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Best OBD2 Scanners

OBD2 scanners aren’t just for professional mechanics.
Written and Tested By:
Will Moore
Written and Tested By: Will Moore Senior Writer – Motor1 Review Team

Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339).

Last Updated 01/04/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • Considering ease of use, scan speed, compatibility, and overall value, we think the best OBD2 scanners are the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro, TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT, Foxwell NT201, Motopower MP69033, Innova CarScan Advisor 5110, and Ancel X7HD.
  • A reliable code reader suitable for basic functions can be found for around $40. More advanced OBD2 scanners that include functions like wireless operation and detailed repair guides typically cost $100 or more.
  • The best car code reader can be used to monitor and maximize engine performance as well as perform special functions like key reprogramming.
OBD2 Scanner
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool

A wireless option with advanced abilities for the price.

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OBD2 Scanner
with Key Programmer
TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT

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

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OBD2 Scanner
Foxwell NT201

An inexpensive scanner that accurately pulls OBD2 engine codes.

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OBD2 Scanner
Motopower MP69033

A simple, effective, low-cost OBD2 scanner.

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OBD2 Scanner
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 Is The Best OBD2 Scanner?

Best OBD2 Scanners

The best OBD2 scanner in 2024 is the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro. The TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT, Foxwell NT201, Motopower MP69033, Innova CarScan Advisor 5110, Launch CRP129E Scan Tool, Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner, and Ancel B0310 round out our team’s picks as the best OBD2 scanners on the market.

OBD2 scanners can provide a range of useful functions ranging from basic code reading to displaying live engine data and reprogramming your vehicle’s computer. We’ve tested and suggested a range of scanners, from low-cost options to premium models packed with functions.

Best Rated Auto Code Scanners

Each automotive code scanner in this review was thoroughly tested and evaluated based on several categories, including ease of use, speed, compatibility, and overall value. You can find more specifics regarding our rating system here.

The scores in each category are compiled into a single overall rating that ranges from 1.0 to 5.0 stars. Each auto code scanner’s ratings, including their overall ratings and awards from our team, are highlighted below:

Brand/ModelOverall RatingAwardCost
BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro4.5Best OBD2 Scanner$80
TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT4.5Best OBD2 Scanner with Key Programmer$380
Foxwell NT2014.3Best Consumer OBD2 Scanner$60
Motopower MP690334.3Best Budget OBD2 Scanner$25
Innova CarScan Advisor 51104.3Best Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner$65
Launch CRP129E4.3Best OBD2 Gauge Display$310
Autel MaxiCOM MK8084.1Best Professional OBD2 Scanner$480
Ancel B03104.0Best Bluetooth OBD2 Code Reader$90
Ancel X7HD4.0Best OBD2 Scanner for Trucks$959.99

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

For those interested in learning more, we’ve provided a detailed review of each of the best OBD2 Scanners in the sections below:

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

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool
Amazon Review Score4.6 out of 5.0
(over 53,000 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: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro:

Pros Pulls live data from the engine, charging, and cooling systems Free, user-friendly app Includes one-year warranty
Cons Requires smartphone with Bluetooth connection Limited data for European cars

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
Amazon Review Score4.4 out of 5.0
(over 600 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

Below are the pros and cons of the 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 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
Amazon Review Score4.5 out of 5.0
(over 9,000 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

Below you can see the pros and cons of the Foxwell NT201:

Pros Easy to use Inexpensive Emissions test capabilities
Cons Few advanced functions Plastic housing not especially durable

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

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
Amazon Review Score4.6 out of 5.0
(over 33,000 customer reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?No
Supported Protocols• SAE J1850 PWM (41.6 Kbaud)
• SAE J1850 VPW (10.4 Kbaud)
• 1509141-2 (5 baud init, 10.4 Kbaud)
• 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

Below you can see the pros and cons of the Motopower MP69033:

Pros Inexpensive Exceptionally quick and easy to use VIN auto detection
Cons Cannot clear engine codes No emissions (I/M) readiness testing

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
Amazon Review Score4.3 out of 5.0
(around 800 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

Below you can see the pros and cons of the Innova CarScan Advisor 5110:

Pros Easy to use with fast scanning speed Includes ABS monitoring Has Bluetooth mode
Cons More expensive than other basic scanners ABS monitoring doesn’t work with some older vehicles

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. Launch CRP129E Scan Tool: Best OBD2 Gauge Display

Launch CRP129E Scan Tool
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 Rating4.3

Below are the pros and cons of the Launch CRP129E:

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

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.

7. Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner: Best Professional OBD2 Scanner

Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner
Amazon Review Score4.4 out of 5.0
(over 2,100 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

Below are the pros and cons for the Autel MaxiCOM MK808:

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

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.

8. Ancel B0310: Best Bluetooth OBD2 Code Reader

Ancel B0310
Amazon Review Score4.4 out of 5.0
(around 900 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

Below are the pros and cons of the Ancel B0310:

Pros Quick-scanning and easy to use Can work wirelessly via Bluetooth
Cons More expensive than other basic scanners

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.

9. Ancel X7HD: Best OBD2 Scanner For Trucks

Amazon Review Score4.0 out of 5.0 (around 500 reviews)
Bluetooth Compatible?Yes
Supported Protocols
• J1939
• J1708
• J1587
• ISO9141
• ISO14230
• ISO15765
• ISO11898
• SAE-J1850 VPW
• SAE-1850 PWM
• K/L line

Ancel X7HD Review

The Ancel X7HD OBD2 scanner is a professional-grade device capable of performing diagnostics for big rig trucks and diesel engines. It also includes protocols for standard vehicles as well, though at nearly $1,000 we wouldn’t recommend purchasing this for working on just a sedan.

This OBD2 scanner operates wirelessly. One part of the scanner connects to your vehicle’s OBD2 port, and diagnostics are performed using a separate tablet device with a large, 10.1-inch touchscreen.

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.0
Overall Rating4.0
Ancel X7HD: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Ancel X7HD:

Pros Large touchscreen with easy-to-use interface Has OBD2 protocols for multi-axle vehicles Wide range of advanced diagnostic functions
Cons Very expensive

Ancel X7HD: Our Experience

The Ancel X7HD impressed us by offering such a broad array of diagnostic features and access to virtually every car system. There isn’t an OBD2 scanner function this tool is missing. If it supports your vehicle, there is no one tool that offers more functionality.

Despite being professionally focused, this scanner is very easy to use and navigate. The large touchscreen pad has its own operating system that makes it easy to find any particular function. It includes atypical features like a camera and the ability to take screenshots of the display. These tools would be particularly helpful if you work with multiple vehicles.

As for reading a simple engine code, this can be done with several button pushes. That said, given the cost and number of features, there is no reason to purchase this OBD2 scanner if you simply want to read your own engine codes (unless the car you want to scan happens to be a tri-axle semi-truck).

Ancel X7HD: What Customers Are Saying

There are a lot of positive reviews for the Ancel X7HD. Users comment that this scanner includes many useful features including special functions for diesel engines. Based on user reviews, people who need to service a large number of vehicles choose the Ancel X7HD.

The Ancel X7HD doesn’t work perfectly with all vehicles. Negative reviews complain that this scanner did not work with their vehicle. Several people specifically mentioned difficulty using this with Paccar trucks.

OBD2 Scanner Buying Guide

Engine Fault Code

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.

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 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 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. While most OBD2 scanners will accurately read most fault codes, this isn’t always the case. Jason Ferell, a certified master tech at Mechanic’s Diary told us,

“Rarely, my preferred OBD2 scanner can’t read a code or nail down an issue. This happens when complex, proprietary electronics eclipse what a standard scanner can interpret.”

Many mechanics that we interviewed about OBD2 scanner compatibility had something similar to say. Some fault codes are manufacturer specific and these can’t always be read by every scan tool.

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 can read 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

You 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 top overall pick is the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool. 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. 

Overall, we think these are the top OBD2 scanners in 2024:

  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. Launch CRP129E Scan Tool
  7. Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Scanner
  8. Ancel B0310

Our top overall pick is the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool. 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.

OBD2 Scanners: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about OBD2 scanners:

What is the best OBD2 scanner on the market?

We like the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool after testing a multitude of OBD2 scanners at different price points. It is easy to use and will work with most vehicles.

Are OBD2 scanners worth it?

OBD2 scanners can be a great tool for someone doing car maintenance at home or just assessing the overall health of a vehicle. However, some vehicle repair stores offer a diagnostic check at no cost.

What is the difference between OBD and OBD2?

OBD and OBD2 are two different generations of automotive diagnostic car code readers. OBD refers to domestic vehicles made before 1996. OBD2 ports became commonplace after federal legislation implemented stricter environmental standards on American automakers.

Can an OBD2 scanner damage your car?

Besides maybe breaking a few pins in the OBD2 port (which is very unlikely), code readers aren’t able to harm major vehicle systems.

Are cheap OBD2 scanners any good?

If you just need a way to review error codes or reset a check engine light, an inexpensive OBD2 scanner will work. The Innova CarScan Advisor 5210 is our pick for the best budget OBD2 scan tool.

How do I choose a reliable OBD2 scanner?

The right OBD2 scanner depends on the vehicle data you’re looking to access and the work a vehicle requires. Expect to pay more if you need to send commands to the vehicle’s system or want features such as a touchscreen.

Are all OBD2 scanners the same?

Most automotive diagnostic tools perform similar functions, like reading codes or sending commands to the vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU). What differentiates products is their ability to clear codes from certain vehicle systems. Additionally, some tools may be meant for older vehicles with OBD1 ports instead of OBD2 connectivity.

How accurate are OBD2 scanners?

The accuracy of an OBD2 scanner depends on the model you buy and the extent of codes it can read. More advanced scanners can read a greater number of codes from different automakers, and perform more functions.

What is a bi-directional scanner?

Bi-directional scanners are capable of reading information and sending commands to another device. OBD2 code readers are one example. They get a live data stream from the car’s OBD2 system, and some can clear problem codes. Examples range from turning off a check engine light to assessing the supplemental restraint system (SRS).

Do OBD2 scanners work on all cars?

The age of the vehicle determines what type of car diagnostic tool it will accept. Vehicles made after 1996 will have OBD2 carports, whereas older models may be equipped with OBD1 ports.

How many types of OBD2 scanners are there?

There are two types of OBD2 scanners: handheld and Bluetooth. Handheld automotive scanners plug into a vehicle’s OBD port and have a screen that displays readings. Wireless car scanners plug into the vehicle’s OBD port but display on a phone or Bluetooth-connected device.

What can an OBD2 scanner do?

OBD2 scanners can display and clear DTC, as well as reset the check engine light on vehicles. More advanced car scanners can run emission tests, run Steering Angle Sensor calibration, run smog tests, provide live data framing, and provide freeze frame data.

Is it okay to leave OBD2 scanners plugged in?

Leaving an OBD2 scanner plugged in will not damage your car. In fact, OBD2 scanners should be plugged in while the car is running to avoid damaging the vehicle’s scanning software. In addition, when the scanner is plugged into the OBD2 port, it draws power from the battery and may drain it if left plugged in for a prolonged period without the car running. We recommend unplugging your OBD2 scanner after you are finished with your diagnosis and clearing any DTC codes.

OBD2 Scanner Reviews: 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 the list to our top picks and provided recommendations for options with different uses and price points.

A team member tested each OBD2 scanner on a 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid, taking note of ease of use and data collection capabilities. 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

Each diagnostic scanner was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on ease of use, speed, compatibility, and value.

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.

How We Score Products

Every OBD2 scanner we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating means an OBD2 scanner is among the best in a category. It has a large, easy-to-use touchscreen, retrieves codes instantaneously, or is compatible with nearly all vehicles (including luxury and rare brands).
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means an OBD2 scanner performs better-than-average in a category. The interface is intuitive, it can retrieve codes in less than 10 seconds, or is compatible with all the most common vehicle makes and models.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for an OBD2 scanner, based on our testing experience. It is easy to use once you learn the menus, can retrieve codes in less than 30 seconds, or is compatible with many, but not all, common makes and models.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the OBD2 scanner performs poorer than average. It is confusing, takes a minute or longer to retrieve codes, and is not compatible with every domestic manufacturer.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the OBD2 scanner performs well below expectations in a category. It does not work as advertised, displays incorrect fault codes, and is compatible with very few vehicles.

Why Trust Motor1.com

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.

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