We tested each of the OBD2 scanners on a 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Our testers downloaded the companion app and connected the scanner to the vehicle. We tried out each of the features available. We used apps on an Android phone, though most scanners also have iOS apps.
While testing, we evaluated each Bluetooth OBD2 scanner based on ease of use, app quality, data collection capabilities, and value.
Ease of Use
An OBD2 scanner shouldn’t be a mystery to decipher and the best diagnostic tools are usable not only by the professional mechanic. OBD2 scanners with straightforward instructions and intuitive interfaces scored best in this category.
Every OBD2 Bluetooth scanner operates as a wireless device that connects to a smartphone or tablet. To interface with the scanner, you must launch an application. The more user-friendly the app, the better the automotive scanner.
Many OBD2 Bluetooth scanners are nearly identical, with the companion app defining the quality of the product. Scanners with useful functions and well-designed apps that don’t crash scored the highest in this category.
Data Collection Capabilities
Some scanners can only read check engine lights, while others provide advanced diagnostics for ABS and SRS systems. OBD2 scanners with more features scored best in this category.
Our value score is based on the relationship between a device’s scores in other categories and its total cost. An OBD2 scanner with fewer features may be a better buy for some users if it’s less expensive, especially if you don’t intend to use advanced diagnostics features and only need to clear check engine lights.
How We Score Bluetooth OBD2 Scanners
Every Bluetooth 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 a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner is among the best in a category. It can retrieve codes with the push of a button, offers an easy-to-use app that never crashes, or includes many advanced diagnostic features like manufacturer-specific DTCs, emissions testing, and reprogramming features.
- 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner performs better-than-average in a category. It retrieves codes quickly with a couple of button pushes, has a user-friendly app, or includes some advanced diagnostic features.
- 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner, based on our testing experience. It can effectively read most engine fault codes, has a functioning app, or includes live data and emissions testing but few other advanced diagnostic functions.
- 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the Bluetooth OBD2 scanner performs poorer than average. It is difficult to use, has a poorly designed app, or provides unreliable DTC retrieval.
- 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the Bluetooth OBD2 scanner performs well below expectations in a category. It does not work, has a bug-filled app, or fails to provide even basic engine codes.
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*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.