Noticing your vehicle’s malfunction indicator light pop up on your dashboard is the last thing you would want to see. Going to the mechanic to get your vehicle checked is another time consuming and probably an expensive thing to do.
But, it’s 2021, and thanks to On-Board Diagnostics 2, you can save much of your precious time and possibly hundreds of dollars by quickly scanning your car for any possible issues without having to go to the mechanic.
It’s quick, it’s efficient, and it is very easy to use.
These scanners work on almost all cars made since 1996.
Best OBD2 Scanners 2021
To make things easier for you, we have compiled and reviewed a list of 10 professional car diagnostic tools.
So, without further ado, let’s start reviewing our list of top 10 obd2 scanners you can buy in 2021.
With a variety of features to offer, the FIXD OBD2 Professional is the perfect scanner for your vehicle, considering its price tag, and the features it offers for it.
It is an extremely user-friendly device, which connects to your smartphone in an instant. Other than this, it also keeps track of your vehicle’s tires tread, wipers and battery life.
FIXD gives you maintenance reminders whenever needed or due. It also keeps a record of all the other cars you have connected the device with.
It gets its power from the OBD port in the car so it saves you from the hassle of recharging it.
Furthermore, the logbook would also keep recent scanned results for you to refer back to at a later date, giving you a complete record of your vehicle.
The bottom line is, it is an affordable car diagnostics tool with plenty of features to help you out in an easy and simple manner. With its app available on the AppStore and the PlayStore, it is available to the majority of the consumers with ease. The app does all the remaining work including diagnostics, reminders, and maintenance.
It is one of the highest-rated and most consumer loved scanner.
This device is portable as it fits in the palm of your hand and weighs just around 2.08 ounces.
In a nutshell, this is the consumer favorite device with professional output. It is most suitable for car enthusiasts and technicians as it shares the most detailed diagnostics on their smartphone. An expensive tool as compared to others but is of great value for money. Despite all its flaws with the app or the device itself, the positive aspects greatly outweigh the negative ones, making it a worthy purchase.
BAFX OBD2 Reader weighs about 2.4 ounces is a simple gadget that is good for the average joe. It quickly does the diagnoses and analyses the problems within moments for you to decide your next action.
Other than this, just like its more expensive competitor Bluedriver, it can also provide readings on your emissions to make sure you pass the test. BAFX maintains information on a variety of other car readings which includes clearing the malfunction indicator light.
It can work on many vehicles on a broad range of countries outside the USA as well, making it an internationally well-known OBD2 scanner. This is an extremely well-priced scanner to help you out diagnosing your car problems pretty easily.
Overall, it surely is worth every penny despite having its flaws which include no support for iOS devices, which are often used by many people around the world. But the features it offers for its price tag along which includes the ability to be used on cars that are not manufactured in the USA gives it an upper hand.
This device is the first one in the list that has an in-built screen, which means it saves you from the hassle of connecting the scanner with your mobile phone.
Once the scanner finds the error in your car, it will give you a trouble code and also briefly explain what it means, so you can fix it yourself if possible, saving you plenty of time and money.
To summarize, it is a great device as it can help save a lot of money and trips to the mechanic to diagnose your car. It is also perfect for people who like to keep things professional such as car enthusiasts and mechanics. This technicality, on the other hand, can be a bit of a problem for an average user though.
Foseal does a very good job at explaining what the error codes mean as it is connected to your device, regardless of its software.
This scanner gives you a lot of information about your car, which includes, engine RPM, coolant temperature, fuel pressure, etc. Despite being pretty inexpensive, Foseal is compatible with all OBDII protocols, including CAN-BUS. The wifi compatibility allows it to work wirelessly, as many people prefer it over a wired connection.
This device also does a wonderful job interpreting the trouble codes so an average person can understand it without any trouble. Also, the ability to be used wirelessly gives the user the opportunity to scan the vehicle on the go as well. So, you don’t necessarily have to be stationary to give your car a quick scan.
Conclusively, it is a pretty good deal considering its price and is an ideal scanner for an amateur user. It is great to be used on the go and its support for all kinds of operating systems is a big advantage. Despite its narrower compatibility as compared to its rivals, and the inability to work without an internet connection, it still does a pretty good job carrying out the diagnostics.
This handheld device which weighs around 0.32 ounces is one of the most portable scanners you will find in the market.
Despite having such a small size, this little thing is capable of carrying out tasks which many of its bigger rivals are unable to do so. The best part about this scanner is the fact that it is probably the most compatible device in its price bracket.
Ultimately, it can be said that this device is well worth its price despite having its flaws. It is easy to use and is pretty cheap as compared to others, making it perfect for beginners. Its wide compatibility is a big factor for many people to choose this scanner for such an affordable price.
The Carista OBD2 Bluetooth adapter is another leading competitor in the OBD2 scanner department which is available at an attractive price. It does a great job carrying out the diagnostics of a vehicle and giving the reports.
It is compatible with all operating systems. Also, this device does a great job of reading and resetting the trouble codes in your car if it is manufactured locally and after 1996.
For supported models, it also allows you to check tire pressure sensors, detailed ECU information and even does ABS/VSC/TRAC inspection.
This device is most suitable for luxurious cars such as Audi, BMW, Scion, Lexus, etc. the software interface is very plain and simple making it extremely easy for the user to understand the results, without having the need to consult an expert.
In conclusion, considering the overall price and the features Carista offers, it is suitable for a large audience. Its user-friendliness gives it a heads up when compared with its competitors. It is good enough for beginners even without the premium features. But as far as technicians and other professionals are concerned, the advanced features are important to make complete use of this scanner.
The Launch OBD2 is another well-known scanner for its built-in screen and ease of use. The built-in screen that does not require any use of a third-party application or a device to complete diagnostics of your vehicle.
It supports all OBD2 protocols. Launch OBD2 is fairly quick in connecting as compared to wireless connections because of being a wired scanner. (Wireless connections need time to connect and they lag as well depending on the connectivity.)
It is a great device for viewing graphical live data of vehicle’s computer modules.
Once you purchase the scanner itself, there are no other charges to have complete access to what this device has to offer. So considering the price, this is a good option if you want to choose a scanner with an in-built screen and a wired connection.
Overall, it is a good value for money product and it also features support for many languages. It is a good option for beginners who need a seamless and a wired connection as it is affordable and does the basic work pretty well. It has wide compatibility and ease of use.
Veepeak is a great device when it comes to functionality and compatibility.
This device alone is compatible with all OBD2 and EOBD compliant cars and can be used with many third-party apps on your smartphones such as OBD Fusion and DashCommand. This device supports Android, iOS and Windows phones as well. So, you don’t have to worry about any sort of compatibility issues when using this scanner, which can be bought within a $50 budget.
This scanner also gives you a heads up when your vehicle is ready for a smog check-up. As far as other features are concerned, it also monitors fuel economy, allows you to create your dashboard, and many other things as well.
Conclusively, it is still a pretty durable and affordable scanner and is widely compatible with a variety of apps and vehicles. Its user-friendliness is another major reason why many beginners would love using it. So, if you are looking for a device that is easy to set up and use, this can be a very good option for you.
The Vgate iCar Pro is the last but not the least on our top 10 best OBD2 scanners list.
It is a smartly engineered product that is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows phones and comes under a $50 budget.
Vgate does its work pretty well and efficiently, which includes clearing and reading the check engine light if it pops up out of nowhere on your dashboard. Its dedicated app is absolutely free to use and is really user-friendly which makes it a very convenient device for beginners.
Overall, it is a fairly good option as a scanner for your car. It carries out the diagnostics very well and is affordable as well, keeping in mind the functions and features it has to offer. Vgate is user-friendly with much to offer such as vehicle speed, coolant temperature, fuel pressure, engine rpm, air flow rate, etc. However, it must be noted that it does not work with heavy-duty vehicles such as semi-trucks and tractors.
The Ideal Buyer’s Guide
There are various scanners out there and to choose the one that would meet all your needs, you need to do a bit of digging. To make this process of choosing a scanner easy for you, we have prepared the perfect buyers guide that will take into account all the factors that you need to consider.
The build quality is also important because there are products out there that don’t work as advertised and have a shorter lifespan.
This factor is somewhat correlated with the next key factor which involves the brand which you ultimately choose.
Just make sure you buy from a reliable and a high rated brand so you get the most out of your scanner. A well-known brand that has confidence in its product normally offers a warranty as well for the buyer in case the product is not as advertised or if it has any other fault in it.
This means that buying a branded scanner would mean you don’t have to worry about it malfunctioning or not working at all. After all, it is quite some investment.
In case you are a professional, you still need to keep in mind the user-friendliness.
If there are no updates, it is highly expected that the scanner gets outdated soon, because of the technological advancements in the automotive industry.
After all, taking care of your vehicle and always having peace of mind that everything is fine and the vehicle is in perfect condition is a wonderful feeling.
Hence, to get the most out of your scanner and for your ease and comfort, make sure you do your complete research before choosing the final product as these scanners go as high as $100 and sometimes even more.
My Opinion – What do I suggest?
In my opinion, wired scanners are a better and more convenient option for professionals and enthusiasts as the results are more efficient and quicker as compared to wireless connections.
On the other hand, a wireless connection, via Bluetooth or WiFi, is a more suitable option for casual users as it is easy to use because of user-friendly application on the smartphone to show the results of the diagnostics.
That is all you need to know before you choose the best diagnostic tool for your vehicle or for your profession if it involves checking and regulating a lot of cars!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Finally, here are some of the most asked question regarding the topic.
OBD stands for “On-Board Diagnostics” which is a vehicle’s built-in self-diagnostic system. It is found in many cars produced after 1996 in the USA as CARB made it mandatory for every vehicle after the recommendation of the Society of Automotive Engineers.
An OBD2 scanner is connected to your vehicle using a wired or a wireless connection and it scans the vehicle for any possible errors such as Malfunction Indicator Light popping up.
Once the scanner is connected to the 16 pin connector, it runs the diagnostics and shows the Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) which is the main problem that the car is facing, for instance, in the example given, it would briefly explain why the engine light has popped up.
The OBD2 connector is located under the dashboard and can be often closed with a plastic cover with OBD written on it. It can also be found behind ashtrays or under the steering wheel. It is often covered, and often visible in plain sight.
It depends on the car you have. It varies from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer. More or less, it is in the same position for every vehicle that is IBD2 compliant.
The OBD2 connector is a 16 pin connector that is found in all OBD2 compliant vehicles manufactured after 1996.
Oftentimes, there is a marking on the cover, if there is any, which clearly states OBD. Also, there is just one connector in that area where the OBD is found so you don’t have to worry about mixing it up with any other connector because there isn’t any.
The OBD2 scanner can detect a range of problems depending on the type of scanner you use. The errors may include check engine light, emissions and smog tests, etc.
There are several other errors that it detects as well and shows the Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) so that the user can identify what is the core of the problem and try and fix it.
OBD2 scanners are mainly of three types. Some are Bluetooth scanners that use third-party applications and a third-party device to help with the diagnostics.
Others include pc scanners which help with the diagnostics by a connection with a computer.
Lastly, the most professional ones are the hand-held scanners that you devices with in-built screens to display the diagnostics and have a wired connection with the car itself.
It was a mandatory standard in the USA for cars and light trucks to have OBD2 produced in 1996.
Later in 2001, it was made necessary for light gas cars and trucks in the EU to be OBD2 compliant. Similarly, in 2004, the EU made OBD2 mandatory in Diesel cars and light trucks. Finally, in 2005 and 2010, medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles were made mandatory to be OBD2 compliant.
Hence, if you purchased the car according to these years, it is highly probable that your vehicle is OBD2 compatible.
An OBD2 is a diagnostic tool for your vehicle which is more or less a need as well. It is because this simple and affordable device that can potentially help you save a lot of money and time.
It can even save you from the hassle of going to a mechanic over and over again for the slightest of issues in your vehicle. Many scanners also give live readings and regular reminders to keep your car in perfect health and everything updated.
These are only a few reasons to keep a diagnostic tool by yourself. Others may include the ability to inspect a vehicle before you purchase it, add or modify features of the car or even provide real-time data.
It is a one-time investment that can help you save money and time over several years.
So make sure you keep one of these portable and handy devices with yourself and make complete use of it.
Get the best there is to suit your needs!