car diagnostic tool

Car Diagnostic Tool – All You Need To Know About OBD Scanners

A car diagnostic tool is also called an OBD scanner. An OBD scanner, as the name suggests, a car scanner is a diagnostic scanner for your car. The full form of an OBD reader is an On Board Diagnostics scanner. This device is connected to the car via the OBD port and an OBD cable.

The car diagnostic tool further accesses the data memory of the control units and all the sensors. This device further evaluates and analyses these sensors and ECUs and informs if there is any problem that needs to be brought to the attention of the car owner.

What Is A Car Diagnostic Tool?

A car diagnostic tool is a piece of technology that is used by professional mechanics and car enthusiasts. For anyone who enjoys working on a car, owns a garage, or just someone who wants to avoid paying expensive fees at a dealership, an OBD scanner is one of the best investments. Some of the best automotive scan tools don’t have to cost a fortune and can often pay for themselves in only one use.

car diagnostic tool

A car diagnostic tool or a On Board Diagnostics tool is an amazing piece of technology that allows a car owner to know about all the problems faced by the car. In layman’s terms, an OBD reader is a diagnostic tool that allows an owner to know what is wrong with a car.

Why Is An OBD Scanner Important?

An OBD reader is an important part of diagnosing a problem faced by your vehicle. It is an important part of telematics and fleet management. The codes which are read by an OBD scanner are programmed into the car by the manufacturer of the vehicle, which then lets you perform a car code scan. This allows them to quickly identify problems that exist when the vehicle is brought into a dealership.

After all, imagine having to find a fault without a quick and easy solution for this purpose. It makes measuring and managing a vehicle’s health and driving possible.

Thanks to the OBD readers, owners can track information about their cars like

  • It tracks the wear and tear on the different parts of the vehicle and figures out if they are wearing out faster than usual or is facing any problem.
  • Another importance of an OBD reader is to instantly diagnose vehicle problems before they occur. This is supporting proactive rather than reactive management.
  • It measures driving behavior, speed, idling time, and several more things.

What Is A Check Engine Light?

The check engine light is one of the most important features of a car. A check engine light is your car slowly trying to communicate with you in the only way it can. At the basic level, the check engine light indicates that a sensor is malfunctioning or providing unexpected data to the computer.

car diagnostic tool

These basic sensors are usually placed in the engine, exhaust, or transmission. A check engine light helps indicate a problem with the sensor monitors, a malfunctioning sensor, or a wiring issue.

In some cases, the check engine light might turn off without any outside intervention. This does not mean that the problem has been fixed or there was no problem in the first place. The information regarding the check engine light is usually available via a code reader after the light turns off.

What Are The Different Types Of OBD Scanners

On-board diagnostics tools have made identifying problems with any and every car out there extremely easy. OBD scanners have been really helpful for people who used to feel stressed after seeing a check engine light. Any car enthusiast or any garage owner needs to buy this device to know and diagnose problems with your car.

There are several scanners that are available in the market in today’s day and age. It can be very difficult to choose the right kind of scanner, because of the several kinds of scanners available in the market right now. That is why, we will go over the basic OBD2 scanners, and the different types to help you make an educated decision. Here is a list of the different types of OBD scanners available in the market.

Basic Code Reader

One of the most common onboard diagnosis tools has to be a basic code reader. A basic car code scanner is a low-cost scanner you can find at any auto parts or hardware store. When you take your car to a parts store for a free check engine light scan, this is usually the type of scanner they use.

OBD2 scanners operate and inform with the help of diagnostics trouble codes or DTC. This triggers the car to let you know if something wrong is going on under the hood.

The main responsibility of a basic scanner is to inform the DTC on a small screen when plugged into the diagnostic port. This code usually consists of a letter followed by four digits. This error code tells you exactly what might be wrong with your car. Eg – P0102 or P0449.

A basic code reader only gives the information of what error the car is facing. Looking up the code online is the only way to get more information about the code alongside deciphering it. The scanner usually does not specify what it means.

After you diagnose the DTC, anyone can use the simple tools to clear the code and get rid of that annoying check engine light on the dash. There is also a wireless variant available for a basic code reader.

OBD2 Bluetooth Diagnostic Car Scanner/Reader Tool

The next big jump you can make from a basic scanner is to a DIY scanner. These DIY scanners are more equipped and are extremely feature-rich. They can give you way more information about the car but at a higher price.

Some of these DIY scanners are just a dongle that you put in the car’s diagnostic port. This through the help of a Bluetooth connection can further be connected to your phone through an app on your phone. The scanner reads all the information on the vehicle and sends the information to the device it is connected to.

Bluetooth scanners have made the life of every automotive enthusiast extremely easy. They are plugged in to the cars and instead of having long confusing wires, they are connected to your device of choice with the help of Bluetooth.

car diagnostic tool

Unlike the traditional corded handheld scanners, which give them information about your cars, a Bluetooth OBD scanner can give you live data of what is going on in your car at any given time. It can tell your gauges the average speed, average MPG, fuel usage, horsepower, and other specific information.

Alongside that, a Bluetooth scanner can do anything and everything a basic scanner is equipped to do. It can read all the DTCs and clear all the codes.

Professional Car Diagnostic Tool

A professional car diagnostic tool is one of the most advanced pieces of technology that a car enthusiast can buy. If you’re a professional or someone who wants to retrieve serious data from their cars, a professional-grade car diagnostic tool is what you need. The professional car diagnostic tool can perform any function that could be possible in a scanner.

A professional OBD 2 scanner offers several advanced features. They help enable ECU programming, ECU adaptations, and software to help a professional work on a car. A professional car diagnostic tool includes several varieties of connectors that truly make them universal. Some of the tools can even diagnose a problem with some heavy-duty vehicles.

The advantages of these professional laser scanners are the ability to save the data. This saved data can be used to graph the performance of any car in different metrics and categories.

If you’re a professional, a serious car tuner, or just a hardcore enthusiast, these powerful units are just what you need.

Advantages Or Disadvantages Of The Different OBD Scanner Types

There are several types of OBD scanners that are available in the market. An onboard diagnostic tool has made identifying problems with a car extremely easy. OBD scanners have been really helpful for people who used to feel stressed after seeing a check engine light.

Even though all of these scanners can help you diagnose problems, each type has some pros and cons. Here is a list of all of the pros and cons of the different types of scanners so that you can make an educated decision.

1. Basic Code Reader

A basic code reader is a type of OBD2 scanner which operates and informs with the help of diagnostics trouble codes or DTC. This code reader helps the car to inform you if something wrong is going on under the hood.

Pros Of A Basic Code Reader

This basic code reader has several pros and cons. Some of the pros of the basic code reader are that it is extremely economical. Any car enthusiast or a professional who has just started out can afford this and can use it to diagnose any problems with the car you are working on.

Another advantage of a basic code reader is that it can easily read any 5-digit error code and clear them. A basic code reader can easily be connected to your phone or any other device which makes it easily accessible and useful for a person who is new to this.

Cons Of A Basic Code Reader

Like any other piece of technology out there the basic code reader is not perfect. It has some cons to it that we want you to know before purchasing one. The primary or the most important con has to be the fact that it is not as equipped as the professional OBD scanners that are available in the market.

Secondly,  a basic code reader might also have problems connecting to a third-party app. It may not be compatible or might have certain technical issues that might keep it from connecting. Alongside that companies that make these basic code readers usually do not offer the best warranty or support.

2. DIY Scanner/Bluetooth Scanner

An OBD2 Bluetooth diagnostic car scanner/reader tool is a step up or an upgrade from the basic scanner that is available on the market. These DIY scanners are more equipped and are extremely feature-rich. They can give you real-time information about the car but at a higher price.

Pros Of A DIY/Bluetooth Scanner

There are several pros that come with a Bluetooth OBD2 reader. The primary advantage is that there are dedicated apps that connect to the device. This makes the connection extremely easy from the user’s point of view. Alongside that, these apps also help track real-time information about the performance of the car.

The second merit of any DIY scanner is that anyone who buys it gets something close to a professional scanner for a cheaper price. A DIY scanner can do many things that a professional OBD2 reader can do for a reasonable price. It contains most of the features needed by a mid-scale mechanic or an enthusiast.

Cons Of A DIY/Bluetooth Scanner

Like the basic code scanner, even the DIY or Bluetooth scanners are not perfect. Some of these scanners that are available in the market are not good as they are advertised. They are the more expensive version of the basic scanners that can do basically the same thing any basic scanner can do.

Another con of a DIY scanner is that it is extremely hard to shop for one because of the several options out there. There are a number of companies that make these DIY scanners in the same price range. So finding the one that is perfect for your needs can be difficult. The last and most important con of having a DIY scanner is that it is not powerful enough to be used as a professional scanner.

3. Professional OBD Scanner

A professional car diagnostic tool is one of the most advanced pieces of technology that a car enthusiast can buy. If you’re a professional or someone who wants to retrieve serious data from their cars, a professional-grade car diagnostic tool is what you need. Here is a list of advantages and disadvantages of a professional OBD scanner.

Pros Of A Professional OBD Scanner

A professional car diagnostic tool has several advantages that can be used by many professional car shops. There are a number of features that help gather information about any and every car you want to work on. A professional OBD scanner is one of the most extremely powerful and versatile diagnostic equipment that is available on the market.

A professional OBD scanner comes with great warranties and strong customer support. This helps all the professionals to work without worrying about their expensive equipment. A professional OBD scanner contains all the features that are needed by many professionals.

Cons Of A Professional OBD Scanner

Even though a professional OBD scanner is feature loaded it does come with some cons. The first and biggest problem is that a professional OBD scanner is extremely expensive. It’s difficult for every enthusiast or professional to buy a professional OBD scanner. Secondly, this type of OBD scanner has a number of features needed by a car.

 The problem is that there are so many features that you would be paying for features that go unused by most of the machines. One of the last cons of a professional OBD scanner is that it has several wires and is very cumbersome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most popular and frequently asked questions relating to OBD scanners

What Is The Best Car Diagnostic Tool

In today’s day and age, the technology used in cars is getting more and more complex. There is a lot of competition in the automotive industry and because of that companies are equipping cars with several features. The days when the problems with an engine could be fixed by just cleaning a carburetor are gone. A car diagnostics tool is an important piece of technology that helps to know the root cause of a problem that is faced by cars in the modern world. There are several OBD 2 scanners that are available in the market. It can be extremely stressful to choose the right one, so here are some of the best OBD2 scanners available on the market.

BlueDriver Bluetooth Automotive Scanner

The Bluedriver Bluetooth automotive scanner is one of the best overall performers in the market right now. There is no other scanner available on the market that offers several functions for such a reasonable price. Another one of the reasons why the BlueDriver is an all-rounder scanner is because you can control this scanner with your phone.

The BlueDriver can read a number of enhanced trouble codes. Reading such error codes makes it better than several OBD2 scanners out there. It makes the BlueDrive extremely unique on the market for this price.

Autel MaxiCom MK808 Professional Automotive Scanner

The Autel MaxiCOM MK808 is an OBD2 scanner for people who want a scanner that has several features. It is a professional OBD scanner. It is a little too expensive for people who are just fixing their cars at home. This type of scanner is perfect for an automotive workshop.

If you are someone who does not mind the price tag of this scanner, it is the right choice. The Autel MaxiCom has several features that you might need to help diagnose problems for your car. It also has a great error code database.

Some of the pros regarding the MK808 are that it has several Programming functions, a live data feed, an amazing user experience, and extremely fast scanning.

Nexpeak NX501 Diagnostic Scanner

Another scanner that wins the competition of the cheapest OBD scanner is the Nexpeak NX501. This scanner is a great choice for people who only want a budget scanner and do not want to spend an obnoxious amount of money. The NX501 is extremely affordable and has all of the features and functions needed to fix the simpler tasks at home.

One of the main features except for being affordable is that it shows live data of the car. This helps in making the diagnostics much easier. The drawback to a cheap OBD2 scanner is that you can not read enhanced codes with this tool. This is not a big problem for most diagnostics, but it can be difficult in some cars.

How To Use A Car Diagnostic Tool

The main responsibility of an OBD2 scanner is to help you or your mechanic to check if your car is in good shape. We have talked a lot about the pros and cons of OBD scanners. We have also talked about the best OBD scanners in the market. The question still remains on how to use an OBD scanner. Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to use an OBD2 scanner.

Step 1: The first thing you have to do is to locate the diagnostic link connector. The DLC is a 16-pin connector that is located under the dashboard. It is usually covered with the door or a flap. The DLC is the place where you can connect your OBD2 reader.

Step 2: Secondly what you would need to do is to connect your OBD2 code reader or scanner to the DLC. plug the end on the OBD2 scan tool into the DLC with an OBD2 connector cable. Make sure that the car is turned off when you are plugging the scanner, to turn on the scanner you need to put your car on the ignition or on idle. You need to follow the instructions given in the manual to communicate safely with your car.

Step 3: the third and last step is to enter all of the data that is asked by the scanner. The scanner usually asked for the VIN number and make and model before it starts the diagnosis.

OBD Scanner


As said before an OBD scanner or a car diagnostic tool is one of the most important devices for diagnosing problems with your vehicles. That is why it is very important for an individual to choose the right scanner which they feel will benefit them the most. here is everything you need to educate yourself on before you buy a scanner for yourself.

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