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An OBD2 diagnostic scanner is a vital tool that enables you to check on your car performance in real time. With this type of scanner, you can save thousands of dollars when you use it to assess the vehicle's power and control systems. If you are tired of spending money every time a mechanic diagnoses your car, then you should get yourself an OBD2 Scanner for home use. These devices will give you the reason behind every sensor light, they not only tell there is a problem but indicate what the problem is and possible solution. Some of the best OBD2 scanners have advanced features that can clear error codes without going to a car shop.

To get the best OBD2 scanner that suits your needs, you will need to look at the following pointers.

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What are The Benefits of an OBD2 Scanner

Before we get into the details highlighting the benefits of an OBD2 Scanner, we need to know what it is.

An On-Board Diagnostic (ODB) scanner is used to store the logs of your daily car operations up to the last second. It records the temperature, fuel readings, location logs, speed, and direction, and can also be used to check for emission levels. It is a handheld device with ports that can be plugged into your car and downloads the latest information on the car performance. Some countries have a regulation stipulating that all vehicles must have an OBD2 scanner unit installed.

All problems that are found in your car are relayed in error codes that can be interpreted based on a reference manual that contains a better explanation of the error codes. The advantage of having an OBD2 scanner unit is the ease in which you can locate errors and take appropriate action before a major damage is caused. You can simply walk into any car, plug in the scanner and get all the information you need about the car performance. These scanners can also be used to check if your vehicle is compliant with any set rules and regulations.

Contrasting the old system of car error alert system with these OBD2 Scanners, where different light sensors are used to tell of a possible problem without pinpoint information, any OBD2 scanner unit will download the various sensor data and give you the exact problem diagnosis.

Owning one will save you money especially if the error identified is something you can fix yourself without having to visit the service shop. For instance, you do not need to pay someone to tell you of the need to replace your tires if the OBD2 scanner can tell all this in a matter of minutes.

What Varieties of OBD2 Scanners Do we Have in The Market

The good thing about standardization is that any OBD2 scanner unit of your choice can work on any vehicle model. There are some scanners that are able to download and show the exact problem on the go, while others in the market will download the same information and relay the diagnostics in standard error codes that need the eye of an expert to understand, or you may need to look up for an error database definitions to get the exact problem. Advanced models of the OBD2 scanners can be connected to a PC to further analyze diagnostic data or get software and firmware upgrades to conform to the latest standards.

If you are the vehicle diagnostic and tuning business you may need a scanner that relays information in real time so that you make adjustments on the go without the need for further analysis.

What Makes One Scanner Differ From the Other

Diagnostic Features shown make the difference. One set of OBD2 scanners will only give the error information in form of codes while there are some that give detailed information about the problem and possible solution.

Some scanners can get their power from the car the moment it is attached, while other OBD2 scanners have a battery installed on them which is appropriate for offline use.

Connectivity aspect of an OBD2 scanner unit also matters. Some can connect to PC to further probe the data collected or to give you a better view during analysis. This connectivity may also allow data storage for future reference.

Why Use OBD2 Scanners

You can use any OBD2 scanner for many tasks that may fall in the DIY category. It is possible to check and clear error signals without the need to visit a garage. You can also use it to monitor fuel usage and monitor routes if you are a fleet owner. Fleer owners can also have the ability to remotely monitor speed, idling times, and driving habits of a particular vehicle.

Some OBD2 scanners have navigation systems that can be used to detect poor driving. Some are equipped to disable or lock out telephone communication while the vehicle is in motion.

What to Look For Before Purchasing an OBD2 Scanner

  • Look for an OBD2 Scanner with a good support sales team and proper documentation which guarantees reliable performance.
  • Before buying one make sure that your vehicle year of manufacture does not lock you out on the type of OBD2 scanner that you can use.
  • Look out for scanners models can only work within a given geographical area.
  • Get to know the power consumption of every scanner unit, some have been reported to drain car batteries if left connected for long.
  • Confirm if what you are looking for requires any specific software or hardware for it to work well.
  • Is it easy to set up and can the OBD2 scanner be used right after powering it on.
  • Look for one with a comprehensive repair report analysis.
  • How compatible is the scanner in relation to Apple and Android devices.
  • How do you prefer the scanner you looking for to relay diagnostic information? Some can do it via a laptop screen while others can relay the information directly via Bluetooth to compatible devices.
  • Look at the product review pages, chances are that if positive reviews outweigh the negative ones you more likely to get the best OBD2 Scanner.
  • The price tag: Some scanners may be costly because of the software complexity and connectivity options involved. I would suggest opting for OBD2 scanners that are moderately priced that does all the functions that you are looking for.

Top 5 OBD2 Scanner 2017 Reviews

In our quest to find the best OBD2 Scanner, we are going to highlight five OBD2 Scanners and review them based on product specifications and the pros and cons of the selected OBD2 Scanners.

1. BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool

1. BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool

Via Amazon.com

​This is another Bluetooth OBD2 scanner that is compatible with android devices and is guaranteed to give more stable connections and faster data transfer. It is said to work with Torque and Bluetooth enabled devices and Windows PC’s. With the correct software, you can read the engine light codes and access other real-time sensor readings. It can be used in the preparation of emission tests.

Pros

  • Costly
  • Has a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer
  • 60-day money back guarantee
  • Works with all devices
  • Support all OBD2 protocols
  • BAFX Support

Cons

  • Cannot be used with iOS devices
  • You must purchase the specific Apps to use the scanner
  • The scanner may not work outside the United States
Sale
BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool for Android Devices
9392 Reviews
BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool for Android Devices
  • ONLY the BAFX Products® OBD Reader REALLY works on ALL...
  • Super easy setup! Connects to your Android phone/tablet or...
  • Read & Clear diagnostic trouble codes for the check engine...
  • Works with Bluetooth enabled Android devices & Windows PC's....
  • 2 (TWO!) Year Manufacturer Warranty against defects*!...

Last update on 2017-11-24 PST - Details

2. Ancel AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBDII Scanner

2. Ancel AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBDII Scanner

Via Amazon.com

Mainly designed for detecting engine problems then relay the information and clear the error codes. Considered the most powerful and affordable. Said to be popular because of its ease of use. Commonly used by the DIY brigade. One you plug it in, the Scanner will prompt you to switch on your car.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Can clear error codes
  • Reads live diagnostic database
  • Able to get all the specific car information
  • Resets monitors and engine check light
  • Has a fault code library for reference
  • Has a display unit with contrast adjustments
  • Self-powered once connected to car connecting port.
  • Support the Controller Area Network
  • Has a manufacturer’s user manual

Cons

  • Only Works with cars fitted with OBD2 Protocol
  • Cannot reset the oil light
  • Cannot diagnose an ABS system
  • May be cumbersome looking for unlisted code definitions
  • Cannot clear errors on some cars
Sale
ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner Car Engine Fault Code Reader CAN Diagnostic Scan Tool - Black
1584 Reviews
ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner Car Engine Fault Code Reader CAN Diagnostic Scan Tool - Black
  • Classic design, fast scan and clear trouble codes, even a...
  • Works on MOST 1996 US-Based, 2000 EU-Based and Asian cars,...
  • Easily determines the cause of the check engine light. I/M...
  • The AD310 scanner is well built with a large LCD display...
  • It's equipped with a 2.5 feet long cable and made of a very...

Last update on 2017-11-24 PST - Details

3. Autel AL519 AutoLink Enhanced OBD ll Scan Tool

Via Amazon.com

This model supports all possible 10 OBD2 tests that guarantee complete diagnosis. The scanner has a unique patent called the One-Click I/M Readiness Key, Flat screen color display, and an inbuilt speaker. It is said to have better power capabilities and is quite affordable. Relays diagnostics information in the shortest time possible. Many users say that it has a more reliable error code database that is up to date. Other notable accessories that are bundled together with the product include a carry case, USB cable, a user manual, OBD2 cable, and an instructional CD.

Pros

  • Has a unique patent that is used to check the emission levels and drive cycle verification
  • Provides both visual and audio verifications
  • Retrieves manufacturer, generic, and pending codes
  • Gives the reason behind every sensor light
  • Clear codes and can reset monitors
  • Turns off engine check light
  • You can view freeze frame data
  • Relays live data stream
  • Can store and playback live recorded diagnostic data
  • Allows the enhanced OBD2 mode 6
  • Offers multilingual capabilities for English, Spanish, and French.
  • Can be updated via the Internet
  • Can be connected to PC and printers.

Cons

  • Does not check miles per gallon
  • Cannot program keyless entry mode
  • Only holds one vehicle inventory at a time
  • Needs technical computer knowledge to update the scanner software
  • Does not have misfire data
Autel AL519 AutoLink Enhanced OBD ll Scan Tool with Mode 6 Fault Code Reader EOBD
668 Reviews
Autel AL519 AutoLink Enhanced OBD ll Scan Tool with Mode 6 Fault Code Reader EOBD
  • Patented one-click I/M readiness key provides quick state...
  • Retrieves generic, manufacturer-specific and pending codes...
  • Turns off Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL)
  • Compact unit is portable, so you can take it almost...
  • Even reads, records and plays back live sensor data

Last update on 2017-11-23 PST - Details

4. ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth

Via Amazon.com

​This another OBD2 scan tool for professionals who may want to use it for both Android and Windows. Those who have this device say that the results are relayed faster and it gives reports from all kinds of vehicles including light trucks. It has an inbuilt surge protection and that is why it can be used in hybrid and electric vehicles too.

​Comes with a free software that is highly compatible with other third party applications. It also has a wireless security that keeps hackers at bay due to its strong encryption to bar unauthorized access and use.

Pros

  • It is expensive
  • Surge Protection
  • Has a user manual
  • Lifetime software and firmware upgrades
  • Compatibility with third party applications and software
  • 3-year manufacturer warranty
  • You can access Ford and GM vehicle networks

Cons

  • Not compatible with iOS devices.
  • Does not read chassis and SRS codes
Sale
ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth: Professional OBD-II Scan Tool for Android & Windows
922 Reviews
ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth: Professional OBD-II Scan Tool for Android & Windows
  • Transform your phone, tablet, or PC into a...
  • Safe to leave plugged in, won't drain your car's battery
  • Free Android app & Windows software (also compatible with...
  • Works on all 1996+ cars and light trucks sold in the USA...
  • Supports all 5 OBD-II protocols, plus SW-CAN (GM) and MS-CAN...

Last update on 2017-11-23 PST - Details

5. BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD2 Scanner

5. BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD2 Scanner

Via Amazon.com

Billed as the best tool for any professional mechanic. It has all the OBD2 capabilities that are only found in expensive handheld scanners. Once you register it, you can get free updates on its software and firmware. Highly portable and can be used together with an iPhone or iPad, and any other Android device. This scanner uses the BlueDriver App and sensor to read and clear error codes.

Pros

  • You can work with it on Apple’s iOS and Android platforms.
  • Any vehicle manufactured after 1996 to date can use this scanner
  • Supports all OBD2 protocols, CAN being one of them
  • Once registered, all Apps are free to download and use
  • BlueDriver Sensor and BlueDriver App work as a single program unit
  • You can share data between devices
  • You can access repair reports of over 4 million possible solutions for your car model.
  • Can read ABS and airbag data for specific vehicles
  • Offers advanced test results
  • Supports for enhanced codes
  • Can be upgraded to new scanner definitions

Cons

  • A bit expensive
  • Some codes may not be documented
  • Doesn't show licensing information
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android
2305 Reviews
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android
  • The Professional OBD2 Diagnostic Scan Tool trusted by...
  • Officially licensed and certified for Apple and Android...
  • The BlueDriver App and BlueDriver Sensor work exclusively...
  • As easy to use as a code reader with all the capabilities of...
  • Free vehicle-specific Repair Reports drawn from a database...

Last update on 2017-11-23 PST - Details

Conclusion

For many years car manufacturers have been devising ways to help mechanics to fully analyze, keep track, and record the various operations in a car. The first innovations after the light sensors were not as intelligent as the ones we have today in the market. The ones we have can now be fused with computer technologies to give the most accurate and up to date information on the status of your car.

​OBD2 scanners that have the Bluetooth capability are easy to use and troubleshoot. Therefore, the BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD2 Scanner, ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth, and the BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool are the best OBD2 Scanners, and in this review, they emerge as the clear winners compared to other two in this review. Bluetooth OBD2 scanners are fast, reliable, and convenient because they can provide live data and are able to clear codes on almost all vehicles.

​In as much as handheld scanners like the Ancel AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner may seem handy and quite portable for those who like the DIY, they may lack in areas such as connectivity, limited error code database and limited support for different types of cars.

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Chief editor at Paul's Gigantic Garage. I came up with this blog to help you to sort out some basic problems your car may be facing and in turn, save lots of cash by some of my DIY tips that I hope will get your car out of its current situation. I also had in mind motor enthusiasts who for the love of cars who are constantly looking for information about cars on the latest trends, questions, fixes, driving, tricks, and accessories.

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