What Is An OBD2 Scanner?
The OBD2 protocol was created in 1996 and has been required on all cars built for use in the US ever since. It’s a universal standard that allows you to use the same tool to diagnose engine problems regardless of the make or model of your car. With an OBD II scan tool, you can hook up to your car’s diagnostic sensors and figure out the cause of car problems.
Here are the 5 Best OBD2 Scanners in 2021
#1. The Ancel AD310
The Ancel AD310 is a simple, robust and easy to use scanner. It works with every car made after 1996. It is good at both retrieving car data and clearing error codes.
The lack of extra functionality might prove troublesome if you want to clear other dashboard lights. Things like your ABS system, airbags, and stability control are all on more complicated manufacturer specific protocols. This tool doesn’t support these. Other devices have a USB cable input also that can be useful.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT?
The ANCEL AD310 is for anyone who simply wants to turn off a check engine light. Not only can this tool work with basic engine codes, it can also view manufacturer specific data for most common car makes.
#2. BlueDriver Bluetooth
The BlueDriver dongle can read car’s advanced diagnostics from GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, BMW, and Honda. It easily views and clears check engine light codes.Also, it can do the same for airbag, ABS, and stability control codes.
You do need a phone in order to use this dongle. Without an iOS or Android device, it won’t do anything at all.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT?
The BlueDriver Professional Scan Tool is great for who work with cars often. It’s also perfect for regular drivers who want to diagnose any car problems.
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#3. The Innova 3100J
This Innova 3100J doesn’t require that you pair it with a phone or an app to use it. The 3100J can read and clear common and advanced data or codes on GM, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler and Honda vehicles. Of course, it’ll still clear read and clear basic engine codes on all cars made after 1996.
Finally, the 3100J can check your car’s battery and alternator. This will help narrow down certain types of car problems very quickly.
The 3100J has a lot of buttons. It’s not hard to use, but it is a bit less convenient than using your phone’s touchscreen or using a more simple scanner. Additionally, the 3100J doesn’t have the ability to read live engine data.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT?
Like the BlueDriver above, this is a great choice for both regular consumers and people who work with cars. It’s a great thing to have in your auto shop for you and your coworkers to use, and it’s also a good thing to have in your garage.
#4. Launch X431 V+
The Launch system supports a full range of car interface features including ECU coding, advanced diagnostics, and the ability to program key fobs.
You can use a normal OBD2 scanner on most cars built for use in the US after 1996.
This Launch scanner comes with a variety of additional heads that let you use it on many other cars. This includes cars that were made for use in other markets that don’t have an OBD2 port at all.
The cost of the tablet means that this diagnostic system is quite a bit more expensive than other models. If you’ve got an exotic car without an OBD2 port, however, or you run a shop that frequently needs to access advanced diagnostics on strange cars, it’s more than worth it.
WHO SHOULD BUY THIS?
The Launch X431 V+ Android Diagnostic Scanner is ideal for automotive professionals. If you can afford it, it’s still a great tool for home use, too.
#5. The Autel Maxisys MS908P
The Autel MS908P can literally program some makes and models of cars. If you want to modify how the ECU works, perform OE-level diagnostics, or access other advanced features in your car’s computer, this tool is for you.
Like the Launch scanner, this system comes with a few extra dongle heads that allow it to work with several makes and models of European and Asian cars. If you need to perform maintenance on a car without an OBD2 port, this is a godsend.
This is a pretty pricey system. If you just want to clear check engine light codes, however, this scanner is a bit overkill.
WHO SHOULD BUY THIS?
Auto shops that regularly work with imports or people who want to reprogram their BMW’s ECU will get a lot of use out of this tool.
The Best Price
The Ancel AD310 offers full OBD2 functionality at an incredibly affordable price. If all you want to read or clear is engine data, it’s definitely the best budget choice.
The Best Functions
Both the Launch X431 V+ and the Autel MS980P offer quite a few advanced car interface features that you can’t find on the other units.
Unless you know what you want to do on what car, it’s difficult to tell exactly what the limits of each scanner is. That said, both of these tools have impressive compatibility so you can probably do what you want with either of them!
The Best Compatibility
For most users, the BlueDriver offers the best mix of compatibility. As long as you’re driving a car built for use in the US, it’ll plug in fine and you’ll definitely be able to view and clear engine-related codes. You can also view and clear advanced manufacturer specific codes for almost every make of car.
The Best Seller
The low price of the Ancel AD310 has made it a very popular product. If your check engine light just came on and you want to figure out why without spending a lot of money it’s a very good choice.
All five of these diagnostic scanners can help you diagnose car problems with the touch of a button. The Ancel is a great inexpensive model with basic functionality, while the BlueDriver and Innova let you clear advanced airbag and ABS codes.
If you need to program your car’s engine or work with imports, the Launch and Autel systems give you a full suite of professional options and even come with tablets to make your work life a little easier.