Having an OBD II scanner on hand in the garage is one of the easiest most reliable diagnostic tools you can find. Finding the best OBD II scanner for the money can be a little tricky because there are so many models to choose from.
The best way to narrow down the field is to get more specific about the scanner you are looking for.
For some people “bluetooth” capabilities are very important for other people the features are more important and for others yet their budget plays a key role in what is going to be best for them.
The OBD II Scanners are a great helpful tool and well worth the purchase.
What is an OBD II Scanner?
OBD2 auto scanner is a compact lightweight relatively cost effective device that is used as a reliable diagnostic tool. They have easy to use software and are designed for consistent monitoring. They alert to malfunctions in real time.
This is a must have tool in professional shops and a really great option for personal use as well. These portable scanners are the preferential tool for most garages because they are compact, easy to carry, easy to read and inexpensive when you compare them to other like tools.
The only minor flaw with using the OBDII scanners is that without being connected to a laptop or desktop just codes are displayed which of course requires that you take the time to look up their meanings. Of course just using a standard PC or laptop will expose you to far more information.
They are very easy to use and do not really require any specialized training. The codes can be a bit to get used to but they are easy enough to look up the Bluetooth models make things a lot easier because the information is sent right to a smart phone which allows you to decipher the codes without having to take any additional steps.
Overall this a tool that you find in every single professional setting and as they have become far more affordable they are popping up in all the home garages as well. In most cases you can grab a reliable reader for less than you will pay for the shop to do the diagnosing for you.
Whether you are a professional mechanic or someone that just enjoys tinkering with their car and OBD II Scanner is a must.
How to Narrow Things Down
The very first thing you want to think about is how much do you want to spend?
While most are very affordable there can be a great deal in price difference. The more features you can get for the price the better, in a lot of cases more does not necessarily mean a better value but in this case it does.
You want to get as much bang for your buck as you can. Largely it depends on what you plan on using the OBD II Scanner for as to how much you should pay for one. If you are a pro than obviously investing more makes sense if you are an amateur or you just want to see what is happening with your car you should keep your budget in mind when you are shopping for a scanner.
It can be a hassle to skip around and read the reviews to find the best model to meet all of your needs so we took the liberty of putting together some reviews of the ones we thought offered the best value.
Bluetooth OBD II Scanner
Bluetooth capabilities make things even easier, if you can imagine that. These readers are made to work with both Android and Apple phones which really makes deciphering the codes so much easier. They are highly reliable and very easy to use, you can get complete reports without having to worry about hooking up to a PC or a laptop, all the data is sent right to your phone where you can easily access it.
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
This scanner was developed by professional engineers for professional use which means that it is crafted with durability in mind. It offers the most wanted features including free specific repair reports. This would be a great option for the small shop owner that wants the ability to diagnose and cut down on paperwork as well.
Of course it is also a great option for the amateur that does not want to have to worry about setting up a scanner on their PC or their laptop.
BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool for Android Devices
This device works with all American made vehicles dating back to 1996 and most vehicles in other countries as well. This OBD II scanner is made exclusively for use with Android phones and windows based products. It offers some great features that help to diagnose and clear codes. It is an affordable option for anyone that has an Android phone. The only drawback with this model is that it is not really compatible with Apple products and there is no way to make it compatible (like downloading a patch or software).
Wireless OBD2 OBD II Car Diagnostic Scanner Adapter
A great tool for any driver that wants to be able to keep an eye on the good health of their vehicle. You plug it in and the system is constantly monitored with information sent right to your phone. This model works great with all Apple products and Android products.
This would be an excellent choice for any car/light duty truck owner that likes to stay informed. It can prove to be a useful tool for any vehicle owner.
TOP 5 Best OBDII Scanners for the Money
Of course not everyone needs or want Bluetooth capabilities and they are more concerned with getting the most bang for their buck. Here are some great models that offer a great deal of value for a very small price.
Autel MaxiScan MS300 CAN Diagnostic Scan Tool for OBDII Vehicles
Very inexpensive yet really durable model. It does not offer a ton of bells and whistles or extra features but it gets the job done and it is literally a lot less than you would pay for even one trip to the mechanic to have them do it. It offers a catalog of 7000 diagnostic codes an easy 2 button design, compact size and an easy to read LED screen.
It is a great value for anyone that is budget conscious.
Ancel AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner
This model is a little more expensive than the Autel Maxiscan but you get a lot more features so it really evens out in the end. This model would be ideal for the professional shop and would easily pay for itself with the first diagnostic test fees charged.
It has a nice long cable that is well made and durable. No need to worry about batteries it is self-powered by the vehicle that you are hooked up to. it offers a nice big read out display, easy four button operation and a tremendous library of information. It supports 8 languages which is nice to have feature.
OBD MATE OBDII OM123 Car Vehicle Code Reader Auto Diagnostic Scan Tool
This is a great value. Price wise it is right in line with the Ancel but feature wise it really stands alone. It offers a wide range of features and an even wider range of vehicles that it is compatible with. Reads the hard memory and historic codes as well as pending information. It works well with all European, American and Asian cars manufactured after 2000.
It offers the latest protocols, it is sleek, portable and built too last.
Blusmart Diagnostic Scan Tool Memo Scanner Live Data Code Reader
This is a reliable affordable option that will provide you with reliable information that will easily help to diagnose codes and help you to easily clear out old codes. It offers 10 language settings, freeze frame data information and new codes and updates can easily be updated online. It is a great dependable machine that will fit nicely into most budgets.
Flexzion Car Engine Code OBD II Scanner U480
This model supports multiple generic codes and manufacturer specific diagnostic trouble codes. It is very easy to use. You plug it in and it performs multiple scans without prompting. It is a menu driven device that offers the features that you need at a price that you can afford.
Real Budget Options
When you really have to be wary of your budget but you still need a OBD II scanner there are some options that can fit the bill nicely. You may have to give up a few features and look for a specific model that will work with a particular model BUT owning one is still going to be cheaper than taking the car to the shop and having the pro do it.
Donop Professional U480 CAN OBD2 OBD II Car Diagnostic Scanner
This is listed as a professional reader tool, and it acts like one but does not have tons of features. It has enough features that you can depend on it for information. It is also a very affordable option as a matter of fact it is a super affordable option that can easily fit any budget.
Veepeak OBD2 Scanner Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool Code Reader
This is also a very budget friendly option that will get the job done. This can easily fit the need both in the professional shop and the home mechanics garage.
Top of the Line
If you have the money to spend there are some high dollar systems that are quite impressive and are worth the investment if you have a professional shop or if you like to tinker with cars and other vehicles regularly.
The top of the line OBD scanners have some really lavish features that would be lost on the amateur mechanic because they would not use the features like a professional shop would. Now in the case of a professional shop, to provide the most accurate services it is well worth going top of the line. You will get more durability and more reliability out of the more expensive models that have the most wanted features.
Foxwell NT510 VAG Enhanced OBDII Full- System Diagnostic Scan Tool
This model offers far more features that we can list here but to give you an idea of what it has to offer here are a few key points:
- Supports a wide range of American, Asian and European vehicles
- Runs system tests including battery life information and predictions, can calibrate systems remotely
- It offers an ample 2.6 inch digital LED display that is easy to read
- Easy coding for replacement modules and to clear previously saved codes
- Multi-language code definitions for the international market
It has a wide range of the most reliable features on the market. The only drawback of this model is that it is one of the most expensive models on the market.
Launch X431 Creader VII+ (CRP123) Auto Code Reader OBDII EOBD Scanner
This is another high speed model that is a bit on the pricey side but well worth the investment. It offers a wide range of features not only for diagnostic purposes but to assist with repairs. This is a great model for Asian, American and European made vehicles that were built after 2000
It stores and play backs data. It addresses not only engine codes but also airbag and transmission codes as well. It is a highly reliable all around diagnostic tool with an easy to read screen. This model is really a work horse. It is about the size of a cell phone and has one of the largest screens in the portable range.
Innova 3040c Diagnostic Scan Tool / Code Reader with ABS for OBD2 Vehicles
Is not quite as expensive as the other two models but it is more expensive than the other options we have reviewed, in some cases 3 times as expensive. Ultimately we took a look and decided that in many cases it would be worth the extra investment.
The display screen which is patented displays 25 pieces of information at once which can really speed things up. it offers many of the upgraded features that we see on the Launch but without the rather extravagant costs. This would be a good investment for a pro shop or for someone that owns multiple vehicles as a hobby. It offers easy to read information and has a very reliable programming.
Whether you are a professional mechanic, someone that wants to work on cars on the weekend or just a concerned car owner these devices can give you the information that you need. You can gather vital information on just about any car that is on the road that was created after 1996.
If you are a professional it is best to invest into a OBD II that is easily updated so that you will best be able to serve your clients. If you are a car owner, you are best to consider a model that is reliable and inexpensive.
There is no situation where having one of these devices on hand would be a waste. Even if you only check your car out once a year as a car owner, that is one time a year less that you have to pay for it to go to the shop. These devices can easily give you the information that you need to affect the necessary repairs.
As a shop owner having a few of these devices on hand for your staff will help to improve productivity in the shop and keep things moving along. Of course they are great time savers. Instead of taking hours to diagnose an issue it only takes minutes to hook up one of these devices. Repairs can be made more accurately based on the data collected which of course will develop a good reputation for your shop among your clients.
These devices combine affordability, efficiency and a great opportunity for both the professional and the amateur mechanic.
Choose the model that is affordable and that meets your feature requirements from the list of options here and you can buy with confidence. Every model that is listed has been tested and has been reviewed for accuracy, ease of use and durability!