This Automotive Scan Tools Buying Guide covers everything you need to know about buying your diagnostic scanning tools for cars. Many cars in this day and age come complete not only with sophisticated car alarm systems that automate locking and when they’re being stolen; they also come with diagnostic computers of sorts that many modern mechanics and enthusiasts of DIY home repair benefit from. It’s like an airplane black box, only this time it’s for your hot rod.
Your OBD2 scanner or automatic scan tool should be able to test the car’s systems, diagnose its faults, and reprogram control modules by itself rather than having a mechanic or the car owner do everything by himself manually. This is incredibly handy because it automates vehicle maintenance or at least makes it easier for car owners and their mechanics to do maintenance on car. It can even save you thousands on repair bills.
|Picture||Model||Editor Ratings||Our Review|
|INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool|| (4.3 / 5) |
|Actron CP9125 PocketScan Code Reader|| (4.6 / 5) |
|INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool|| (4.4 / 5) |
|Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus|| (4.5 / 5) |
|Autel MD802 MaxiDiag Elite Scan Tool|| (4.3 / 5) |
|Actron CP9575 AutoScanner|| (4.6 / 5) |
Best OBD2 Vehicle Scan Tool Reviews
Table of Contents
- 1 Best OBD2 Vehicle Scan Tool Reviews
- 1.1 INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool with ABS/SRS and Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles
- 1.2 Actron CP9125 PocketScan Code Reader
- 1.3 INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader for OBD2 Vehicles
- 1.4 Actron CP9575 AutoScanner
- 1.5 Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus
- 1.6 Autel MD802 MaxiDiag Elite Scan Tool
- 2 OBD2 Scanner Buying Guide
- 3 To Summarize
INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool with ABS/SRS and Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles
The INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool is an excellent OBD because it’s a device that reads “Check Engine” light warnings that are available on all post-1996 vehicles (which includes cars, vans, minivans, SUVs, and light trucks that are both foreign and domestic models. It even includes a Controller Area Network or CAN.
What’s more, the INNOVA 3160 also diagnoses SRS and ABS codes on most newer cars from 1996 onwards, including vehicles from Honda, Toyota, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. The INNOVA 3160 also serves as your primary source of SAE-enhanced liver data, which includes records, graphs, and views as well as playback of live onscreen PCM data streams. It even includes OBD2 Freeze Frame Data as well as the ability to turn off SRS, ABS, and check engine lights whenever needed.
You can depend on the INNOVA 3160 for easy connection with your PC since the unit includes a USB cable. It works with any standard Windows PC and works like a flash drive full of important data. The whole package includes a quick reference guide, the aforementioned USB cable, an OBD2 cable, and the scan tool. This is one of the most useful machines your modern car can use to maximize its lifespan and mileage.
If you have the right compatible vehicle, your tune-up and maintenance fees will drop overnight because every issue is dealt with post-haste before they can become money drains. It provides various generic codes and much more from many makes and models of cars. It’s only real issues is the parsing of its codes on Swedish, Korean, or European vehicles, but it’s perfectly usable in every other car brand from Japan, the U.S., and Germany. Read our detailed review of the INNOVA 31600 Scan Tool here.
Actron CP9125 PocketScan Code Reader
As for the Actron CP9125 PocketScan Code Reader, it’s yet another unit that meets or exceeds expectations and doesn’t disappoint. After all, this Diagnostic Scan Tool of sorts is designed for the novice, amateur mechanic or a typical car owner that wants to save fees on mechanic-assisted solutions for the DIY approach to tune-ups and vehicular maintenance.
More to the point, the Actron CP9125 delivers quality in the form of specs like the ability to read the status on why your check engine lights are on. Instead of having to check your engine and doing some manual mechanic and detective work, you can have clues on what’s going on given to you by the helpful Actron CP9125 Diagnostic Scan Tool. Furthermore, the OBD2 device is compatible with all new imported and local vehicles including CAN. Any vehicles from 1996 to the present are compatible with all Actron scanners.
The Actron CP9125 covers quite a lot of functions, including a display for the emissions your vehicle is spewing out. This is handy in case when you’re registering your car there’s an emissions test you want to pass. The device is also future-proofed, which means it can accommodate future vehicles. That’s because it’s an updatable computer that can take years before you have to replace it with a newer model (just like a real PC).
You can also read the DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes) of OBD2 from the on-board computer of this device. Furthermore, the Actron CP9125 comes complete with a one-year limited warranty. This Actron offering when it comes to dependable code readers and OBD automotive scanners are known to be fast and easy-to-use when it comes to diagnosing what’s wrong with your car, from engine problems to A/C issues. If you want to further extend the capabilities of your Actron CP9125, just go to RepairPath.com for additional repair and diagnostics data. See our detailed review of the Actron CP9125 here.
INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader for OBD2 Vehicles
If you wish for an innovative diagnostic scan tool and code reader at your disposal, then you can’t go wrong with the INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool. Whenever your Check Engine light is on, you’ll be given the scoop on what that warning means. It’s like having a computerized mechanic on hand to guide you through fixing your car, minivan, or SUV by yourself (as long as it’s an imported or domestic vehicle from 1996 onwards or newer vehicles like hybrids, SUVs, or light trucks).
Your ABS light trouble will be read and erased post-haste with the INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader for sure, especially if the make and model of your car cover manufacturers like Toyota, Chrysler, Ford, and GM. Meanwhile, it comes complete with a patented and unique LED display.
This spec, after all, allows you to do drive cycle verification and a State Emissions readiness check whenever needed. Meanwhile, the INNOVA 3100 is also dependable when it comes to updated data. All the information on it is automatically refreshed every 30 seconds to make sure that you get up-to-the-minute updates every time while it’s connected to your car or SUV. Thus, it’s easy to verify when your repair has been successful or not.
It even comes with a battery backup memory so that you can do off-car analysis and review on it. It’s something you must buy when your MIL or Malfunction Indicator Light is on. It’s easy to plug into your car, just read the manual for further instructions. That’s what INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool brings to the table. You will be very pleased with this intuitive device in more ways than one. See our detailed review of the INNOVA 3100 scanner here.
Actron CP9575 AutoScanner
The Actron CP9575 Diagnostic Scan Tool is a professional-grade scanning tool that you can buy at the price of a mere code reader. If that sounds too good to be true, then keep reading. There are times when something that sounds too good to be true (like the conveniences and benefits of the Internet) is true and can stand up even to the most skeptical people around.
This special automotive scanner of the OBD2 variety provides state OBD check, OBD-II drive cycle, I/M monitors, freeze frame data, live engine data, and much more in one jam-packed and dependable package. These are innovations from the Actron CP9575 AutoScanner for OBD2 Vehicles (and related products) that put it a step ahead of its competition. Of course, it can be argued that there are plenty of scanners out there that provide the same advantages (so they ceased to be advantages).
However, aside from specs, you can get out of any other OBD2 model, the Actron CP9575 also includes over 15,000 manufacturer-specific and generic code definitions displayed on the screen, so you’re able to deal with loads of issues with impressive coverage and depth. You’re never at a loss on what to do if your car malfunctions or if it has issues in maintenance and upkeep that need immediate attention.
This is especially true for codes that come out more often than the rarer codes, so you immediately memorize what they are and what you’re supposed to do when they happen. As per usual, the Actron CP9575 Diagnostic Scan Tool and AutoScanner feature requisite compatibility for all 1996 and newer vehicles with OBD II and CAN. What’s more, the Diagnostic Scan Tool can be operated with one hand only since it has a backlit display that’s easy to read. It’s even updatable through the Internet. Read our detailed review of the Actron CP9575 here.
Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus
As for the Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus, it comes complete with the following. It has a manufacturer and generic, specific code definitions on screen like its counterpart mentioned above, plus trilingual support. The Actron CP9580A Diagnostic Scan Tool also has advanced features added such as print data support, drive cycle mode state OBD check, and freeze frame data.
If that’s not enough, the Actron CP9580A also has a Custom data list for live data and graph live data that further details what your vehicle’s problems are and what the possible solutions are (especially if you want to save money on those mechanic fees since some of them are paid by the hour). The Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus isn’t only compatible with all CAN and OBD2 vehicle since 1996 onwards. It’s also compatible with Asian cars thanks to its expanded ABS code coverage record and playback data stream.
It even features onscreen graphing for good measure. Its CodeConnect quickly pinpoints problems and prioritizes potential solutions to these issues not just in code form (since you’re not only paying for a simple low-end scanner that simply lists “trouble codes”) but also with 4.3 million verified fixes specific to the engine, make, and model of the car in question.
In short, your Actron CP9580A is a mechanic in a box. If you wish to revolutionize DIY maintenance, upkeep, tune-up, and car repair, then the Actron CP9580A with CodeConnect, Trilingual, OBD II, CAN and Expanded ABS Coverage Scan Tool is your best bet. This revolutionary new technology when it comes to diagnostic scanning of what’s wrong with your car has been updated with 3 million fixes to 4.3 million fixes that cover every car issue under the sun. Check out our detailed review of the Actron CP9580A here.
Autel MD802 MaxiDiag Elite Scan Tool
Last but not least is the Autel MD802 MaxiDiag Elite Scan Tool. As for this particular OBD2 machine, it’s an advanced piece of sophisticated equipment with the ability to turn off the airbag, ABS, transmission, and engine warning lights for most European, Asian, and USA domestic cars. Furthermore, the Autel MD802 Diagnostic Scan Tool doesn’t only spew code you have to refer to a manual to interpret; it also reads and clears codes in all modules for USA, Asian, and European vehicles from 1996 to the present time. In other words, you’re getting Global OBD-II coverage for American, Asian, and European cars when you have the Autel MD802 on hand. It’s the one tool to do it all when it comes to upkeep and repair of all modern-day cars.
Just as you depend on malware or virus scanner to diagnose malicious software on your computer, so too can you depend on the Autel MD802 OBD2 automotive scanner in regards to reading and clearing trouble codes for ABS, airbag, transmission, and engine failures. As you work on, say, the engine until it’s fixed, the on-board diagnostics device will guide you and inform you if your repairs were successful or not all the way through the entire process. The gadget even comes complete with live data graphing for the ECU. Most importantly, the intuitive Autel MD802 MaxiDiag Elite Scan Tool enables you to read codes in all modules and display such info on the screen with a simple one-button format. Check out our detailed review of the Autel MD802 Scan Tool here.
OBD2 Scanner Buying Guide
Mechanics can depend on the electronic device or do a manual override to check out the problem themselves. It’s a welcome option that streamlines maintenance, upkeep, tune-ups, and even overhauls the same way your GPS has optimized driving to unfamiliar places without a map. It’s another piece of technology that has made your life easier, like the microwave, the Internet, and your smartphone.
With that in mind, when buying an Actron scanner or some other automotive scanner type, you should know all about these wonder machines. Back in the day, you need tune-ups on cars to keep them running as smoothly as possible. Thanks to this device, you can make your car self-regulating because it assists in monitoring the car, from fuel mix adjustments on the engine to helping deal with your ignition and fuel injector maintenance. It’s essentially a tune-up in a box that turns your car into a self-regulating machine.
What are Automotive Scan Tools?
Automotive scan tools ensure that your car runs at optimum performance because it adjusts things that your mechanic checks up on every tune-up. Check the instruction manual to check how well every part of your car is functioning. This guide also helps you interpret error codes when the emergency malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) lights up. An automotive scanner has access to various aspects and parts of your car so that it’s easier to fix it when it’s malfunctioning.
An OBD Scanner allows you to know post-haste when something is wrong. At any rate, the main formats for scanners follow Data Link Connector (DLC) Bi-Directional Computers, Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) Code Readers, and (of course) On Board Diagnostic (OBD) Feeds. In particular, the OBD covers info about the performance of your car since that’s what it specifically checks on. It’s the type of device that can vary in shape and application.
You have your scanners that are software programs linked directly from a desktop or laptop to analyze car performance. There are also handheld diagnostic tools or plug-in readers you have to put right into your vehicle itself to give their diagnosis. All of these tools are supposed to analyze the performance of your car and interpret error codes so that you know what needs fixing. That’s what a quality obd ii scanner is capable of doing, essentially.
They’re the ones that issue important readouts whenever your car’s warning light comes on. This way, you can save money on mechanics having to play detective to see what’s wrong with your car, even if it’s something as simple as interpreting whether that clunking noise is something benign or potentially harmful (and expensive). There are even sophisticated devices out there that offer advice on how to fix your car problems like a helpful online wiki.
Watch this in-depth 30-minute clip for the full understanding of how to use OBD-II Scan Tool. Simply cannot have a better resource than this:
The OBD Standard
There’s an increase in car tech that’s led to developers creating much more increasingly sophisticated sensors and monitors for automobiles. It’s come to the point where the days of people relying on sound vehicular maintenance as an absolute necessity are now long gone. That’s not to say no one ever bothers with tune-ups any longer. They’re just not the sole means of finding out car problems.
In fact, many OBDs like the Autel Maxidas DS708 can assist mechanics in going about their tune-up jobs since the scanners scan the problems for them and gives them enough clues on what to fix and what’s working perfectly when it comes to your vehicle. Speaking of which, the OBD stands for On Board Diagnostics. It came about exactly because when automotive scanners were first introduced, there was a different device for every vehicle make and model. An actual standard was required, and OBD was that standard.
Thanks to OBD, mechanics now have a universal standard to follow and have fewer troubles when it comes to taking care of one scanner to another since every one of them follows these principles that make up each and every device. It came about in 1996; it was agreed upon by manufacturers that OBD systems would comply with the same operation code to get rid of this dilemma of differing standalone scanners every time. An Actron CP9125 OBD is no different from an INNOVA 3160 Tool, thanks to this standard.
It makes the learning curve of dealing with different makes and models of scanners less of a hassle to go through when everything is said and done. This also allowed mechanics to work on a wider car range as well. The OBD II standard further ensured that every last manufacturer worked on the same system.
So the best OBD2 Scanners are:
- INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool
- Actron CP9125 PocketScan Code Reader
- INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool
- Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus
- Autel MD802 MaxiDiag Elite Scan Tool
- Actron CP9575 AutoScanner
Over time, OBDs became much cheaper and affordable for most car owners, so more sophisticated OBDs were made to cater to this wider audience of vehicle owners. They’re now currently designed for use of not only professional mechanics but also amateurs and car owners who wish to go the DIY route when maintaining their cars. Even non-trained owners of cars with OBDs can do tune-ups easier, or at the very least help out their designated mechanics.
Whether it’s the Innova 3100 or the Bluetooth OBD2, the functionality and quality of an OBD depends on how much money you invest in it and how expensive it is. Meanwhile, the lower-end scanners simply list “trouble codes” for you or the mechanic to interpret. The costlier and more complex models, on the other hand, list out the problems outright and recommend actual solutions. They also do monitor running and I/M (Inspection Maintenance) Procedures.
The market for automotive scan tools is wide and expansive. You can pick between the six ones up the review section of this article of you can find others that are a better fit for your budget. However, as a rule of thumb, the best ones to purchase (like the OBDs being reviewed here) depend on the amount of money you have in your budget for them and the depth of information you require from them.
If you’re merely searching for trouble codes, these scanners are quite affordable. When searching for an excellent car scan tool or the best obd2 scanner, they don’t only give you out trouble codes. They’re on-board computers that outright outline in an in-depth fashion what needs to be done, what’s the cause of the problem, how you can go about avoiding the issues in the future, and complex diagnostic analysis plus I/M information. They deliver all the data that’s essential in maintaining, tuning up, or outright overhauling your car. Just remember that extra info comes at a steep price. Check out the Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner reviews too!