Anyone who owns and drives a car is familiar with the mystery of the “Check Engine” light. Most of us are clueless when this light comes on and why. We are left wondering if something is wrong in the car and do we need to do something about it. This is where the best professional automotive diagnostic scanners can help you.
If you want some of the best Automotive diagnostic scanners, you can choose between Foxwell NT301 or the Innova 3160g or the Launch X431 Pros. All these are best in their functions and features. For less advanced options you can go for the BlueDriver Bluetooth or the Ancel AD310 Classic automobile diagnostic scanner.
Sometimes it can be annoying and irritating not being able to know what is going on in your car. With an automotive diagnostic scanner, you can not only find out the problem but you can also determine the severity of the issue. With this information in hand, you can decide whether you need a professional mechanic to fix your automobile or you can handle the situation yourself.
Most of the cars manufactured after 1996 are equipped with OBD2 ports. These are located just beneath the steering column. You can plug in your scanner directly into the dashboard and get notifications if something goes wrong.
It can clear your error codes, summarize the issue, notify about its severity, explain the consequences of driving with it, and instruct on steps for ensuring the safety of the driver and the vehicle.
Buying a professional automotive diagnostic scanner is very beneficial because it allows you to identify the problem quickly without having to spend long hours blindly troubleshooting what you are looking for.
Instead of shuttling between repair and spare parts shops, and spending heavy amounts to get a diagnosis, you can pinpoint the problem in only a few minutes.
And best of all, your hands remain clean!!
Whether you are an automotive enthusiast or a professional mechanic, buying this scanning tool can be overwhelming because of the large number of choices available in the market.
We have researched and shortlisted the top 10 best automotive diagnostic scanners for you and provided you with an opportunity to make the best decision possible.
FOXWELL NT301 OBDII Diagnostic Code Reader
Foxwell is a well-known name in the industry that has been manufacturing automotive diagnostic OBDII tools for almost a decade now. The NT301 is one of their top products in the code reading category.
Error Codes Reading and Resetting
The device allows you to read the DTC engine codes quickly and defines the error codes for accurate determination of the problem and its cause. Once you have resolved the issue, the codes can be erased and reset.
Early Warning System
One of the very useful features of this product is the “Early Warning System”. It helps to identify and highlight the possible threats and risks before their actual occurrence.
Light Health Indicators
It highlights your automobile’s health through LED lights of three different colors. Fault codes are represented by red lights, pending codes are highlighted by yellow lights and when there are no fault codes, the green lights turn on.
Data Text and Graphical Representation
Equipped with a live vehicle sensor, the device can display data in both text and graphical form. This allows you to identify and foresee the upcoming issues before their seriously rises.
Apart from the basic maintenance issues, the device also provides technical readings and parameters. It allows you to keep a check on the fuel trims, EGR valves, and the O2 sensory system.
No Batteries Required
Very simple to operate and use, the scanner can function without a smartphone and does not even require batteries. It is powered by plugging it into the OBD2 port of the vehicle.
Suitable for Most Vehicles
It is compatible and suitable for various OBD vehicles including cars, SUVs, light trucks, and even hybrid automobiles of 1996 and up models.
Who Should Buy It?
With a number of advanced features and versatile functions, this product is suitable for both professionals as well as car enthusiasts and drivers.
Why is it on our list?
- Allows easy printing of the diagnostic data for future reference and record
- Hotkeys for Instant action
- You can automatically retrieve and decode VIN
- It allows storage of PIDs
- LED Lights notifications for enhanced alertness
- Free Lifetime Software updates
- One year money-back guarantee
- Suitable for both professionals and car enthusiasts
- You need to power it by connecting it with the vehicle or a computing device
- No ON/OFF button
- Inability to cancel error codes
- Complicated software for new users
Innova 3160g – Code Reader/Scan Tool
The product is compatible with almost all types of OBD2 vehicles. It is suitable for SUVs, cars, light trucks, and hybrid models. You can easily connect the scanner with automobile through a cable via the OBD2 port located underneath the dashboard or under the handbrake.
A plus point of this scanner is its compatibility with several mobile apps. You can find out about these apps from the Innova website. These apps are available on both iOS and Android stores.
Powered by state of the art software program by the Innova Company, you get to use a variety of diagnostic tools with this product. These tools are helpful in getting an accurate diagnostic for your vehicle.
It is a user-friendly interface that anyone can easily operate and navigate through various functions. Additionally, you also get a lifetime free update for the software in the given package. With these regular updates, you are able to get your hands on the latest diagnostic tools and programs in the industry.
The product has an attractive display TFT color screen with a backlit option for dark areas. You can view a couple of sets of data at one time due to the 3.5 inches large size of this display panel.
Fix Assist System
A unique feature of the Innova 3160g is called FixAssist. It provides you with potential error codes when you scan your vehicle with this device. It also provides a meaningful explanation of each code for more understanding.
It is a very helpful feature that provides step by step guidelines on how to solve the problems and clear each code. These remedies have been compiled and formulated with the help of experts and mechanics professionals.
This sophisticated feature even provides an estimation of the expected cost of repairing the problem. You are able to save your precious time and valuable money through this amazing feature.
The product presents live data and statistics of the vehicle while it is running. The graphical representation of this information is convenient to understand and helps you keep an eye on the health of your automobile.
This is the main function of all diagnostic scanners. To scan, identify, and clear error codes. Innova 3160g can do this job pretty easily even with a large number of error codes. It can scan and recognize codes ranging from ABS, SRS, and other engine systems.
Powered with the DTC library, it can quickly find the explanation and meaning of each code. The codes are then worked upon by using features like FixAssist.
Maintain Service Schedule
To keep you updated and alert about your vehicle’s maintenance the scanner maintains a servicing schedule. The warning lights can be programmed and reset as per your requirements. For example, you have the option of resetting the oil alert light whenever you get the oil changed. So, it will start to blink or turn on when the next oil change is due. You can do similar scheduling for other activities as well.
Who should buy it?
Because it is so simple and easy to use, the Innova 3160g is not only suitable for professionals but novice drivers as well. You can simply scan your vehicle and the device will guide you with what you need to do further. Navigation through various functions and operations are very simple and easy.
For professionals, the advanced features and functions are ideal for a quick and accurate diagnosis.
Why Is it of Our List?
- It provides diagnosis about the check engine light and scans other systems including ABS and SRS
- It is time-saving and cost-effective
- Helps in-service schedule maintenance
- Suitable for both professionals and ordinary car drivers
- Compatible all vehicles made in or after 1996
- Codes Reading and Display in English, French, and Spanish
- It has some compatibility issues with European Automobiles
- It does come with a detailed manual for novice users
- Inability to save live data for future reference
LAUNCH X431 PROS Mini Automotive Diagnostic Tool
One of the best scanning tools available in the market in the current time is the Launch X431 Pros Mini. It has some of the best features and functions and the ability to scan and diagnose problems related to ABS, EPB, TPMS, SRS, and ECU Coding.
This scanner comes with 2 built-in cameras. The front camera is 2 Megapixel while the back camera is 5 Megapixel. It has both still pictures and video capturing capability useful for maintaining data and information on the car.
It has USB and Headphones ports for enhanced connectivity with other devices. The product is also Bluetooth and WIFI enabled for wireless connections.
There are number accessories that are included in the package including a BDS car connector, OBD2 car connectors, computer pad and a protective sleeve for safe storage.
The Wi-Fi connectivity allows the user to connect this device with the internet. This allows the integration of a larger range of services and applications with the device. You have the option of creating and maintaining a statistical database and casewise library.
The Launch 431X Pro is based on android technology. It can, therefore, easily access its apps and quickly find responses to various types of error codes.
It is capable of capturing live statistics and data of the vehicle and helps you keep a check on the health of the vehicle. This data is displayed in text and graphical form both.
Friendly User Interface
The HD color touch screen is very useful in the functioning of the easy to use interface. You can operate various functions through this interface including reading, clearing, printing, and saving of the data and information. You can also access the manuals of maintenance, execute tests, and carry out regular repairs.
The scanner works on batteries that can function for 8 hours in one full charge cycle.
The Launch 431X is a versatile gadget that is compatible with almost 108 different vehicles from the United States, Europe, and Asia. It is even compatible with most OBD1 category vehicles. To make its functioning effective, the product comes with 14 different connectors suitable for various vehicles from Europe and Asia.
Who Should Buy This Tool?
Anyone looking for an automobile diagnostic tool for advanced problems and complicated codes, then this is the product you are looking for. Additional features like taking pictures and surfing the internet make it even more attractive.
Why is it on our list?
- It has a camera and an additional alarm function
- It can be used as an android tablet
- Free software upgrades for a couple of years
- The tool is waterproof
- It is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled
- Large Touch Screen of 6.98 inches for better visual understanding.
- A little Costly than its counterparts
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
Blue Driver is a renowned brand that produces gadgets that can convert your mobile phones into automobile diagnostic tools. They may be compatible with iOS or Android or both. The devices use Bluetooth technology to connect with the cell phone. This is a great professional car diagnostic tool from their company.
Easy to Use
It is a small handy device that connects with your mobile after downloading the free app. All you need to do is plug it in the OBD2 port of your automobile and connect it with the mobile phone.
The BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro is one such amazing device that helps detect your car problems and advise the best possible solution to clear them. The device comes with its own app that can be downloaded without any charges.
This app helps the user in reading and clearing the check engine alerts and codes. It also enables component testing and a number of other tests including the ABS misfire counting, Sensor testing, AC Refrigeration testing, and the Heated Catalyst tests.
It keeps a watch on the steering and speed sensors to check their condition and working and notify you if there is a problem upcoming. It also detects any voltage issues in the car.
Smaller issues like Smog checking, Freeze frames, CEL, resetting of trouble codes, and engine oil temperature assessment can also be diagnosed used this device.
The device is Bluetooth enabled so you do not have to worry about abrupt disconnections or cord shortages. Without any wires and cables, the device functions perfectly.
A large Number of Fixes
The diagnostic device is supported by a huge database of fixes. Approximately there are 5 – 6 million fixes saved on this device.
You have the option of scheduling various maintenance activities on this device for timely execution. It also presents a technical bulletin service so that you get quick and timely information about the car’s health.
Customized Live Data
The tool provides live data and information about the vehicle and helps you assess the real time situation of the automobile.
The device allows you to select the form of data and information you are most comfortable with. If you find one form difficult to read and understand you can select the most suitable form for yourself.
Saving of Information and Data
When using the BlueDriver Bluetooth Scanner you can save the data and information about the vehicle in a car log or file. This can be exported easily to a computing device for record and future reference.
This device from BlueDriver is compatible with all vehicles made in or after 1996. You will not face a problem even if your car is on gas and manufactured in Europe. It even supports Cars made in Australia and New Zealand.
Who Should Buy it?
This device is best suited for car enthusiasts and drivers who are in for some mechanical action themselves. It can be helpful in solving small car issues and problems without the help of the mechanic.
It can also be used by mobile mechanics and DIYs who can carry it around where ever they go.
However, it does not cater to very advanced issues. So, for professional use, it may not be very useful.
Why is it on Our List?
- Connectivity is detectable through blue LED light
- Free App support
- It comes with almost 5- 6 million fixes
- It displays any active error codes on your mobile and even sends alerts
- Operates without a battery
- Portable and easy to move around with
- It is not supportive of camshaft timing
- You are unable to re-program a FOB
- Activation of relays and switches not supported
- Does not work well with computing devices like laptops
- Not suitable for some diesel cars.
ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal Diagnostic Scan Tool
This is a versatile and diverse product usable in all parts of the world. It supports different languages including English, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Dutch.
One of the most prominent features of this model of diagnostic scanners is its LCD. It is a 128×64 pixel resolution screen with a backlit option.
No App Required
The device does not require an app for its support and functioning.
No Batteries Required
The OBD2 scanner works with the power provided by the car engine when connected to the port. So, it is portable and does not require the hassle of charging batteries.
This device can be used with all types of vehicles manufactured in or after 1996 in the US. It supports 2000 and up models of European cars and 2005 and up models of Asian made automobiles.
This device is good for turning off and solving issues related to CEL, clearing error codes, and resetting them for monitoring.
Like many other models, this product also provides live real-time data readings of the vehicle. You are capable of viewing freeze frame data and gather other relevant information about the vehicle in general.
It only highlights error codes but also defines and explains them for the convenience of the user.
Easy to Use
The product is accompanied by an instructional manual for a detailed step by step guide for operations. There are buttons specified for entering, exiting, and scrolling up and down.
This product is able to retrieve generic error codes, pending codes, and their definitions from the hard memory database.
The device is connected with the OBD2 port of the car with a 2.5 feet cable included in the package.
This is a sturdy and well-designed device that is made from high-grade plastic of the best quality. It is strong enough to withstand small falls and hits without being damaged or broken.
Who Should Buy It?
This is a basic automobile scanner and diagnostic tool. It is suitable for someone looking for a standalone gadget that does not require a mobile device or app to function properly.
It is best for both individual drivers and professional mechanics looking for a standalone product but at an affordable price. It is the best engine diagnostic reader in the market.
Why is it on Our List?
- It is cheaper than its counterparts
- Does not require an app or batteries
- It is a standalone device that does not work with a mobile device
- Strong and long-lasting design
- Provides a variety of features
- It is incompatible with some vehicles like 2008 BMW, 2005 Toyota Prius, and Ford Escape X 2004 model.
We have highlighted and shortlisted the 5 best professional automotive diagnostic tools available in the market. Apart from the above, there are many other options present that can be bought for varying prices and offer a variety of features and functions.
Choosing the right product for your requirements and in your given budget can be a challenging task. However, the right product will surely save your money and increase your productivity. But if you end up choosing the wrong option, your investment can go down the drain.
To avoid a bad decision to buy, we have compiled a list of factors and things that you need to consider while making a good purchase.
Buyers Guide – Best Automotive Diagnostic Scanner
Things to Consider
The first thing that you need to consider when buying a diagnostic scanner for your car is compatibility. You have to see if this device supports your car’s make and model. For professional uses, you should opt for a gadget that is supported by a large number of automobiles.
In general, the high-end models in this category can be used with most of the modern-day vehicles. However, the cheaper and less advanced models offer compatibility with single or only a few options.
So, always check the compatibility features of the device because you do not want to buy something that you will not be able to use with your own automobile.
- Ease of Use
Sometimes technical devices and gadgets can be a little confusing and complicated to use. Reading and understanding car codes and errors can be even more difficult. For this purpose, most new gadgets are manufactured to cater to novice first time users.
The scanner that you select for yourself should be easy to use and simple to understand. It should have a simple interface that enables to use various functions without being lost in navigation.
- Functions and Features
You cannot buy an automotive diagnostic scanner that does not perform well. If it is unable to provide the required functions and features, then there is no point in investing your money in it.
The basic function that a scanner should perform is reading codes provided by the car’s in-built computer. However, advanced functions may include reading and resetting of error codes, real-time live data collection, I/M readiness checking, and testing of various kinds.
For professional use, you surely should opt for a product that provides advanced functions and features.
This is an important consideration for buying an automobile diagnostic scanner because, without a good display, the utility of the gadget can be nullified. If you are unable to read the codes and data, then the whole point of buying a professional automotive scanner is gone.
So, you should opt for a model that has a good display screen with the ability to read and view graphs with clarity.
A scanner can be connected with a cord to the OBD2 port of the car and relay data and information directly on the display screen. Some models offer wireless connectivity with mobile devices for extra support.
The handheld products attached with the car can hamper your mobility. However wireless mobile-powered devices can be carried anywhere without a hassle.
- Data Storage
The ability of the device to store the data, codes, and information is an important component of the product. If you are looking for something to compliment your professional needs, then you must have a device that allows internal storage for storing data and information on multiple vehicles and automobiles.
You also want a device that stores data and information in an organized and easily retrievable manner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What OBD Scanning System in easier words?
An automotive diagnostic scanner is a device that scans your vehicle and its computer for potential and existing problems and issues. It helps in diagnosing the problem with a given vehicle and reporting it for remedial action. It can be used by connecting it to the OBD Port that is located in the car underneath the steering column, or the handbrake.
OBD is the abbreviation of On-Board Diagnostic. It is a system already in place in a vehicle that helps in identifying potential and existing problems and defects. OBD scanners are synonymously used as automotive diagnostic scanners and both carry out the same functions.
The system generates codes that refer to various errors or problems with the vehicle. The OBD scanner or diagnostic scanner is then used to identify this code and provide an explanation to the user about this code.
It helps the mechanic or driver understand what is wrong with a particular vehicle or car.
Is there any difference between a scan tool and a basic code reader?
In general, both types of devices are used for communicating with the vehicle’s built-in computer. They mostly perform the same basic function of reading and clearing error codes. However, scanning tools are often more advanced and offer a wider variety of features than the basic one.
The latter can go a step ahead of reading codes by defining their meanings, saving data and information, recording real-time live data, and overall monitoring the vehicle’s health.
What does OBD2 mean?
OBD2 is an abbreviated form of Onboard Diagnostic II. This number represents the newness of the system. It shows that it is an advanced version of the previous one. In technical terms, it refers to codes of cars manufactured in or after 1996.
Are there different types of scanner available in the market?
Yes, there are three different types of automobile diagnostic scanners available in the market. The first types of models are connected through wireless modes to mobile devices for functioning. These are also called Bluetooth diagnostic scanners.
The second type of device is one that connects with PCs. The third type is used mostly by professionals and is called a handheld scanner. It connects directly with the car through a cord or cable and displays the data on the built-in screen.
Time to Scan and Diagnose!!!
The automotive diagnostic scanner, also known as the OBD2 scanner, is a device that can calm the annoyance of seeing the check engine light, it can help you understand your automobile better, it can ensure top performance of the vehicle without the need for a mechanic and it can provide you professional help without having to spend too much.
Therefore, if you are looking for a good professional automotive scan tool to help you diagnose the problems and issues arising in your OBD2 compatible vehicle, then look no further. You can simply run through our shortlisted top 5 best professional automotive diagnostic scanners and decide on one to invest.
SeekOne OBD2 Scanner is the best amongst the 3 professional automotive diagnostic scanners which we had selected for testing.