Our modern vehicles are equipped with intricate computer systems, feed by an array of onboard sensors. Without any output to the drivers, a vast number of vital functions are being measured, analyzed, recorded and sometimes flagged.
A growing number of vehicle owners are discovering affordable ways to access the diagnostic power that already lies within their vehicles. By using a device that reads OBDII data enables operators to analyze and diagnose problems themselves, often down to the component level.
Initially, due to high equipment costs, OBDII scanners were only an option for vehicle manufacturers and large garages. Those who wished to use their facility and tools would be forced to pay prices in excess of $100!
Since a new market for convenient and cost-effective OBD2 scanners has emerged, mechanics, car enthusiasts, and even families are readily adopting them. In fact, they are invaluable to any individual looking to save time and money on vehicle repairs and maintenance. I have explained everything in this OBD2 Scanner Tools that you should know.
What is Onboard Diagnostics (OBD)?
Almost 40 years ago, automotive manufacturers identified the potential of the rising electronics systems for their vehicles. They began developing internal systems to track and signal specific events to diagnose mechanical issues.
At first, their attempts were crude, such as a single bulb indicating a number of problems. Yet it was not long before electronic technology progressed, and so did onboard diagnostics.
By 1996, OBD standards were significantly revised and updated to OBD II. This standardization has since been upheld by industry and US law, with Asian and EU countries soon following suit.
Now, if your vehicle has been manufactured since 1996, you can unlock a greatly enhanced diagnostic ability by using an OBD2 scanner.
Modern OBDII Scanning Devices
Modern vehicles are constantly recording essential running data in a “black box” or OBD2 unit. The amount of parameters measured depends on the sophistication of your vehicle’s systems, however, here are the most common examples:
– Fuel/fluid levels
– Engine related temperatures
– Exhaust gas emissions
– Engine fuel/air mixture
– Component fault indications
With an OBD2 Scanner Tool in your hand, you will gain valuable insight into your vehicle’s overall health. Connecting and downloading these logs along with Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) allows you to self-diagnose problems before they cause a complete failure.
Types of OBD2 Scanner
As industry standard and law upholds OBDII regulations, almost all compliant scanners work with a wide variety of vehicles/models. However, choosing the best OBD2 scanner Tools will depend largely upon your requirements.
Some OBDII scanners provide basic information, such as DTC codes, without further diagnosis. In this case, you will have to research the code to diagnose problems fully. The more advanced models will automatically evaluate these codes, providing you with a comprehensive diagnosis.
Many OBD2 scanners allow users to upload all data to a computer. With additional software, a much deeper analysis can then be performed.
Another advantageous function to look out for is real-time data monitoring. This allows users to closely monitor current running data, accurately monitoring the results of tuning in real time!
Some scanners use a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth obd2 adapter to transmit and display on existing mobile devices wirelessly.
Benefits of Buying an OBD2 Scanner
Even with our incredible systems of onboard sensors and error processing, the output is often restricted to a few specific fault lights. By plugging an OBDII scanner into your system, you can gain a unique perspective on vehicle health.
For instance, if you notice a “check engine” warning light, connecting an OBD2 scanner could identify a specific DTC, allowing you to diagnose the root cause accurately. If you use an obd2 Bluetooth adapter, you can view all this information on your smartphone!
Ultimately, time is money, whether you own or someone else’s. Accurate self-diagnosis can save both, especially if it indicates a simple fix! For example, a blocked filter could be easily repaired at home, avoiding costly hours in the garage or time without your vehicle.
Considering the $100+ fee for using an OBD2 tool at a service station, investing in your own usually makes financial sense. You can save hundreds (even thousands) of dollars in future repairs or maintenance costs.
The ability to quickly check up on your vehicle’s health using a Bluetooth obd2 will allow you to catch and fix problems before they worsen. It could literally be a vehicle-saver!
In the hands of a mechanic, an OBDII scanner soon becomes their most vital diagnostic tool. By using it before working on a vehicle, they will gain a significant head start for fault finding. Diagnosing, fixing and checking problems with greater ease will save countless labor hours!
One final benefit could be checking overall vehicle health before purchasing a used car. If the seller is confident enough, they may be willing to let you plug into the OBD2 system, exposing any potential hidden problems!
Which is the Best OBD2 Scanner?
The best OBD2 scanner is not universal since the needs of one vehicle owner will vary. For example, you may favor OBDII Bluetooth without advanced features whereas mechanics could benefit from more in-depth analysis.
To help you find the best OBD2 scanner, consider these four main as you search:
– Power Source. The majority of ODB2 scanners draw their power from the vehicle’s system. However, battery assisted OBD II scanners can also be used away from the vehicle.
– Diagnostic Functions. All OBDII scanners will download a basic set of data such as DTC. More advanced units display further data and live-report so vehicle adjustments to be made and observed in real time.
– Information Detail. If all you receive is DTC, you still need to look up the meanings independently. If you wish to save time, consider advanced scanners that provide an on-board diagnosis.
– Connectivity. Some OBD II scanners can connect to computers providing an improved visual representation of data. This could be beneficial for complicated diagnosis and identification of problems. Also, consider whether having a Bluetooth obd2 adapter for your mobile device would be useful.
Our Top Picks: Best OBD2 Scanners For the Money
Veepeak Mini WiFi OBD2 Scanner Scan Tool Adapter
We were literally blown away by this humble Wifi/Bluetooth OBD2 scanner. Whilst the Veepeak Mini is simple in appearance and highly affordable, it’s packed with a bunch of useful features.
The main attraction is the wireless compatibility with both Android and iOS devices. The Wi-Fi or Bluetooth obd2 adapter quickly transforms your mobile device into an incredible vehicle diagnosis tool.
– Easy to get set up and running
– Highly affordable at under $20
– Compatible with a number of popular Bluetooth OBD2 applications
– Ability to transmit and display real-time data
You must consider the additional cost for an application (between $0-$60)
The Veepeak Mini is the best OBD2 scanner for mobile device users on a tight budget. It’s an ideal choice for curious vehicle owners, car enthusiasts, and even mechanics.
Your choice of application will directly influence your functionality, check out our best OBD2 application reviews for advice.
Autel AL519 AutoLink Enhanced OBD ll Scan Tool
Autel offers a more ruggedized handheld OBDII scanner as a preferred choice for mechanics. It’s well suited to tougher working environments with simplified controls a robust display. Also, advanced onboard diagnostics saves users from having to research codes elsewhere.
The Autel AL519 can read and display many live parameters including throttle, speeds, boost, O2 readings, EGT, EOT, balance rates, DPF temps and more!
– Powerful diagnostics available onboard
– Sturdy construction is suited for harder use
– Simple navigation and operation
– No OBD2 Bluetooth adapter functionality
– The price point is at the top of entry level scan tools
The Autel AL519 is the best OBD2 scanner for those in need of a tougher device that offers professional features. At under $80 it offers suburb value for money, even rivaling other OBD2 scanners over $100.
If you are still hungry for a more powerful device, check out our best ODB2 scanner for mechanics.
Best OBD2 Scanner Tools Conclusion
Both vehicle owners and mechanics stand to gain a great advantage by using an OBD2 scanner. The ability to automatically identify vehicle problems will save hours of manual fault finding. After all, the answer could simply be lying there in wait!
To give you a head start in finding the best OBDII scanner, we have identified, tested and reviewed our favorites.
For connectivity and outstanding we recommend the Veepeak Mini
For a demanding work environment, we preferred the Autel AL519 or AL619
Whether you’re curious about your vehicle’s health or need to investigate a mysterious warning light, an OBDII scanner is an effective and affordable solution.
So you happen to be driving a vehicle down the highway and then out of the blue a light flashes up on the dashboard warning you to check your engine. For anybody who is like the majority of vehicle owners, you might have no idea with regards to exactly what that light is attempting to inform you and also the best way you must respond.
When the “check engine” light flashes, it does not mean you must slow down, pull your vehicle onto the side of the highway then phone a tow truck. It really does mean you need to get the vehicle looked at as quickly as possible. Think of it as probably the most misunderstood warning on the dashboard, a “check engine” warning can indicate a variety of problems, from something basic as an unfastened fuel cap to something serious as a misfiring engine.
But pay no attention to the flashing light on the dashboard for too long may mean you’ll end up damaging costly parts. Additionally, it is usually an indicator that the vehicle might be getting terrible fuel economy as well as giving off greater amounts of pollution as well as other performance related issues.
To avoid the headache and the costs involved in taking your vehicle to a garage to get a diagnoses, or a simple repair that you could do yourself, you can identify the problem(s) with an OBD2 hand-held scanner & then have the issues resolved. You just hook it up (see my experience on locating a point), and get the code(s). You then look up the diagnostic code (also see how to look up codes), in order to identify the exact problem by yourself.
You can purchase a good diagnostic scan tool at many auto parts stores, or order them online and have it delivered right to your home or workplace. Costs range between $25 – $700, depending upon the unit as well as the capabilities. The equipment includes directions regarding how to connect them and understand the codes.
A great tip that someone once mentioned is that for someone considering purchasing a used vehicle, the OBDII scanner can identify possible issues the seller has failed to mention, thus saving yourself the trouble later.
I will be reviewing three OBD2 scanner models. One is a very cheap entry level unit ideal for the casual DIY’er, or may only use it a few times, another is one up from the basic that includes extra features, and the final model is a professional scanner for the budding/professional mechanic. I’m going to highlight both the pros and cons of all the units used – no bars hold!
I hope you have gotten your answer after reading this OBD2 Scanner Tools. You can comment below for more information.
Common Question and Answer:
Q: What is an OBD2 scanner tool?
A: An OBD2 scanner tool is a diagnostic device that connects to a vehicle’s OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics) system to read and interpret diagnostic trouble codes, monitor engine performance, and check other vehicle parameters.
Q: How does an OBD2 scanner work?
A: An OBD2 scanner connects to the OBD-II port in a vehicle, usually located under the dashboard. It communicates with the vehicle’s engine control module (ECM) to retrieve diagnostic information and display it on the scanner’s screen.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner work on any vehicle?
A: OBD2 scanners are compatible with vehicles manufactured in 1996 and later, as these vehicles are required to have an OBD-II system. However, certain scanners may have specific compatibility requirements, so checking if the scanner is compatible with your vehicle is essential.
Q: What information can an OBD2 scanner provide?
A: An OBD2 scanner can read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), display real-time sensor data, monitor engine performance, check emissions readiness, and provide other vehicle-specific information.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner detect all problems in a vehicle?
A: OBD2 scanners can identify a wide range of issues related to the engine, transmission, emissions, and other vehicle systems. However, they may not detect problems unrelated to the OBD-II system, such as mechanical issues or body problems or suspension problems.
Q: How do I use an OBD2 scanner?
A: To use an OBD2 scanner, locate the OBD-II port in your vehicle (usually under the dashboard) and connect the scanner. Turn on your vehicle’s ignition, and follow the scanner’s instructions to retrieve diagnostic information.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner turn off the check engine light?
A: Yes, an OBD2 scanner can clear diagnostic trouble codes, which may turn off the check engine light. However, if the underlying issue is not resolved, the light may come back on.
Q: Do I need a professional OBD2 scanner or is a basic one enough?
A: A basic OBD2 scanner is suitable for most users who need to read and clear diagnostic trouble codes and check engine performance. Professional OBD2 scanners offer more advanced features, such as live data streaming, bi-directional controls, and module coding, which may be necessary for mechanics or advanced DIYers.
Q: Are OBD2 scanners vehicles brand-specific?
A: Most OBD2 scanners are designed to work with a wide range of vehicle brands and models. However, some scanners may have enhanced features or compatibility for specific brands or models, so checking if the scanner is compatible with your vehicle is essential.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner help improve fuel efficiency?
A: By identifying issues that can affect engine performance, such as a faulty oxygen sensor or a clogged air filter, an OBD2 scanner can help you address problems that may be negatively impacting fuel efficiency.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner diagnose transmission problems?
A: Yes, an OBD2 scanner can read and interpret transmission-related diagnostic trouble codes, providing valuable information to help diagnose transmission problems.
Q: What is the purpose of an OBD2 scanner tool?
A: An OBD2 scanner tool is used to read and diagnose the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) from a vehicle’s on-board computer, helping you identify and fix issues with the vehicle’s engine, transmission, and other systems.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner tool clear check engine lights?
A: Yes, an OBD2 scanner tool can clear check engine lights by erasing the stored trouble codes after resolving the issue.
Q: What is the difference between a basic and advanced OBD2 scanner tool?
A: A basic OBD2 scanner tool can read and clear generic trouble codes, while an advanced scanner tool can access manufacturer-specific codes, perform real-time diagnostics, and provide advanced features like live data streaming and bi-directional controls.
Q: Are OBD2 scanners compatible with all vehicles?
A: OBD2 scanners are compatible with most vehicles manufactured since 1996 in the US, as they are required to have an OBD2 system. However, compatibility may vary for non-US vehicles and vehicles manufactured before 1996.
Q: How do I connect an OBD2 scanner to my vehicle?
A: Locate your vehicle’s OBD2 port (usually found under the dashboard on the driver’s side) and plug the scanner’s cable or adapter into the port.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner tool diagnose issues with the airbag or ABS system?
A: Some advanced OBD2 scanner tools can diagnose issues with the airbag and ABS systems, but not all scanners have this capability.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner tool help with emissions testing?
A: Yes, an OBD2 scanner tool can help you determine if your vehicle is ready for an emissions test by checking the status of the emission monitors.
Q: What is freeze frame data?
A: Freeze frame data is a snapshot of the engine’s operating conditions at the time a fault was detected.
Q: What are generic trouble codes?
A: Generic trouble codes (also known as P0 codes) are standardized codes used by all vehicle manufacturers to indicate common issues in a vehicle’s system.
Q: What are manufacturer-specific trouble codes?
A: Manufacturer-specific trouble codes (also known as P1 codes) are codes unique to a particular vehicle make and model, providing more detailed information about a vehicle’s system.
Q: What is the difference between OBD2 scanner tools and code readers?
A: Code readers are basic devices that can read and clear generic trouble codes, while OBD2 scanner tools offer more advanced features, such as live data streaming, bi-directional controls, and the ability to access manufacturer-specific codes.
Q: Can an OBD2 scanner tool reprogram a vehicle’s computer?
A: Some advanced OBD2 scanner tools have reprogramming capabilities, but this feature is not available in all scanner tools.
Q: What is a PID in OBD2 diagnostics?
A: PID stands for Parameter Identification and is a numerical value assigned to specific vehicle parameters, such as engine temperature, RPM, or vehicle speed.