To diagnose modern cars has become a complex task due to the presence of not one, but several computers that are in charge of controlling separate aspects of the vehicle, for this reason, geting the best automotive diagnostic scanner is the essential piece of equipment for the owner or technician who needs to diagnose any problem with the vehicle.
Many classic cars from the years 1980 to 1998 have an OBD1 port, which function is to provide a communication channel for the diagnosis of cars to their owners or technicians. Nowadays, generally, these ports are simple and do not provide much information, but they have not stopped being very useful.
Over time, the technology has advanced and improved more and more, in the same way, professional automotive scanners do, with respect to compatibility and features. Since 1998, OBD2 ports have become standardized on most automobiles. To read your car’s error codes, an OBD2 scanner must be connected to diagnose and attempt to clear the codes. There are many OBD1 scanners built into the OBD2 tools, providing the diagnostic flexibility needed to take full advantage of both alternatives.
Now you can use your smartphone, laptop or a scanner tool to connect to the OBD2 port, allowing you to display basic features such as reading error codes and stored faults, but many of the high-end units include the benefit of ECU and key programming, which can unlock hidden functions and more.
To read and clear the error codes in your vehicle, having the best auto scanner is essential. This article will show you a list of the best OBD2 scanners for car diagnostics, which will not only help you troubleshoot your car but will also change certain settings.
Autel Maxisys Pro MS908P Automotive Diagnostic Scanner
With Autel Maxisys Pro MS908 you can diagnose cars of manufacturers from America, Europe and India. It covers the vast majority of existing cars fulfilling the differences between manufacturers as each comes with different connectors, and the MS908 comes with a variety of adapters and cables.
Although Autel is a large company dedicated to automobile diagnostics producing easy-to-use and affordable scanners, the Autel Maxisys Pro is not for average cars, it was designed and engineered for mechanics, enthusiasts and automotive technicians, making it one of the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner
Among its technical features Autel has managed to enhance the processing power as much as possible providing a A9 Quad Core 1.40GHz processor with Android operating system, which gives the user an ease of use and familiarity with the system, 32GB SSD hard drive, other specifications include a 5MP camera, integrated WiFi, flashlight, battery life of 8 hours, and 9.7-inch touch screen LED, which is highly sensitive and durable to resist knocks and beatings.
Vehicles using this diagnostic tool will be able to enjoy the following functions:
- Adaptation and ECU Coding
- Record and Playback of Problematic Sensor Outputs
- Read and Clear Error Codes
- Reset All Service Lights
- Live Data Streaming and Actuation Tests
- Set Triggers and Configure Display Options
- Update Car Firmware to Latest Version
- Freeze Frame Data
- Print Out Reports and Graphs
- Flash Programming
Everything about this scanning tool is of high quality and has been well thought out. As this scanner would be used mainly in garages and workshops, the unit has padded fill for protection from any impact.
In addition, it can be enhanced with complementary functions such as the oscilloscope, the J2534 reprogramming module and more. There are other versions of the Autel Maxisys Pro, such as the DS808, MS906, MS908 and MS908P but the Autel Maxisys Pro MS908 is the best acquisition being the ultimate scanner diagnostic tool.
In short, the best scanning tool for mechanics you can buy is the MS908 from Autel, with which you can perform all the diagnostics you may desire. Currently there is no other competitor that summarizes the amount of technology and features of this scanner.
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool
Lemur is the American company that developed BlueDriver, an easy-to-use OBD2 diagnostic tool that is compatible with any car with an OBD2.
In order to use this handy device, the car owner connects it to the OBD2 port, waits for a blue light to come on, and then thanks to its Bluetooth connection, one can access the diagnostic connection through the application on your smartphone. It is compatible with Android iPhone and iOS with an app that can be downloaded for free from the Play Store and App Store.
It allows you to view and delete error codes, view live data, among other functions.
It has a database of stored error codes with which comparisons can be made to achieve the specific diagnosis, which brings as a benefit the suggestion of solutions, thus eliminating hours of research or a visit to the mechanic.
Among the technical specifications that comes with it, we include:
- View and Clear Codes
- Save and Export Code/Reports
- Vehicle Information
- Misfire Counts (Mode 6)
- Live Data Analysis
- Smog Check
- Freeze Frame Data
This devise uses no cables at all and because the unit is small and compact, it can be carried anywhere and stored anywhere inside the car in a very discreet way. The BlueDriver application has an intuitive and easy-to-use user interface, displays graphics with very clear and easy to understand information.
BlueDriver is the best diagnostic scan tool for the average car owner to use, as well as it can be very useful for mobile mechanics to stay with them at all times for quick scanning of error codes or emergency calls.
Launch X431 PROS Mini Automotive Diagnostic Tool
The Launch X431 is made for premium buyers of OBD2 scanners, becoming the direct competitor of Autel Maxisys Pro MS908. This scanner is one of the best in appearance, as its design is based on a tablet.It has specific connectors and adapters for OBD1 and OBD2 (14 different OBD2 connectors) which allows it to offer the ability to read most of the cars in the world. Includes diagnostic standards for automobiles in Europe and Asia. It also has a deep vehicle system covered for all electronic devices, as well as a WiFi and Bluetooth connection to facilitate the work wirelessly.
Specifications offered include:
- Component Activation
- Reading and Clearing Error Codes
- Battery Maintenance
- Electronic Throttle Position
- Electronic Car Brake Reset and ABS Bleedin
- Oil Reset Service
- Fuel Injector Coding
- DPF Regeneration
- Immobilizer Matching
- Steering Angle Calibration
The diagnostic tool runs with Android operating system very well known because of its ease at use, allowing it to also be used as a tablet because it can connect to the Internet, take photos, play music and more. The wide high-resolution HD screen is highly sensitive and provides excellent feedback for live broadcast graphics.
Overall, the Launch X431 Pro Mini is one of the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner after the MS908. It fulfills all the functions you would need as a mechanic covering a wide variety of car brands, considering the amount of features it provides, is a great value for money.
Actron CP9690 Trilingual OBD I/OBD II
The CP9690 is the latest tool in the budget range of Actron’s wide range of models, having the only point of sale that this scanner covers OBD 1 vehicles with a range of connectors and cables in the package.
The Actron is very similar to the Innova 3160g and the Autel MD808 in the compact design with which they all compete with each other.
This automotive diagnostics scanner benefits from having an average-sized LCD screen ideal for viewing graphical elements of reports. The most important features of this error code reader are presented here:
- Vehicle Identification
- Powertrain and ABS Coverage
- Battery System Monitor
- Live Data Streaming
- ABS and Airbag Light Rest
- OBD 1/CAN Support
- Battery and Oil Light Reset
The Actron may lack features that the competition may have in abundance, but having the ability to diagnose OBD1 cars makes it more attractive and even necessary for owners of classic and modern car.
Innova 3160g Code Reader/Scan Tool
Innova is known for being at the forefront of the best devices for solving electrical problems in vehicles and automotive multimeters. The Innova 3160g diagnostic tool is a mid-range tool that can be used with all cars, SUVs, trucks and hybrids since 1996. It has a highly qualified error code reader with a 3.5 inch colour display and Bluetooth connection capability.
Any average car owner will be able to use this diagnostic tool, however it is also equipped with improved features tha
- Engine Management Light Diagnostic and Removal
- Charging System Testing
- Stream and Record Live Data
- Reset Oil Lights and Battery Maintenance
- Bluetooth via Smartphone Application
- Erase Error Codes (including ABS & SRS)
Of the Innova series, the 3160g is the most popular diagnostic tool and a candidate for the best automotive scanner for money. For loyal users of the Innova brand, this is the choice of all 3160 variations.
Autel MaxiDiag MD808 Diagnostic Scanner tool
The Autel brand of diagnostic tools for any budget depending on the car owner, the MD808 model is in the middle of the whole range of possibilities being this the best diagnostic scan tool. It has a much more modern design that makes it look much better compared to the Autel AL519 budget.
The MD808 includes the feature to clear the service lights when servicing the car, and also has features such as:
- DPF Regeneration
- Read and Clear Car Fault Codes
- ABS and SRS
- Oil Light Reset
- Battery Management System
- EPB and SAS Calibration
- Live Data Graphing
This product comes with a 1-year limited warranty and free lifetime updates. It has a full colour 800 × 480 display and uses buttons under the display to navigate through the operating system. The Autel MD808 is the best automotive scanner for its value and the technical specification is just as good despite having a 6 second device boot time.
What to consider before buying the Best Automotive Diagnostic Scanner?
The number of different, easy-to-purchase car diagnostic tools increases monthly. The most popular of the OBD2 scanners is the one designed for the average car owner, so the market offer for these tools is quite high at prices below $100.
For professional needs or wanting to go beyond just reviewing and modifying error codes, it is recommended that you purchase medium to high price diagnostic tools so that you can perform more interesting functions and achieve substantial fixes on the cart.
We know exactly what to look for as we have used over 50 different scanners on a variety of cars. Below we will show you the most important aspects that must be taken into account to learn from the world of the best diagnostic tools.
Types of Diagnostic Scan Tools
Scanners come in a wide range of shapes from laptops with many cables to a tablet form, ussualy the cheapest tools are the simplest and smallest forms as they do not need room to store processors or hard drives.
The best scan tool for mechanics are the mid-range to premium diagnostic tools, which they need to include service light and engine management light removal, since most customers will expect this after having a service.
The real difference which decides what type of scan tool is more suitable is the port type. As we said earlier, most of modern cars will have an OBD2 port and that is why we listed all the devices above. However, cars before 1998 are often referred to as an OBD1.
The term OBD means On Board Diagnostics and the # refers to the generation it belongs (1st or 2nd). The OBD1 scan tools are not universal and are usually specific to each car and provide completely different codes, and OBD2 have a huge improvement upon the first generation.
The research of an issue becomes very easy since OBD2 cars can connect to a huge range of devices and provide throught them standardized error codes. From OBD2 the amount of information you can get using a obd2 scanner tool is much higher than OBD1 tools, this is why is a great improvement.
A car mechanic should own both OBD1 and OBD2 scanners because it is very possible to have a classic car customer one day and a modern car another. All OBD2 ports are the same and there are no different variations of the port.
So, if you are going to be using this type of tool as part of your everyday job, it makes sense to get the best diagnostic scanner you can buy.
OBD2 Specific Diagnostic Readers
All the automotive diagnostics scanners that were shown in this article are tools that can be used with many different car manufacturers, so they will attract a wider audience. But there are certain manufacturers that offer their own specific scanners.
For example, the VAG Group (Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Seat and more) can use the Super VAG K + CAN Plus 2.0 as a diagnostic tool, with which additional features can be programmed using this tool.
However, almost always the user will have to pay a premium for a diagnostic tool that is specific to their car, as is the case with the Mercedes Star Machine that can perform a lot of functions, but is not the most user friendly device because it has many cables that connect to each other.
A factor that must be taken into account, all car specific diagnostic tools have the same problem, you can only use it on cars from the same brand. This is where the need and solution to this problem comes from, as the best auto scanners described above can be used in hundreds of different cars.
It is obvious that when investing in a diagnostic scanner, it is best to get a scanner that works for a range of manufacturers.
Automotive Diagnostic Tools Easy To Use
Not all of the car diagnostic systems are the same, and choosing the best one can be difficult without knowing what to look for.
The questions that need to be aslked are: is it easy to read or to understand the information that is being displayed? is the interface compatible with what you need?. The answer will determine what type of information will be able to be seen and observed on the unit. The first thing that needs to be ensured is that the diagnostic tool has lots of documentation.
The worst thing that could happen is to adquire a scanner tool and not knowing how to use it. All the divices listed above are simple to use, but the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner may need a few hours of research and learning to become an expert with all the functions.
One aspect that should be avoided are the error code readers that do not provide novice users with additional information, since there may be stored codes that are serious or harmless and the tool should provide this sort of information. It is the same with the graphs and different outputs, this should be stated with different colors if it goes below a certain level.
Compatibility of Diagnostic Tools
It is not possible to plug an OBD2 connector into an OBD1 port and vice versa. But, there are many scanner tools that are capable of working for both ports with connectors for each type. All OBD2 ports are standardized and when a car states that it has an OBD2, your scanners connector will fit.
Car specific diagnostic tools that were mentioned above (MB Star and VAG Super K+) are OBD2 connectors but they will not be able to be used in other brands.
Actually, many OBD2 Scanner manufacturers will provide enhanced diagnostics and functions for certain car brands. It is always worth paying a little more for a tool that will provide enhanced functions if you just have a car.<
For example, if there are people that do not own a smartphone that can download applications, devices such as the BlueDriver will not work and it is obviously better going for an alternative.
Most Common Error Codes From Diagnostic Scan Tools
Here we present a list of codes that can be seen while working with an OBD2 scanner.
- J1850 PWM. Used in 1996 vehicle models that are Scion, Lexus, Isuzu, and Toyota. Also include information for 1996 and 1993 GM modeled cars. This connector has 2-4-5-10-16 pins.
- J1850 VPW. Used for 1996 to 2001 models of Mazda and Ford . The connector for this make is 2-4-5-16, but excluding #10 pin.
- ISO 9141-2. Used for BMW, Audi and Bentley vehicles that were manufactured between 1996 to 2002. Also includes codes for Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Chrysler, Honda/Acura, Suzuki, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Nissan/Infiniti, Volvo, and Hyundai. The pin connectors are 4-5-7-16.
- ISO 14230-4 (KWP 2000). Used for Audi and VW cars from 2003 to 2007. Other vehicles include: 2004 to 2007 GM cars, 2002 to 2005 BMW 7-Series as well as 1993 to 2002 Cadillac models. The connector pins for these codes must have 4-5-6-14-16.
- CAN-BUS J1939 and >ISO15765-4. A common protocol found on more modern cars like 2006 to 2008 VW, Chrysler, Land Rover, Audi, Rolls Royce, Ford, Honda/Acura, Subaru, Suzuki, Lexus, Volvo, and GM. The connector associated with these protocols are 4-5-6-14-1, especially for CAN-BUS.
The best choice at the moment for purchasing the best auto scanner comes from exploring the list of codes, identifying the protocol suitable for the car, always reviewing the service manual, or making a visual inspection by looking under the hood of the car.
Nowadays, viewing the data from the scanner makes it really fun, because these scanners can do it from a wireless connection, allowing the mechanic to view the information with the use of WiFi and Bluetooth technology. By using the Bluetooth connection, a smartphone or a laptop can be used as a vehicle scanner. This allows expanded capability when using different methods of visualizing the information.
Usually, traditional wired scanners that connect to the car are the best professional automotive scan tooland offer a wide range of choices to diagnosis the best way. These professional devices allow a better advance vehicle diagnosis.
This units come prepared for USB compatibility, allowing to access the scanner, to update/upgrade the software (this is a specific asset that most manufacturers will use, anything to get the newly released version) and to print the results of the scanner from a computer. This feature gives high performance for those who are attempting to tune a vehicle, vehicle upgrade monitoring, racing, as well as other professional-level diagnostic issues.
Why the Need of a Diagnostic Scan Tool?
When trying to diagnose a vehicle, having a scanner is very helpful, once connected the scanner into the port, the information is accesible, providing a detailed list about the car components. Furthermore, anyone will be able to perform various diagnostic tasks with a wide range of possibilities to choose from.
The main advantages of having an automotive diagnostics scanner:
- Scan vehicles before you buy them
- Save you money as you will not need to use a mechanics
- Check to see if your car is safe to drive and wont cause any damage
- Add/Modify current features i.e. full window closure
- Most recent data and stored codes
When Buying the Best Diagnostic Scanner, What To Consider?
- Is the scanner compatible with the car? Is it going to be able to work with the vehicle?
- Is it a full definition of codes to make the diagnosis easier? By using a scanner that has a full list of the codes, will save time and help to avoid complications.
- Can the scanner be updated? In time, if it can’t be updated, the device will be useless.
- Will it be able to save the readings from the scanner? This is a must for a scanner, allowing the ability to review the data later after checking the car, offering a huge advantage.
- What is included with the device? Is it necessary to purchase extra items such as a data cable in order to use the obd2 scanner?
- Can you afford to buy this scanner? Does the scanner match your budget? Do you really need all of the special features that is offered by that scanner?
In order to choose the best car diagnostic tool will involve research and a knowledge of the cars that will be using it on. Remember that not all scanners are the same, and don’t get them confused with code readers. When it comes to diagnosing your automobile, it is best to purchase a OBD2 scanner than a code reader, since they are limited compared to sacanners.
To avoid making the wrong decision when purchasing, make sure to review all of the information. Check to see if it displays definitions that can make the job easier when trying to locate a solution and if the codes match the scanner for the vehicle as well as
In the end, the best automotive diagnostic scanner will be able to help repair your vehicle without paying incredible amounts of money.
What is the Best Car Diagnostic Tool?
This review aims is to provide a range of scan tools for each purpose. They separate into premium, mid range and budget diagnostic tools.
Premium and mid-range devices target at car enthusiasts and mechanics that want the extra functionality and performance. Budget error code readers are simply for the average car owner wanting to remo<ve an error code such as the engine management light. For a professional mechanic, the goal should be going for the best professional automotive scan tool as opposed to the budget devices. It necessary to have the devices that cover a range of cars.
However, every car owner should own an error code reader of some sort in order to save money. Small repairs can be done having a code reader around, since the average mechanic will charge a fee of 50$ and above for a diagnostic tool session, which is almost the price of the budget tools in the first place.
Owning a diagnostics scanner and finding the problematic fault code will give you the chance to fix it yourself. If you cannot fix it, you tell the mechanic the code and they can fix it, saving on labor costs because there is no need to find the fault.
In terms of buying the best auto scanner, all of the above examples offer extreme value for money and everything you need but there are two diagnostic scanners that standout the most for different scenarios.
The BlueDriver is the best diagnostic tool and take 30 seconds to setup and get scanning your vehicle for codes. It works on both Android and Apple devices with the intuitive user interface helping novice users work the tool. Plus, it provides over 6 million verified fixes that you could try yourself or pass onto your mechanic. And the Maxisys Pro MS908 is the best automotive diagnostic scannerable to perform everything in terms of servicing your car and ECU programming.