You’re looking for the best OBD2 scanner and that’s understandable because the right OBD2 scan tool can save you time and money. Whether you’re planning to fix the problem yourself or you need to take your vehicle to a repair shop, knowing the code from the best OBD2 scanner representing the problem can make your troubleshooting easier or help you describe the problem better to the mechanic before you take your car in for service.
By using the best OBD2 scanner prior to taking your vehicle to the shop, you can point them in the right direction possibly saving hours of troubleshooting at a huge hourly rate.
What should you look for in a top rated OBD II scan tool?
What? Database? What does a database have to do with a scan tool? Professional shops use a huge database like Identifix to match your vehicle’s make, model, year, and trouble code to a specific fix in the database. This saves you time and money, particularly on fixes that are not immediately obvious to your shop. Some shops may still use Google to find answers for your car’s symptoms, but the answers may be few and they most likely won’t be from Certified Professional Mechanics. You should make sure the OBD2 you’re considering taps into a professional database for the best answers to your problem codes.
Interested in learning about other popular vehicle diagnostic tools? Be sure to see our other articles about some of the best!
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Check Engine Light (CEL) Codes
The check engine light has become something like the screen of death in the computer world. When you see it, you probably panic, and may even pull off to the side of the road if it happens while you’re driving. The good news is that typically if it’s not blinking, you have some time to get it diagnosed.
Not all scan tools provide the same level of diagnoses for CELs. Some will not be able to read the code, and many cannot clear a code. Some that can clear codes can’t do it for confirmed, pending, and permanent codes.
There are also enhanced CELs which warn of problems with the ABS braking system, airbag, transmission, and more. Can the tool you’re considering diagnose those problems?
Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs)
The fault codes we talk about are also known as DTCs and are stored in the onboard diagnostic system. Can your OBD2 scanner provide repair reports for each vehicle-specific DTC including code definition, possible causes, and reported fixes? All that information is important and could be the difference between the right diagnosis and a missed one.
The best OBD2 scanner can capture data at the time an issue happens, and the DTC is recorded. This can help you avoid the conditions that caused the code until you can implement the fix or take it to a shop for help.
If you live in a state with strict smog laws, you know that failing a smog inspection can sideline you and be an expensive repair. Some OBD II scanners can tell you if your vehicle is ready for a smog test. This function of an OBD can help you budget a repair better by letting you know far in advance of the inspection.
Mode 6 is where you can access all the stored self-tests that your vehicle runs on its various systems and components such as oxygen sensors, catalytic converters, the evaporative emission control system (EVAP), and more.
How is this useful to you? Of course, you can take your car periodically for preventative maintenance and that is encouraged, but what if right in your driveway or garage you could look at self-test results and know that a check engine light (CEL) might be in your future. That’s what Mode 6 on an OBD reader does for you. It can alert you to the problem before it becomes so serious as to rise to a CEL. Then you can go into the repair shop on your schedule and on your budget to get it diagnosed.
PIDs are codes that are used as a diagnostic tool for problems you may be having with your vehicle. The SAE J1979 standard published many, many standard PIDs. Customer PIDs added by manufacturers on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis also exist. Live Data allows you to display multiple PIDs as a graph, gauge, or a digital readout, in addition to being exportable to a log file. This type of graphical view on an OBD2 scan tool can be very helpful in diagnosing your vehicle’s problems.
Enhanced Diagnostics provide access to OEM level diagnostics like ABS, Airbag, Climate Control, and more that are not available with standard OBD II. The best OBD2 scanner provides this additional diagnostic information on a variety of vehicles. If you want that functionality, also make sure that the scanner you choose has the capability to provide the information for your vehicle.
I’m on the fence when it comes to a Bluetooth scan tool as opposed that an all-in-one scanner. Theoretically, by putting all the display capability and software on your phone or tablet, it takes the burden off the scanner and allows the manufacturer to make the scan tool less expensive and less complicated.
Also, it’s much easier to update an app on a phone or tablet than it is to change the ROM on many scan tool devices. So, when updates and fixes come out, it’s simply a matter of upgrading your phone app (possibly automatically) and you get all the new features and fixes.
On the other hand, it puts the burden on your smart device and that means possible compatibility issues, differences in software between Apple and Android devices, slow operation because your phone is slow, Bluetooth compatibility issues, Bluetooth range issues, and more.
If you can afford it, an all-in-one device would be my choice for a professional scan tool. For the auto enthusiast, there is no doubt that having it work through your phone app is convenient and desirable.
We searched automotive forums, retail sites, consumer sites, social media, customer review sites, and manufacturer sites to find the most popular and highly rated OBD II scan tool.
Take a look at our choice and see if this highly-rated BlueDriver model is the best OBD2 scanner for your needs!
The Lemur Vehicle Monitors BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android is a convenient and powerful tool that uses the same Identifix database as professional automotive shops to match your vehicle’s make, model, year, and trouble codes to a specific fix among over 30 million fixes. Because it uses Identifix you can be sure that your repair report will always contain fixes that have been verified by Certified Professional Mechanics and not just someone’s opinion online. It has the ability to read and clear CEL codes (confirmed, pending, and permanent for all makes), read and clear enhanced codes like ABS, airbag, transmission, and more for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan (available worldwide) and BMW, VW, and 20003+ Honda (available in North America), generating repair reports with code definition, possible causes, and reported fixes including vehicle-specific for each DTC, Freeze Frame vehicle snapshots when a code is stored, Smog Check, Mode 6 advanced test results, and Live Data displaying multiple PIDs as a graph, gauge, digital readout, or exported to a log file.
BlueDriver reads and clears codes other devices won’t and with its Enhanced Diagnostics, you get complete access to information normally only accessible to professional mechanics on expensive tools. Plus, BlueDriver’s dedicated team of Professional Engineers are continually providing free updates to support more brands.
Designed by Professional Engineers in North America there are no add-ons to buy, no wires, and it works on both Android and Apple devices. Easy-to-use, you get a code reader with all the capabilities of an expensive handheld scan tool with all the benefits of your smartphone or tablet including free app updates, portability, saving data, and interactive graphing of live data. This is an excellent candidate for the best OBD2 scanner.
Best OBD2 Scanner: Features
- Professional, Bluetooth OBDII scan tool that works in conjunction with a free BlueDriver app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices
- It uses the same Identifix database as professional automotive shops to match your vehicle’s make, model, year, and trouble codes to a specific fix among over 30 million fixes giving you comfort that your repair report will always contain fixes that have been verified by Certified Professional Mechanics and not just someone’s opinion online
- Reads and clears CEL codes (confirmed, pending, and permanent for all makes)
- Reads and clears enhanced codes like ABS, airbag, transmission, and more for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan (available worldwide) and BMW, VW, and 20003+ Honda (available in North America)
- Generates repair reports with code definition, possible causes, and reported fixes including vehicle-specific for each DTC
- Freeze Frame vehicle snapshots when a code is stored
- Smog Check can alert you to possible problems before you get tested
- Mode 6 advanced test results
- Customizable Live Data Dashboard displays multiple PIDs in customizable colors using numerous data sources such as Mass Air Flow, Fuel Pressure, RPM, and more as a graph, gauge, digital readout or exported to a log file
- Scan tool provides detailed information about your vehicle including vehicle specifications, maintenance schedule, recalls, and Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs)
- Support available anytime, anywhere including in the BlueDriver in-app chat
- Officially licensed and certified for Apple and Android devices
Enhanced Diagnostics Compatibility
Get ENHANCED diagnostics on:
- All GM brands, including Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, Buick, Saab, Saturn, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, & Hummer
- All Ford brands, including Ford, Lincoln, & Mercury
- All Chrysler brands, including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, & Plymouth
- All Toyota brands, including Toyota, Lexus, & Scion
- All Nissan brands, including Nissan, Infiniti, & Renault
- All BMW brands sold in North America, including BMW, Mini & Rolls Royce
- All Honda brands sold in North America, including Honda & Acura (2003 models and newer)
- All Volkswagen brands sold in North America, including Volkswagen, Audi, Lamborghini & Bentley
- Compact and portable
- Conveniently remembers VIN and specs from all cars it’s been plugged into
- The real-time monitor can detect problems before they become big headaches
- More features than the competition
- Works with most but not all vehicles
- Some reports that Bluetooth connectivity can be intermittent
Best OBD2 Scanner
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What do you think of this highly-rated scan tool? Which car scanner are you planning to buy? Please take a moment to leave a comment below.
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OBD2 scanners are great tools for diagnosing problems to fix yourself or identifying problem codes to help you talk to your mechanic, or to pass on to your mechanic prior to their troubleshooting. We sincerely hope that this article has provided you with valuable information that helps you choose the best OBD2 scanner for your needs!