Speed Reads:

  • There are two types of OBD2 scanners: code readers to read and clear engine codes, and advanced scanners capable of monitoring every system and even reprogramming your vehicle. A basic code reader is all that the layperson may need.
  • The best OBD2 scanner in 2023 is the BlueDriver Bluetooth® Pro OBDII Scan Tool. The Bluetooth Pro from BlueDriver is incredibly easy to use and doesn’t break the bank.
  • Those looking for a more advanced OBD2 diagnostic tools might consider the TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT. It has a very broad range of features, including key programming capabilities.
Best OBD2 Scanner
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool

A wireless option with advanced abilities for the price.

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Best OBD2 Scanner
with Key Programmer
TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT

An easy-to-use OBD2 scanner with a wide range of functions.

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Best Consumer OBD2 Scanner
Foxwell NT201

An inexpensive scanner that accurately pulls OBD2 engine codes.

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Best Budget OBD2 Scanner
Motopower MP69033

A simple, effective, low-cost OBD2 scanner.

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Best Bluetooth OBD2 Code Reader
Innova CarScan Advisor 5110

Affordable but complete package with Bluetooth and ABS monitoring.

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A check engine light can signal a wide variety of issues, but many of them are easy to fix at home. However, diagnosing the severity of any car trouble requires an onboard diagnostic (OBD) tool. The best OBD2 scanner for the average driver will often cost under $40 and can save you many unnecessary trips to the mechanic.

To help readers find the right scan tool (at the right price), we tested several top options. From simple code readers to advanced OBD2 scanners that can reprogram an engine control module (ECM), the right scanner for you may differ depending on your expertise level and repair skills. In this review, we recommend our eight favorite OBD2 scanners based on hands-on testing and explain, in simple terms, the benefits and drawbacks of each one.

What Are The Best OBD2 Scanners?

After extensive research and product testing, our review team selected the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool as the best overall OBD2 scanner on the market. However, another product may be better suited to you depending on your needs.

  1. Best OBD2 Scanner: BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
  2. Best OBD2 Scanner with Key Programmer: TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT
  3. Best Consumer OBD2 Scanner: Foxwell NT201
  4. Best Budget OBD2 Scanner: Motopower MP69033
  5. Best Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner: Innova CarScan Advisor 5110
  6. Best Professional OBD2 Scanner: Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner
  7. Best Bluetooth OBD2 Code Reader: Ancel B0310
  8. Best OBD2 Gauge Display: Launch CRP129E Scan Tool

OBD2 Scanner Ratings: How We Tested

To help you find the best OBD2 scanner for your vehicle(s), our team has spent hours researching and testing products. We’ve narrowed down the list  to our eight top picks and provided recommendations for options with different uses and price points. Based on a high volume of positive consumer feedback and our hands-on testing with these scanners, we assessed each device for its ease of use, read speed, compatibility, and value.

The OBD2 scanners in this article went through two rounds of review. We started by searching Advance Auto Parts, Amazon, and other retailers for top products, looking at factors like customer ratings and prices.

Our product testing team then ordered the OBD2 scanners that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a car, taking note of ease of use and data collection capabilities. Each diagnostic scanner was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria. In particular we examined (and tested):

  • Speed of fault code retrieval
  • Bluetooth capabilities
  • SRS and ABS monitoring functions
  • Live data functions
  • I/M readiness features
  • Freeze frame data
  • Device interface and buttons

Ease of Use

Our ease of use rating represents the relative ease or difficulty of operating the OBD2 scanner. Scanners that can retrieve engine codes with the fewest button pushes scored best in this category.

More advanced OBD2 scanners can be more complicated, but not necessarily more difficult to use. Advanced OBD2 scanners with simple-to-navigate menus and that explain features score well in this category.


To verify that each scanner could read an engine code, we unplugged the mass airflow sensor from our test vehicle and counted the number of button pushes it took to retrieve a code. Those that were able to display an accurate fault code quickly scored best in this category.


All of the OBD2 scanners that we recommend are compatible with a broad range of vehicles. However, not every OBD2 scanner works perfectly with every vehicle. Each manufacturer (especially in different countries) uses its own computer protocol for storing vehicle fault codes. OBD2 scanners that support the broadest range of protocols score best in this category.


Our value score is based on our other ratings relative to the cost of the product. To receive a high rating in this category, an expensive OBD2 scanner must justify its price tag by offering features and functions well beyond a basic OBD2 code reader.

Our Test Vehicle

We tested the OBD2 scanners in this review in a 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

OBD2 Scanner Reviews

While the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro is our top pick, the best ODB2 scanner for you will depend on your needs and budget. We also recommend the Foxwell NT201 because the scanner is compatible with many vehicle makes/models and is easy to use for beginners and expert mechanics alike.

Best OBD2 Scanners

#1 BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool: Best OBD2 Scanner

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
$99.95 Amazon
  • Free, well-designed app
  • Provides extensive live engine data
  • Wireless operation
  • Very small and compact
  • Requires smartphone with Bluetooth connection
  • Limited data for European makes

The BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool runs a smartphone-based diagnostics test. We like the fact that this OBD2 scanner’s manufacturer, BlueDriver, includes routine software updates for a free mobile app that works with Android smartphones and Apple iPhones.

Amazon Review Score4.6 out of 5.0
(over 52,000 customer reviews)
Bluetooth® Compatible?Yes
Supported Protocols• ISO 15765-4 (CAN)
• ISO 9141-2
• ISO 14230-4 (KWP2000)
• SAE J1850 (VPW & PWM)

BlueDriver OBD2 Scan Tool Review

The BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool is compatible with a range of vehicles and is incredibly easy to use. It comes as a small box that plugs into your vehicle’s OBD2 port, which is usually located beneath the steering column. Once installed, the BlueDriver connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app, from which you can view live data reports from the engine and coolant systems. You can also perform a smog test with this scanner, and it will recommend possible repairs for specific codes.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.5
Overall Rating4.5

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro: Our Experience

The BlueDriver is one of the easiest-to-use OBD2 scanners we tested. You simply download the companion smartphone app and plug the scanner into your vehicle. Diagnostics and monitoring run through the app, which has a simple interface.

Along with conducting basic diagnostic tasks, you can set up customizable monitoring of basic information like engine RPMs and exhaust pressure. A full list of monitoring functions can be found here. For more information on this great OBD2 scanner, check out our dedicated review page here.

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool installed in car.

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro: What Customers Are Saying

This OBD2 scanner’s Bluetooth functionality, easy-to-use system, and technical support are popular with buyers.

“No joke, I work on cars all the time. I’ve had cheap scanners and snap-on scanners. For the price of this, you cannot go wrong. This little scanner reads not only engine codes, but also reads codes from transmission codes and BCM codes.”

– Keith S. via Amazon

Some question the data’s reliability and say the device isn’t compatible with as many vehicles as advertised. A few of the BlueDriver’s features seem more limited on European cars.

#2 TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT: Best OBD2 Scanner With Key Programmer

TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT OBD2 Scanner
TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT
$375.99 Amazon
  • Wireless connection (without smartphone)
  • Broad array of diagnostic functions, including ABS and SRS diagnositics
  • Free lifetime software updates
  • Expensive
  • Low battery life (compared to corded models)

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line OBD2 scanner with a lot of service functions, you might consider TOPDON’s ArtiDiag800BT. It can reset your steering wheel, recalibrate your windows, and even reprogram your keys.

Amazon Review Score4.4 out of 5.0
(over 590 customer reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?Yes
Supported Protocols• KWP2000
• ISO9141
• J1850 VPW
• J1850 PWM

TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT Review

The ArtiDiag800BT is a great option for those looking for a code reader with key programming abilities. It is compatible with 96 vehicle manufacturers and capable of many advanced OBD2 functions. The large display also makes it good for viewing live data graphing. Those in need of only a basic code reader will find the TOPDON unnecessarily expensive.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use5.0
Overall Rating4.5

TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT: Our Experience

Everything about the TOPDON is designed for easy use and handling. The device comes in a sturdy, ergonomic case. The Bluetooth dongle slots into the scanner itself and is easily removed with a single push. Setting up the TOPDON requires an internet connection as you’ll need to input the included activation code. Once your account is made, TOPDON provides free lifetime updates.

The large touchscreen interface is easy to navigate and can be used even by those without advanced auto maintenance knowledge. There is even a “learning” feature, that will show you how to use some of the advanced functions. The menu layout is among the most straightforward of the scanners that we tested.

We were able to use the TOPDON to recalibrate the power windows in our test vehicle, fixing a longstanding issue.

TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT

TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT: What Customers Are Saying

Users are pleased with the scanner’s ability to detect fault codes, even those that may not show up on other scanners. Others praise the TOPDON for being a professional-level scan tool that is nonetheless easy for mechanics of almost any skill level to navigate.

Those dissatisfied with this OBD2 scanner say that the battery drains quickly. Some also complain about advanced features not working, such as key programming. Features like key programming and anti-theft matching may only be available for certain vehicles.

#3 Foxwell NT201: Best Consumer OBD2 Scanner

Foxwell NT201
$44.98 Amazon
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Emissions tests capabilities
  • Few advanced functions
  • Plastic housing not durable

For most car owners, the best OBD2 scanner is something inexpensive that can read (or pull) OBD2 engine codes. The Foxwell NT201 fits these criteria at a low cost.

Amazon Review Score4.5 out of 5.0
(over 8,900 customer reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?No
Supported Protocols• J1859-41.6
• J1850-10.4
• ISO9141
• KWP2000 (ISO 14230)
• CAN (Control Area Network, ISO 11898)

Foxwell NT201 Review

While the NT201 doesn’t offer much in the way of advanced functions, we found that it does provide basic data collection, real-time engine data, and freeze-frame data. With this device, you’ll be able to read and clear your own engine codes with ease.

The Foxwell NT201 is a great low-cost option for the average DIY at-home mechanic.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use5.0
Overall Rating4.3

Foxwell NT201: Our Experience

As a basic scan tool, the NT201 does not have a lot of functions, but it is compatible with most vehicle makes and models. Finding this information in the menu is straightforward and intuitive. Press enter when the OBDII function is selected and follow the menus.

The Foxwell NT201 is lightweight but does not feel especially durable. It doesn’t seem like this tool would survive many drops onto a hard floor.

While there is no instruction manual included, the NT201 is simple to operate, as there aren’t many buttons or menu options. This device is made to help users check engine codes and perform emissions tests. We’d recommend this OBD2 scanner for someone who wants to read their engine codes at home but doesn’t need to do much else.

Foxwell NT201: What Customers Are Saying

Reviewers appreciate the Foxwell for its bright display and easy-to-operate interface. Most customers purchase this because they need something inexpensive to pull engine codes for their personal vehicles.

Those less-than-happy with the NT201 claim it does not work well with uncommon vehicles. For the most popular makes and models, the NT201 seems to work great. However, it may lack the ability to read codes for uncommon foreign, discontinued, and luxury car models. At least one SAAB owner said this scanner did not work with their vehicle’s computer.

#4 Motopower MP69033: Best Budget OBD2 Scanner

Motopower MP69033
$20.00 Amazon
  • Exceptionally fast code retrieval
  • Low cost
  • Ideal for beginners who only need a basic code reader
  • Only offers basic code reading functions, cannot clear engine codes
  • No emissions (I/M) readiness testing

If you only need an OBD2 scanner to read engine codes, the Motopower MP69033 is your best bet. It is low-cost, easy to use, fast, and reliable.

Amazon Review Score4.6 out of 5.0
(over 30,000 customer reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?No
Supported Protocols• SAE J1850 PWM (41.6Kbaud)
• SAE J1850 VPW (10.4Kbaud)
• 1509141-2(5 baud init, 10.4Kbaud)
• 15014230-4 KWP (5 baud Init. 10.4 Kbaud)
• 15014230-4 KWP (fast init, 10.4 Kbaud)
• 15015765-4 CAN (11bit ID, 500 Kbaud)
• 15015765-4 CAN (29bit ID, 500 Kbaud)
• IS015765-4 CAN (11bit ID, 250 Kbaud)
• 15015765-4 CAN (29bit ID, 250 Kbaud)

Motopower MP69033 Review

The Motopower MP69033 is made for those who want basic OBD2 scanner features at an affordable price. When it comes to retrieving engine codes, we found this scanner to be among the fastest. The downside of the MP69033 is that reading engine codes is all that it can do. It cannot clear engine codes (to turn off your check engine light). If you don’t clear an engine code, your check engine light will remain lit, even after a problem has been fixed (though most will eventually turn off on their own).

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use5.0
Overall Rating4.3

Motopower MP69033: Our Experience

The Motopower MP69033 scanned with the touch of a single button and was able to pull codes from our test vehicle nearly instantaneously. This tool automatically detected our vehicle information and quickly supplied an error code that even provided a brief description of the issue (not only a number).

Because of its limited number of functions, it is easy to operate. It notably lacks the ability to perform an emissions readiness test. Spending a little bit more can afford a scanner with this useful feature.

Motopower MP69033: What Customers Are Saying

Reviewers looking for a simple scan tool are happy with the MP69033. Most claim the tool works quickly and effectively. People who aren’t as familiar with car maintenance like this scan tool because it is easy to use and the lack of advanced functions makes it less daunting than other options.

Those who dislike this scanner say that it didn’t work with their vehicle. Though it connects with a number of protocols, there are many reports of this scanner refusing to diagnose even common makes of cars, like Toyota and Nissan. Most who report issues have foreign or older (pre-2015) vehicles.

#5 Innova CarScan Advisor 5110: Best Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner

Innova CarScan Advisor 5110
Innova CarScan Advisor 5110
$65.99 Amazon
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Has some advanced functions, such as ABS monitoring
  • Has Bluetooth mode
  • More expensive than other basic scanners
  • ABS monitoring doesn't work on some older vehicles

The Innova CarScan Advisor 5110 costs slightly more than other basic OBD2 scanners but also offers a wireless Bluetooth mode as well as ABS monitoring.

Amazon Review Score4.3 out of 5.0
(over 790 customer reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?Yes
Supported Protocols• J1850 PWM
• KW 2000
• ISO9141-2

Innova CarScan Advisor 5110 Review

The CarScan Advisor 5110 is simple to operate and automatically reads codes as soon as it is plugged in. It’s a good pick if you want a no-frills code reader. Innova’s car scanner is a bit more expensive than other basic code readers, though it does include a wireless Bluetooth option.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.5
Overall Rating4.3

Innova CarScan Advisor 5110: Our Experience

The CarScan Advisor detects and reads engine codes as soon as it is connected. Among the OBD2 scanners that we tested for this review, the Advisor was the fastest to display an engine code.

We found it similar, in terms of functions, to other $30 OBD2 scanners. That is, except until paired with the app, which offers more features, including repair suggestions, details about potential replacement parts, and freeze frame data.

Innova CarScan Advisor 5110: What Customers Are Saying

The CarScan Advisor is popular because it is easy to use. Many reviewers note that the ABS brake diagnosis function is appreciated, as not all basic scanners offer this feature. However, ABS scanning does not seem to work in older vehicles

#6 Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner: Best Professional OBD2 Scanner

Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner
Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner
$383.00 Amazon
  • Large, easy-to-use touchscreen
  • Many advanced features and tools for managing multiple vehicles
  • Excellent battery life
  • Wireless
  • Must pay for updates after the first year
  • Expensive

Those who want an OBD2 scanner that includes a wealth of diagnostic features will appreciate the Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner for toeing the line between advanced scanning features and business-friendly applications. This 7.0-inch HD touchscreen behemoth has a 7-hour battery life, so buyers aren’t tethered to the vehicle for work.

Amazon Review Score4.4 out of 5.0
(over 2,000 customer reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?No
Supported Protocols• ISO 9141-2
• ISO 14230-2
• ISO15765
• SAE-J1850 VPW
• SAE-J1850PWM
• ISO11898
• SAE J2610

Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Review

The Autel MaxiCOM MK808 is a feature-rich OBD2 scanner with a large touchscreen interface. It’s expensive, however, so not a good choice for those who only want to read and clear engine codes.

Autel updates the device for free for your first year of ownership, but it already comes with plenty of information about American, European, and Asian car brands. Also included is an app that stores automotive and customer data, so you get an OBD2 scanner and logbook all in one.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.0
Overall Rating4.1

Autel MaxiCOM MK808: Our Experience

The Autel has a robust and expansive user interface that resembles a PC desktop. The touchscreen is easy to navigate, and the device comes with a wide array of features, including a web browser. The Autel can connect to WiFi, which is necessary to use the device, at least at startup. You will need to set up an Autel account to use many of the scanner’s features.

Also like the Launch, the Autel can take some time to show engine codes because it scans several systems before doing so.

This OBD2 scanner may be more than you need, especially if you find the extras distracting. The user manual is pretty thick, and we wouldn’t necessarily recommend this device if you’re simply trying to read error codes. It is an excellent choice for advanced users, however.

Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner plugged into car, propped against carrying case on drivers seat.

Autel MaxiCOM MK808: What Customers Are Saying

Buyers applaud the user interface, data output, and customer service. However, some reviews say updates to this OBD2 scanner don’t fix system bugs. Other users say the MK808 doesn’t support as many vehicles as advertised.

#7 Ancel B0310: Best Bluetooth OBD2 Code Reader

Ancel B0310
$60.05 Amazon
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Has wireless Bluetooth option
  • Expensive compared to other basic code readers
  • Few advanced diagnositics functions

The Ancel B0310 will perform the most basic OBD2 functions and is broadly compatible with common vehicle manufacturers. It costs a little more than other scanners with similar functionality because it can be operated wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Amazon Review Score4.4 out of 5.0
(over 850 customer reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?Yes
Supported Protocols• ISO9141
• J1850 PWM
• KWP2000
• J1850 VWP

Ancel B0310 Review

We put the B0310 in the basic code reader category, though it does offer a few functions other basic OBD2 readers may lack, such as Bluetooth functionality. Using the Bluetooth app (available for both Android and iOS) allows access to a few more functions, notably real-time data monitoring of engine temperatures.

The Ancel is the best Bluetooth OBD2 scanner you can get your hands on if you’re simply looking to read engine codes.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.0
Overall Rating4.0

Ancel B0310: Our Experience

It took us five button pushes to get the Ancel to display engine codes, but the menu is straightforward and we were able to read codes quickly enough. The B0310 is similar in size and capability to most other basic OBD2 scanners.

The Bluetooth mode works well and adds a little functionality. This is nice for those who don’t want to hunch over to read their scanner or walk around the vehicle. Similar scanners can be found for less, so we don’t recommend the B0310 if wireless isn’t an important feature for you.

Ancel B0310: What Customers Are Saying

Reviewers appreciate that the Ancel B0310 is easy to use. With or without the app, it quickly retrieves fault codes, working as advertised. Some complain that the reader is too basic, it doesn’t always translate codes. This isn’t an issue if you look the codes up yourself.

#8 Launch CRP129E Scan Tool: Best OBD2 Gauge Display

Launch CRP129E Scan Tool
Launch CRP129E Scan Tool
$196.00 Amazon
  • Large, easy-to-operate touchscreen
  • Free lifetime updates
  • Includes many advanced diagnostic tools such as live data
  • Slow startup time
  • Expensive

The Launch CRP129E Scan Tool features a 5.0-in. color screen and comes with an internal battery. You can also graph live data, reset diagnostic trouble codes (DTC), and perform emissions tests.

Amazon Review Score4.3 out of 5.0
(over 2,600 customer reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?No
Supported Protocols• SAE J1850 PWM
• SAE J1850 VPW
• ISO 9141-2
• ISO 14230
• ISO 15765 CAN

Launch CRP129E Scan Tool Review

The Launch CRP129E is an expensive, advanced scan tool with a wide range of features. The large, bright screen offers one of the best displays of any tool on the market. One plus is that Launch offers free lifetime updates as long as you buy from an authorized dealer. The Launch CRP129E comes with data code protocols from nearly 60 carmakers and over 1,000 models, so this scanner likely knows something about your vehicle.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.0
Overall Rating3.4

Launch CRP129E: Our Experience

The Launch has an easy-to-use touchscreen interface and a long connection cable. Some OBD2 scanners have shorter cables that make it difficult to hold the device in your lap once connected.

To read a simple engine code, the Launch can take a bit. It scans several systems (not only the engine) and prepares a full diagnostic report.

The Launch includes many useful features and can perform many diagnostic tasks such as live data graphing and SRS resets. You will need a WiFi connection to use the Launch. However, this connection doesn’t need to be persistent, it is only necessary to set up the device. We also found that the Launch takes a bit longer to start than some scanners, but the startup time is still relatively quick (just a couple of seconds longer than the other scanners we tested).

Launch CRP129E Scan Tool being held and used; logo on screen.

Launch CRP129E: What Customers Are Saying

Customers appreciate the intuitive touchscreen and data accuracy, with at least one customer noting that the product was able to read everything from VIN to transmission codes and send reports to his computer.

On the downside, some customers report slow customer service and say the device fails within a year. Another concern is that you must purchase certain features separately and renew them annually.

The Launch may not work with all vehicles, so check that it’s compatible with your make and model. For the backyard mechanic on a smaller budget, the Launch CRP129E is a solid choice.

OBD2 Scanner Buying Guide

An OBD2 scanner is a device that connects with a car to communicate with that vehicle’s onboard computer. OBD2 scanners have many functions, but the most basic is to “read” engine fault codes. When a check engine light comes on, an OBD2 reader can help you get a general description of the issue. These tools will display engine fault codes, the necessary starting point for diagnosing most modern automotive malfunctions.

Since the functionality and features vary depending on the brand and model of car scanner, our review team breaks down each in the following sections to help you make an informed decision about which OBD2 scanner is right for you.

Engine Fault Code

What Does An OBD2 Scanner Do?

At a minimum, any OBD2 scanner should be able to read and ideally clear DTCs. You may want an OBD2 scan tool for several reasons, even if you aren’t a professional mechanic. With an OBD2 reader, you can:

  • Diagnose and perform minor maintenance on your own vehicle
  • Perform emissions checks before a state inspection
  • Confirm the mileage on a used car before purchase
  • Read fault codes yourself to determine the urgency of a check engine light

Beyond that, capabilities can vary greatly. Some common useful OBD2 scanner functions include:

  • Steering Angle Sensor (SAS) calibration: All modern vehicles are equipped with power steering systems that greatly assist in handling. If the SAS is improperly calibrated, your vehicle will be difficult to steer and may handle strangely (the wheel turning too easily, or only with difficulty). The SAS typically needs to be reset after any wheel alignment.
  • Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) reset: A diesel particulate filter traps exhaust soot on vehicles with diesel engines. A DPF rest (also called DPF regeneration) is a process where accumulated dust is burned away. If the DPF accumulates too much debris, it can become clogged and lead to engine shutdown.
  • Smog test: A smog test measures your engine’s emissions and determines if your emissions systems are working properly. All vehicles in the United States must meet certain emissions standards. You cannot pass inspections by running tests at home, but you can determine beforehand if your vehicle will pass an emissions test.
  • Live data graphing: OBD2 scanners may be capable of monitoring any number of car systems. A live graphic function displays this data (such as engine temperature) as a graph in real-time. This function can help diagnose certain engine issues or be used to optimize performance. This feature is not something that the layperson is likely to find useful, however.
  • Freeze frame data: Some OBD2 scanners can record freeze frame data. This is information about your vehicle’s systems at the time when an error code occurred. Freeze frame data is useful for diagnosing problems.
  • Real-time data: Accessing real-time data is not necessary for most people. For those with advanced automotive know-how, this information can help optimize engine performance and diagnose certain repairs. In addition to engine information like temperature, RPMs, and fuel injection rate, you can also monitor ABS and battery data.

For a more in-depth, step-by-step guide about how to use OBD2 scanners, check out our informational guide.

For non-mechanics, the most useful OBD2 scanner features are reading error codes and the smog test. More advanced features are only useful when paired with at least some mechanic know-how.

OBD2 Features: What Experts Are Saying

Mechanics who we speak to typically tell us that the most important feature of any OBD2 scanner is that it can read engine codes. Other design features can be nice, but for many, a basic code reader is all they need. Zac Salerno, a technician at Import Performance and certified Safety Inspector with more than three years of experience, told us:

“You don’t need [an advanced code reader] right out the gate. A Foxwell will do you just fine. It’ll read your codes, you’ll get an idea of what’s going on. And that’s the biggest part, is at least getting a jumping-off point to figure out where your diagnosis starts.”

With that said, there are several other factors to look for in the best OBD2 scanners, including compatibility, Bluetooth capabilities, and protocols. In the following sections, we will detail each feature offered by the best OBD2 scanners to help you decide which one is best for you.

OBD2 Scanner Compatibility

While many OBD2 codes are universal, a good number aren’t. If you have a vehicle produced prior to 1996 or an uncommon model, you may need to do some research to learn which OBD2 scanners will best interact with your vehicle.

In addition to common codes, all cars also have manufacturer-specific fault codes. The best OBD2 scanners can read codes from most major brands. If you plan to use your OBD2 scanner with a specific vehicle or set of vehicles, make sure it is capable of reading error codes for that manufacturer.

OBD2 Protocols

Different manufacturers use different protocols and some protocols are more common in older vehicles. It isn’t necessary to know the difference between these protocols, but to check if a scanner is compatible with your vehicle.

There are several different communication “protocols” that onboard computers may use to communicate with an OBD2 scanner. The most common are:

  • ISO15765-4 (CAN-BUS)
  • ISO14230-4 (KWP2000)
  • ISO9141-2
  • SAE J1850 VPW
  • SAE J1850 PWM

To can check your car’s OBD2 protocol by searching your year, make, and model followed by “OBD2 protocol” with a search engine.

Bluetooth OBD2 Scanners

When you’re looking for the best OBD2 scanner, Bluetooth connectivity is worth considering. Since having a physical cord usually keeps you close to the vehicle while you’re performing a diagnostic, wireless scanners are gaining popularity because of their simplicity and data collection capabilities.

All you need is a smartphone with Bluetooth capability and the scanner’s corresponding app (which may not be free), and you can review data directly from your phone.

This can be a wonderful option if you’re looking for a “set it and forget it” tool that collects data while you’re driving, but it also frees users to look under the hood while running a diagnostic. However, some higher-end scanners come with internal batteries that last for hours, so the amount of information you need will dictate the best OBD2 scanner for your job.

If a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner seems like a better fit for you, we’ve reviewed and tested a handful of the top products on the market.

How Much Does An OBD2 Scanner Cost?

An OBD2 scanner can cost anywhere from $20 to $500 dollars. A low-cost, reliable OBD2 scanner can be purchased for $20 to $40, while the more advanced scanners range from $200 to $500. Unless you’re a professional mechanic, you probably don’t need the most expensive option.

OBD2 Scanner Prices

Here’s what you can generally expect with each price range:

  • Under $100: You can get a basic, efficient OBD2 scanner for around $60. Devices in this range can read a good range of OBD trouble codes and perform an emissions test. Some scanners in this price range may require a subscription for updates. There are Bluetooth OBD2 scanners in this price range, but these may have hard-to-use apps or require a subscription.
  • $100 to $200: Scanners in this range offer a wider range of functionality, such as live data and monitoring of ABS and airbag systems. Many Bluetooth OBD2 scanners fall in this price range. Because a Bluetooth scanner uses your phone’s screen and computer, it can be less expensive than a wired scanner with similar functionality. If you’re an at-home mechanic working on your own car, this is a good price range for an OBD2 scanner.
  • Over $200: These OBD2 scanners typically offer a wide range of features, including advanced code reading, SRS, transmission, and ABS monitoring. In this price range, OBD2 scanners should offer accurate live data and include design features like a large touch-screen display. These scanners typically work with a large variety of manufacturers, even specialty luxury brands, and can include free lifetime updates.

Is It Worth Buying An OBD2 Scanner?

If you’re looking to make simple repairs or ensure your car will pass inspection, a basic OBD2 scanner can be a great investment. If you’re taking a weekend to double-check an assessment from a mechanic or see why the check engine light is on, you’ll only need something that can read codes.

You’ll need a specialized scanner if you want to perform more advanced tasks, like reprogramming your engine control module. Sending commands or changing vehicle settings is helpful if you’re working with temperature sensors or tire pressure monitors. Access to readings such as the ABS and misfire information can help better diagnose a car’s overall health.

Or, if you consistently work on multiple vehicles as a job or hobby, you may want a scanner compatible with foreign and domestic cars and receive updates regularly.

Many of these OBD2 scanners’ advanced features are really only useful to home mechanics who feel comfortable working on their own vehicles and are not intended for average drivers. Just remember that more features and programming options mean a higher price tag.

How To Use An OBD2 Scanner

While every OBD2 scanner has different buttons and a different interface, many of them work similarly. To use the most advanced functions of your scanner, you’ll need to check the owner’s manual. Otherwise, the process is very straightforward.

1. Plug It In

Your first step is to find the OBD2 port. This is typically located beneath the steering wheel and to the left. The slot is shaped like a trapezoid and contains 16 pins. The location of this port should be described in your car’s owner’s manual.

2. Start Your Engine

In order to read fault codes, your vehicle (and your vehicle’s computer) must be turned on. After attaching your OBD2 scanner, start your engine.

3. Read And Clear Codes

The most basic OBD function (which every OBD2 scanner should be able to do) is to read and ideally clear error codes. When your vehicle’s computer detects an issue, it records a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) that broadly describes the malfunction. A DTC starts with the letter P, B, C, or U, and is followed by a string of numbers. The first letter indicates what part of your vehicle has an issue.

  • P: Indicates an issue with the powertrain (the engine, transmission, and fuel system)
  • B: Indicates an issue with the body (cabin interior parts such as the steering system, airbags, and seatbelts)
  • C: Indicates an issue with the chassis (components underneath the car such as the axles, ABS, wheels, and power steering)
  • U: Indicates a network issue (wiring)

Some DTCs apply to all vehicle makes, while others are specific to certain brands. The first number in a DTC is always either 0 or 1. ‘0’ is a universal (generic) code and ‘1’ is a manufacturer-specific code.

The numbers that follow may further specify the issue. If your OBD2 scanner shows a DTC, type this code (followed by the manufacturer, for manufacturer-specific codes) into any search engine to quickly learn what it indicates.

OBD2 scanners can also clear codes from your system’s computer. If the underlying issue isn’t repaired, this code (and the check engine line) will eventually return.

Best Code Reader For Cars: Bottom Line

Our review team selected the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool as the Best OBD2 Scanner of 2023. The mid-price scanner is easy to use and works with a user-friendly app.

For many drivers, the Foxwell NT201 is the best bet for an OBD2 scanner. If you’re just looking for an OBD2 scanner that can read and clear engine codes, that’s the Foxwell. The ability to run an I/M readiness check and scan ABS systems can also be useful, even to the layperson. These features are all common among $40 OBD2 scanners.

Those looking for an advanced scanner to perform complex diagnostic functions should check out the TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT, which has a large touchscreen display and can test just about every system in your vehicle.

Best OBD2 Scan Tool: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about OBD2 scanners:

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.