Table of Contents
- View The Best Automotive Diagnostic Scanner Below
- 1. LAUNCH X431 PROS Mini Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool
- 2. LAUNCH X431 V+ Bi-Directional Full Systems Diagnostic Scan Too
- 3. ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner
- 4. BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
- 5. Actron CP9690 Elite AutoScanner Kit
- 6. Autel MaxiLink ML619 Scanner
- 7. FOXWELL NT301 OBD2 Professional Diagnostic Code Reader Tool
- 8. Autel MaxiCOM MK808TS Programming Tool Scanner
- 9. Autel MaxiSys MS906 Automotive Diagnostic Scanner
- 10. Innova 3160g Pro OBD2 Scanner
- Automotive Diagnostic Scanners Buyer’s Guide
The best automotive diagnostic scanner designs, also known as an OBD scanner or OBDII scanner, are diagnostic tools that are used to gather the error codes relating to your car. Scan tools like this play the same role as a mechanic might, helping you understand what the problem is and giving you the error codes needed to look up further details online.
While they aren’t a magical tool that can solve your car troubles in a heartbeat, a good automotive diagnostic scanner will at least give you some details on what might be wrong, meaning that you at least have some idea of where to start looking and what to tell your mechanic.
Here are ten of the best automotive diagnostic scanner tools on the market, details about what they can do, and recommendations on where they might be most useful.
View The Best Automotive Diagnostic Scanner Below
1. LAUNCH X431 PROS Mini Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool
This reliable diagnostic tool works with over 10,000 car models, enabling you to view error codes and live data quickly while detecting as many problems as possible across 150 different car makes. Despite its small size, it supports a full set of diagnostics features: gear reset, ABS bleeding, key coding, and throttle matching among plenty of others!
The active test features make it easy to find specific data to identify problems that you might have missed. With up to nine hours of battery life, 32 GB of storage capacity, and quick software updates through Wi-Fi, you can keep the tool ready to use at a moment’s notice!
+ Extremely versatile.
+ Works with thousands of car models.
+ Easy to use for live data gathering.
+ Speedy, free updates.
+ Works well for niche tests.
Why We Liked It – This is sometimes said to be one of the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner tools on the market, giving you full control over the data you record and the tests you carry out on your vehicle.
2. LAUNCH X431 V+ Bi-Directional Full Systems Diagnostic Scan Too
This upgraded automotive diagnostic scanner is an excellent code reader, checking your vehicle systems and telling you whichever error codes apply in barely any time. The software has 20 preset functions that can apply to a variety of features on your car, and the Bi-Directional active test system makes it easy to request certain information as live data. Thanks to the 8 hours of battery life and 48 GB of storage, you don’t need to worry about the scanner suddenly refusing to work correctly, and you can use it on thousands of car designs without needing any extra tools.
+ Comes with 20 reset options.
+ Supports online coding for many vehicle types.
+ Excellent active test features.
+ High data storage capacity.
+ Supports remote diagnostic methods.
Why We Liked It – This bi-directional scanner is ideal for performing full diagnostic checks on almost any vehicle, especially if you are trying to identify a certain error code.
3. ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner
This universal OBD2 scanner is a quick-acting code reader that can diagnose problems in barely any time, working on most vehicles without issue. The large LCD screen tells you the exact test results with no need for a separate power source, drawing it directly from the data link connector attached to the car.
A simple four-button control system makes it an extremely easy to use diagnostic tool, and the scanner display will tell you the meaning of each error code once it gathers the data needed to identify it. Unlike a lot of scan tools, it can also detect the engine system, tracking emissions, and performance problems with ease.
+ Works as an engine system scan tool.
+ No battery or charging cable needed.
+ Displays test results directly.
+ Easy to use control system.
+ Reads manufacturer-specific codes.
Why We Liked It – This automotive diagnostic scan tool is ideal for identifying the reason the “check engine” light is active, something that other tools can struggle with.
4. BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
This OBD II Bluetooth scan tool offers all of the features of a regular scan tool while being far more portable and reliable, getting free updates and saving data remotely thanks to the Bluetooth functionality. Officially certified to work on both iOS and Android devices, it boasts an install-free and easy to use design that can give you multiple different reports and read a range of error codes quickly. The Live Data option, Freeze Frame setting, Smog Check tool, and Mode 6 option can improve your test result accuracy even further, giving you far more data to work with.
+ Connects with a range of vehicle models.
+ Links directly to your phone.
+ Had multiple professional settings.
+ Can save and share vehicle reports.
Why We Liked It – This is one of the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner models available for people who want to avoid unnecessary cables and save or share data effectively.
5. Actron CP9690 Elite AutoScanner Kit
The compact and reliable design of this automotive diagnostic scanner contains a wide range of useful features: it can record, graph, and playback live data that you gather from your vehicle or print it to a PC for easier storage and sharing. The simple LCD screen is able to display all of the data you collect with ease, and it is compatible with plenty of different vehicle makes and designs. Running on 2 AAA batteries and weighing just over 1.5 kilograms, it is an extremely portable scan tool that doesn’t take much extra effort to set up and use at a moment’s notice.
+ Highly portable.
+ Can create data graphs.
+ Can send data directly to your PC.
+ Smaller than most scan tools.
+ Can scan many car types.
Why We Liked It – This diagnostic scan tool is perfect for people who want to be sure that they are recording data in a readable, digestible way for future reference.
This diagnostic scan tool can turn off malfunction indicators such as the “check engine” light with barely any effort, allowing you to clear the error codes at any time. It can store sensor data in real-time and display it as graphics straight away and is capable of tracking anything from ABS information to emission levels depending on your needs. Unlike many scan tools, the MaxiLink uses sound cues and visual changes to help you identify problems, making it easier to scan an entire vehicle without skipping over or misreading important data.
+ Can turn off warning lights.
+ Can share data and update through a PC.
+ Stores scanned results in real-time.
+ Capable of displaying data as graphics.
+ Can be updated over the internet.
Why We Liked It – This is a simple but effective scan tool that works best for handling warning signs like a “check engine” light, telling you the related error codes, and letting you turn it off if you solve the problem.
7. FOXWELL NT301 OBD2 Professional Diagnostic Code Reader Tool
This code reader and automotive diagnostic scan accurately reads error codes for most vehicle types, including light trucks and SUVs. Charged directly from your car to avoid needing batteries, the scanner has a variety of different hotkeys to make it very easy to use, helping you set up specific checks or scans without wasting any time. It can also check your emissions readiness, turn off warning lights, store and read live data, retrieve your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number, and reset monitors in seconds. A built-in speaker also helps alert you to anything that you might otherwise miss or forget to check properly.
+ Audio cues for important information.
+ Easy to use as a general car diagnostic tool.
+ Powered by your car.
+ Tracks emissions.
+ Works on most light vehicle types.
Why We Liked It – This is a great car diagnostic and scanner tool for anybody who might end up having to deal with multiple vehicles at once.
8. Autel MaxiCOM MK808TS Programming Tool Scanner
This intelligent automotive diagnostic scanner boasts multiple advanced features and high-end hardware upgrades, including a 32 GB memory card, a VCI box, the ability to view live data from all car systems, and multiple reset options that can be used at any time.
The scan tool can get free updates when connected to the internet and works with a large list of vehicle models, giving you a card diagnostic scanner that can work extremely well in a wide range of situations. The tablet-style design also gives you a larger 7-inch touchscreen compared to other scan tools, making it easier to accurately read and compare the information you gather.
+ Uses effective car diagnostic features.
+ Records live data from all vehicle systems.
+ Easily connects to your vehicle.
+ Supports free updates.
+ Scans effectively.
Why We Liked It – The quality of this diagnostic tool makes it one of the best for professional users and new users alike, giving you accurate results across all car systems.
9. Autel MaxiSys MS906 Automotive Diagnostic Scanner
This Autel MaxiSys diagnostic tool supports a range of advanced features, including key fob programming, ECU coding, and the ability to merge data into a more professional and accurate display. When used for diagnostic purposes, it can reset dozens of features across the car while gathering plenty of useful information that can help you uncover malfunctions or damaged components.
The Exynos core processor boosts the speed by 50% compared to many other diagnostic scanners, and the Android OS used means that the scan tool can multitask effectively if the need arises. A battery life of six hours and 32 GB of storage adds some extra long-term reliability, too.
+ Can multitask well.
+ Uses a fast and professional processor.
+ Can scan and reset a long list of car systems.
+ Supports all ODB2 scanner functions.
+ Works well for active tests.
Why We Liked It – This is another one of the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner tools on the market, combining speed with dozens of ways to check your vehicle systems.
10. Innova 3160g Pro OBD2 Scanner
This simple scan tool can read, store, and clear information relating to the “check engine” light on almost any vehicle, giving you an understanding of what is causing the problem. The tool can also interpret error and warning codes on most OBD2 scanner vehicles, as well as resetting their oil lights and checking on their battery status.
Despite the small size, it can record real-time readings and save them for review, either directly onto the diagnostic tool screen or a linked computer running Windows. Multiple control buttons give you easier access to more advanced features without over-complicating the scan tool, making it suitable for newcomers and professionals alike.
+ Can track and scan errors well.
+ Resets warning lights easily.
+ Can connect to multiple vehicle types.
+ Streams live readings to the device screen.
+ Can send readings to a connected computer.
Why We Liked It – The small size of this scan tool, combined with its excellent range of professional features, makes it a great choice for people who want a reliable car diagnostic tool they can use consistently.
Automotive Diagnostic Scanners Buyer’s Guide
Automotive diagnostic scanner tools are complicated, and very few people will deny that. Even experienced and professional mechanics who want the best professional car diagnostic tool they can find can struggle to find certain advanced functions, and there is no guarantee that two scan tools will read fault codes in the same way.
Being familiar with how a diagnostic tool like this can work, will make it easier to use, but it can still take a while to wrap your head around which features you will need, especially if you are not experienced with using a scanner.
If you want to find the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner on the market, you need to identify which features and factors will make the biggest difference to you personally, as well as which features are going to be useful no matter the situation.
Auto Diagnostic Tool Types
Car diagnostic tools technically come in all shapes and forms, but most people will be talking about an OBD or OBD2 scanner. However, there are two types of OBD2 scanner that you can choose from: a diagnostic scan tool and a code reader. While they perform the same basic function, they are very different tools.
A code reader is exactly what it says: it is a tool that will check your car for error codes, helping you read and clear each code to get an idea of what might be wrong. They are cheap, effective at what they do, and easy to use, but they usually don’t come with any other features. This means that a code reader can usually only read codes, acting as a scan tool that doesn’t output the information anywhere but itself (or, rarely, a linked device).
A diagnostic tool is much more useful, acting as a full automotive diagnostic scanner that can gather real information about your car and any relevant error codes. Even a simple ODB2 scanner tool will be able to record and playback your readings, form it into graphs and tables, troubleshoot the problem so that you can try to fix it yourself and sometimes even scan parts of your car that a generic code reader can’t. While a full car diagnostic tool can cost more, they are also much more effective in every single way.
Code readers aren’t entirely useless, but most people will want a car diagnostic tool if they are worried about car problems. The ability to use your scan tool to find out information about problems and figure out the causes or possible fixes is always more useful. The best professional automotive diagnostic scanner devices might even have features that can tell you exactly how to repair certain faults, and others can save your readings remotely so that you can show them to a mechanic and skip the entire diagnostic stage.
Not all car diagnostic tools work with every car. This is something that many people forget, but it is extremely important to choose a tool that will actually work with your vehicle since this can often be the biggest barrier towards getting good readings from your scan tool. In almost every case, a car diagnostic tool that doesn’t work with your car simply won’t work, and even if they do, they will still give off incorrect readings.
This makes it even more important to choose one that will work with your car. You can usually find out on the product pages of each scan tool or OBD2 scanner since it will list the types of vehicle that the scanner is compatible with.
These won’t necessarily be vehicle names, and can sometimes be blanket terms like “1996 and newer OBD2 scanner car models”, but this will still tell you what kind of cars each tool should work with correctly. Some scanner designs might only cover certain car brands or makes, too, so keep an eye out for specific details like this.
OBD2 scanner and OBD1 scanner designs are also surprisingly different, meaning that they are meant for different types of cars. The main difference is the year: ODB refers to pre-1996, whereas OBD2 refers to post-1996. Regardless of the car diagnostic tool you are choosing, it is important that you end up picking one that you know will work: if you aren’t sure, then try to get into contact with the manufacturer, since they will be able to let you know.
Some scanner tools will simply have more features than others, especially if they have more professional designs. This can include things like Freeze Frame data settings, allowing you to take a freeze frame shot of your stored information rather than losing it once the scan is stopped, or a tool that automatically finds the VIN of your vehicle instead of forcing you to enter it yourself. Whether or not these are best for you depends on your personal needs, so try to think about what you will find helpful when you are using the tool.
Some brands lock the best car diagnostic tool features behind subscriptions or paywalls. This isn’t bad for professional use, especially if you are a mechanic that works with dozens of cars a week, but it can be a hassle for personal use. The sign-up process to services like this might require an intent comment, name, email, website information, or even business details.
Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (especially if you are not forced to pay anything), but it can be a huge hassle, especially if you don’t want to any personal comment, name, email, website, address, business or phone number information to be given away on a whim.
Using a Scan Tool
If you are brand new to the idea of a professional automotive diagnostic scanner, then even the best professional car diagnostic tool might seem difficult to use at first. Using an OBD or OBD2 car diagnostic tool can be a tricky process to learn, but it also doesn’t usually take much effort to complete the first steps.
Once you have a professional automotive diagnostic scanner that you are comfortable using, you will need to plug it into the Diagnostic Link Connector: these are often to the left of your dashboard or near the steering wheel, depending on the car model. Once the tool gets plugged in, you will have to input the Vehicle Identification Number (although some OBD2 scanner designs can identify it on their own) as well as any other details the tool requires.
After turning your diagnostic tool or scan tool on, you will have access to the full menu, which can usually let you run scans and will alert you to any significant error or fault codes that get triggered. There can be multiple fault code types, such as P (powertrain), B (body), U (unidentified), C (chassis), and N (network), which will give you an idea of where the error is taking place.
Once you have an error code, you should look up the meaning. Some scan tool designs can do this on their own, but others will give you the code and let you look it up yourself. If the reading is accurate, you should be able to find the error that the diagnostic tool is trying to alert you to, and you might also receive advice on how to fix it.
Reset Options and Clearing Lights
Error or “check engine” lights are used to alert the driver to an error with their vehicle, and usually don’t turn off until the issue is fixed. However, some won’t turn off even if the problem is managed, which is another useful purpose for the average scan tool. Once you have your professional automotive diagnostic tool plugged in and connected to the vehicle, you should have various “reset” features for most makes and models of car. These reset features will essentially restore the car code and components to their default state if possible, turning off warning lights and sometimes disabling automatic security or safety features that don’t need to be turned on.
The number and type of reset options will vary between each automotive scan tool, and you might have options for features that your car doesn’t use often. On the other hand, you might not have reset options for features that your car does have, either. There are other ways to reset the warning lights and systems, but this can still be a hassle, so try to use your scan tool as often as possible if you are able to.
These reset options are common, but different brands and designs have different varieties. One Autel OBD2 scanner might not offer the same option as another Autel OBD2 scanner if they are different designs, even though they are both part of the Autel brand. Keep this in mind when you are researching your options since you can’t always rely on the hope that an OBD2 tool will coincidentally work as expected.
What Is The Best Diagnostic Code Reader?
It is very easy to get caught up in branding when looking for a professional automotive scanner, but branding isn’t always the best judge of features. For example, Autel makes a lot of professional OBD2 tools. However, the Autel MaxiCOM and Autel MaxiSys are quite different, offering similar features but different designs and memory levels.
By contrast, the Autel MaxiSys MS908 and the Autel MaxiSys MS908P are different versions of the same OBD2 scanner. Alongside this is the MaxiCOM MK908P, which is an upgraded version of the original SM908P. It can all get very confusing, which is why features are more important than names.
This doesn’t mean that branding is a bad thing, though. The quality of Autel products means that the Autel MaxiSys and Autel MaxiCOM OBD2 scanners are usually going to be worth looking at, even if you haven’t used Autel products before. The same can be said for products like the LAUNCH X431 since LAUNCH is another professional brand. Regardless of whether you stick with an Autel MaxiCOM MK908P or go for a LAUNCH X431, you will be getting a good-quality and professional product.
Remember that each person has their own opinion of which product is best, too. You might think that the LAUNCH X431 is the best automotive scanner you have ever owned, but another person might have tried the LAUNCH X431 and decided that an Autel MaxiSys or Autel MaxiCOM product is better. Just because an Autel MaxiCOM works best for one person doesn’t mean that another person will find an Autel MaxiCOM useful, so tailor your choices to your own needs and requirements.
What Is The Best Scanner for Mercedes Benz?
For car makes like Mercedes Benz, there isn’t necessarily a single “best OBD2 scanner” on the market. However, most people who own a car like that will want something professional, which can be a helpful way of narrowing down the range of OBD2 scanners you have to look through. Once again, using brand names can help: Autel has made multiple scanners that get high praise, so looking through Autel products might give you some options.
On the other hand, a professional car doesn’t always need a professional scanner. If you are more concerned with raw results, then you can just as easily go for a less well-known OBD2 design and make, since all that really matters, in the long run, is the results. Features like Freeze Frame (being able to freeze your live recording and review it when needed) can be much more useful than a professional visual design, after all. Once again, this means that products like the LAUNCH X431 can be a welcome option since they are good at recording results.
There is nothing wrong with looking for a fancier scanner that matches the luxury of a high-end car, but the price doesn’t always mean that it is the best option for you. A LAUNCH X431 or any of the Autel products can be just as effective, with the added benefit of an Autel MaxiSys or LAUNCH X431 being compatible with far more extra tools than a more niche brand.
Finding a professional OBD or OBD2 scanner can get very confusing if you are new to it, but it isn’t as tricky as it sounds! It can sometimes just take a lot of trial and error to figure out which features would be best for you, especially if you are not very good at remembering acronyms or technical terms yet. On the other hand, if you are a professional, you might still feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the OBD2 choices on the internet. The best way to approach buying a professional scanner is to take the process slowly and figure out what matters rather than jumping into a purchase before you are sure it is going to be useful.
Hopefully, these reviews and this buyers’ guide can give you all of the advice you need to start your hunt for the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner tool on the market. It could take a day, or it could take a week, but eventually, you will be almost guaranteed to end up with something that is perfect for handling your car troubles.