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7 Best OBD2 Scanner Review and Complete Guide

Dealing with car troubles is not everyone’s cup of tea, and we fully understand that. So what are you supposed to do when your car suddenly breaks down? Run system diagnostics by hiring a professional? Well not necessarily, you can take matters into your own hands as well.

Since you are already here, you probably know what we are referring to – our trusty OBD II scanners of yore.

BEST OBD2 SCANNER
BEST OBD2 SCANNER

However, choosing the right OBD II scanner is a headache of its own, but we have put together this guide to help you choose the best OBD2 scanner for your car to save you trouble. You can thank us later!

The Best OBD2 Scanner of 2021

It is true that there is no shortage of options in the market, and the same can be said for OBD II scanners.

However, this means that buyers can get confused as well because it is not necessary that every top tier scanner fits your requirements. So saddle up as we take you through some of our top picks to help you out.

Comparison Table of best OBD2 Scanner

ImageProductBattery Type
Exterior
Display Type
Price
Launch-OBD2-Scanner-CRP123ELaunch OBD2 CRP123E
(Editor’s Choice)
Single Lithium PolymerFrosted Case
LED
Check Price
Actron-CP9680-AutoScannerActron CP9680 Plus
Inbuilt Battery
PlasticColored LCD Screen
Check Price
ANCEL-FX2000-VehicleANCEL FX2000 Vehicle
Standard 12V BatteryMatte Black Case
TF Color Screen
Check Price
Innova-3100i-DiagnosticInnova 3100i
2 AA Batteries
Matte Black Plastic
Red/Yellow/Green LEDs
Check Price
FOXWELL-NT301-OBD2-ScannerFOXWELL NT301
Not Required
Case Sold Separately
OBDII Monitors
Check Price
OBDLink-426101-ScanToolOBDLink 426101
Built-In 68 mA Battery
Textured
N/A
Check Price
Autel-AutoLink-AL519Autel AutoLink AL519
12V Battery
Textured Casing
TFT Color Display
Check Price

Our Top 7 Picks For the Best OBD2 Scanners

1. Launch OBD2 Scanner CRP123E

We don’t mean to act like fangirls over car products, but this is perhaps the Brad Pitt of OBD II Scanners in the market. Intrigued? Wait till you hear the rest. Once we get in the description, it might seem overly complicated but stick with us, because this scanner has a lot to offer.

Launch OBD2 Scanner CRP123E Review
Launch OBD2 Scanner CRP123E

For starters, the Launch OBD2 Scanner is compatible with four different system functions meaning that it can test all these systems.

It displays all the output data in the form of systematic models and graphics. These can be read and interpreted using the standard fault code manual provided to you.

In addition, the OBD2 scanner offers a bunch of different modes and features that make the job even easier. For instance, you have access to the Powertrain Control Module, a Malfunction Indicator Light, Enabling Criteria, Freeze Frame Data, and OBD2 Drive Cycle, etc.

The updated version of the Launch OBD2 Scanner comes with a five-inch touch screen display along with a 4000 mAh battery. It has a total of five GBs worth of RAM.

It is compatible with numerous vehicles, but we recommend that always check to see beforehand if it would work with your car as well.

Highlighted Benefits
  • Five-inch touch display and 4000mAh battery
  • Compatible with four different system functions
  • OBD2 scanner has ten different modes and numerous features
  • Can be used on numerous commonly known car companies
Cons/Potential Flaws
  • The instruction manual is not of much help
  • Some features may be complicated to use for beginners

View Features on Amazon

Bottom Line 

Overall, there is not much to say regarding the Launch OBD2 Scanner in terms of drawbacks because it is fairly easy to get the hang of it and all the included features, making it our very first pick on this list!

2. Actron CP9680 AutoScanner Plus OBD II Scan Tool

We couldn’t help but notice how the title makes this scanner sound like some character from a Terminator movie. However, before Terminator fans jump to buy this, do take a look at the features first to be on the safe side!

The Actron CP9680 AutoScanner can read all kinds of Diagnostic Trouble Codes for vehicles that have been manufactured in 1996 and onwards.

Actron CP9680 AutoScanner Review
Actron CP9680 AutoScanner

The means that it is compatible with the bulk of modern cars that is in use right now. It works for both domestically manufactured as well as imported cars.

Another exception is the vehicles that have been manufactured anywhere between 1994 and 1995 who have already been equipped with OBD II scanning features. The Actron CP9680 also contains the CodeConnect that includes verified and standard solutions for millions of diagnostic trouble codes.

In terms of reading and displaying data, it uses a mix of I/M monitors that report instances of emissions, any previously detected diagnostic trouble codes, freeze frame data, warning lights, along monitoring related to fuel mileage.

All these features really help car owners diagnose the problem by easily interpret the readings. It also comes with a battery, charging system monitor, alternator along with code definitions in three different languages to cater to a wider range of users.

Highlighted Benefits
  • Compatible with the majority of vehicles manufactured after 1994
  • Works for both domestic and imported vehicles
  • Trilingual menu for more inclusivity
  • Efficient and detailed display of data; easy to interpret
Cons/Potential Flaws
  • Not compatible with older cars
  • Requires code manual to interpret the output data

View Features on Amazon

Bottom Line 

All in all, you cannot go wrong with the Actron CP9680 because it caters to a large audience of users.

It even has a trilingual menu to make it easier for users to read and interpret the data given on display, so it is definitely worth the investment.

3. ANCEL FX2000 Vehicle OBD2 Scanner

On the surface, ANCEL may sound like the name of your friendly English neighbour, but folks it is not as tame as it sounds. The ANCEL FX2000 Vehicle OBD2 Scanner is another great diagnostic tool for your car.

It has been optimized to be compatible with four different systems, including the standard OBD and EOBD diagnostic codes. In addition, it can also run a full diagnosis of vehicles pertaining to ABS systems, SRS, and transmission diagnostics.

ANCEL FX2000 Vehicle Review
ANCEL FX2000 Vehicle

The ANCEL FX2000 has the ability to run diagnostics of all the aforementioned systems, and turn off any warning lights by fixing the problems accordingly. However, there is one drawback, which is that the ANCEL FX2000 is only compatible with cars that have been manufactured in 2005 or after.

As for the display itself, the ANCEL FX2000 supports several advanced OBD2 modes. It can also track the working of O2 sensors along with smog levels. This helps car owners keep a tab of their emission levels and keep any excessive issues at bay.

Along with the ability to record all this data, it represents the output in the form of graphs, lives data streams, and freeze frame data etc.

The four-inch display screen and smartly integrated buttons make it easier to handle and navigate through the various settings on the scanner. The overall experience is not much different than that of using a smartphone.

Highlighted Benefits
  • Works for four different system functions
  • Runs diagnostics and turns off warning lights by troubleshooting
  • Tracks O2 sensors and emission levels as well
  • Four-inch display and easy to handle/navigate
Cons/Potential Flaws
  • Only compatible with cars manufactured in 2005 or after
  • Limited in terms of diagnostic range

View Features on Amazon

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the ANCEL FX2000 is great if you are looking for an easy to use OBD2 scanner then this is definitely a good choice, it is fairly straightforward in terms of usage and displays data in a simple format that is easy to interpret for users.

4. Innova 3100i Diagnostic Code Reader

If you have ever been to a tech conference, you have probably heard about a million renditions of the word ‘Innovation’ and for a good reason. This is what sets this scanner apart as well.

The all-star Innova 3100i OBD II scanner has a very compact design making it easy to use and carry. If your ‘Check Engine’ light is on or there are any other warning lights that are worrying you, then grab this tool, and it will diagnose the root of the problem for you.

Innova 3100i Diagnostic Review
Innova 3100i Diagnostic

The Innova 3100i is designed to run diagnostics on cars that have been manufactured in 1996 or after. If you have an older car, then this product is perhaps not the one for you.

However, for the others, it is suited to both imported and domestic models of cars including hybrids and modern ABS systems such as those of the Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, as well as Honda.

There is also an alternator and battery tester included in this scanner which can run tests on your battery/alternator to check if they are working properly.

The freeze frame data display shows details of the diagnostics such as fuel trim, the temperature of engine coolant, and the status of the Malfunction Indicator Lamp. It also shows emissions levels by using different colored LEDs on the monitor.

Highlighted Benefits
  • Compact design; easy to handle
  • Works for imported and domestic cars as well as hybrids
  • Battery/alternator tester included
  • Freeze frame data output is easy to interpret and troubleshoot
Cons/Potential Flaws
  • Only suited to cars manufactured in 1996 or later
  • Does not cater to all the cars manufactured in the aforementioned era

View Features on Amazon

Bottom Line 

The Innova 3100i is a fairly handy OBDII scanner to have to lie around. However, you will have to make sure that it works with the specific model of your car because it is quite particular in this regard.

5. FOXWELL NT301 OBD2 Scanner

In terms of functionality and aesthetics, this is one foxy piece of equipment (excuse the pun folks), and we are here for it. If you are looking for an OBD II scanner that is well worth a pretty penny, then this FOXWELL NT301 scanner will not let you down.

FOXWELL NT301 OBD2 Scanner Review
FOXWELL NT301 OBD2 Scanner

It reads and interprets the data in order to reveal anything troublesome that may have come up in the diagnosis. The FOXWELL OBD II scanner does a lot of the work for you, making it easier for you to decipher the rest of the code and figure out what went wrong with your vehicle.

As for the display itself, the data is represented in text form as well as graphics. It is fairly high up in terms of accuracy when it comes to reading error codes for cars all around the world.

This shows that it works well with domestically manufactured cars as well as imported models.

In addition, it also gives you access to live data sensors so you can monitor all the changes firsthand in real-time to pinpoint where the engine is at fault. You can also log and save this data for a later time if you wish to do so.

Highlighted Benefits
  • Tracks O2 Sensors and Smog levels
  • Promptly turns off check engine light after running diagnostics
  • Works for domestic and imported car models
  • Easy to read display; data can be saved to keep a record
Cons/Potential Flaws
  • Does not specific which cars it is compatible with
  • The casing needs to be acquired separately

View Features on Amazon

Bottom Line 

For the most part, you cannot go wrong with the FOXWELL OBD II scanner. Just be careful about checking with the manufacturer in order to ensure that it is compatible with your car in particular as that is a bit ambiguous.

6. OBDLink 426101 ScanTool MX Bluetooth

The OBDLink 426101 Scanner means all business as you can see from the title itself. It is like the Godfather of car scanners, but unlike Mario Puzo’s masterpiece character, it is fairly easy to get the hang of.

It is a high tech diagnostic tool that can be connected with your smartphone, laptop, or computer in order to run in-depth diagnostics on your car. Access to these devices makes diagnosis even easier and allows you to reach the root of the problem in a short amount of time.

OBDLink 426101 ScanTool Review
OBDLink 426101 ScanTool

In addition, it also has Bluetooth capabilities so that you can run wireless diagnostics on the car as well. The advantage of this wireless capability is that you can leave it connected for an extended period of time without it draining away the battery of the vehicle.

It also contains wireless security so that the system or the scanner cannot be hacked and is protected from any such breach of privacy. There is also a software and Android app available to set up the scanner on the aforementioned devices.

One major drawback is that the scanner is not compatible with Apple iOS devices. It also works with some certified thirty party applications in case you are looking for other options.

The OBDLink does not work with hybrids or electrically powered vehicles. Otherwise, it is compatible with cars manufactured in 1996 or in later years.

Highlighted Benefits
  • Can be connected to android phone, laptop, and PC
  • Software and app available for customizing the data
  • Bluetooth capabilities for wireless connectivity
  • Wireless security feature for protecting against hackers
Cons/Potential Flaws
  • Not compatible with hybrids/electric vehicles
  • Not compatible with Apple iOS devices

View Features on Amazon

Bottom Line 

Overall, the OBDLink scanner is a pretty tech-savvy diagnostic tool and has a very useful set of features. Therefore, if you are an Android user, then definitely give this one a go!

7. Autel AutoLink AL519 OBDII Scanner

If you are a beginner at using diagnostic tools on your vehicle, then the Autel AutoLink is the one for you. Sure, the title makes it sound like a delicate French artist trying to make it big but trust us, it is anything but.

It has a fairly compact design and is very easy to use or navigate through; the overall experience is much like that of using an old cell phone.

Autel AutoLink AL519 Review
Autel AutoLink AL519

However, do not be fooled by appearances because it houses a total of ten modes for OBD II testing. This means that it can run full-length diagnostics on your vehicles with ease and troubleshoot the issues for you.

It has a TFT color display that makes it easier to read and interpret the output time, that can really cut down repair and maintenance time.

As for compatibility, it works with most vehicles manufactured in 1996 or after. These include modern cars, of course, along with imported and domestic models. The display consists of LEDs that are color coded and an in-built speaker that can be used for recording and verifying any tonal indicators.

It works fairly efficiently to deduce the reason that your ‘check engine’ light be on, along with the malfunction indicator lamp which will make it easier to start working on a solution.

Highlighted Benefits
  • Color display and built-in speaker for easy readings
  • Compact design and simple layout; easy to use
  • Works for both domestic and imported cars
Cons/Potential Flaws
  • Only compatible with cars manufactured in 1996 or after
  • Only reads basic diagnostic codes

View Features on Amazon

Bottom Line 

If you are looking for a simple OBD II scanner that is easy to read and interpret, then this is a good option. However, we do recommend that you check for compatibility before settling on this one.

Things to Consider Before Buying an OBD2 Scanner

Here is a buyer’s guide to streamline the buying process for you when it comes to OBD II scanners.

1. Software

The software that is integrated within an OBD II scanner needs to be compatible with your car and other devices so that you can easily read and interpret the data collected by the scanner. Therefore, ensure that the application and the software work accordingly.

2. Upgrades

You also need to ensure that the OBD II scanner that you buy can house updates and upgrades with time because your car is bound to run into different sorts of problems and the scanner needs to contain the necessary error codes to identify these issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we have put together a list of the top ten FAQs related to OBD II scanners to satisfy any queries you may have.

  • Q1. What is an OBD II scanner? 

Answer: An OBD II scanner is a diagnostic tool designed for vehicles to run system diagnostics in the event that your car breaks down or does not function properly. It also deals with the ‘check engine’ light.

  • Q2. What does an OBD scanner do? 

Answer: An OBD II scanner run a full complete diagnosis on your car using standard error codes and displays that information in terms of graphs or text for you to interpret and troubleshoot the problem.

  • Q3. How much does an OBD scanner cost?

Answer: The cost of an OBD II scanner depends on the type of scanner that you buy, i.e. if it is an amateur model or a professional grade scanner etc. It also depends on the company or manufacturer of the scanner itself.

  • Q4. What features does an OBD scanner have?

Answer: Typically, an OBD II scanner has the ability to diagnose why your ‘check engine’ light is on or the ‘malfunction indicator lamp’ which it promptly turns off. In addition, it checks the car’s engine, emission levels, battery/alternator status, and O2 sensor etc.

  • Q5. How big is an OBD scanner? 

Answer: Most standard OBD II scanners are the size of a standard cell phone or smartphone. There are some other professional-grade scanners that might be slightly bigger, but most weigh between 1 to 3 pounds.

  • Q6. What kind of battery does an OBD scanner use?

Answer: Some OBD II scanners come with inbuilt batteries that are rechargeable, while others use standard lithium batteries, AA batteries, or the infamous 12 V batteries that can be replaced once they have run out.

Answer: Typically an OBD II scanner does not have much effect on your car’s battery, but if you are sceptical regarding this, you can always get a scanner with wireless capabilities to put yourself at ease.

  • Q8. What cars is an OBD scanner compatible with?

Answer: Most OBD II scanners are compatible with cars that have been manufactured in 1996 or in later years inclusive of both domestic and imported cars. There are a couple that goes back to 1994 as well, but most are not compatible with cars older than that.

  • Q9. How long does an OBD II scanner last? 

Answer: An OBD II scanner is a fairly sturdy device, and it should work fine for a long time as long as you keep the batteries charged and keep upgrading it as you go.

  • Q10. Can an OBD scanner turn of check engine light? 

Answer: Yes, once an OBDII scanner has run complete diagnostics on your car, it does promptly turn off the check engine light by pinpointing the problem.

Final Thoughts

Having a reliable OBD II scanner on hand can fix all your problems. Well perhaps not ‘all’ of them, a scanner cannot pay for your child’s college fund, but it will certainly take away a lot of day to day stress. Therefore you might want to take your time with this one and choose the right one for your trusty steeds, best of luck soldiers!

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