5 Best OBD2 Scanner Tools
There are a lot of different OBD2 scanner tools out on the market and it can be really hard to find the best OBD2 scanner for your car. Different OBD2 scanner tools work well with different car manufacturers etc. I’m working as a diagnostic technician and I’ve tested out the most DTC scanners on the market. I know which one works well and which one to avoid. That’s why I decided to write this to help you out to choose a good OBD scanner for your needs and teach you more about OBD2 scanners.
My Best recommendations for OBD2 scanner tools
| MaxiCOM MK808 |
|5.0||Check Price on Amazon|
|NEXPEAK NX501 |
|4.9||Check Price on Amazon|
|ANCEL AD310||4,6||Check Price on Amazon|
|ANCEL AD410||4.3||Check Price on Amazon|
|FOXWELL NT301||4.3||Check Price on Amazon|
FAQ About OBD2 Scanner Tools
(If you want to only check the reviews, scroll down or click here)
Why do I need an OBD2 scanner tool?
Modern cars are becoming more and more advanced and hard to troubleshoot. What is good with modern cars is that the control units are really smart, they are doing the troubleshooting for you. If there is not a parameter that is correct, it results in a trouble code. With a DTC tool, you can get that trouble code and find out where you should begin your troubleshooting. It can save you a lot of money from starting to troubleshoot in the wrong end.
Which OBD2 scanner should I choose?
It depends a lot on what car you have and what your needs are. If you only need a scanner that can read the generic DTC memory you can almost choose which OBD2 scanner you want. If you have to read other control units like transmission, abs and airbags, for example. If you want to search for other systems than the generic engine memory, you have to get a scanner that can search in those systems for your car model. Many car manufacturers have specific manufacturer trouble codes that you only can read with good OBD2 scanners.
If you want a scan tool that can search in several control units and read the manufacturer DTC codes, you have to read the specific descriptions of the scanners to find out if it’s compatible with your car model.
Can all of them read all control units?
No, as I wrote before. The most cheaper scanner tools can only read the generic trouble code memory. If you want to read other control units and manufacturer trouble codes, you have to consider buying a more expensive scanner which is compatible with your car model and engine.
Where is my OBD2 connector located?
Normally the OBD2 connector is located on the left side under the steering wheel ( If left-handed driven). Same side if it is right-hand driven. If you want to find your OBD connector location you can use this site to find it out: OBD2 Connector location
I got a trouble code, where can I find information about what it means?
The first letter in the code will tell us what kind of trouble code it is.
- P = Powertrain(Engine, Transmission)
- B = Body(AC/Airbag)
- C = Chassis(ABS)
- U = Network ( CAN-bus )
The next first digits are telling us if the trouble code is a generic or a manufacturer specific 1=Manufacturer and 0=Generic.
If you want to find out more what the trouble codes are telling us you can check out our DTC code list or Troubleshooting. You can also use our search function for recent questions about trouble codes.
What is CAN bus?
CAN-bus is the communication between all the control units and often the communication to the OBD2 scanner. It can also use other communication types like LIN-bus. A common fault is when one CAN-bus line gets an error, it kills the whole connection. That is why there is a common problem that you will not get any communication with several control units if one is broken.
Do I need any other tools to read the DTC memory?
Normally you do only need the DTC scanner tool. In some vehicles like older BMW’s, there could be other connectors than the standard one. In these cases, you need other adapters to read the DTC memory. I do also recommend to always use a car charger while you are reading the DTC memory because you should have the engine shut off and ignition ON. If you do not use a charger and the voltage gets low, you will get a lot of trouble codes and errors that will confuse you a lot. If you want to find out how to use a car battery charger the best way you can check out our article How to charge a car battery the best way.
I have a workshop and need a good OBD2 Tool, which one should I choose?
It all depends on your budget and what car you want to diagnose. In my opinion, it’s a good investment to invest in a good OBD2 scanner as it may save a lot of hours in troubleshooting costs. If you want a kinda cheap tool that works well for the most cars on the market, check out the Maxisys. Check out article Best OBD2 scanner for workshops.
Can I damage my vehicle with an OBD2 scan tool?
Yes, you can. But as the most scanner tools on the market are very safe. If you choose one of the tools from this site and always connect a car battery charger while doing any work on your vehicle, you do not have to worry. The most common problem is using a tool and does adaptions with low voltage, which can damage control units if you are very unlucky.
How do I connect my OBD2 scanner?
The process is really simple.
- 1. Connect a car battery charger
- 2. Find the location of the OBD connector
- 3. Turn on the ignition ( Engine shut off )
- 4. Turn on the scanner & Read the codes
Can I save money with an OBD2 scanner tool?
Absolutely, you will save the money you spent very fast. A mechanic workshop takes a lot of money just to search the DTC memory for you. In many cases, you can do it yourself with a cheap DTC tool. Remember that the mechanics DTC tools are often a lot more expensive and can see faults that the cheaper tools can’t. But for small tasks, you can save a lot of money. I also see that very often people guess and just replace part after part of their car before they’ve checked the DTC memory. Always check the memory first and you could save a lot of money.
First out, we have the Ancel AD310. It’s a quite simple DTC tool that will do the job for you if you are only want to read the generic engine DTC codes. It can also read Live data ( Parameters of the engine ). It can also read some manufacturer trouble codes.
It has an inbuilt system for information about trouble codes you get from your engine.
Do not need a battery, it takes 12v from the OBD connector and it comes with a 2.5 feet cable.
- Read, Erase Generic engine & Some manufacturer trouble codes
- Check Live Data
- Inbuild DTC Library ( Information about the codes )
- View Freeze data
- Easy LED Screen
A Fast & Simple tool that I would recommend if you do not need the most advanced functions for your DTC tool.
If you like the Ancel AD310 but wants something a bit upgraded, this should be your choice. A new more modern software upgrade and some additional functions. You will get a lifetime FREE software update to always make sure that you have the latest software updates to fix bugs and DTC information updates.
In general, it has the same functions as the AD130 but a lot of improvements.
- Read, Erase Generic engine & manufacturer trouble codes
- Check Live Data
- Inbuild DTC Library ( Information about the DTC codes )
- View Freeze data
- I/M Readiness for misfire and other tests
- 02 Sensor & Emission tests
- Easy Updated LED Screen with Software
Absolutely a price-worth DTC tool if you want to read & erase the engines DTC memory and do not have to check the other control units.
Also here we have a universal OBD2 scanner that read & erase generic engine trouble codes. The Foxwell NT301 has more functions than the Ancel scanners. Much better diagnostic functions if you want to check graphs of the Live data & do also have a record and playback function. It can be very helpful to record the live data while you are driving your car if the problems only occur sometimes.
Beautiful design both of the controller & the software
- Read & Erase DTC codes both generic, manufacturer and pending
- Live data with Graphs & Playbacks
- Freeze frame data
- Reset monitors
- VIN Retrieval
- Print Function
- 02 Sensors test
- DTC definition
A Useful tool with a big plus for the print functions. If you can’t figure the trouble code out, you can print it on a paper and bring it to your mechanic and ask for help.
A tool that has a lot of the same function as the scanners mentioned before. The Nexpeak NX501 is a universal generic DTC code reader, which means it can read generic, manufacturer and pending trouble codes from the engine control unit. This scanner has all the functions that a universal code scanner should have.
The Software is beautiful & easy to use.
- Read & Erase Generic, Manufacturer & Pending Trouble codes from the engine
- Live Data & 4 Live graph streams
- 02 sensor & Emission tests
- Print function
- Emission status
- DTC Lookup Library
- I/M Readiness
- Lifetime free updates through USB to PC
A Perfect tool for any diagnostics of the engine control unit. Absolutely Price-worth.
Autel MaxiCOM MK808
Now we have come to the tool that you need if you are going to read all control units and look for a professional DTC tool. Read Airbag, ABS, Immobilizer and many other control units in your car. Also, have a lot of functions like TPMS resets, Oil service resets and the most functions you need. A must-have tool if you are a small workshop or you want a scanner as advanced as the most workshops use.
If I would consider buying a scanner for myself today, I would absolutely spend my money on this tool.
- Read & Erase Trouble codes in the most control units
- Works well for the most cars on the market
- TPMS Reset
- Oil service light reset
- 12-month warranty
- Key-programming functions
- Live data & Graphs with record & playback functions
- DPF Regenerations
- Adaptions & Basic Settings
- Emission & O2 sensor diagnostics
A tool that has all you need for proper diagnostics at home. Always check that it works with your vehicle before placing an order. The price is higher than the other tools mentioned in this review. But if you want to be enabled to take control over the most control units in your car and do professional diagnostics at home, this is the tool you should invest in.
If you want a cheap tool that you can read trouble codes from the engine control unit, choose one of the 4 first mentioned here. If you want a tool that has it all, choose the MaxiCOM. Afterall, a code scanner is absolutely an investment and you’ll earn the money spent fast.
I hope you have learned a lot from this article and I wish you the best luck with your new OBD2 scanner. If you have any questions about your new scanner or any other car questions, contact me or ask a question at our homepage Ask A Master Mechanic
If you have any questions about DTC code scanners, leave a comment down below and I’ll answer them as soon as possible. We would also appreciate if you want to leave a review about any of these OBD2 scanners. Write a short review with your own words down below and we may add it to this article.
Check out our other articles if you want to learn more about cars. You can find our articles on our Blog.