Did you know that your car is like an extensive smartphone? In today’s society, cars contain complex computers that help the engine run smoothly. That said, being able to tap into a car’s diagnostics to view upcoming maintenance or identify issues is critical to the life of your vehicle and understanding how it works.
It’s time to stop fearing that “check engine” light.
If you haven’t felt fear when seeing that illuminate, you haven’t ever driven a car. Are we right? Your mechanic is your car’s doctor, but maybe it needs a best friend and a doctor all in one. What if you could have a doctor friend in your pocket that plugs directly into your car to reveal live data of your car’s diagnostics? Say what?
Welcome to the OBD2 scanner—your car’s new best doctor friend.
What is an OBD2 Scanner?
An OBD2 scanner or On-Board Diagnostic is a scan tool for your vehicle that checks live data from your car and reports back to you. It’s as simple as plugging the device into your car and watching it send back key features like trouble codes, refueling data, upcoming maintenance, and more.
Get all of the live data right in your palm as your OBD2 scanner does its job. If you’ve never understood the workings of your car, an OBD2 scanner is going to make your day. This code reader is just what you need to get vital information to keep your vehicle running smoothly.
Most cars produced after 1996 will have an OBD2 scanner port located somewhere under the steering wheel. Also, many car manufacturers are compatible with an OBD2 scanner like Honda, Nissan, Kia, Jeep, Jaguar, Mitsubishi, and more.
Have a diesel engine? No worries. Several diesel cars or trucks are compatible with these code readers too.
Elements to Consider
It’s the “before your purchase” essential information. Without this, the research can seem overwhelming. Let us “underwhelm” you for a minute and help. Is underwhelm a word? Someone call Webster Dictionary and get it added!
There’s nothing worse than buying something for the first time that you’ve never used before and not understanding how to get started. That said, look at the OBD2 scanner’s configuration and make sure it’s not too complicated.
The instructions should be available on the website with how to use it. If it’s paragraphs long, maybe skip buying it and look for something more streamlined. The reviews are essential here because that’s where you find out firsthand how complex it is to get the scanner working.
One bad review might not be worth noting, but skip buying that particular product if the configuration has several bad reviews.
You can plug anything into your car, and it will give you a reading. However, is that reading of your live data correct or helpful?
Ensure that the OBD2 scanner you choose brings back accurate data with the key features of your car and trouble codes that will help enable your mechanic to understand the problems. The more information you provide them, the better and quicker than can assist you in fixing issues.
We all love an awesome-looking graph, right? The best OBD2 scanners will feature graphs that dictate how your engine is performing. Showing you numbers in a graph allows you to see live data immediately and help you understand how well or poorly your car is performing.
Size matters, people. Our smartphone screens are large because it’s easier to read the data presented. The screen size of your OBD2 scanner needs to be the same way. You don’t want the fantastic data it returns to be lost because the screen is too small.
Misreading something could mean the difference between phoning the mechanic or knowing everything is okay. Go for the bigger screen to better understand what is happening with your vehicle.
Best OBD2 Scanners
Whenever we reach for our wallets, it’s imperative to ensure our purchase is an excellent one. We took the elements above into consideration and did some research for you. Let us present the best OBD2 scanners to you now.
1. Fixd Scanner
No, we didn’t spell that wrong. The Fixd scanner plugs directly into your vehicle under the steering wheel as long as the car was produced after 1996.
- Plug it in, go to the Fixd app available via Android or iOS, and start your car.
- Click on “scan,” and the scan tools have your data pouring in with over 7,000 trouble codes.
Need maintenance soon? The Fixd OBD2 scanner will let you know precisely when an oil change needs to occur or if the timing belt requires a change. Diesel owners will be happy to hear the Fixd scanner supports your vehicles too. High fives all around!
At $59, this OBD2 scanner is affordable, accurate, and awesome—all of the A’s.
The option to upgrade to Fixd Premium for $5.83/month means you get the scanner and access to a mechanic and free estimates for any work that needs to be done.
Excellent value for your purchase with this OBD2 scanner.
- A small structure that fits right in the glove compartment.
- Download the Fixd app for free.
- There is no built-in display screen on the OBD2 scanner itself.
This scan tool is legit, ya’ll. The BlueDriver OBD2 scanner is one of the best because it’s easy for beginners to use. The app is free for download for both Android and iOS devices to see the trouble code causing your vehicle issues.
Speaking of trouble codes, it scans and reports back all of the codes and viable fixes. It’s one thing to understand there is an issue. It’s another to understand the fix so you can report that to your mechanic. While it brings you live data, it also has a freeze frame data function that allows you to see the live data exactly when an issue occurred.
That way, you can understand what the readings were at the time of the problem. It makes for much easier troubleshooting.
Did we mention this scanner is available on Amazon? We love that free shipping option. For $119.95, get this OBD2 scanner in your life and breathe a sigh of relief for your car’s well-being.
- A chat support option within the app helps customers troubleshoot with some help.
- It gives viable options to fix issues that arise with each trouble code.
- BlueDriver is available with certain smartphones, so you need to ensure yours is compatible before purchase.
3. OvZ Car Scanner ELM OBD2
There’s an app for that. Yes, there is, and the OvZ Car Scanner ELM OBD2 is an app available via the Google Play store for any Android user. This app syncs with many different OBD2 scanners to read your car’s diagnostics and provide genuine feedback that will ensure your vehicle is running correctly. Download it for free and read your trouble codes instantly via the synced device.
- Massive library of diagnostic tools to choose
- Pick your favorite adapter to sync to this app.
- You must buy an adapter that works with this app to check your diagnostics with the app.
Don’t worry, Apple fans. There is an app for you too. The iOBD2 app works for all of you with iPhones or iPads. The best part of this app is that you turn it on while driving, giving you live data from your car instantly.
While it provides a range of diagnostic options, there is the ability to upgrade for even more diagnostic features if you need more. If you want to pair it with a piece of hardware, that is also an option. The sky’s the limit with this app, and that’s why it’s one of the best OBD2 scanners.
- Beginners love it for its ease of use.
- Depending on your vehicle, there are specific upgrade options available.
- It’s limited to what hardware is compatible with the app.
5. Ancel BD310
Is this another OBD2 scanner that is available on Amazon? Here at Geeqer, we know that free shipping is everything. The Ancel BD310 is another portable option that includes a two-inch screen to read your vehicle’s diagnostics. Featuring only three buttons, plug this device in and get a read from your engine in seconds.
As the live data flows in, see it directly on the handheld device. A further upgrade is to use it as a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner and sync it to your iOS or Android device. Now you can read all of the trouble codes directly on your smartphone. For $59.99, with free shipping for you Amazon Prime folks, this OBD2 scanner is a steal!
- This small, compact scanner makes it easy to transport anywhere.
- Get live data immediately from your engine.
- The screen size is only two inches, but the Bluetooth feature saves the day on this con.
Another Amazon product is a win when it comes to purchasing this OBD2 scanner. The Autel AutoLink AL319 OBD2 scanner provides a large screen to see all of your vehicle’s diagnostics. While it includes trouble codes, it also includes viable fixes for each code.
It’s like you always wanted to know what your mechanic was talking about to understand better how your car functions. We like this one for bringing you everything you need right from the device. No additional app is required. For $30.58, this scan tool provides you with accurate diagnostics at an affordable price.
- The large screen makes reading your car’s diagnostics easier.
- Get all of the information right on the device without needing an app.
- Some trouble codes are not compatible with this OBD2 scanner.
OBD2 scanner to Avoid
There is rarely a product we want you to avoid, but in this case, the Veepeak Mini Bluetooth OBD2 scanner is one to steer clear. While the other OBD2 scanners we listed provided many diagnostic readings and trouble codes, the Veepeak Mini is extremely limited in what it gives.
Readings on O2, engine coolant, oil temperature, mass airflow, and fuel trim are the only readings this scan tool provides. It’s only $12.99, but in this case, you are getting what you pay for, which is not much. It makes more sense for you to buy a more expensive scan tool that gives you many more readings from your car’s engine.
Are Free OBD2 Scanners Available?
Most, if not all, mechanics have OBD2 scanners that will scan your car for free to check diagnostics. There are some free apps you can download as well on either an Android or iOS device. That said, the options we provided are relatively inexpensive and give you peace of mind to know what is going on with your car at any time.
If you just want to check your upcoming maintenance, for instance, you don’t have to drive to a mechanic for that. Simply plug in your scan tool or pull up your app to see what’s upcoming regarding maintenance. Remember, it’s like having a doctor for a best friend for your car. Who doesn’t want that?
Scan and Go!
Purchase an OBD2 scanner and see what all the fuss is. Trouble codes are now explained so you can better understand how your car works. Maintenance is never missed because now you know precisely when it’s coming. Owning a car doesn’t have to be a headache.
Get all the live data from the best OBD2 scanner and never fear that check engine light again. You’re welcome, friends!
Pilar is an on-the-road Editor from Brazil living in Bali. On Geeqer she covers phones, tablets, wearables and devices. She is one of those minimalists that likes to buy the best to buy only once.