Best obd2 Scanner Reviews 2018- (Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner)

best obd2 scanner Reviews

You don't have to panic once your check engine light turns on. There are many automotive scan tools (On-Board Diagnostic 2) on the market today that with help you with troubleshooting and diagnostics. Here is a comprehensive review of five most popular and best OBD2 scanner models.

PRODUCT 

IMAGE

MODEL

WEIGHT

EDITOR RATTING

PRICE

ANCEL AD310 Classic

12 ounces

BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional

8 ounces

Autel Maxisys Pro MS908P Automotive

23 pounds

ANCEL AD510 Automotive

8 ounces

What is an OBD2 scanner?

The On-Board Diagnostics scanner, commonly known as OBD, is a term used for an automatic system that makes use of the self-diagnosis and reporting capability of a vehicle.

These devices can provide the mechanic, as well as, the user a direct insight into the working of the vehicle in order to determine what's wrong with it. These scanners inform their users of the health of the engine, performance rating, and status of several sub-systems inside the vehicle.

The two main models of the introduced OBD devices are OBD-I and OBD-II. The OBD-I proved to be very useful for the mechanics as it helped in running emission systems of the car in a better way.

However, it couldn't determine what was wrong with the car engine in the most efficient of ways. The OBD-II was definitely an improvement on that, performing a basic set of three functions at least. The functions include writing and erasing data and display live charts.

The OBD-II device is connected via the OBD-II port which is inside the vehicle. This port can be located under the dashboard of the car, on the driver's side. The configuration mostly provided by the vehicles are 6-pin, 9-pin, and 16-pin. Depending on the configuration, the connection of the scanner would be different.

The Best OBD2 Scanner Reviews- Top Picks

OBD2 scanners have been helping people diagnose their ill vehicles for years now. It serves as a one stop solution to figure out what’s wrong with your car before you rush it your mechanic, or open it up by yourself.

The two versions available of the scanner include a code reader and an advanced, scan tool. The code readers are only capable of reading and clearing codes, whereas scan tools are also capable of testing, viewing recorded data, and more.

The best obd2 scanners may be difficult to find as there are so many available in the market. Fret not, this extensive guide will help you choose the best one of the lot. It will also provide you with a buying guide and things to look for in an OBD2 scanner. 

1. ANCEL AD310 Universal OBD II scanner

Universal OBD II scanner

ANCEL AD310 is one of the highly-rated and most recommended automotive code readers around. It also lasts for years and saves you a lot of money and time if treated with utmost care.

One thing that most users love is its large LED screen that comes with an amazing display. The 128 by 64-pixel screen comes with contrast and white backlight adjustment that directly shows test results. The screen is also fast hence time-saving and reliable.

The diagnostic device has the ability to read both CAN (controller area network) and generic trouble codes (check engine light). In layman's language, it has detailed data code coverage and superb language support.

Other features include:

     # Retrieves all car's information

     # Easily reads live data stream, views freeze frame data, offers I/M readiness and turns off the engine's ready lights

Pros

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    Comes with 4 button keypad buttons that are easy to scroll
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    Easy to install in the dashboard, use, and carry around. This is because it comes with a compact and small-size design
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    3 years warranty
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    Cost-effective and does not require a smartphone for operations which is an additional expense
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    Has a 2.5 long connection cable that connects to dashboard quickly and with ease
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    Does not require a charger or batteries

Cons

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    Can't diagnose an ABS system
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    Is not compatible with some models from Nissan

Who is ANCEL AD310 Universal OBD II scanner built for?

ANCEL AD310 Universal OBD II scanner best suits amateurs whose interest is just reading data. This is because it is easy to use and connect. It is a primary tool that does not give elaborate data not forgetting the inability to work with some brands.

2. BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD2 Scan Tool

BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD2 Scan Tool

Packed with amazing features BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD 2 is certainly one the best automotive diagnostic scanners. Some of the features include the ability to read and delete trouble codes and give repair reports. You can view all these on your Bluetooth device through a live feed.

Another outstanding feature is the ability to read vital car information like the VIN number, fuel consumption (MPG), engine data and assembly location. It can also give you your engine's coolant temperatures.

Cons

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    Made in North America, its sensors and apps are compatible with one another.
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    You can download the app free of charge on Google Play and iTunes
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    3 years warranty
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    Smog readiness test that not only tells you where your vehicle will pass all emission tests but also saves you money and time
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    The scan tool is very compact and fits in one's palm
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    Reads as well as clears different trouble codes like engine, transmission, ABS, and airbag

Cons

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    Unstable Bluetooth transmission
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    Mobile devices using windows operating system are left out
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    In case you phones goes into the sleep mode, you data reading is zeroed out and there is no setting to stop it
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    All the live data coming is not saved on the automotive scan tool

Is it ideal for you?

BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBD 2 is built for use by cars manufactured from 1996. Some of the supported car brands include Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen.

However, the scan tool is only compatible with smartphones using Android and iOS operating systems. When it comes to Android the minimum required version is 4.0 while iOS is 7.0. It is also ideal for experienced technical and fanatic drivers.

3. Autel Maxisys Pro MS908P- Automotive scan tool

Automotive scan tool

Autel Maxisys Pro MS908P offers amazing diagnostic solution related to OE. It also runs on the Android operating system and has a 1.4 GHz processor. This means it is 5 times faster than similar scanners on the market, allows multitasking and managing several apps simultaneously.

This scanner has a wide range of car coverage; all vehicles manufactured in 1996 and later. It works perfectly well with more than eighty car brands in USA, Asia, and Europe.

In addition, it has auto-vin technology that identifies all cars with CAN with a single touch. Once a car is identified, it diagnoses both the engine and other highlighted systems. For easy analysis and efficiency, data is exhibited in graphs and texts.

Pros

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    It has an 11000mAH-3.7V battery that takes less time to recharge and can last up to 8 hours
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    A 9.7'' IPS screen with backlight and 1024 x 768 resolution hence excellent display
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    Comes with 32 GB hard drive that offers sufficient storage space for all your detailed history
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    An inbuilt autofocus camera (5 megapixels)
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    You can print your data using Wifi- enabled printer or a computer that uses windows
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    Weighing 28.9lbs, this tool is very light and easy to carry around
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    It is compatible with other add-ons; this allows you to install a language pack
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    The device allows you to easily contact Autel technical support remotely in case you experience difficulties with the tool

Cons

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    It has complicated operational procedures hence not ideal for low-end mechanics
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    Who is Autel Maxisys Pro MS908P Automotive scan device built for?
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    This tool is designed for professional mechanics with auto-repair shops and garage. It is a great tool that gets things done fast.

Who is it built for?

Autel Maxisys Pro MS908P is one of the best professional diagnostic tools and is definitely for professional mechanics who are working at garages or auto shops.

4. Seekone KW860 OBD2 Code Scanner 

OBD2 Code Scanner review

The Seekone KW80 OBD2 Code Scanner is capable of reading and erasing codes as well as retrieving Engine Control Unit (ECU) data easily. The check engine is triggered by issues in the ECU.

This code scanner is compatible with most of the cars sold in the USA from the year 1996. The device follows all the OBDII protocols and is compatible with languages like English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, and Portuguese.

The range of OBDII functions for the code scanner include the ability to read and erase DTC, reset monitors, turn off check engine light, and graphical and numeric live data stream. Seekone also provides lifetime free updates of the software along with a warranty of 3 years.

The scanner has a one-click functional design, with a 2.8 inch TFT screen and a 5 foot long diagnostic cable. The handheld device is anti-shock, and has passed a drop test of 15ft as well. It is fully capable of professional diagnostics. It makes use of three indicators, red, yellow, and green to show the status of your vehicle.

Pros

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    The OBD2 scanner follows all the OBDII protocols and supports multiple languages.
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    It is compatible with vehicles sold in USA from 1996.
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    The company provides free software updates for life and comes with a warranty of 3 years.

Cons

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    It is difficult to erase fault codes unless they have been repaired.
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    The software cannot be updated on MAC system.

5. ANCEL AD510 OBD2 Code Scanner 

ancel obd2 code scanner reviews

The Ancel AD510 OBD2 Code Scanner has one of the easiest to use UI design. It reads and clears the codes on most of the vehicles produced in USA, Europe, and Asia post 1996. It is capable of working on all the OBDII protocols and can be accessed in several languages apart from English, including German and Spanish.

The device is made out of a rugged, anti-shock material that has passed the drop test of 5 ft. The cable of the device which used to test the vehicles is 5 ft long. The cable is made out of thick flexible insulator so that the wires are capable of reaching in and out of the vehicle anytime.

It has the ability to read and clear all the fault codes, can turn off check engine light, can perform DTC lookup, graph data stream, and reset the monitor, i.e. all the OBD services. The scanner displays information like battery monitor, voltage information, and protects the car from an over-voltage problem as well.

Cons

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    You can update the scanner’s software online for free.
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    It is compatible with not only the cars from USA, but also Europe and Asia.
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    It comes in a handy compact structure which is anti-shock and anti-slip in nature.

Cons

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    The device only supports 12V vehicles
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    One cannot clear the fault codes unless they’re repaired.

How to choose best OBD2 scanner?

The best obd2 scanner can be a tricky device to select as a plethora of them are available in the market. Here are a couple of things you must consider before choosing the best one of all.

Do you want a basic scanner or a high-end one?

A low-cost basic code reader has a limited functionality and doesn't do more than reading and erasing engine codes. The code readers mostly have just two buttons to work with. The usually help you determine the things that your mechanic must look into or if you can perform the repair work yourself.

The biggest problem with the basic code readers is that they are not compatible with all the vehicles. They also don't cover all the protocols and are designed to cater to only the most common ones.

A high-end code reader, on the other hand, costs more and is mostly used by professionals. They perform a lot more functions and rarely face any compatibility issues. The added functions may include Airbag capability, live data, Print compatibility, Updatable, Storage, and more.

Can the device’s software be upgraded?

Low-cost code readers cannot be upgraded with time. However, the more expensive high-end ones can be updated regularly. This makes them compatible with even the newest of vehicles. But make sure if the updates are free of cost or come with a price tag.

Is it compatible with all the vehicles?

As mentioned earlier, low-cost code readers aren't compatible with all the vehicles. They only work on the most common OBD2 protocols and therefore, should be checked for the protocols that fit with your car.

You can either look up the protocol your car uses, online or check the Diagnostic connector of your vehicle. You can understand the protocol of your vehicle based on the pins it has.

 For example, if the connector has pins 2, 4, 5, 10, and 16, it responds to the J1850 PWM protocol but if the pin 10 is missing, it responds to the J1850 VPW protocol.

Are you sure of the type of OBD2 scanner you want?

We all look up for an OBD2 scanner, check the types of protocols it's compatible with and buy it without knowing if it serves our purpose best. One should be very sure of the type of OBD2 scanner one wants so that you don't end up getting a PC one when your requirement is that of a handheld. The various types of OBD2 scanners are:

PC scanners: They can be downloaded on your PC and used to diagnose what’s wrong with your car, truck, or bike.

Bluetooth scanners: It can be connected with your smartphone, tablet, or computer via Bluetooth which can then be used for scanning your vehicles.

Handheld scanners: These units are mostly used by professional mechanics and can detect almost every issue in your vehicle. They have better information display, can stream live data, and come in proper kits.

Is it cost effective?

The best OBD2 scanner shouldn't only be filled with features but should also be cost effective. Many times, we buy expensive kits even when our requirement can be fulfilled with a more basic equipment. Therefore, always draw a budget and a list of functions that you want from your OBD2 scanner so as to not spend too much.

Best OBD2 Scanner Buyer Guides

The OBD2 scanner can be a tough find and you must look at the all the possible functions that you want out of it before spending your money. This way, you’ll save a lot of money and won’t have to go to a mechanic every now and then.

Is it portable?

The OBD2 canners comes in various types like PC, Bluetooth, and handheld. The only ones that allow you some movement are Bluetooth and handheld scanners. You can fix a handheld one under the dash of your car and move around to check everything.

 A portable scanner helps you move around the vehicle to closely observe the problem. It also comes handy on your road trips, so you don’t waste time looking for a mechanic when your car breaks down.

Does it fit your budget?

You might only need a scanner that can read and erase codes or you may need one with a couple of extra features. However, always make sure that you don’t waste your money over special features that you don’t even need. Always list down the features you need in your OBD2 scanner. After that, draw a budget and look for the ones that fit the bill.

Is it compatible with your car?

Many basic code readers only work with a bunch of protocols and thus, aren’t compatible with all the cars. If you’re going for a low-end OBD2 scanner, always check what protocols it works with. But if your scanner is a high end one, chances are quite high that they’ll be compatible with your car. Most OBD2 scanners are compatible with car models dating back to 1996.

Is it compatible with cars made out of US?

Your car may not necessarily be from the US. You may have gotten it transferred from Europe or Asia, which means that its working and protocols might differ. Most budget friendly handheld OBD2 scanners aren’t compatible with cars outside of US. But there are some that can fit this feature. Some code readers can also be used in multiple languages like German, Spanish, Finnish, Dutch, etc.

What all does the kit include?

Most of the times, the kit of an OBD2 scanner includes only the code reader that is to be connected to the car. However, many OBD2 scanners offer the worth of your money by including things like batteries, data cable, etc. along with the scanner. Always try to buy the one with an additional kit so that you don’t end up spending more money than what you aimed for.

Is the scanner updatable?

The low-cost OBD2 scanners rarely offer any updates, which means that you may not be able to use them for the latest car models. Therefore, always go for ones that come with an updateable software so that you don’t end up buying more scanners every time you get a new car. These updates also offer extra features so that your process is easier and results more accurate. The updates, however, may come with an additional cost.

Can you save your readings?

The best OBD2 code readers offer to save your readings so they come in handy even at a later stage. Otherwise, you’ll have to test your vehicle every time to look for the codes you want. Many OBD2 scanners also offer to store the important information about your car so that you can use it every time you have to see a mechanic or buy a part for your model.

Does it work with all the protocols?

The basic code scanners only offer to work with a couple of protocols which are very common. Which is why, they won’t work with every car that’s in the market or even the old ones. Therefore, you must check the protocols of your car if going for a low-end scanner. High-end scanners, however, do not face this issue.

Is it easy to use?

Good OBD2 scanners offer an easy-to-use UI with adequate features to display different values. For example, many OBD2 scanners offer color coded graphs for the live data, they display battery status, voltage information, engine checks, and more. The low-end scanners have just two buttons to use and rarely offer a UI.

Does it have any special features?

Depending on you purpose, you can look out for special features in your OBD2 scanner like a WiFi connection, Bluetooth, data cable, extra hardware, etc. However, the extra features do come with an additional cost that should be a part of your budget before buying.

Best Professional Automatic Diagnostic Scanner - The top benefits

The improved technology has given us better cars, but it has also made the systems a lot more complicated for the users to understand. A lot of times when our cars break down, it gets very difficult for us to diagnose the actual problem with it. We either try to figure it out ourselves and cause more damage than it was before or try to figure out the problem online and spend more money than needed.

This problem has been solved with the introduction of best professional automatic Diagnostic scanner that most repair shops have with them. These tools are designed to tell you exactly what's wrong with your car and give you a better idea of how it can be fixed. The tools also give you a better idea to deal with the issue next time it happens.

The tools also make it impossible for The Mechanic to cheat you as you are able to see the readings of the scanner yourself. Here are the top benefits of the best professional automatic Diagnostic scanner.

Thorough diagnosis of the vehicle

The professional automatic Diagnostic scanners are able to check most of the systems of a car including the ignition system, the fuel injection, the automatic transmission, along with several other smaller parts and systems that seem to be out of your reach. There are sensors that are fit into the scanner that note every single problem with these systems and display it on the tool.

This helps you determine exactly what's wrong with your car and quite precisely so. Every single sensor in the vehicle is designed to acknowledge the Diagnostic scanner and respond to it. This makes one aware of any issues with their car a lot faster so that it can be fixed soon.

Quick scan

The best professional automatic Diagnostic scanners are highly accurate with the readings. The amount of precision they offer with the readings take a lot of time when done manually. Thus, the Diagnostic scanners save a lot of time by displaying the number of issues with your car in a matter of minutes.

These diagnostic scanners are capable of finding problems in one's engine, fuel system, etc. Therefore, you are able to understand everything that's wrong with your car in much less the time than it would take you to figure manually.

User friendly

The professional automatic Diagnostic scanners are extremely easy to use. The tools are quite tiny and fit into your hands. It consists of a screen that displays everything that is wrong with your car and a cable that is connected to the OBD II port of your vehicle.

After the port has been connected to the vehicle, the driver must switch on the vehicle so that the lights and the clock are turned on but not the engine. After that, all you have to do is put in the vehicle identification number (VIN) of your car and proceed to scan it as instructed in the manual.

Affordable

In the earlier days, the Automatic scanners designed for cars were quite exclusive in nature and specific to the brands they were from. Therefore, they used to be quite expensive as well.

However, with the improvement in technology, all the cars do not follow the same standards, making the professional scanners general in nature. The scanners today can figure out any problem with your car in a matter of minutes.​

This can save you several trips to the garage and the amount of money you will be charged by the mechanics for barely touching your car. This makes the best professional automatic Diagnostic scanners highly economical in the long run.

Standard problem codes

There are several kinds of professional automatic Diagnostic scanners available in the market right now. Some of them show you just the codes, which you may have to figure out later to understand what's actually wrong.

The improve in Technology has also made the systems better by allowing one to see the real-time data of a car without any codes. However, figuring out the codes isn't as difficult either as they are standardized for every single model of every single car company.​

For example, if the code shown on the device is one, there is a problem with the emissions management. The code for emission control is 4 and that for ignition is 3.

Provides peace of mind

Earlier, drivers used to panic as soon as they used to see the glowing "check engine light" on their car's dashboard. The check engine light is turned on in a car only when there is a problem with the PCM (Powertrain Control Module). The PCM starts receiving confusing signals from the other sensors of the car, thus causing the light to blink.

The issue may seem mild at first but can lead to something serious if not taken care of on time. Thus, one can easily check with the help of professional automatic Diagnostic scanner what exactly is wrong and how can it be fixed.

Not only will this save your time, it will also reduce your panic immensely. The professional automatic Diagnostic tool also comes in handy when the car needs to be checked for emission control.

A car isn't allowed to pass the emission test if the check engine light is on. Therefore, always see if everything is right with the car before the inspection.

History of OBD2 Scanner-Need to Know 

Most vehicle owners these days prefer having an OBD2 scanner as it saves them a lot of time and money. An OBD2 scanner can figure out what's wrong with your vehicle way before a mechanic sees it, thus helping you understand whether you can repair it yourself.

It also comes in handy in determining what kind of work your car needs so that the mechanic doesn't overcharge you. If you're thinking of buying an OBD2 scanner, here a brief history of how the devices came to be.

OBD2 Scanner

California was the first state that started thinking about the harmful emissions produced by the vehicle and the impact it would have on the environment. In 1966, all the car models were required to have an emission management system in the car, in the state of California. The decision spread across the states and was enforced nationwide by the federal government in 1968.

The first OBD system on a computer that could scan a vehicle was produced by Volkswagen in the year 1968. Ten years later, Datsun worked to better the system and make it a lot simpler. They produced an OBD system that had limited but non-standardized capabilities. The engine diagnostics of a vehicle did not come into the picture until the 1980s.

GM too produces an engine diagnostic tool of themselves, supported by the flashing of check engine light. After that, several car companies went on to develop similar interfaces. This happened because the vehicles had still not been standardized, giving the manufacturers an opportunity to create tools that were different for various brands, as well as, for different car models of the same brand.

This made it very difficult for the user to understand issues as they had to be clear of the custom codes created by every manufacturer for each of their models.

However, OBD has undergone some of the most complex changes in the history of diagnostic devices, from barely declaring emissions to giving live data graphs of the vehicle. The previous OBD tools provided nothing more than an indication of the check engine light, but are now able to give detailed information about every single thing that might be present in your car.

The OBD-II scanners make use of a digital port connected under the dashboard to quickly analyze the car and collect all the data about it. It is then able to produce a set of standardized codes indicating to the exact problem the vehicle might have.

All the mechanics and most drivers are aware of these codes and therefore, can start working on a problem without wasting any time. Thus, if all you need to do is tighten a plug, you won't have to waste your time going to a mechanic. If you require something major to be done, your mechanic would be able to assist you better and give you the value for your money.

Timeline of OBD standards

Following is the short timeline of how OBD scanners came to be and how their standards evolved over the years.

1988 – This was the year when Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) declared the use of a standard set of connectors and diagnostics. This helped every driver who had to remember the custom codes designed for vehicles of different brands, sometimes the same one but different models.

1991 – OBD-I diagnostics was made mandatory to be present in every car in the state of California.

1994 – The state of California declared that all vehicles produced after 1996 must follow the standard produced by the SAE. Thus, all the OBD produced after this point were referred to as OBD-II. This included a series of standard codes so that all the cars could be tested for their emissions, regardless of the company they come from.

1996 – OBD-II became a mandatory standard for all the vehicles produced in the United States after that.

What are the problems still faced by OBD-II scanner owners?

The only problem that still remains is choosing the right tools for your car. The OBD-II scanners vary a lot on the price scale and provide adequate functionality for their price. Thus, it is very important to be aware of the brand and model of your car, what kind of scanner you must need, and what all functions do you want out of it.

There are several people who just need a portable device that makes it easy for them to walk around the car and capture all the readings. They might need scanners with a long data cable. Some of them require to see the live data, and most mechanics use a PC-based OBD scanners as they can scan the whole vehicle at one go without having to move at all.

Final Verdict

For us, the best OBD2 scanner has to be the Ancel OBD510 Code Scanner. The device comes in an anti-shock and anti-slip packaging and has cleared the drop test of 5 ft. The kit also comes with an extra 5ft data cable that can be connected with the car for diagnosis.

It hardly requires any battery and offers a user friendly UI. Not only does it offer multiple languages but is also compatible with cars from the US, Europe, and Asia. The features include reading and erasing the errors, graphing live data, battery indicators, voltage readings, and more.

Related post

Mary T. White
 

Hi everyone, I'm a trained AC service technician who uses several tools in my profession. I created this interactive platform to share experiences and vital information. Feel free to share your views and ask any question.