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Diagnostic scanners are the best tool you will need to access your car’s on-board diagnostics to identify the problem with your car and other diagnostic information. Reading trouble codes in the recent years means one has to manually ground certain terminals on the vehicle diagnostic port to get information by interpreting the flash codes on the check engine light.

Using this method will force you to look up the code databases to know exactly what caused the problem. The biggest problem with kind of trouble shooting codes means that you cannot use the same for cars made after 1996.

To get the best out of your car and maintain its efficiency for a long time, you will need to have regular maintenance. Using the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner will help you discover the faults and ensure that you rectify them on time. Using these scanners will save you a lot of money and time you will need to take your car to the mechanic.

There is a choice of the simple diagnostic scanner and the advanced ones in the market. This article will guide you on what you need to know before purchasing a scanner that will help you fix your car at home.​

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What Kind of Automotive Scanner Should You Get

Buying a professional scan tool is a big investment. There are some basic functions that a professional scan tool must have, that is why I came up with this article to analyse some of these functionalities that you as a DIY enthusiast and an auto repair mechanic must look for.

Your Repair Needs​

The kind of scanner you need depends on what type of diagnostic results you need from your car. Do you need a scanner for repair or just diagnostics? Different scanners that are available in the market today serve different and specific purposes. If you are in a garage, you will need a scan tool that enables you to diagnose most vehicles that come to your shop.

Look Out For Counterfeits​

Because of the need to have a scanner diagnostic tool that will work for most car models including those manufactured pre-1996, a lot of counterfeit scan tools are slowly getting into that market promising what a genuine product will do. Look for a scan tool that has a list of the vehicles it supports.

Cost Versus Value​

How much are you willing to spend on a professional scanner? The amount of money you are likely to spend will largely depend on factors such as capabilities of the scanner, yearly software upgrades among other benefits. Your spending may also be determined by the features you are willing to forgo to get what fits your budget.

To get the best out of your money, you may consider the possibility of buying several scan tools each to cover different diagnostic parameters in your garage.​

Manufacturer Support​

What kind of support are you likely to get after you have made the purchase. Do they offer a money back guarantee or warranty? Also look for a scanner tool that will receive complete upgrades and the availability of accessories when need be.

Bidirectional Ability​

An excellent professional automotive scan tool should be able to reprogram the car’s electronic module and other on-board modules. Other functions such as car efficiency and emission problems should also be covered by the scanner. The scanner should also access other vital components such as suspension, ABS, temperature, airbag, steering, etc.​

Ability to Work with an OBD2 Car​

Look for a scan tool that can scan most vehicles in the market today. If you want to diagnose vehicles older than 1996, your scanner of choice must have adapters that you can use for this kind of work. Though the market for this kind of cars is fading, as a professional mechanic you will need a scanner that is compatible with classic cars.​

Software Bundles​

Is your preferred scanner sold individually or come as a package? Look out for those that force you to buy accessories that you may never use. A good scanner should be compatible with third-party software that runs on different devices that are connected to the scanner.

Bluetooth Capabilities​

With emerging technology, you also need to look at connectivity issues. An ideal auto shop may need a wireless scan tool because of mobility and portability. Bluetooth connectivity opens up communication with other devices such as smartphones, printers, and computers.​

What Platform Do You Prefer​

Some professionals prefer the handheld tool while others still want to have their scanners operating as a computer interface or tablet device. Using a laptop interface to diagnose a car may eliminate some of the hardware costs but may also lack some of the key features you would find in an ordinary scanner.

Display Size​

A better visual representation of diagnostic information is desirable of any professional scan tool. This makes it easier to read data without the need to print or extend the display.

Internal Memory​

Just like any other device that needs to store data for future reference, a professional automotive diagnostic scanner should have a higher memory for data storage. If you can get one with expandable memory capability the better. Those with fixed memory size may force you to delete diagnostic information from time to time.​

Battery and Power Source​

Is the device self-powering from an OBD2 port? Does it have its own power source? If it is using batteries, what is the expected battery life? A device that will operate the whole day without the need for power or change batteries should be the one to opt for. Look out for hidden features such as battery replacement cycles and the cost of replacement.

The Top Rated Automotive Diagnostic Scanner Review​

So many automotive scanners in the market promise to give you the best experience. I decide to narrow down on the most popular brands in the market. Look at how they compare and what benefits one has over the other.

1. Donop Professional U480 CAN OBD2 Automotive Diagnostic Scanner and Engine Code Reader

1. Donop Professional U480 CAN OBD2 Automotive Diagnostic Scanner and Engine Code Reader

Via Amazon.com

This is a stand-alone OBD2 scanner that can retrieve error codes on cars made before 1996. The device works well for both American and Asian made cars. Its readings are accurate and well displayed on its Backlit 2 inch LCD. It does not need a battery as it auto powers itself once connected to an OBD2 Port.

This is an ideal tool for basic diagnostics but many like it for its stand-alone feature and compatibility with vehicles from different manufacturers. Supports controller area network (CAN) and all OBD2 protocols. It will fit well in the palm of your hands.

Pros

  • Reads and clears error codes
  • Retrieves vehicles VIN Number
  • Reliable and accurate diagnostic data
  • Portable and standalone
  • Auto ON / OFF feature

Cons

  • May give inconsistent results on some car model
Professional U480 CAN OBD2 OBD II Car Diagnostic Scanner Engine Code Reader Tool
602 Reviews
Professional U480 CAN OBD2 OBD II Car Diagnostic Scanner Engine Code Reader Tool
  • Reads and clears generic and manufacturer specific...
  • Works with most OBD-II compliant US, European and Asian...
  • Supports the CAN (Controller Area Network) protols and all...
  • Easy-to-read, crystal-clear, backlit 2-line LCD display....
  • Turns off check engine light. Stand-alone unit with no need...

Last update on 2017-10-23 PST - Details

2. Vgate Automotive VS550 Automotive Diagnostic MIL Code Reader Scanner

2. Vgate Automotive VS550 Automotive Diagnostic MIL Code Reader Scanner

Via Amazon.com

Vgate Automotive VS550 professional automotive scanner supports the CAN protocol as well as a wide range of vehicles from different manufacturers. It will reset the engine check engine light, reset OBD2 monitor status and erase diagnostic error codes. Vgate Automotive VS550 can also be used to prepare in readiness for emission reviews.

Any car manufactured after 2002 will have its VIN number retrieved by this scanner tool. Has a clear and easy to read backlit LCD. It has buttons on its interface that enables you to navigate and read data when in use. Can connect to other devices via a USB port.

Pros

  • Reads sand clears generic trouble code
  • Highly reliable and accurate
  • Diagnose and tells what needs to be done
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • May not work some vehicle models
Vgate VS550 OBD2 Scanner Code Reader Tool
23 Reviews
Vgate VS550 OBD2 Scanner Code Reader Tool
  • Determines the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) status
  • Wider vehicle coverage with CAN Protocol support
  • Saves time and money on repairs- find out what's wrong prior...
  • Keeps engine performance in good shape with regular...
  • More features for less-Reviews the emission readiness status...

Last update on 2017-10-23 PST - Details

3. BlueDriver OBD2 Bluetooth Scanner

3. BlueDriver OBD2 Bluetooth Scanner

Via Amazon.com

This is an ultimate professional automotive diagnostic scanner. Its primary features include its ability to read and clear error messages. You can use this tool to prepare a report and have a smog analysis which quite vital in evaluating your vehicle’s emission levels.

BlueDriver Bluetooth professional device can be connected to other devices such as computers and handhelds via Bluetooth. This scanner tool will not only identify the cause but it will give you an array of solutions to choose from as well.

You only need to clear error codes by pressing the ‘clear ‘ button. This is quite ideal in a busy garage setting where you can have a log of persistent problems that affect a particular vehicle. Before you take your car for emission tests, you can use BlueDriver Bluetooth scanner smog test feature to identify likely problems that need to be addressed before the test.

You do not have to worry if you frequently service classic cars as this scanner tool will connect to vehicles using the OBD2 scanner port.​

Pros

  • Works with vehicles manufacturers before 1996
  • Can be used to prepare diagnostic reports
  • The device can fix errors
  • You will be able to get the car’s VIN Number and other vital engine data

Cons

  • Device not compatible with windows phones
  • Unreliable Bluetooth connectivity
  • Live data does not work on popular brands such as Ford, BMW, Honda, Volvo, and Hyundai
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android
2215 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 2017-10-23 PST - Details

4. Innova 3040 Diagnostic Scanner

4. Innova 3040 Diagnostic Scanner

Via Amazon.com

Quite new in the market, but it is already a force to reckon with. Innova 3040 defines what a handheld device is because of it fits well in the palm of the hand. It can read and clear error codes related to ABS, RPM, Oxygen and temperature. It is a good tool to measure battery or alternator issues.

This is a tool that you will need when the car does not start or when you have an engine failure resulting from overheating. It has a bright 2.8-inch screen can display as much information at a time without the need to scroll. Highly compatible with all mobile devices connected through the USB.

Pros

  • Compatible with all mobile phones
  • Can store information of up to three cars
  • Easy to use device
  • Can diagnose battery and start problems

Cons

  • You cannot delete data from the device, new car information overwrites existing
  • Does not support other vehicle models such as Volkswagen
  • Only works for vehicles manufactured the USA and Canada
Sale
Innova 3040d Diagnostic Code Reader / Scan Tool with ABS and Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles
410 Reviews
Innova 3040d Diagnostic Code Reader / Scan Tool with ABS and Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles
  • Read and Erase "Check Engine" light warnings on any foreign...
  • Patented all-in-one screen displays 25 vital pieces of...
  • View Live Data in real time for more accurate...
  • Read and erase ABS light trouble codes for most GM, Ford,...
  • Battery/Alternator test checks the performance of a...

Last update on 2017-10-23 PST - Details

5. Autel Maxisys MS906 OBDII & Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

5. Autel MaxiSYS MS906 Wi-Fi Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

Via Amazon.com

Autel MaxiSYS MS906 is a revolutionary product that enables you to diagnose a large pool of cars from different manufacturers. It is said that Autel supports more than 80 manufacturers based in and outside the USA. Apart from the traditional error reading and correcting functions of an automotive scanner, this one allows you even to reprogram your car keys provided you get the key codes from the manufacturer or a dealer.

Its ability to reset certain features is dependent on the model of the car you have. It has a big 8.0 inch LED touchscreen with a resolution of 1024 X 768. It operates on an Android operating system and connects to the internet through Wi-Fi. It has a 32 GB inbuilt memory that can save a lot of information.

Another notable feature is its battery which is inbuilt and rechargeable. In case you need to take clear pictures to share diagnostic information, Autel MaxiSYS MS906 has an 8-megapixel camera alongside a flashlight. It is the ultimate professional automotive diagnostic scanner that a professional mechanic should have.​

Pros

  • Easy to use graphical user interface
  • Has an AutoVIN technology to read VIN number
  • Allows full multi-tasking capabilities
  • Has enough memory to store much diagnostic data

Cons

  • May take long to backup or update the system
  • The key re-programming feature may not work for most European manufactured cars
Autel Maxisys MS906 OBDII&Automotive Diagnostic Scanner (Upgraded version of DS708) Full OBDI Kits with OE-level vehicle coverage of Read/Erase Codes, Actuation Tests, Adaptations etc.
221 Reviews
Autel Maxisys MS906 OBDII&Automotive Diagnostic Scanner (Upgraded version of DS708) Full OBDI Kits with OE-level vehicle coverage of Read/Erase Codes, Actuation Tests, Adaptations etc.
  • Halloween Promotion:Limited Time Sale of $999(then will...
  • Extensive OE-Level Converge: Scan a broad range of...
  • Complete Diagnostic: Performs advanced vehicle diagnostics...
  • Enjoyable Experience: Comes with 8.0" LED touch screen,...
  • Online Update: Automatic system and software updates with...

Last update on 2017-10-23 PST - Details

Conclusion

All the five products that you have gone through in this review are exceptional, but to have the best pick mean you get to decide what functionality you must get from a scanner of choice. If you are the kind of a person who values portability and flexibility in the workplace, Donop Professional U480 CAN OBD2 Automotive Diagnostic Scanner, and the Vgate Automotive VS550 Automotive Diagnostic MIL Code Reader Scanner are ideal for faster and accurate information. The good thing about the two professional scanners is their ability to give highly accurate diagnostic information.​

If you are the trendy and professional type, who wants to stay up to date, the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner for you would be a choice between the Autel Maxisys MS906 OBDII & Automotive Diagnostic Scanner and BlueDriver OBD2 Bluetooth Scanner. The two embrace the latest software updates and technologies.

Innova 3040 Diagnostic Scanner is the newest brand in the market with a lot of promises and given time it may pose a great challenge to the winner in this review. Autel Maxisys MS906 OBDII & Automotive Diagnostic Scanner is a clear winner and without a doubt the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner I came across.

Lastly, I hope that the review is an ultimate buyer guide that you can use to get the best professional scanner tool you desire. If indeed the article cleared some doubts for you, please do not hesitate to share with others, so they also get informed.​

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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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