When you first turn on your car’s “check engine” light, you may not know what’s wrong or what to do. With the best automotive diagnostic tools, you can not only quickly find out what’s wrong, but you can also determine if it’s a serious problem that requires mechanical intervention or a small fix that you can handle yourself.
Most scan tools will plug directly into your dashboard and even send you notifications when there is a problem with your vehicle. You can get a summary of the problem in simple terms, its severity, and the consequences of driving it as well as instructions on how to ensure your continued safety and that of your vehicle.
Our Preferred Foxwell NT301 Professional Enhanced OBDII Diagnostic Code Reader
Foxwell NT301 Professional Enhanced OBDII Diagnostic Code Reader
To improve code reader performance and compatibility, our readers and DTMs have been tested on thousands of OBD-compatible cars, light trucks and hybrids in the US, Europe and Australia.
Check price on Amazon
While basic automotive diagnostic tools read error codes like SRS, check engine lights, management lights, etc. and try to clear it for you, high-end models have more features. And since there are tons of these products on the market with different price points and features, choosing the right one can be a bit difficult.
Here is a list of 6 good diagnostic tools
1. Foxwell NT301 Professional Enhanced OBDII Diagnostic Code Reader
Foxwell has been producing OBDII code readers for more than nine years, and one of its flagship products is the NT301 Professional Code Reader.The Foxwell NT301 Professional Code Reader is designed to help you understand the heart of your car by quickly reading DTC engine codes and giving you the definition of error codes so you can pinpoint the cause of the problem. It also has the ability to erase and reset codes after you have completed repairs.
The diagnostic code reader also features an “ideal early warning system” to help you spot hazards before they occur, and has red, yellow and green LEDs to indicate the health of the car.
The red light alerts you when a fault code is found, the yellow light comes on when a code is pending, and the green light comes on when there are no fault codes on your vehicle.
The scanner also features real-time vehicle sensor data in both text and graphical formats, so you can see and identify problems before they become serious.
The scanner provides not only basic maintenance, but also technical issues by giving you enhanced model diagnostics, so you can easily check EGR valves, fuel trim, O2 sensors and more. In addition, the tool is very easy to use as it does not require a phone, tablet or battery, so there is no need to worry about disconnecting during the inspection.
All you have to do is to plug the code scanner into the OBDII port and it will scan your car immediately.
It prints out diagnostic data, so you can use it as a reference for your mechanic
The tool provides automatic retrieval and decoding of VINs
It can store PIDs for easy diagnosis of different vehicle problems
It has an LED notification function to keep you up to date with the car
It is suitable for home and professional wrench turning
You must be connected to a computer or vehicle to turn it on
There is no power button on the tool
The software is not intuitive to use, so beginners may rarely get used to it
2. LAUNCH X431 PROS Mini Automotive Diagnostic Tool
This is one of Launch Tech’s newest collection of diagnostic tools. X431 Pro Mini comes with a protective case, BDScar diagnostic connector, PRO pad computer and OBD2 connector. It can be used to manage your car using the DBScar connector (for reading the car’s DTC) and a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.
With its mobile Internet connectivity, the tool makes it easy to integrate with additional services and applications and to create and maintain databases and case libraries. It also provides instant maintenance information that is useful when you need to scan your car.
It has the latest Android tablet technology, access to third-party applications, and the ability to respond to code errors faster. It has a high resolution camera with still and video capabilities for easy data representation.
It is one of the fastest scanners on the market, thanks to the use of the latest technology in the industry. It has broader vehicle coverage than its peers and features very fast real-time data and graphics.
It doubles as a tablet, so you can connect it to the internet, take pictures on it, etc.
It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for easy testing
Package includes a protective case and marker cutouts for all adapters
Can sometimes be difficult to register, which can prevent updates
3. Bluetooth driver Bluetooth Pro OBDII scan tool
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool turns your smartphone or tablet into a powerful and affordable professional OBD II scan tool that lets you scan and understand your vehicle.
It is one of the few tools that are professionally used to save time and money as it not only helps to scan your vehicle but also provides fault codes along with a list of all possible causes and reported fixes from an identified S-ASE certified mechanic.
It is easy to use as all you need to do is download the free app, plug the sensor into the OBD 2 port and then pair it with your device via Bluetooth. Everything you need is in the package and there is nothing extra to buy.
The BlueDriver Pro Scan tool is one of the most popular automotive diagnostic tools on the market. It comes with iOS and Android apps, which makes it available to more car owners who want to read and clear their vehicle error codes.
Another advantage it has over other databases is that it can check your stored error codes against a database of over 5 million verified fixes, so you don’t have to waste time on extra research or spend too much on boring repairs.
This also eliminates the waste common with other automotive code readers. This is useful for mobile mechanics who want an efficient way to handle emergency calls or quickly scan for vehicle error codes, as well as home DIYers who want to save money on those frequent visits to the auto repair store.
Since it is portable, you can easily carry it with you
It is accurate and suitable for basic scanning of all vehicles
It can easily sense dashes and change of tone codes
It will alert you to any error codes that are currently active
It is easy to navigate and suitable for the average DIY mechanic
Real-time data monitoring is limited because you can’t get gears, transmission temperature, torque converter status, etc.
Not known to work with Ford Diesel 6.0 or 7.3 and some other OBDII compliant vehicles.
The data refresh rate of 5 seconds in real time data mode is too long
4. ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal Diagnostic Scan Tool
Ancel AD310 OBD II scanner is an easy-to-use automotive engine fault code reader provided by Ancel. It features a classic design and is easy to use. Although it is a basic code reader, it can help you determine the cause of the “check engine” light, monitor readiness tests, view freeze frame data and many more features you can find in expensive diagnostic tools.
Although, this is the cheaper model.
ANCEL AD310 Classic supports all OBD II protocols, from KWP2000 to J1850 VPW to CAN to ISO9141 to J1850 PWM, which means it will support more vehicle makes and models than any other inexpensive tool on the market.
As long as your vehicle is OBD II compliant, this code reader will read it and help you find the source of the problem. Similar to high-end diagnostic tools, it will notify you if the display is set – clearing the “check engine” light before bringing it into the smog.
This not only helps you pass the smog check, but also gives you more confidence in the health of your car. You don’t have to wait until the smog test fails, which could mean you stop driving your car or face additional car repair costs, which can be annoying if you’re on a budget.
It’s a standalone reader that doesn’t require you to install an app on your phone
Great value to price ratio compared to other models in this category
Does not work with certain vehicles such as the 2005 Toyota Prius, 2008 BMW and 2004 Ford Escape X
5. Actron CP9690 Chrome Scan Tool
The Actron CP9690 scan tool comes with all the necessary connectors and adapters needed to perform an efficient repair on your vehicle. It is not only compatible with OBD2 vehicles, but also with OBD1 vehicles. It has a larger LCD screen for easy viewing of graphics and reports.
It lacks certain features compared to the Autel and Innova models, but its ability to diagnose OBD1 vehicles makes it an attractive option for beginners and experienced mechanics alike.
The Actron CP9690 is capable of reading manufacturer-specific DTCs, diagnostic trouble codes provided by the vehicle manufacturer, for vehicle-related problems. You can make the most of manufacturer-supplied codes by scanning them, understanding them and providing a quick fix for your vehicle.
Compared to cheaper code readers, the Actron CP9690 will display ABS, airbag, DTC, and help you prioritize your diagnostics. It also comes with CodeConnect, which contains a host of proven fixes, so you can be more aware of every problem you’re experiencing with your vehicle.
Because the key to efficient repairs is having fast and accurate output, the scan tool is equipped with CAN and patented TrueLink technology that ensures it connects to all OBDII-compliant vehicles.
Whether you’re rocking a Ford, GM, Toyota or Chrysler brand vehicle, you’ll find the tool to be a constant and reliable companion to OBD I cables for pre-1996 models.
This tool has a wider screen
It comes with an OBD I cable for improved vehicle compatibility
It can complete oil light and battery reset
It has Bluetooth capability to pair with your smartphone
Performance of older models is hit or miss
It is quite expensive
6. Autel AutoLink AL519 Diagnostic Tool Scanner
Autel, one of the world leaders in automotive diagnostics, introduces the Autel AutoLink AL519 diagnostic tool, which combines next-generation wireless technology with extremely superior processing power. It is powered by the most advanced quad-core processor in the SSD, reducing start-up time to seconds, making it faster than other tools on the market.
It is equipped with Bluetooth 2.1 with enhanced data rates, thus greatly increasing your diagnostic range and enabling you to test your vehicle from anywhere in the store.
It has an ultra-fast wireless connection that lets you quickly download wiring diagrams and schematics that can be easily viewed in detail via the capacitive touch screen.
It features OneTouch instant manufacturer updates, eliminating the wasted time of manually entering vehicle information. This feature does this for you and detects fault codes on each available module, simplifying the entire diagnostic process.
It also comes with an intuitive interface, a smooth operating system and a 5px rear camera that is very easy to use right out of the box.
It’s also cloud-based, so you can connect with other expert technicians, which helps you access repair information faster when working on your actual vehicle. No more traveling back and forth to download and print repair information.
It can store, read and play back real-time sensor data
It monitors I/ M readiness and real-time test data
Built-in speaker for audible tones
Comes with color LEDs for visual representation of data
Lack of updates and adequate support from the manufacturer
Poor data output