When your vehicle is running rough or if the check engine light comes on, your first thought may be to make an appointment at your local auto shop so you can get the problem fixed. Having an OBD2 (Onboard Diagnostics-2) scanner creates an alternate scenario where, instead of looking elsewhere for help, you can rely on the scan tool to understand what’s wrong with your car. You can take the appropriate steps to fix the problem and then use the scanner to clear the error code.
Bluetooth technology makes these car scanners much more user-friendly. The scanner can transmit data wirelessly to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Therefore, you can leave the scanner plugged in and diagnose issues even when you’re on the road. The best part is that you don’t have to be an automotive expert to use these tools. Most of the models can be used by the average car owner — instead of giving a technical description, they describe the severity of the issue and highlight consequences if you continue to drive. So if you‘re looking for one of these handy devices, then you came to the right place.
The Best OBD2 Bluetooth Scanners
Built for both DIYers and professionals in mind, the Innova 5210 Bluetooth CarScan is an entry-level OBD2 diagnostic tool that diagnoses trouble codes and lets you know how to fix them. With this scan tool, you don’t have to worry about coming up short when diagnosing check engine warnings, ABS brakes, emission levels, battery, and charging systems. Plus, it has a 2.8-inch color display that shows more than 20 pieces of real-time data such as speed, RPM, and oil temperature.
The unit also features freeze-frame data, which is like a snapshot that displays all vital information on your car’s overall health from when a trouble code is triggered. It’s designed with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology so you can gain access to Innova’s cloud-based databases or vehicle-manufacturer data. Therefore, you can access verified fixes from professional technicians and apply them to your vehicle. Also, you can pair it with RepairSolutions2, which is a free mobile app that gives a comprehensive diagnosis and suggests fixes. Having fixed the problem, this scan tool lets you clear engine trouble codes. Plus, it supports English, French, and Spanish.
Just to be safe, we suggest checking the complete list of vehicles it’s compatible with to ensure it can work with your vehicle. It may not be compatible with some hybrid and foreign models.
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology
- Pairs with RepairSolutions2 mobile app
- Easy to use hotkeys
- Brand Innova
- Model 5210
- Weight 0.8 pounds
Offers a comprehensive diagnosis of most of your vehicle’s systems
Provides a snapshot of your vehicle’s overall health
Displays multiple pieces of information at the same time
Provides real-time data
Not compatible with some hybrid and foreign models
Can be glitchy at times
Nexpeak offers a compact OBD-II Bluetooth scanner that’s compatible with a wide variety of vehicles. It can work with American, European, and Asian cars or light trucks manufactured in and after 1996. Its standout feature is an on/off button so you can simply switch it off instead of unplugging it when you don’t need to use it.
This scanning tool can read and clear both generic and manufacturer-specific trouble codes. It also displays current sensor data relating to coolant temperature, engine RPM, oxygen sensor voltages, air flow rate, intake manifold pressure, fuel system status, vehicle speed, and more. You can access all this information by downloading the Torque app on your device.
However, it’s only compatible with Android or Windows devices. Also, it doesn’t come with a dedicated app and requires a third-party app such as Torque.
- Displays real-time graphics
- Reads and clears diagnostic trouble codes
- On/off button
- Brand Nexpeak
- Model NX-100
- Weight 0.14 pounds
Records multiple parameters
Can monitor fuel consumption
Measures the overall operating performance of your vehicle
Only compatible with Android and Windows devices
Doesn’t come with a dedicated app
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. Furthermore, the data can be highly customized so that it’s viewed in a way you can interpret it best.
What the device misses out on is an efficient way of storing recorded data. Most of the live data readings are lost when it goes into sleep mode or when the engine is turned off. Furthermore, it doesn’t support Windows devices.
- Free BlueDriver app
- Draws from a database of over 6.6 million fixes
- Apple- and Android-compatible
- Brand BlueDrover
- Model LSB2
- Weight 0.1 pounds
Compatible with most car makes and models
Certified to function with current versions of iOS and Android devices
Provides accurate reports and fixes
Fast processing speed and with optimal efficiency
Data readings aren’t saved in sleep mode
Doesn’t support Windows devices
FIXD designed an 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. Furthermore, the app tells you the estimated cost of repairs for the detected problems. A highlight of the FIXD scanner is real-time error detection, which means you’ll be notified of a problem as soon as it develops. Also, multiple vehicles can be monitored by linking the app with many devices at the same time.
Regrettably, the unit doesn’t work with all types of vehicles, including diesel or electric vehicles. Also, it doesn’t diagnose all types of trouble codes, including ABS, airbag, stability control, and transmission cooling codes.
- Two-to-three sentence definition of the error
- Compatible with all vehicles manufactured in 1996 and beyond
- Estimates cost of repairs
- Brand FIXD
- Model B013RIQMEO
- Weight 0.06 pounds
Can track your car’s maintenance schedule
Provides recommendations for maintenance
Breaks down problems into understandable terms
Can be used to clear dashboard lights
Doesn’t work with electric or diesel-engine vehicles
Doesn’t diagnose all trouble codes
This BAFX Products Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool is a reasonably priced, Bluetooth-enabled scanner that’s easy to use. It is compatible with all 1996 and newer, US-based vehicles. You can link it to either a Windows laptop or an Android smartphone so you can get real-time information on your diagnostic sensors, as long as you have your laptop or smartphone with you. It’s compatible with a variety of third-party apps such as Torque Pro, Dash Command, Piston, and more. You only need to find an app that has your vehicle’s make and model included.
This scan tool lets you monitor the oxygen readings, fuel pressure, speed, RPM, engine oil temperature, and the evaporative (EVAP) emission control system. It lets you read both generic and manufacturer codes and even displays their meaning. You can also use it to reset or clear check engine lights.
However, you should note that this is a no-frills scanner, so it will not give you access to diagnostic codes that are typical of high-end scan tools. Therefore, it will not read oil change lights, ABS brakes, or SRS warning codes.
- Compatible with Windows and Android platforms
- Works with all USA vehicles manufactured in 1996 and beyond
- Brand BAFX
- Model 34T5
- Weight 0.18 pounds
Easy to use
Compatible with multiple makes and models
Can be plugged in at all times without battery drain
Not for IOS devices
Doesn’t read oil change lights, ABS brakes, or SRS codes
Connect the Veepeak OBD2 Bluetooth Scan Tool to any third-party OBD-II App on your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, and you can enjoy instant trouble code reading and clearing. It’s compatible with Dash Command, OBD Car Doctor, OBDFusion, Torque, and more. The unit works with 1996 and newer cars, SUVs, light trucks, and minivans sold in the United States.
Besides reading engine trouble codes, it provides real-time performance monitoring of parameters like oxygen sensor voltages, air flow rate, coolant temperature, speed, and more. It displays simple and straightforward definitions of trouble codes and provides a freeze-frame or snapshot of real-time data. You can also use it to monitor your fuel economy or to check whether your vehicle is ready for emission testing.
The main caveat of this scan tool is that it doesn’t come with a companion app like most wireless scan tools on the market. Therefore, it misses out on custom-made app features that make the user experience even better.
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- Reads and resets engine codes
- Provides freeze frame data
- Brand Veepeak
- Model OBDCheck BLE+
- Weight 0.15 pounds
Comes with a mini carrying case
Straightforward trouble code reading
Monitors fuel usage
Consumes minimal power
Doesn’t have a companion app
Does not have WiFi
If you are familiar with the Autel MK808, then you may be interested in its mini-version, the Autel AP200, which is more cost-effective and space-efficient. It offers most of the diagnostic functions as the larger tablet, including emissions tests, check engine light diagnosis, oxygen sensor test, EVAP system test, and more. You can also use it to check your vehicle’s emissions so you can pass your smog test.
After diagnosis, it transmits graphical live data of your car’s health to your iOS or Android device and also offers solutions. After fixing the problem, you can use the device to reset or erase trouble codes as well as to turn off check engine lights. You can also leave it plugged in to receive data on diagnostic tests on specific components or systems. The unit works with almost all 1996 and newer OBD2-compliant vehicles.
However, it may not be a cost-efficient option for professional or commercial use since the app only supports one vehicle for free. If you would like to add a second vehicle, you would have to make an in-app purchase to include it.
- Compact wireless scanner
- Compatible with Android and iOS Devices
- Brand Autel
- Model AP200
- Weight 0.07 pounds
Provides advanced functionalities such as oil reset
App comes with free lifetime updates
Maintains a record of previously tested vehicles
Provides instant live data on your device
App only supports one vehicle for free
Vehicle cover can only be extended via in-app purchases
Best OBD2 Bluetooth Scanners Buying Guide
At one time, OBD2 scanning technology was only available to professional automotive mechanics. You had to spend time and money dragging your vehicle down to the repair shop to check the state of your car whenever a trouble code came up and you had no idea how to clear it.
In today’s world, Bluetooth or wireless OBD2 scanners have made things easier for drivers — you can diagnose and fix problems in the comfort of your garage. You can also rely on your smartphone or laptop to gain more information on the trouble codes that come up through mobile apps tailored for your OBD2 scanner. However, you shouldn’t just buy any Bluetooth scanner on the market. First, read our buying guide for an in-depth analysis of OBD2 Bluetooth scanners so you can know what to look for.
Do You Need an OBD2 Bluetooth Scanner?
Do You Need an OBD2 Bluetooth Scanner?
A Bluetooth scanner can help you better understand your vehicle’s systems since the data processing is fast and you can get real-time data in no time. Plus, they can easily connect to Android, iOS, and Windows devices so it takes away the hassle of having to deal with wires.
Additionally, vehicles manufactured from 1996 and beyond have OBD-II ports. Therefore, a wireless OBD2 scanner becomes a vital tool for a professional mechanic — you can buy one wireless scanner and use it on multiple vehicles.
Also, if you have an older vehicle, you can benefit from having an OBD2 Bluetooth scanner since it can help you test your emissions before you have to take the smog check. If your emissions are beyond the recommended level, you can remedy the situation and get your vehicle in tip-top shape in good time.
Here are a few more benefits:
- Save yourself costly trips to the mechanic every time the check engine light comes on.
- Some models can correct anomalies by sending commands to the specific car system.
- It lets you troubleshoot a wide range of issues with your vehicle.
- It helps you learn more about your car’s systems and components.
Different Kinds of OBD2 Bluetooth Scanners
There are two significant OBD2 scanner types that you should be aware of before buying one.
A code reader is a no-frills device that only reads and clears trouble codes. It provides an easy and quick way of diagnosing what’s wrong with your car. Anyone can use a code reader, as it gives a brief and non-technical description of the problem. However, since the information provided is minimal, you have to do more research by looking up the code and possible fixes.
These devices are cost-effective, but the trade-off is that they can’t access all types of data from your vehicle. For example, a few models may not have access to the ABS brake system or airbag control unit.
Professional-Grade Scan Tools
Professional-grade scan tools are designed to provide more comprehensive data than code readers. They not only display the meaning of error codes, but can also record the data and provide access to a large database where you can get solutions to fix the problem. Also, scan tools can read both generic and manufacturer-specific codes.
Furthermore, these scan tools let you monitor your car systems in real-time. Some models have a few self-correct functions so they can resolve a few issues with your vehicle even without you having to do anything.
The Most Important Features of OBD2 Bluetooth Scanners
Many key factors must be considered when trying to get the best OBD2 scanner. Even if you have used these scanners before, it helps to brush up on your knowledge of the different technical aspects of these devices.
Vehicle & App Compatibility
While most OBD2 scanners have a standardized system that’s compatible with popular car brands such as Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, and Ford, it’s prudent to ensure that the scanner is compatible with your vehicle. Hybrid, electric, and foreign vehicles are often left out of the compatibility list so if you have any of these vehicles, you may want to dig deeper and find a scanner that’s designed for your vehicle.
Another thing to note is the app compatibility. While a majority of these scanning tools come with companion apps such as the BlueDriver app, there are a few options that only work with third-party apps such as Torque, OBD Car Doctor Pro, or OBDLink. Prioritize devices that come with companion apps since it gives you total control of the scanner and a complete program of diagnostic options.
Live Data Scanning
Receiving accurate live data on your vehicle’s systems can be a helpful way of getting vital information on your vehicle’s performance. It lets you understand how well your car is doing and you can use the information to come up with a maintenance schedule. You can also use live data to pinpoint a few car issues such as why your vehicle isn’t fuel-efficient.
Ideally, you should choose a scanning tool that gives a detailed analysis of how your vehicle is operating with graphical representations that are easy to interpret. A device that can store the recorded data for future reference is also a bonus.
Before you purchase any Bluetooth scanner, you have to look into the number of functions it provides to tell if it’s worth the money. Scanners that offer more functions beyond basic diagnostic trouble code reading and clearing are usually more expensive. If you are a professional mechanic, then you need a more advanced unit that lets you read other controls like the transmission, airbag unit, ABS brakes, and more.
Also, many vehicle manufacturers include specific trouble codes that can only be read with an advanced scanner. The more affordable, entry-level scanners can only read generic trouble codes, so you have to consider spending more money if you would like to access more information from your vehicle.
Best OBD2 Bluetooth Scanner FAQs
From the above buying guide, it’s clear that there’s a lot to consider in terms of features and functions when it comes to purchasing the right diagnostics tool for your vehicle. If you still aren’t confident about picking the right OBD2 Bluetooth scanner, read some of the answers we have provided to a few common questions asked by buyers to gain deeper insight into the topic.
Q: What kind of problems can an OBD2 scanner diagnose?
Besides check engine light codes, the latest OBD2 scanners can diagnose a variety of trouble codes, including ones triggered by oxygen sensors, airflow circuits, camshaft misalignment, airbags, oil pressure, intake and exhaust valves, and more.
Q: Will an OBD2 Bluetooth scanner drain my car’s battery?
Some scanning tools will drain the battery after you turn off the engine. To be on the safe side, unplug the scanner every time you shut down your vehicle.
Q: How can I tell that my vehicle is OBD2 supported?
If your vehicle was manufactured in 1996 or later, then it’s most likely OBD2-compliant. You can locate the OBD2 port on the dashboard beneath the steering wheel column.
Q: Is an OBD-II Bluetooth scanner safe for my car?
OBD-II scanners can run multiple system-specific tests and programs on your vehicle without causing any sort of damage, even when left plugged in. The only threat it may have to your vehicle is draining the battery when left plugged in and the engine is switched off.
Q: Can you use more than one OBD-II device in your car?
Every vehicle has only one OBD-II port, so you can only connect one scanning tool at a time.
Our Top Pick
The Innova 5210 Bluetooth CarScan sits at the top of our list because it is a professional-grade scanning tool that can even be used by the average DIYer. It provides more than 20 pieces of information at once, including live data. It also provides freeze-frame data so you can use the information for future reference.
If the Innova 5210 Bluetooth CarScan is a bit over your budget, you can also consider the Nexpeak Bluetooth OBDII Scanner if you have an Android or Windows device. It’s a universal code reader, meaning it can read both generic and manufacturer-specific codes. It’s also compatible with a wide variety of vehicles so it’s a great choice if you run a small auto shop.