OBDII scanners let you access your car’s diagnostic systems in order to diagnose engine problems. These devices have traditionally been too expensive for consumer use, but recent advances in tech have made them much more affordable.
As a result, car owners can frequently save money by purchasing an OBD-2 scanner to turn off their own check engine lights at home. Whether you’re a DIY mechanic, an automotive professional, or a cautious driver who wants to be prepared, you can use one of these tools to make your life a lot easier.
Do you need more information about the best automotive OBDII scanners?
HERE ARE THE 10 TOP RATED CAR DIAGNOSTIC SCANNERS ON THE MARKET AS OF 2018!
|Product Name||Reads+Clear Specific|
ABS/ Oil/ SRS/ etc Code
|Need 3rd Party App||Rating||Action|
|BAFX Bluetooth Diagnostic OBDII Reader||No||Yes||See Details|
|BlueDriver Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool||Yes||No||See Details|
|ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth||Yes||No||See Details|
|Automatic AUT-350C Pro Gold 3G Connected Car Adapter||No||No||See Details|
|ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner||No||No||See Details|
|Autel MaxiLink ML619 CAN OBD2 Scanner||Yes||No||See Details|
|Innova 3100j Diagnostic Code Reader / Scan Tool||Yes||No||See Details|
Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Diagnostic Scan Tool
|PLX Devices Kiwi 3 Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool||No||Yes||See Details|
|ScanTool 427201 OBDLink LX Bluetooth||No||No||See Details|
1. BAFX Bluetooth Diagnostic OBDII Reader
The BAFX Bluetooth Diagnostic Scanner is one of the cheapest options on the market for turning off a check engine light. Moreover, it’s a simple Bluetooth dongle with near universal compatibility. Any car made after 1996 will divulge critical engine data and basic check-engine error codes. The only catch? You’re limited to engine data only. This means no airbag, brake, oil, or stability control diagnostics.
Who Is It Built For?
If the check engine light just turned on in your car, the BAFX Bluetooth Scanner is for you. It’s a perfect tool that lets ordinary drivers save money by fixing basic car problems themselves. The BAFX will tell you exactly what’s wrong with your car. In many cases, you can use this information to fix your car yourself.
Even if you uncover a complicated problem that requires a mechanic’s attention, the information you uncovered with your scan tool will help you save money. Since you’ll understand exactly what your car needs, you can shop around and find the cheapest solution.
The low cost of this scanner makes it a great choice for professionals, too. It’s not going to replace your all-purpose professional scanner, of course, but it’s a cheap way to put something in your pocket for when the shop’s heavy-duty tool is in use.
One thing to note: this version of this tool does NOT work with iPhones and Apple tablets. Luckily, BAFX makes a wireless version that works with Apple mobile products. It’s pretty much identical except for the fact that it uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth.
The BAFX Bluetooth Diagnostic Scanner is pretty darn cheap. It’s an ideal purchase if your goal is to save money while you fix your car. You’ll have plenty of cash left over to pick up parts.
Standalone scanners at this price point have small black and white screens. Since the BAFX scanner uses your phone, it’s crystal clear and easy to read.
- Comprehensive Compatibility
This scan tool is a simple, basic unit with no frills. While this means it can’t do fancy programming or reset your oil or ABS light, it does mean that it works with every car made after 1996 for US consumer use. There’s no guessing when it comes to the BAFX working with a specific make or model of car. It reads engine data from everything.
Read more: What is ABS?
A video about BAFX Bluetooth Scanner:
- Limited Diagnostic Capability
BAFX’s Bluetooth scanner can’t read anything other than engine data. This means it can’t help you turn off an airbag, oil, or ABS dashboard light, and it can’t do other advanced manufacturer-specific stuff. It’ll only help you solve engine problems.
- Requires A not-Apple Phone
You’ll have to choose a slightly different BAFX scanner if you have an iPhone. Even if you use a Windows or Android device, however, you may want to consider a standalone scanner over this unit.
If you know you’ll be working on the car with someone, you’ll both find yourselves looking at the diagnostic data on one person’s phone. This can be awkward if you want to step away while your partner works on the car – you’ll have to leave your phone behind.
- Needs a 3rd Party App
The BAFX needs software on your phone in order to be useful. If you’re tech savvy, this isn’t a big problem – there are lots of free or cheap options available on the market. It might take some time to find the right app to solve your problems, however, and that app might cost money.
Individuals who aren’t comfortable searching for and trying out new apps should probably choose a scanner with bundled software (or a standalone scanner).
Overall, the BAFX is a wonderful choice for people who want to turn off their check engine light cheaply. It’s one of the cheapest OBD-II scanners you can find anywhere. While it doesn’t come with any software, you can pair it with one of several free or paid apps on your phone to diagnose engine problems in glorious high definition.
2. BlueDriver Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool
The BlueDriver Professional OBDII Scan Tool is a simple dongle that offers everything the BAFX scanner above doesn’t. This means it comes with high-quality bundled software, works with iPhones, and can interact with most manufacturer specific interfaces. This means you can retrieve oil, ABS, and airbag trouble codes and reset the corresponding dashboard lights.
Who Is It Built For?
BlueDriver’s scan tool is pretty affordable, which puts it well within the reach of regular drivers. On the other hand, the comprehensive diagnostic package and great compatibility make it a pretty good choice for auto professionals, too. It’s a solid choice for everyone.
- Wide Range Of Supported Makes
In addition to full OBD-2 engine diagnostics on every car made for US consumers after 1996, the BlueDriver can retrieve manufacturer specific information from the following brand families:
-BMW sold in NA
-Honda sold in NA
-Volkswagen sold in NA
Bear in mind that the above refers to brand families, not brands. This means that “Toyota” includes both Scion and Lexus, for example.
- User-Friendly Bundled App
When you choose the BlueDriver, you get access to a custom-made app that pairs exclusively with the BlueDriver dongle. This software delivers comprehensive, easy to read reports that guide you through the diagnostic status. Not only do you receive all of the trouble codes and data your car outputs, the app will offer helpful suggestions about what to do to fix things!
- Needs a Phone
As a car owner, you might not think this is a problem. As a professional, however, this can be a headache. You’ll probably find yourself working on a car with a coworker. Using this scanner means that one of your phones will become a communal tool you have to share.
- Limited Capability Compared To Comprehensive Professional Tools
The BlueDriver scanner is perfect for diagnosing issues, reading engine data, and turning off dashboard lights. It can’t program an ECU, however, nor can it change other computer-controlled settings in modern cars. If you want a more advanced car interface, you’ll have to choose one of the more expensive options below.
The BlueDriver Bluetooth Scan Tool is a wonderful solution for anyone who needs an advanced car scanner with bundled software. It’s got incredible brand compatibility and also comes with one of the cleanest apps around. If you want to turn off pretty much any dashboard light on almost any car, the BlueDriver Scan Tool should be one of the first products you look at.
3. ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth
Not only does it read and clear all OBD-2 codes, The OBDLink is also one of the best options when it comes to viewing and interpreting live data. While you can’t clear manufacturer-specific codes out of the box, third party software will give you advanced access to diagnostics and even car settings on many GM and Ford vehicles.
Who Is It Built For?
The OBDLink is a premium OBD2 scan tool. That said, it lacks many features that an auto professional would probably want. You should choose a different tool if you want to interface with ABS, stability control, oil, or other non-engine systems in a wide variety of vehicles. If you own a Ford or GM, however, or you want an OBD2 scanner with quick real-time data output that won’t drain your battery, the OBDLink is a perfect choice.
A video about ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth:
- Fast Data Transfer
While cheaper OBD-II scan tools can “view live data,” they don’t update very quickly. This means that your live data graph will only have a point every several seconds. The OBDLink is one of the fastest scanners around, with up to 4 times as many updates per second as competing units. This means it’s the perfect tool for retrieving up-to-the-second live data.
- Fancy Security and Battery Features
Other scan tools are built to be unplugged the moment you’re done scanning. The OBDLink is different. While you certainly can remove the dongle when you’re not actively using the unit, there’s nothing wrong with leaving it in your car. It automatically goes to sleep in order to avoid battery drain and uses advanced security features to ensure hackers can’t control your car. If you own a Ford or GM, you can access advanced features like remote ignition via Bluetooth while the device is plugged in.
- Limited Manufacturer-Specific Support
Diagnosing and clearing check-engine codes with the OBDLink is a breeze, but other lights are pretty hard. You need special software to access manufacturer-specific protocols. Right now, this software seems to only exist for Ford and GM.
- Not A Professional Tool
The OBDLink is clearly geared towards consumer use. Securely pairing with a single phone is great for security but terrible for multiple mechanics working on the same car.
If you want an automotive diagnostic scanner that offers neat features you can use when your car is working fine, the OBDLink MX is a perfect choice. GM and Ford owners will get a kick out of remote ignition and other nifty features, while other vehicle owners can enjoy the fastest live data streams around.
It’s also a wonderful tool for diagnosing engine problems in all cars made for US consumer use after 1996. Like the BAFX scanner above, you’ll want to make sure your phone is compatible. If you have an Apple device, choose the nearly-identical wireless model instead.
4. Automatic AUT-350C ProGold 3g Connected Car OBD II Adapter
The Automatic Aut-350C ProGold is a pretty unique device. While it’s a fully functional OBD-II scanner, it’s not marketed as such. Instead, it’s touted as a vehicle tracker and real-time data retrieval tool. It uses a built in 3G connection to broadcast data from your vehicle to both the paired Automatic app and any other software you want to share your car’s location with. This lets you monitor other drivers in your household (including your kids), quickly recover a stolen vehicle, or even sync up your smart lightbulbs to automatically turn on when you pull in to the driveway.
Who Is It Built For?
The Aut-350C is designed for car owners who want to connect their car to their internet-connected lifestyle. So, it’s perfect for people who want to automate home systems, people with family members who need monitoring, and people who simply want to ensure their car doesn’t get lost or stolen. Since it doubles as an OBD-II scanner, it can also help save money on car maintenance.
- Unique Features
The Automatic AUT-350C is about the same cost as some of the other Bluetooth OBD-II scanners on this list, but it comes with lots of unique features. Not only can you scan your vehicle from anywhere in the world over a 3G connection, you can also track its location and connect it to the rest of your digital devices. This means your Echo, Nest, or other smart home system can trigger routines based on the location of your car.
- Lifetime Free Connection
You don’t have to climb into your car and fiddle with the OBD-II port when it’s time to perform a diagnostic scan. Instead, simply leave the AUT-350C plugged in and scan via 3G when you want to figure out what’s going on with your engine. You can even be on a different continent!
A video about Automatic AUT-350C ProGold 3g Connected Car OBD II Adapter :
- Limited Diagnostic Features
The AUT-350C works fine as an engine scanner. It can retrieve live data as well as view and clear check engine codes. However, AUT-350C can’t do anything about manufacturer-specific systems, however, including ABS, oil management, and airbags.
- What’s A Lifetime, Anyway?
It’s simultaneously wonderful and worrying that the AUT-350C comes with a “lifetime” free 3G connection. The free 3G connection makes the total cost of the device quite low, but this also means that it’ll probably stop working if Automatic (the company that makes it) is sold or goes bankrupt. You will have no real way of knowing if this tool will still work five years from now.
- Crash Reporting Isn’t Reliable
While Automatic claims that this device will automatically notify your loved ones in the event of an accident, user reports indicate that this feature isn’t 100% reliable. In other words, the AUT-350 will let you know where your teenager is when you check the app, but It might not send you a text if he or she crashes.
The AUT-350C is a nifty idea. It’s loaded with lots of potential in the form of interconnectivity with your other web-connected lifestyle devices. It’s also a fully featured automotive diagnostic scanner that can help diagnose any engine troubles you may be having. It’s a solid purchase for anyone who wants to keep track of a family car or monitor an unreliable driver. It’s also great for people with automated home systems or people who are worried about losing track of an automobile.
5. ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner
The ANCEL AD310 is an inexpensive standalone OBD-II scanner. Unlike the models we’ve reviewed so far, it’ll work just fine without any phones, computers, or tablets around. It’s got a built in black and white screen and simple buttons that enable you to read and clear OBD-II engine codes, view live data, and more. While it’s a fully featured OBD-II scanner, it can’t read or clear manufacturer specific codes. This means you’ll need a different device for ABS, airbag, oil, or stability control dashboard lights.
Who Is It Built For?
The low cost of the AD310 makes it an ideal way to save money when it’s time to fix your car. It’s also a great backup scanner for auto shops. It’s a cheap way to ensure that your mechanics will always have a tool available, even if your primary device is already in use.
A video about ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner:
- Super Cheap
The AD310 is one of the cheapest ways to clear OBD2 codes available. It’s also standalone, meaning that you never have to buy an app or worry about having a device to connect the AD310 to.
- Fully Standalone
Not only will the AD310 still work after you switch phone operating systems, it also doesn’t use batteries or need charging. All you have to do is plug it in and turn on the car you want to scan.
- No Manufacturer-Specific Functionality
The AD310 is compatible with just about every car made for the US market after 1996, but only as far as engine diagnostics are concerned. Airbag, stability control, oil, and ABS lights will require a different tool.
- Small Black and White Screen
It’s not too tough to read the screen on the AD310. It is, however, much harder than it is to read your phone’s screen. If clarity is important to you, consider a device that pairs with a phone or tablet or a standalone scanner with a bigger screen.
The ANCEL AD310 is a perfect device for any engine diagnostics you need to perform on a modern car. It’s incredibly cheap and has zero added complexity in the form of a paired phone, batteries, or a power cable. If you want an inexpensive, simple solution, this is probably the device for you.
6. Autel MaxiLink ML619 CAN OBD2 Scanner
The Autel MaxiLink ML619 is an advanced standalone scanner that works with many makes and models. Not only does it come with universal OBD-II compatibility, it can also retrieve P1, P3, and U1 manufacturer specific codes from a wide variety of vehicles. Other features include the ability to print data from your PC and easy software upgrades via the internet.
Who Is It Built For?
If you need something that will work with ABS and SRS codes on most cars, the ML619 is a solid choice. The standalone nature of this automotive diagnostic scanner makes it great for professionals, while the price point is low enough to make it affordable for ordinary car owners. This means you can use it to save money by fixing your car yourself or make money while fixing other people’s cars.
A video about The Autel MaxiLink ML619:
- Big Color Screen
Many other standalone scanners have fairly small LCDs that only display information in black and white. The ML619 has a big color screen that makes reading data easy.
- ABS and SRS Code Compatible
Basic scan tools can only look at and clear engine-related trouble codes. The ML619 has the ability to diagnose other dashboard lights and reset them once you’ve fixed the problem.
- Unhelpful Code Display
When the ML619 retrieves an error code, it often will simply display a long string of letters and numbers that might not mean anything to you. You’ll need to use another device (or your service manual) to look up what the code actually means.
- Needs To Be Updated
The ML619 gets much more powerful once you’ve hooked it up with a computer and let it complete a full update cycle. You really ought to let it connect to the internet and get the latest software before you use it.
The Autel ML619 is a great standalone scanner for people who want to clear ABS and SRS codes in addition to OBD-II trouble codes. It’s got a full diagnostic package, including live data and the ability to export information to a computer to be printed. It’s perfect as both a professional tool and a way to solve car problems at home.
7. Innova 3100j Diagnostic Code Reader / Scan Tool
If you want a standalone scanner with the ability to solve a variety of non-engine problems on a variety of makes and models, the Innova 3100j is a perfect fit. It can read and clear ABS, airbag, and oil light-related codes on GM, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, and Ford vehicles made after 1996. It’s also got excellent diagnostic data functions and even comes with access to RepairSolutions, a web-based app that helps you decipher the data returned by your scan tool.
Who Is It Built For?
Innova markets this tool towards both car owners and automotive professionals. It’s got everything you need to work on many makes of cars while being cheap and simple enough for home use. In other words, this tool is for everyone.
- Large, Clear Color Screen
You won’t have to squint to get the info you need from this Innova scan tool. This is a welcome change from the cramped black and white screens you find on some budget scanners.
- Great Manufacturer-Specific Compatibility
The OBD-2 protocol guarantees that your average scanner can read and clear the check engine light, but that’s it. Other dashboard lights and advanced system data require special implementation of manufacturer specific protocols. The 3100j has the ability to work with most dashboard lights on many makes of vehicle.
- Easy To Use
Innova has made it a point to make this product intuitive, and the included RepairSolutions software really takes this to the next level. Even if you’re a complete novice, RepairSolutions will help you understand what the scanner is trying to tell you so you can fix your car.
A video about Innova 3100j Diagnostic Code Reader / Scan Tool:
- No Live Data
While live data is often unnecessary, it is helpful in diagnosing some specific problems. This tool doesn’t have the ability to read engine data in real-time.
- Not Compatible With All Makes
More advanced phone or tablet based tools often implement pretty much every manufacturer specific protocol. This Innova scanner doesn’t work with Hyundai and BMW or a number of other popular car brands. You can still do basic engine diagnostics, but you can’t turn off an oil light.
If you want an easy to use tool with all of the functions you need to work on several popular brands of cars, the Innova 3100j is a great product. It’s not compatible with every brand, however, so your garage may need to pick up an additional tool to reset certain indicator lights on rarer car makes.
8. Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Diagnostic Scan Tool
This is not your run-of-the-mill scan tool. Instead, it’s a professional tool that’s got loads of features that help an auto shop to diagnose and work on cars. If you find yourself in a position where you need advanced ECU diagnostics or you need to register new sensors to a car, the Autel MaxiCom MK808 is the right tool for the job. Unlike other scan tools, this device consists of a tablet pre-loaded with software and a paired connector.
Who Is It Built For?
The MaxiCom is a bit pricey for home use, but it’s not totally unreasonable. If you find yourself working on your friends’ cars on a regular basis and need more functionality than the scanners above, you’ll probably find that the MaxiCom is the tool for the job. It’s also perfect as a primary automotive diagnostic scanner for a professional auto shop.
A video about Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Diagnostic Scan Tool:
- Incredible Compatibility
We’ve talked about how scanners need special software and hardware to connect to manufacturer-specific systems on various makes. The Autel MaxiCom can talk with basically all of them. If something rolls into your shop, the MaxiCom can almost certainly interface with all of its systems.
- Advanced Features
In addition to just resetting dashboard lights, the MaxiCom can reset steering angle sensors, reset brakes to facilitate easy repair, prepare the fuel injector for service, and bleed air from the ABS system to make switching out brake pads easier. When you’re done, you can use it to reprogram the anti-theft system, making key fob management easy.
You can comfortably buy one of the budget options on this page many times over for the cost of the MaxiCom. If you’re just trying to figure out why your check engine light is on for a few bucks, you’re better off with another scanner.
The sheer power of the MaxiCom makes it somewhat risky to use as a DIY car repairman. You’ve got access to a bunch of features that actually modify how your car works. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you press any buttons!
The Autel MaxiCom is a top choice for automotive professionals who want a device that can work with just about every system in just about every car. It’s designed to make professional mechanical work simple.
Bonus: Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Review
9. PLX Devices Kiwi 3 Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool
Who Is It Built For?
The Kiwi 3 is a basic OBD-2 scanner that’s geared towards consumers. As a result, it’s perfect for home diagnostics of engine-related issues. If you want to clear other dashboard lights (ABS, oil, etc) you’ll want a different tool.
- Connects To Apps
Many other Bluetooth adapters only work with a small variety of apps. The Kiwi 3 is designed to give all of your smart devices as much data as it can. This gives you access to some pretty neat information from your car that you can use to optimize your daily routine.
- Full OBD-2 Functionality
The Kiwi 3 can still read and clear all engine-related trouble codes and reset your check engine light. It can also pull diagnostic data in real time, as well as view data that was stored when your car started to experience engine trouble.
A video about PLX Device Kiwi 3 Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool:
- Limited Diagnostics
You can’t read info from manufacturer-specific systems with this tool. This means no airbag, brake, or oil codes. This limits how helpful the Kiwi 3 is when it comes to solving car issues.
- Expensive… for a basic scanner
If you’re just using the Kiwi 3 to turn off a check engine light, it’s difficult to justify purchasing it over a cheaper alternative. You need to be taking advantage of its ability to broadcast your car’s data to your lifestyle apps to get the most out of this scan tool.
If you’re interested in connecting your car to your phone’s apps, the Kiwi 3 is a great way to do that. It’s also a totally functional OBD-2 scanner that can read and reset basic error codes. In other words, you can connect your car to your phone now and save money in the future should you encounter any car trouble.
10. ScanTool 427201 OBDLink LX Bluetooth
The ScanTool OBDLink LX is a cheaper version of the OBDLink MX above. It works with Android and Windows devices to give you diagnostic information from your car. Unlike the OBDLink MX, however, the LX doesn’t have additional functionality with Ford and GM cars. Instead, it’s just a premium scan tool with fast data and advanced security features.
Who Is It Built For?
The OBDLink LX is perfect for car owners who want a scan tool that keeps their car safe. If you want to leave your Bluetooth device connected so you can view live data as you drive, the OBDLink LX is a great choice.
- Fast Data
Like the MX above, the OBDLink LX is four times faster than some cheaper scan tools. This makes it ideal for live data displays and diagnosing tricky problems.
- Advanced Security
While you can leave most modern scan tools plugged in, the OBDLink LX is safer than the competition. Not only is it invisible to all but the most advanced hackers, it limits access with hacker-proof systems that can’t be easily brute forced. This means that a mischief maker needs to do more than input a 4 digit code to get information from your vehicle.
A video about ScanTool 427201 OBDLink LX Bluetooth:
- Limited Functionality
The OBDLink LX is fast and secure at retrieving basic engine information, but it can’t work with manufacturer-specific systems. Choose one of the more advanced scanners above if you want to toggle your oil light or start your car remotely.
- Not Apple Compatible
Like the MX above, you’ll need to get a WiFi (instead of Bluetooth) version of this device if you want to use it with your iPhone
Overall, the OBDLink LX is a perfect choice for people who need up-to-date live data from their car’s engine sensors. Whether you’re diagnosing a complicated engine problem or you just want a cool looking display while you drive, the LX is a solid choice.
Finally, if you want to use your phone to start your Ford or GM remotely, the ScanTool OBDLink MX is the tool for you.
In other words, the right tool for you won’t be the right tool for everyone else. Consider your needs carefully and choose a scanner that has the functionality you need at a price you’re willing to pay!
THE BOTTOM LINE
Read more: Best Ancel Code Reader Review