 (Onboard Diagnostics) make use of onboard car computers to diagnose the system and report any problems that might be present. It is a standardized system, which means it is used in cars and trucks around the world. This system was first developed by the California Air Resources Board regulations and then finalized by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The second iteration of the system has some significant advantages over the first, which is an improvement in the standardization of the connectors, code designations, and communication protocols. Therefore, a OBD2 scanner is able to access cars from a wide variety of manufacturers.

What Problems Can a OBD2 Scanner Detect?

A OBD2 scanner is able to detect the error code of your vehicle and tell you what the problem is. Additionally, more advanced versions are capable of scanning data to determine the problem. The extent of the functionality depends on the model. These scanners have the potential to scan data from every sensor on a car for a comprehensive report. The idea is to catch problems early so that they do not develop into more serious ones later on.

obd2 scanner

Types of OBD-II Scanners

There are two significant OBD2 scanner types that you should be aware of before buying one.

  1. OBD2 – scan tools: the more expensive type is the scan tools version, which has the setup to provide info about manufacturer specific codes, live and recorded data, and advanced troubleshooting information.
  2. OBD2 – code readers: this device can read and clear codes from a car that has an OBD2 system installed. However, the biggest drawback of this product type is the lack of manufacturer specific codes, and they cannot show more advanced data.

Furthermore, OBD2 scanner can be classified based on the format of the connection. There are 3 main types that are worth knowing about:

  1. Bluetooth scanners: this type of scanners operates by making use of your smartphone or tablet Bluetooth connectivity. Furthermore, your computer can act as an advanced scan tool that is able to diagnose and troubleshoots problems.
  2. PC based scanners: these types of scanners are able to make use of PC power in order to operate. They are able to diagnose and troubleshoot issues for your car.
  3. Hand-held scanners: this type of scanner is commonly used by the professionals and mechanics that need to work on cars in the field. They are able to detect problems for a wide array of systems, which includes brakes, transmission system, and the engine.

Key Factors To Consider When Purchasing an OBD2 Scanner

There are a number of key factors that must be considered when trying to get the best OBD2 scanner. Even if you have used these scanner before it helps to brush up on your knowledge of the different technical aspects of these devices.

  • Brand: When it comes to a product like a OBD2 scanner the quality of the brand is important. The most popular brands currently available include Actron, Autel USA, BAFX Products, Innova, Launch Tech, Lemur Motors and ScanTool. These brands have a proven track record of high-quality OBD2 scanners.
  • On screen info: The quality of the on screen information determines how effectively you can make use of the OBD2 scanner. Designs where the codes can clearly be seen on-screen with definitions are the most useful.
  • Live feed: In some instances a live feed is the most helpful type of information that you need to figure out a problem. Therefore, you should select a design where real time info is provided in a way that can readily be understood. The information provided should also be accurate as otherwise it might be difficult to get to the root of a problem.
  • Data storage: You should also consider the method of data storage that the ODB2 scanners make use of. For instance, if you’re a professional that needs to scan multiple cars in a single day, then an organized data storage format is a must.
  • App: The brands behind the scanners might provide an app that can be used in conjunction with the scanner. Using these apps you can monitor more than one vehicle at a time and learn about the definitions of each code. The array of features depends on the manufacturer, so pay attention to what’s included in the app before buying the OBD2 scanner.

OBD-II Codes

P0303 Code

Sources

  1. What Is an OBD-II Scanner? – LimeWire
  2.  OBD2 Scanners: Do’s and Don’ts of Using OBD2 Scanners – Total Car Diagnostics
  3. How To Choose The Best OBD2 Scanner Step By Step? – ZENTIZ