Top 5 Best OBD2 Scanners in 2021 - Buyer’s Guide
Autel AutoLink AL319
The best OBD2 scanner out of these other five because of its simplicity and ease of use.
This scan tool can only read and display diagnostic error codes. It will only display the error codes.
CRP129 is an affordable medium-sized professional OBD2 scanner best suited for small repair shops and DIY’ers.
Decent OBD-II scanner that offers essential functions, good design, and simple menu navigation.
Just like with the FIXD scanner, the BlueDriver OBD2 scanner is also wireless.
It's a car owner's worst nightmare when the check engine light shows up suddenly. They have to take their car to a mechanic that could say there is a problem with the catalytic converter and that it's $1000s in repair when the real problem could be a broken gas cap, which is about $30.
This is why having an OBD2 Scanner is an excellent addition to your car accessories because it can help you understand what specific problem is behind that dreaded "Check Engine Light."
Not only is it useful for check engine lights, it can also give you live data of the vehicle, emission checks, reset CEL, and so on ...
Knowing the exact problem with your car is essential when visiting a mechanic. They could try and take advantage of you for thinking you don't know anything when, in fact, you already have all the information. This way, you could catch them by surprise when they try to rip you off. You could save up to $1000s in repairs by simply knowing what is going on under the hood. That is the real power behind obd2 scanners.
If you want, you could repair those issues yourself, and if you don't want to bother yourself with that, take the vehicle to a mechanic and show them what the problem is and the average price for fixing it.
We've gathered the five best obd2 scanners and put them to the test to see which one is the best. OBD2 scanners used to be $1000 - $1500, but luckily the pricing has dropped significantly. The pricing these days is around $50 - $150, which is a great deal for someone trying to get a sense of what's wrong with their vehicle.
Why Would Someone Buy An OBD2 Scanner
Well, there are several reasons as to why someone would want to buy an obd2 scanner, and these are:
- You can diagnose issues that are common when something goes wrong with your car. Vehicles these days have a lot of electronics inside it, and because of that, there are many sensors that are monitoring everything. Having the best obd2 scanner at your disposal could allow you to process all the information that comes from those sensors.
- OBD2 scanners can reset the check engine light. The sensors can detect and tell you the exact issue with the check engine light, and if the problem is not severe, you could simply turn it off and continue driving. Other things it can do is relay information about the temperature, tire pressure, etc.
- The scanners can relay your vehicle's live data while running so you can check on the drivetrain's performance, powertrain, and so on.
Types of OBD2 Scanners
Having an OBD2 sensor without any cables is excellent. Once plugged in, they can be left there to do their thing. They usually work via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. It might be somewhat tricky for some users when connecting it for the first time, but it's smooth sailing after that. You can sit comfortably in a chair while you look through all the information about the vehicle.
The majority of obd2 scanners come with a cable attached to it. This way, the sensor doesn't require power from the battery to work. The wires are usually short, so you won't have enough room to move around.
The Best OBD2 Scanners Overview
1. FIXD OBD2 Scanner
FIXD is a combination of a sensor and an app that can save you $1000s in costly repairs. It works by plugging the Bluetooth sensor in the OBD2 port and then pairing it with the app for your smartphone (Android & iOS compatible).
It will tell you why the check engine light is on, the severity of the problem, and what would happen if you continue driving under these circumstances. It is also capable of sending you notifications on when to take your vehicle for a maintenance check.
In the United States, FIXD works on all gas and hybrid-powered cars built after 1996, and every Diesel-powered vehicle made after 2008. Outside the US, FIXD will work with all gas/petrol, hybrid, and diesel cars made in 2006 and after.
When the FIXD sensor is plugged in, it takes about 60 seconds to scan the entire car with a press of a button in the app.
The FIXD app can send you notifications regarding the engine problems, upcoming maintenance, and check engine light issues specific to your vehicle.
The great thing about FIXD is that it will translate all the error codes into easy-to-understand sentences that will be well understood by all.
- It gives you a cost estimate for the repair
- Detects more than 7000 potential issues
- Fast scan speed
- One Fixd account for multiple vehicles
- Available for Android and iOS devices
- Unable to detect problems with ABS, airbag or TPMS
2. Autel AutoLink AL319
The AutoLink Al319 is a simple plug and play obd2 scanner that comes with an easy to understand interface for the end-user or DIYer. Unfortunately, it cant give you total control of your vehicle. It will only display the error codes, and it does that very well.
This scan tool can only read and display diagnostic error codes. It includes multiple languages, which include Spanish, French, English, and Japanese.
The device can also give you live data of the car, freeze frame data, and test the emissions.
The AL319 scanner comes with a non-detachable cable, and the software it uses is simple, having just 4 buttons
If you want, you can read the data yourself, or you can let the software read it for you. This way, you can keep your eyes on the road for safety reasons, of course.
The major setback of Autel AutoLink Al319 is the outdated way of updating the software. The current version of the Windows does not work with the update program, and it plugs in via a mini USB connector.
- Decent display size
- Easy to use interface
- it doesn't require the battery for power
- Basically NO updates
- The cable is too short
- It can't tell you the problem behind an error code
3. LAUNCH CRP129
The Launch CRP129 is an affordable medium-sized professional OBD2 scanner best suited for small repair shops and DIY'ers. The scanner can reset service light functions such as EPB reset, SAS reset, and OIL reset.
The CRP129 supports the system check of the airbags. What it does there is check if all the circuits and sensors in the airbags are functioning properly.
You can also access ABS so you can read and erase any DTC's and run multiple performance tests to see if the Anti Lock Braking System is working as it should be. The ABS warning light can also be turned off.
The Launch CRP129 scanner works with 10 OBD2 test modes, which include:
- Data Stream
- O2 Sensor Test
- Read and Erase Codes
- I/M Readiness
- Turn off MIL
- Freeze Frame
- Data Stream
- Vehicle Info
- EVAP System Test
- On-board monitor test
The scanner can read the data streaming of AT, SRS (Airbag), ENG, and ABS, which allows the end-user to see and analyze the real-time data. All of this is shown on a waveform display that makes quick and accurate diagnostics. The Launch CRP129 has a built-in DTC lookup library that can retrieve generic U0, P0, P2, and P3 and manufacturer specific codes such as P1, P3, and U1.
Launch CRP129 obd2 scanner will only work on a car battery that is 12V and with a 16 pin OBD2 port. SRS and ABS diagnostics only work in 2006 and newer vehicles.
- Quick operation
- Lifetime free software updates
- Great construction build
- 1-year warranty
- Somewhat expensive
4. ANCEL AD310
The Ancel AD310 OBD2 scanner is quite basic, and that's perfect for a lot of people. It's relatively small so that you can keep it in the glove compartment.
This OBD2 scanner also uses a wired connection to work. The scanner only reads and clears any error codes it comes across, including the check engine light.
The striking part of this obd2 scanner is the design. It has a big LCD in color and has excellent brightness, so you'll have no trouble reading it in the dark.
The menu is simple enough, so you'll have no trouble navigating it.
The downside is that it doesn't have an extensive database of codes available to it. Some problems like bad ignition coils and spark plugs are sometimes not detected at all. Other scan tools have no issues when performing those tasks.
- Colored LCD
- Build and finish
- The manual is confusing
- Problems connecting
- Not enough features
- Too basic for some
5. BlueDriver OBD2 Scan Tool
Just like with the FIXD scanner, the BlueDriver OBD2 scanner is also wireless. It works via a Bluetooth connection. The device also consists of an app for your Android and iOS, and a physical obd2 scanner that plugs into the car.
As with the FIXD scanner, this one is also easy to use because its a simple plug and play device. The BlueDriver app works really well and is super intuitive, providing you with information for everything.
The best thing about BlueDriver is the amount of information it can give you. The diagnostics its capable of doing is pretty impressive, and it can do that on a wide range of cars.
It can provide you with information about ABS and airbags that most scan tools can't do.
The downside of BlueDriver is that the Enhanced diagnostics will not work on every car, and that plays a big part for a lot of people. The scanner is also not compatible with third-party apps, which is a shame. In the end, this obd2 scanner is only suitable for reporting and diagnosing.
- Small design
- Good for beginners
- It tells you the average price for repairs
- It can't show live engine data
How To Choose The Best OBD2 Scanner
The best way to understand your vehicle is by having the best obd2 scanner. The scanner allows you to learn why the check engine light is on, the severity of the problem, and an estimated cost for repairs. All repair shops and mechanics use OBD2 scanners, so why can't you use one and learn everything about your car's inner workings?
The best OBD2 scanners already have a perfect weight, size, and the ability to give you information about every error code there is, but you also need to keep in mind these following things when choosing the best one.
- Size and weight. Let's be honest if you have one of those big professional ones; it's not going to fit in the glove compartment. Choose one that fits your needs.
- Setup process. You want the initial setup to be as fast as possible so you can diagnose the problem quickly.
- Accuracy. This is a no brainer. The obd2 scanner needs to precise when giving you information about the severity of the problems so you know if you can fix it yourself or do you need to take the car to the mechanic's shop.
- Warranty. The bigger the warranty, the better the product, so have that in mind when purchasing the best obd2 scanner.
- Error code information. The best OBD2 scanners can give you the error code and all the information to better understand the problem so you'll know what to do next. Having the right information can give you an edge over a shady mechanic so that he won't rip you off.
- Graphical data. Having a visual chart that shows you all the information can make your workflow that much easier.
- I/M readiness check. An excellent OBD2 scan tool has an option to run an emissions check and other similar tests to help you pass your state's laws.
- Live data. This option allows the scanner to run diagnostics on the car while it's running.
There's a lot of criteria when looking to buy the best obd2 scanner, but the most important for many users is if the connection is wired or wireless (Bluetooth). The wired ones have their own handheld that connects via a cable directly to the car, and the wireless scanners connect via wireless Bluetooth to your Android or iOS smartphone.
If you fancy the wired obd2 scanner, then make sure to get one with a large LCD that is bright enough, and if the wireless one is your choice, then all that depends on the smartphone you have.
If you are prone to dropping things, get one that is rugged with soft rubberized corners. Take note of the prices because you don't want to spend a lot of bucks on something you're going to be using only to keep track of your vehicle's health.
The best OBD2 scanner that we pick is the FIXD sensor. The smartphone app that comes as a part of the sensor is easy to use with intuitive buttons that make navigating it a breeze.
The price and features it offers go way beyond any other scanner on the market, and the great thing about it is that it works over a Bluetooth connection.
If you're still not sure about which one to buy, read some of the online reviews people are saying about these five obd2 scanners, and hopefully, by then, you will have a better understanding of which one to buy.