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There is nothing more annoying than having the “check engine” light pop up on the dashboard. Aside from the fact that there is something wrong going on with your car’s engine, you can’t really tell what that thing is. At this point, unless you’re a mechanic or have a solid knowledge of engines and how to repair them, you need to pay a trip to a mechanic’s workshop. You might also be interested in our articles about the best cb antenna and the best cb radio
Since you don’t even know what’s wrong with your engine, you’ll have to waste time and spend money just to know what’s wrong with your car, let aside fix it. A good OBD-II Scanner can really save you the hassle and make your car engine woes much easier to manage. All you have to do is plug it in and it’ll run a diagnostic and tell you what’s wrong with the engine, based on which you can decide what’s the best thing to do.
Not only will a good OBD-II scanner save you money, it’ll also make your life much easier. If you’re looking for a good OBD-II scanner that’ll give you the best bang for your buck, there are a few things that you need to know in order to make a well-informed buying decision.
When you’re choosing your OBD2 scanner, the device’s reputation is very important. Once you start looking for a scanner you’ll notice the wide array of choices that are available. There are so many OBD2 scanners out there. Which one should you buy? The answer is one with a solid reputation.
When so many people have used it and verify that it works properly on different car models, this is simply your safest bet. The OBD2 scanners that fit these criteria are always made by well-known manufacturers who know what they’re doing. Opting for a cheap, unknown option can be a huge waste of time, money and can harm your car if you make a wrong decision based on the scanner’s diagnostic.
The only thing that is worse than not having an OBD2 scanner for your car is having one that doesn’t give a clear output. By “clear output”, I mean information that you can actually understand.
Information that isn’t clear to understand can be caused either by a small screen that needs superman’s sight to be able to read it or poorly designed apps that connect to the OBD2 scanners. Some of those apps are so poorly designed and have such an overall horrible user experience that you won’t be able to figure out anything of what it shows.
When you’re purchasing, make sure that you’re comfortable with the way it presents data because if not, it can be really frustrating.
Data Saving Options
Your car’s history might be just history to you, but it can be really helpful for your mechanic. Being able to tell what exactly happened to your car in a chronological sequence can make your mechanic’s life way easier and can help you get better service for your car. That’s why this feature is so important in OBD2 scanners.
Making sure your scanner has such an option is so nice to have and can make the data you get from your scanner much more actionable.
More Scanning Options
The more high-end the OBD2 scanner that you get, the better scanning options it provides. While most basic OBD2 scanners offer an engine scan, the more advanced ones offer some useful insights on things like ABS brakes and airbags.
Those things can be really helpful and are definitely worth the upgrade simply as you need those more often, which means more value for money. In addition to giving you an overall better value, it can contribute to your overall safety by making sure the braking system and the airbags are in top-notch condition.
Now that you’re familiar with OBD2 scanners and know what makes a good one, it’s time to take a look at some of the best available OBD2 scanners that you can get for your car.
Best OBD2 Scanner for the Money
This OBD2 scanner from Panlong is one of the best scanners that you can get for your car. There are so many great features that make this scanner stand out from the competition, however, ease of use make it really stand out.
Not just does this OBD2 scanner show diagnostic trouble codes, it also explains their meaning. In other words, it was designed for normal people to easily understand what it displays. I can’t stress how important this is because if you can’t understand what the scanner says, how could it be any good?
This is a feature that could simply save you tons of money because if you really understand what’s wrong with the car and it’s a minor issue you could just fix it yourself instead of going to a mechanic and shelling out lots of money that you don’t need to. Add to that the fact that this scanner is really easy to install and you’ve got a gadget that is really user-friendly.
As for reading data, this scanner uses Bluetooth to pair with an android app. You can install the app either on your cellphone or tablet to get the diagnostics there whenever you need to.
The only downside about this particular OBD2 scanner model is that its app is only compatible with Android, which means that unless you’re running an iOS device, you won’t be able to pair it with this particular model.
If you like this Panlong scanner but have an iOS device, you could get the Panlong Wi-Fi OBD2 scanner, which is iOS compatible.
- Pairs with an android app
- Easy to use
- Compatible with the torque pro app
If you’re a bit of an old-school person who is looking for an OBD2 scanner with a solid performance, you’ll definitely love this one. No flashy apps or bright colors, just pure functionality that gets the job done.
Instead of using Bluetooth to pair with a mobile app, this model is connected with a cord and displays the diagnostics on its LCD screen, which is, as I said, such an old-school approach compared to other models. However, this is a scanner that doesn’t fail to impress.
Thanks to its clear screen and easy-to-use navigation, the displayed diagnostics are to the point and easily understandable. To make things even clearer for the not-so-mechanically-savvy person, this scanner has plenty of generic code definition. This small device has explanations for more than 3000 error codes so, the chances it’ll display something that you won’t be able to understand are pretty slim.
It is also worth mentioning that no additional cables are required for this model, it has everything it needs to work right out of the box, which is really convenient.
The only reason why you should consider another model is if you like having one that pairs with an app. If you’re an app type of person, there are definitely better options for you out there. Also, if you don’t like small screens, you should consider one of the bigger screen options or one that works with an app so you can display diagnostics on the screen that you like.
- Cable-based device
- Generic error code explanation
- A small screen that is easy to read
This ANCEL scanner offers a classic choice with an enhanced screen. If you’re looking for a classic, Cable OBD2 scanner experience with some generous screen options, this is the scanner that you’re looking for.
The large LCD display (128×64 pixels) has a white background and comes with a contrast adjustment option. The white background and the decent amount of contrast make reading diagnostics off the screen much more convenient. If you’re for an OBD2 scanner screen that is easy on the eyes, you’ll love the screen.
Aside from rocking an awesome screen, the ANCEL AD310 has everything that you’d expect to find in a top-tier OBD2 scanner. The build quality, as well as the diagnostics, is top notch. The scanner displays the diagnostics I in a clear way that is easy to grasp, even for people with average mechanical knowledge.
It gets its power directly from the OBD2 Data Link Connector of the vehicle. No batteries are needed to run this thing. All you have to do is plug it into your car and it’ll just, which is awesome and help you save money that you’d otherwise spend on batteries.
Another remarkable feature of this scanner is its high-quality cable. The 2.5-feet long cable that comes with the AD310 is made from a very thick and flexible insulator. Aside from making the cable convenient to use, it also makes it extremely tear-resistant. Tearing the cable by accident is something that you definitely don’t need to worry about with scanner.
- High-contrast screen
- Needs no batteries
- Super-durable cable
If there is one thing that makes this OBD2 scanner really stand out, it is the impressive amount of apps that work with it. With more than 7 apps to pair with the scanner, the KOBRA scanner offers pro-level diagnostics. If you’d love to have a scanner that gives you a deeper level of insights that cover many aspects of your car, this OBD2 scanner is definitely for you.
In addition to providing you with higher level diagnostics, the scanner’s apps work with iOS, Android and even Windows Phone (we feel you guys!). Having such a high level of compatibility makes this scanner an even more appealing choice, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves to change phones frequently.
Another cool feature about this scanner is the fact that it can read generic and manufacturer-specific codes and its database has definitions for more than 3000 problem codes. Scanners with problem code definitions are way more user-friendly than those that don’t support this feature.
With the massive amount of data that you can get from this scanner’s compatible apps, it can help you get better performance out of your car and most importantly, detect minor problems before they turn into serious ones.
- Pairs with an app that is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows Mobile
- Reads both generic and manufacturer-specific codes
Best OBD2 Scanner for Android
If you’re an Android phone user looking to get your hands on a high-quality OBD2 scanner, this BAFX scanner is one of the best options that the market has to offer. The reason this Android-only scanner is so awesome is its reliability and the fact that it’s compatible with almost every vehicle that is OBD2 compliant. If you plan on getting an OBD2 scanner to use with multiple vehicles, the BAFX Bluetooth Scanner is a solid option.
In addition to compatibility, this scanner is really top-tier when it comes to the internal components. The internal adapter has almost every single component you could find in any other OBD2 scanners, which allows the scanner to measure and keep track of plenty of issues while providing some really accurate results.
It is worth mentioning that the BAFX Bluetooth is even compatible with some of the older OBD1 car models. However, if you’re planning to use it for an OBD1 car, you should double check to make sure that it’s compatible.
The only downside is that it doesn’t support iOS. I don’t really understand why would the manufacturers of OBD2 scanner choosing why mobile OS over the other and lose such a valuable group of potential customers. Other than that, this is one of the best OBD-II scanners that we’ve tried so far (for Android users only, unfortunately!).
- Compatible with a wide range of vehicles
- Reliable performance
- Android-only app
This is hands down the best cable OBD2 scanner that we’ve reviewed. Everything about this scanner is top notch and works flawlessly. Starting with the awesome screen, which is probably the first thing that you’ll notice about it.
The Autel Autolink’s screen is ridiculously good. It’s Spacious, colorful and offers a decent amount of contrast that makes reading the diagnostics super easy. In fact, the only thing we had against OBD2 scanners that have a built-in screen instead of pairing with an app to display diagnostic was the fact that most people didn’t find them convenient.
This is mainly because most screens are so small and of poor quality that you’ll really struggle to figure out what is displayed, which adds plenty of unnecessary friction to the process. However, the gorgeous TFT screen of the Autel Autolink has that taken care off, so kudos to them.
Aside from the screen, the build quality of this scanner is just right. The well-designed shape of the scanner makes it easy to hold firmly in your and feels really solid and durable.
When it comes to user experience, the Autel Autolink really stands out. In addition to common features like error code explanations and supporting multiple languages, it has bright LED lights and a built-in speaker to provide visual and audible readiness indication cues.
If you’re looking for a great cable OBD2 scanner and willing to shell out some extra cash to get something truly remarkable, you should definitely get the Autel Autolink.
- Mind-blowing screen
- Solid performance
- Provides visual and audible feedback
- Great user experience
Best Cheap OBD2 Scanner
Some people find too many features confusing. Sometimes, having a simple gadget that is reliable and gets the job done is all you need. If you’re of those people who love to keep things simple, you’ll definitely fall in love with OxGord’s OBD2 scanner.
When it comes to simple OBD2 scanners that offer a “vanilla experience” at a respectable quality, OxGord’s is hands down one of the best scanners you can get.
Oxgord’s scanner is well-built, durable and has a slick design. It doesn’t pair with an app and has a small screen with a green background that offers excellent contrast and readability. In other words, it has everything that you need and nothing that you don’t.
Let’s be honest here, not everybody wants to get to the tiniest details of their engines problem. Some people –myself included- just want to know what the problem is in the simplest way possible just so they can have an idea what’s really going on when they go to the mechanic.
Despite having such a simplistic approach, the OxGord OBD2 scanner is anything but incapable. It always returned accurate problem diagnostics and is capable of clearing DTC diagnostic trouble codes, so when it comes to solid performance, this holds its ground pretty well against the other more expensive options.
Simplicity usually means ease of use, which is definitely true in this case. The two-button interface and the “to the point” approach make this scanner so beginner friendly. Don’t want to pay extra cash for features that you won’t use? You won’t have to with this scanner.
If you want a simple OBD2 scanner that works without having of the “bells and whistles” found on other more feature-packed models, you’ll definitely love the OxGord OBD2 scanner.
- Classic design
- Reliable performance
- Easy-to-read screen
Best OBD2 Scanner for iPhone
From all of the OBD2 scanners that we have on our list, this is the only professional-grade scanner. When we say “professional”, we really mean it, like one that is used by professional engineers and mechanics to get accurate data to help them do their jobs.
The BlueDriver App and the BlueDriver Sensor work together to ensure professional quality readings that can be received on any iOS or Android device. The BlueDriver app is capable of creating very useful reports that give you a comprehensive look at your vehicle’s performance.
Advanced data include things like engine load, intake air temperature as well as the oxygen content of the fuel mix. In other words, it gives you the kind of data that you need if you’re an engineer or a person with genuine interest in engines.
One of the coolest features that this scanner has is the Smog Check. Instead of checking the smog level coming out of the exhaust, the scanner examines engine data that could be an indication of a problem in the smoke level. This feature is particularly handy if you’re taking your car to a smog test.
Given the price and the impressive amount of professional-level features, this is an OBD2 scanner for people who are more serious about this whole thing. If you love engines and can afford it, the BlueDriver scanner won’t fail to impress.
- Professional-grade features
- Pairing app is compatible with both iOS and Android
- Useful smog test