Best Overall
TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT

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

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Runner-Up
Launch CRP129E Scan Tool

A scanner with some excellent features and a lower price point.

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Best Bluetooth Scanner
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool

A wireless option with advanced abilities for the price.

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Best Budget Scanner
Foxwell NT301 OBD2 Scanner

A compact and straightforward design for quick troubleshooting.

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Best For Professionals
Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner

A solid, affordable OBD2 scanner for professional mechanics.

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Seeing the check engine light turn on in a vehicle usually means it’s time for a test, or an onboard diagnostic (OBD). But if you don’t have the time – or the cash – for a repair shop, what’s the best OBD2 scanner to use at home?

This review takes a close look at five of the best OBD2 scanners available for purchase. We’ll also explain diagnostic scanners’ function, what data they pull from vehicles, and offer a buyers guide for potential customers.

What Is An OBD2 Scanner?

OBD2 scanner ports became standard on all domestic vehicles in 1996 after the federal government pushed to reduce vehicle emissions. OBD2 devices, also known as OBDII scanners, work by plugging into a 16-pin connector typically found under the steering wheel column.

Developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), an OBD2 scanner interacts with your car’s computer to read error codes, perform emissions tests, and monitor specific data like engine temperature. When your car’s computer registers an error, it will activate the check engine light, but an OBD2 scanner is needed to learn the specific issue.

A basic OBD2 scan tool will display an error code that you’ll then need to look up in an owner’s manual or online. Most modern OBD2 scan tools will translate error codes for you so that you don’t need to look them up yourself. Some of the best OBD2 scanners may even link to a repair database that offers guidance and advice. Although many universal code definitions exist, some vary by manufacturer. So one problem with a Ford could read differently on a Toyota or Honda.

There are several reasons you may want an OBD2 scan tool, even if you aren’t a professional mechanic:

  • Diagnose and perform minor maintenance on your own vehicle.
  • Perform home emissions checks before a state inspection.
  • Confirm the mileage on a used car before purchase.
  • Check error codes yourself so that you aren’t tricked into paying for extra repairs by a dishonest mechanic.

6 Best OBD2 Scanners

Best OBD2 Scanners

  1. Best Overall: TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT
  2. Runner-Up: Launch CRP129E Scan Tool
  3. Best Bluetooth Scanner: BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
  4. Best Budget Scanner: Foxwell NT301 OBD2 Scanner
  5. Best for Professionals: Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner
  6. Also Consider: Innova CarScan Advisor 5210

#1 Best Overall: TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT

Pros Wireless connection Has many functions including ABS and SRS diagnostics Free lifetime software updates
Cons Expensive Low battery life (compared to corded models)

TOPDON’s ArtiDiag800BT diagnostic scanner is our choice for the overall best OBD2 scanner because it has an extensive range of features, is easy to use, and even works wirelessly. The large touchscreen has an internal battery and connects via a dongle (30.0-foot range) so you are free to walk around your vehicle as you use the tool.

Choose this OBD2 scanner if you need a broad range of scanning capabilities including SRS and ABS diagnostic tools. It is compatible with 96 vehicle manufacturers and a good choice for those who need a tool capable of advanced OBD2 functions.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $420
  • WiFi compatible
  • Automatically detects VIN, vehicle make, and vehicle model
  • Free lifetime software updates
  • One-year warranty

What’s In The Box?

Included with the TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT are:

  • ArtiDiag800BT Scan Tool
  • Hard-shell carrying case
  • Bluetooth VCI Dongle
  • Charging cable (USB-C)
  • Charging Adapter (for European outlets)

Our Experience

TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT

Overall Rating4.6 out of 5
Value5
Ease Of Use5
Customer Satisfaction4
Data Collection Capabilities4.5

Everything about the TOPDON is designed for easy use and handling. The device comes in a sturdy, ergonomically-shaped case. The Bluetooth® dongle slots into the scanner itself and is easily removed with a 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, while still packed with features. This tool can be used even by those without advanced auto maintenance knowledge. The menu layout is among the most straightforward of the scanners that we tested while still including advanced functionality simple scanners lack, such as SRS and ABS monitoring.

TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.3 out of 5 based on around 410 ratings

Users are pleased with the scanner’s ability to detect fault codes, even those that may not show up on other scanners.

“I highly recommend [TOPDON] because what is advertised is real. I scanned a Jeep Renegade and a code came out of a short circuit in the daytime running lights, a code that the Launch and the Thickcar [OBD2 scanners] had not given.”

– Nik, via Amazon

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.

#2 Runner-Up: Launch CRP129E Scan Tool

Pros Large, 5.0-inch touchscreen Free lifetime updates Wide range of diagnoistic functions
Cons Some features sold separately

The Launch CRP129E Scan Tool is our runner-up for the overall best OBD2 scanner thanks to its abilities as a diagnostic tool and extensive features for the price. This 5.0-inch touchscreen comes with an internal battery, so you don’t have to keep the car running to use it. You can also graph live data, reset diagnostic trouble codes (DTC), and perform emissions tests.

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.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $260
  • WiFi compatible
  • Can email engine reports
  • Supports nine languages
  • Includes oil reset, steering angle calibration, and throttle position reset
  • Responsive high-definition touchscreen
  • Five-year warranty

What’s In The Box?

Included with the Launch CRP129E Scan Tool are:

  • Creader Professional 129E handset
  • OBDII diagnostic cable
  • 5V DC charging cable
  • User manual
  • Carrying bag

Our Experience

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

Overall Rating4.4 out of 5
Value5
Ease Of Use4
Customer Satisfaction4.5
Data Collection Capabilities4

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.

While the Launch includes many useful features and can perform various diagnostic tasks, it does require a WiFi connection. 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).

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.3 out of 5 based on more than 2,200 ratings

Customers appreciate the intuitive touchscreen and data accuracy.

“I plugged the scanner into my car, and it immediately found my problem and reset my computer. It reads every system in my car, from VIN number to transmission codes. It also hooks into my Wi-Fi and sends reports to my computer. The touchscreen is laid out logically, and it made my job easy.”

– Dr. Ken

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.

#3 Best Bluetooth Scanner: BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool

Pros Wireless connection Easy-to-use interface Offers repair suggestions
Cons Limited data for European cars

The BlueDriver Bluetooth® Pro OBDII Scan Tool runs a smartphone-based diagnostics test. We chose this as the best Bluetooth OBD2 scanner because the manufacturer includes routine software updates for a free mobile app that works with Android smartphones and Apple iPhones.

This relatively simple system plugs the car scanner into your vehicle’s OBD2 port, which is usually located beneath the steering column. The BlueDriver connects via Bluetooth to the 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.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $120
  • Quick and easy Bluetooth connectivity
  • Reads error codes and suggests repairs
  • Free app works with iOS and Android devices
  • A “set it and forget it” tool to record vehicle information

What’s In The Box?

The BlueDriver doesn’t come with any accessories besides the charging cable, and you will need a smartphone to use this OBD2 scanner.

Our Experience

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool installed in car.

Overall Rating4.6 out of 5
Value4.5
Ease Of Use5
Customer Satisfaction4.5
Data Collection Capabilities4.5

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. For more information on this great OBD2 scanner, check out our dedicated review page here.

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool in hand, with companion app open on phone.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on more than 38,500 ratings

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.

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.

“The scanner itself worked well on both a VAG Skoda and Hyundai. However, it seems disingenuous to sell this device at the full price in Europe when the advanced features don’t actually work on European model cars.”

– Al

#4 Best Budget Scanner: Foxwell NT301 OBD2 Scanner

Pros Good for beginners Offers live data Quick results Emissions test capabilities
Cons Small screen Short cord Compatibility issues with Apple devices

If your primary need for an OBD2 diagnostic tool is reviewing DTC codes, the Foxwell NT301 OBD2 Scanner may be the best OBD2 scanner for you. The compact design features a 2.8-inch LCD color screen and a relatively quick loading time on data reports.

Besides pulling manufacturer-specific OBD2 codes, the I/M Readiness button in the center of the scanner offers a reasonably fast emissions test. Windows users can also use the USB cable to upload data from the scanner to their computers.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $55
  • DTC lookup
  • Three-stage LED test lights
  • Monitors misfires, fuel system, air conditioning, and oxygen sensors
  • USB port connection for downloadable reports

What’s In The Box?

In addition to the scanner, the Foxwell NT301 includes a USB cable that lets you connect the device to a computer to transfer data and download updates.

Our Experience

Foxwell NT301 OBD2 Scanner plugged in and turned on.

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Value5
Ease Of Use4
Customer Satisfaction4
Data Collection Capabilities3

While the Foxwell doesn’t have as many diagnostic features as other OBD2 scanners, it is straightforward to use and comes at a low price. The device has a lightning-fast startup, and menu navigation is simple.

If you don’t want to spend much and simply want a device to help you read engine codes or do a quick smog check, this is probably the OBD2 scanner for you. We had a lot more to say about this scanner here, in our in-depth review.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 22,800 ratings

Positive reviews mention a readable owner’s manual and good value for the money.

“This analyzer totally performed to my expectations. Very simple and intuitive with minimal need for referencing the instruction book (which is pretty thorough).”

– CouchTater

One of the more significant downsides of this scanner – mentioned by several reviewers – is that there are numerous vehicles it doesn’t function with. Make sure your vehicle is compatible with this device. If you’re dealing with different cars, the Foxwell isn’t the best OBD2 scanner.

“This scanner works OK. It does not work on all cars, though. Specifically, it did not connect to a 2005 Mazda6, 1997 Ford F-150, or a 2005 Ford Taurus. It did work on my 2000 Pontiac Grand Am, 2005 Hyundai Accent, and 2000 Ford Mustang.”

– Dustin O.

#5 Best For Professionals: Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner

Pros Includes vehicle workload information Long battery life 7.0-inch touchscreen
Cons First year of updates is free, but subsequent updates require paid subscription

Professional mechanics 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 seven-hour battery life, so buyers aren’t tethered to the vehicle for work.

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.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $480
  • One-step tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) check
  • Automatic vehicle identification number (VIN) lookup
  • Capacitive touchscreen
  • Customizable graph data
  • Supports microSD cards up to 32GB
  • Rugged carrying case

What’s In The Box?

The Autel MaxiCOM MK808 comes with several accessories, including:

  • Mini USB cable
  • USB external power adapter
  • Main cable
  • Carrying case

Our Experience

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

Overall Rating4.1 out of 5
Value3.5
Ease Of Use3.5
Customer Satisfaction4.5
Data Collection Capabilities5

The Autel has a robust and expansive user interface. The touchscreen is easy to navigate, and the device comes with a wide array of features that includes 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.

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 and powered on; home screen displayed.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on more than 1,600 ratings

Buyers applaud the user interface, data output, and customer service.

“I love the MK808. It’s a responsive touchscreen tablet with an Android operating system and wireless internet. You can easily look up information on the spot while working on a vehicle. It also has quick links to your online repair manuals. Fast and intuitive operation saves you a lot of time during repairs.”

– A DIY Car Guy

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.

“For most situations, this device does its job. There are a few times that the software is not supported for certain functions, and that’s pretty frustrating.”

– Stephen

#6 Also Consider: Innova CarScan Advisor 5210

Pros Great entry-level device Works on both foreign and domestic cars
Cons No airbag, transmission, or tire pressure data

Innova, a California-based manufacturer of diagnostic scan tools, offers an affordable car diagnostic device that does more than clear codes. A standout feature of the Innova CarScan Advisor 5210 is its ability to present “freeze-frame data.” This setting displays vehicle information from when a fault code gets triggered.

Users can also assess their anti-lock braking systems (ABS) with this device, as well as read and clear the check engine light with one button and run battery and charging system tests. For a more detailed look at this great scanner, check out our in-depth review guide to the Innova OBD2 scanner.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $100
  • Code severity levels to quickly identify repair needs
  • RepairSolutions2 app allows for smartphone connectivity
  • Read and clear codes with one button
  • Works with most domestic, Asian, and European cars with model years 1996 and newer

What’s In The Box?

The Innova CarScan Advisor does not include anything other than the scanner. You have to get the owner’s manual online by providing an email address to Innova, which will then send you a PDF copy.

Our Experience

Innova CarScan Advisor 5210 plugged into car.

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Value4.5
Ease Of Use4
Customer Satisfaction4
Data Collection Capabilities3.5

The Innova is easy to use and set up but comes with at least two drawbacks: It doesn’t have as much functionality as some OBD2 scanners, and the cable is frustratingly short, so you need to lean over to check the screen.

The user interface is easy to use, but the device is a bit limited in terms of functionality. It does not include hybrid battery testing, and the ABS testing failed when we tried to use it on a Ford Fusion. However, for a simple plug-in device, this may be a good option. Just make sure it’s compatible with your vehicle.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on more than 2,100 ratings

Positive reviews cite the intuitive user interface and easy code clearing.

“Connecting it and getting results was extremely simple, even for me. I was able to determine I had a rear oxygen sensor failure.”

– Docdaddy

Some buyers report connection issues and problems navigating advanced features. Also, according to one user, you must pay extra to get the device to work with multiple vehicles.

“This tool has a nice-looking screen and seems to read codes fine. What I have a problem with is that it only links to one VIN number, and then you have to purchase “keys” to add more vehicles.”

– AW

Buyers Guide: Best OBD2 Scanner

The best OBD2 scanner depends on the vehicle information you need and your level of mechanical know-how. If you’re looking to make simple repairs or ensure your car will pass inspection, an OBD2 scanner can be a great investment. If you’re a serious mechanic, you should opt for something more advanced.

Buy Based On The Work

The best way to determine the OBD2 scanner you need is by considering the type of work you’ll be performing. 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 probably only need something that can read codes.

If you consistently work on vehicles as a job or hobby, you’ll want a scanner that’s compatible with foreign and domestic cars and receives updates regularly. Being able to send commands or change 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.

Just remember: More features and programming options mean a higher price tag.

Wired Vs. Bluetooth

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.

Vehicle Make

While many OBD2 codes are universal, a good number aren’t. 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 Scanner Cost

An OBD2 scanner can cost anywhere from $30 to $500 dollars. Unless you’re a professional mechanic, you probably don’t need the costliest option. However, the cheapest OBD2 scanners sometimes have hidden costs, such as the requirement that you pay a subscription to access advanced features. Here’s what you can generally expect with each price range:

Under $60: 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 either 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.

How To Use An OBD2 Scanner

Engine Fault Code

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.

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.

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.

Read And Clear Codes

The most basic OBD function (which every OBD2 scanner should be able to do) is to read and clear error codes. Specific information provided depends on the scanner you purchase, but any modern scanner should be able to tell you why your check engine light is on.

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.

Emissions Test

Most OBD2 scanners have an emissions test function. By running an emissions test, the scanner can help you determine if you’ll pass a state inspection before it happens, potentially saving you a lot of time. Should there be a problem, you can address it before you take your vehicle out for an inspection.

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.

Bottom Line: OBD2 Scanners

We think the TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT is the best overall OBD2 scanner. It has a wide range of diagnostic capabilities while also offering a user-friendly interface. It’s a good pick for the blossoming shade tree mechanic for this reason. That said, it may offer more features than some users will need. If you are looking to check basic engine codes, the Foxwell NT301 might be a better choice (and at a lower cost).

If you’re looking for the most feature-rich OBD2 scanner with the broadest possible range of diagnostic capabilities, consider the Autel MaxiCOM MK808, though this device will cost quite a bit and updates are not free.

Our Review Standards

The OBD2 scanners in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon for top products, looking at factors like Prime shipping eligibility, customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, 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 stars based on this criteria.

OBD2 Testing Process

We evaluated each OBD2 scanner based on value, ease of use, customer satisfaction, and data collection capabilities.

Every OBD2 scanner recommended in this review was attached to a 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid. We tried all of the available diagnostic features. In this way, we could assess the usability of the user interface and determine the ease or difficulty of finding specific data and navigating menus.

To determine our customer satisfaction rating, we combed through Amazon reviews to see what others had to say, from professional mechanics to at-home enthusiasts. Scanners with the most consistently positive reviews scored highest in this category.

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.

OBD2 Scanner: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.