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 detailed feature explanations scored 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 scored 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 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 Stars: 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.
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*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.