Best OBD2 scanners for 2022

Best OBD2 scanners for 2022 ...

Control electronics and, which have been a key feature of cars for decades, are as crucial as any mechanical components for a vehicle's operation. Several of the mechanical systems in a vehicle are managed by a progressively complex network of electronic controls and sensors, depending on whether we're talking about the engine and transmission, suspension, brakes, and emission controls, or even.

A properly structured computer in your car is a huge hit; unless you're a computer programr, how do you determine what's tripping that dreaded check engine light? Enter an OBD2 scanner. This type of car scanner is vital for understanding, maintaining and repairing modern vehicles. DIY enthusiasts or anyone who wants to know what's happening inside their car -- and possibly save a few bucks -- can benefit from an OBD2 reader and a basic understanding of what to do about certain fault codes.

There are hundreds of different OBD2 scanner options out there in auto parts stores, discount stores, and the far fringe of the internet, with by thousands of dollars. Many are excellent, boasting useful feature after feature, regardless of price. Many are junk, with no legitimate product support.

This list contains the best OBD2 scanner tool for every user, every user, and it's updated periodically. Keep reading for an overview of how they work, what they can do, how to choose them, key things to consider before buying an OBD2 scanner and some pro tips

Read more:

The CarScan Pro is a pro-grade application that is available for the consumer, regardless of whether or not the vehicle can generate significant diagnostic issues. It can decipher virtually every diagnostic problem code, or DTC, that a vehicle can generate.

The CarScan Pro diagnostic scanner is a combination of bidirectional and active testing. It can make adjustments the car manufacturer makes in its control software, which describes small idle speeds, and disable certain components in the event of mechanical malfunctions.

This car scanner is fully self-contained in a high-impact plastic case, with a thorough manual and full-time, US-based phone and web support. This auto code reader also provides information on the internet, including repair recommendations, maintenance recommendations and direct links to finding parts.

All in all, the Innova Car Scan Pro OBD2 tool provides outstanding features on a solid foundation of functionality and support. It's all about what a car hobbyist is expected to cost thousands of dollars below professional, dealership-style OBD2 scan tools.

This diagnostic scanner offers nearly all the features available in higher-end dedicated devices for the price of a basic OBD2 corded scanner.

BlueDriver can read trouble codes as opposed to a standard alphanumeric designation you have to look up. It can clear codes, of course, and display Freeze Frame data (a snapshot of what was happening in the vehicle when the fault code was triggered) and show live and operational data from the engine and chassis as the vehicle operates. It can save or print reports describing problems, potential causes and possible fixes.

The BlueDriver connects to Identifix, a database used by auto repair businesses with millions of potential solutions, no subscription required, and also lists possible repairs. We'd guess that's a better start than Googling potential causes and fixes, in terms of time efficiency and perhaps even cost.

The Android app is clean and easy to process graphics, and the package comes with US-based support via phone, email or live chat. BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBD2 scanner might be the best value you'll find.

This OBD scanner beauty comes from the world's largest automobile supplier, and is one of the oldest names in automotive electrics and diagnostics. If there's an OBD2 code reader that works on any given Asian, European, or North American vehicle built over the last 25 years, this is it.

The ADS 625 is a 10-inch tablet wrapped in a thick rubber case, although it's only the start of the handheld scanner kit. There's a wireless vehicle connection interface (the size of a small smartphone), which can also connect with a PC, and a docking and charging station.

It offers full bidirectional control, or the maximum calibration required in manufacturer's software controls. It comes with five-megapixel front and rear cameras to share photos or include them in vehicle scan reports, and a web browser for full internet access.

If the price of this diagnostic tool is still reasonable for shade-tree use, you may add it to your wish list.

The compact OBD2 scanner dongle is designed to be stable, with a twist. It sends push notifications to its OBD app on an Apple or Android smartphone. It helps novices understand proper vehicle care, and it provides useful comparison information.

FIXD can provide a limited amount of live data on the vehicle's operation, and can also send a notification to your phone so that you can learn what the trouble code is reporting. FIXD also offers scheduled maintenance reminders for the specific product and model, according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Premium, based on the Identifix database, provides cost and repair estimates and unlimited calls to a hotline staffed by ASE-certified mechanics. These folks can provide do-it-yourself advice or a second opinion on the estimate.

Even without the subscription upgrade, FIXD will keep you posted on what's happening inside your OBD2 vehicle and provide a trust gauge to help evaluate what a professional mechanic might be telling you.

The OBD2 scanner from Innova's more expensive OBD2 scanners is worth $100. It is worth it in a dedicated scan tool for the price of a better Bluetooth/smartphone device.

The CarScan Advisor code reader covers all the important areas of reading, deciphering, and clearing check engine light trouble codes, battery tests and smog test evaluation, and system diagnostics for ABS codes on most cars. It displays a range of Live Data that can be used to assist diagnosis in all cases.

Everything is packaged in a large, rugged case, and it comes with the same assistance and thorough manual as Innova's more expensive scanners, as well as Internet-connected Repair Solutions 2.

CarScan Advisor offers a reliable, easy-to-understood OBD2 scanner for a relatively minimal investment. It's great for owners who intend to keep higher-mileage cars on the road indefinitely, but it's good for hobbyists who buy and sell cars regularly -- or for the person they're looking for when they're in the market.

The MaxiDiag MD808 code reader has been built by a company known worldwide for professional automotive diagnostic equipment and products that compete with Bosch. Yet Autel also manufactures a line of consumer-oriented OBD2 scan tools, and the MaxiDiag MD808 is one of our favorites.

The MD808 is similar to our most popular general model, the Innova CarScan Pro, as well as pro-level features at a consumer-targeted price. That means all the essential reading of OBD2 codes, clearing and analyzing features and bidirectional control, which lets you pinpoint which systems will be analyzed and to disable or disable certain features embedded in the automobile builders' control programs.

The MD808 OBD2 scanner is packaged in a more rectangular shape, which some might prefer, and its hard plastic case is surrounded by a thick rubber grip that adds another layer of impact protection. On the downside, its screen is narrower than the CarScan Pro's, and it has fewer keys. Operation can require an extra layer of menus.

The MaxiDiag MD808 scan tool is a great way to get a job done. It's all you need to be able to do is get a professional experience and excellent product support.

With four keystrokes and a menu, the Ancel BD310 provides the basic functions that a scan tool should be used. It also has a handy Dashvent attachment for easy display while driving, and it can provide a range of live operating data-temperatures, fuel usage, spark advance and more while the vehicle is under load.

The BD provides even more information in various forms, including gauges and graphs, as well as familiar trip-computer functions.

Ancel develops a wide variety of automotive diagnostic equipment. Its BD310 OBD2 scanner is equipped with useful functions at a really reasonable price.

Anself sells a diverse range of equipment, from telescopic back scratchers to cheap condenser microphones to 60-watt solar panels and yoga balls straight outta China.

You get a cable, a manual, and a CD that can turn your Windows laptop into an OBD2 scanner. The manual is not always easy to comprehend, but it will give you valuable information.

The point is twofold: First, devices like the Anself OBD2 to USB cable demonstrate what a Wild West marketplace can be. You can go with an established product, play it safe, and probably get what you pay for (including, with the right brands, good support). Or you can roll the dice and try some of the really cheap stuff that's out there on the web.

The consequences of failure are unlikely to be catastrophic. The worst case is that you take your vehicle to a local auto parts store for a free code read. Again.

Is the potential upside worth $14? Are you feeling good today?

In 2022, the best OBD2 scanners will be comparted.

Brand Model Price Synopsis
The best OBD2 scanner overall Innova CarScan Pro 5610 $320 Everything a high-level do-it-yourselfer or car hobbyist is likely to need, with pro features, easy interface, a real manual and good support.
The best Bluetooth smartphone OBD2 scanner BlueDriver Pro OBD2 Scan Tool for iPhone & Android $100 The same features as some pricier dedicated scanners, ranks potential fixes, delivers great smartphone graphics and active support.
The best OBD2 scanner if money is no object or if you're a paid professional Bosch ADS 625 Diagnostic Scan Tool 3920 $4,490 Everything an OBD2 scanner can do. Includes a PC interface dock, front and rear cameras, NVH analyzer, volt meter, wiring diagrams, Bosch repair library and internet browser.
The best leave-it-in-all-the-time OBD2 Bluetooth dongle FIXD Car Sensor & Diagnostic App for iPhone and Android $50 Solid basic scanner functions; sends push notifications to your phone when the check-engine light flashes and explains the fault.
The best dedicated OBD2 scanner on a budget Innova CarScan Advisor 5210 $90 Takes cues from the best overall scanner for a lot less. Solid foundation, easy interface, big screen and good support.
The best high-end consumer-class OBD2 scanner with a candy-bar grip Autel MaxiDiag MD808 Pro $299 The same pro-grade features and function as best overall, packaged in a rectangular unit. Screen is narrower and interface takes a bit more work.
The best hybrid OBD2 scanner Ancel BD310 Bluetooth & Handheld OBD2 Scanner $60 Compact basic dedicated scanner with unique dash mount for Live Data. Connects to a phone app via Bluetooth for cool graphics and a bigger database.
The best OBD2 scanner option from the bottom of the barrel Anself OBD2 Scanner Cable with USB Connection for Windows $14 Comes with a software disk that could turn your laptop into an OBD2 scanner. Should read codes and clear idiot lights.

101 OBD2 car scanners

If this "onboard diagnostics" stuff sounds daunting, the basics are actually fairly straightforward. It began in the 1990s, when the US government required that all cars starting with the 1996 model year be equipped with a standard self-diagnostic system called OBD2 (for onboard diagnostics, generation 2), which includes a fault or diagnostic trouble code, but the process remains the same.

Read more:

A OBD2 scan tool has read and reported these issues. It plugs into the car's diagnostic block, often called the OBD2 port, as well as a trapezoid-shaped female connector, noted in the owner's manual.

The most rudimentary OBD2 scanners still simply report the error code and you will have to check a reference manual or head for the internet to learn more. But in 2020, the right, yet modest OBD2 scanner will tell you what the code definition is in English (or multiple languages) without having to look it up.

With an OBD2 scanner, the world of onboard diagnostics isn't too confusing.

According to experts, all OBD2 scanners should be able to clear the code, although the check engine light will likely flash again within a few miles, depending on the type of vehicle you are driving. P0420 means "catalytic converter not working properly," meaning it's not standard for all automobiles. P0420 means "catalytic converter not working properly" no matter the brand or vehicle, but it's not the same for all cars.

The OBD2 system uses much more data while the vehicle is running than the VIN, and it will provide a Freeze Frame or a rundown of key data points in the car to help identify the cause of the problem. Live Data is a potentially long list of gauges most car models no longer have and then some, and a useful diagnostic tool.

Some OBD2 scanners will conduct a simulated smog test, testing the same things a service shop will check before it signs off on a smog certificate -- and provide you with a good idea if the car will pass or fail in its current condition.

A good OBD2 scan tool may be helpful in assessing a car's battery, alternator, and ABS system.

There's a handful of established players, a bunch of upstarts, and a vast expanse of noise. Even the respected companies will produce virtually identical scanners with different model numbers and insignificant appearance changes to sell at different retailers (sometimes at different prices).

Depending on where you live and what you drive, a decent OBD2 scanner can pay for itself in relatively short order, if only through the savings made by avoiding trips to the local auto parts store for a free code read.

How we formulated our list

We reviewed reviews from testing labs and scanned user ratings at popular shopping sites. We interviewed (harassed) experts, including Luke Daley at Innova and Jim Fish at BlueDriver.

Before you select an OBD2 code reader, consider the following points. And before you click "Confirm Order," take a look at our pro tips below.

If you don't have any money, Bosch's ADS 625 Diagnostic Scan Tool is the best OBD2 scanner out there.

Before buying an OBD2 scanner, you must know two things.

If you want to know what the check engine idiot in the dash is telling you, or you want to independently evaluate what a repair shop is reporting and possibly turn off the light if it's lit for something like a loose gas cap or a replaced EGR valve, then you don't need to spend much. $60-$80 will get you where you want to go, reliably and repeatedly.

If you're an automotive enthusiast, a do-it-yourself person or a friend nonenthusiasts come to for car advice, it's likely worth spending more. More expensive scanners can have broader make and model coverage, including an OBD2 code reader that can help you identify vehicle performance, enhance efficiency, and improve safety.

Consumer-priced scanners do things that were reserved for $5,000 pro-grade scanners a couple of years ago. The best are good enough that, if you intend to make money fixing automobiles, you might use them to get started eventually.

If you're only reading and clearing error codes from time to time, dropping big bucks on an OBD2 scan tool isn't necessary.

The OBD2 scanner, which is built on a cable that is convenient to connect to the car to the engine bay, is the most effective choice.

The second type is a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner, commonly known as a Bluetooth dongle. This is a fairly small plastic device that connects to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth.

If the Bluetooth device isn't obvious, it has the primary advantage: a lower cost. Why pay for a screen and a computer chip when your smartphone already has those components? A Bluetooth OBD2 code reader dongle uses those components on your phone, where the screen and the chip are probably much higher than you need for this task.

If the cost advantage in a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner sounds like a no-brainer, you should consider the more subtle issues. Dedicated scanners are in important aspects more convenient to use, particularly if you use the code reader regularly to diagnose engine lights or for longer sessions, so speed and simplicity matter.

In many ways, a dedicated OBD2 scanner is more convenient to use than a Bluetooth smartphone dongle.

The choice of an OBD2 scan tool may come back to the basics, depending on how often you want it to be used.

Pro tips

It will work on the great majority of cars that were built for the model year 1996 and beyond, but there are exceptions to this assumption of universal application. Several organizations still have app checkers on their websites, so play it safe. Many manufacturers have a smartphone or tablet, but not other devices, but it is unlikely that there will be a smartphone.

A bit of caution to note is that some OBD2 scanners may not work on every vehicle, so look at that as well.

A OBD2 scanner is a valuable tool to figure out what might be wrong with a car and to help reinstall it.

An OBD2 scanner is primarily intended to help you figure out what might be wrong with a vehicle and then get it fixed. It can adjust certain parameters once the repairs are complete. More capable scanners can perform fine modifications in certain vehicle systems. Flash programmers are a thing, but they're a different beast entirely and usually auto-brand specific.

The value of product support is important for the makers of OBD2 scanners. Even the most confident do-it-yourself people will have questions about what the code reader might be telling them, or something that doesn't seem to be functioning as it should.

Most reputable companies update their OBD2 scanner software regularly -- at least once a year -- so keep on top of it.

J.P. Vettraino has written for the Roadshow.

For the latest automotive news and reviews, please call your inbox twice weekly.

You may also like: