Proper diagnosis and maintenance of your car are vital for enhancing its reliability and extending durability. Costly maintenance is a cumbersome burden for private car owners. Car scan tools are inevitable investments that allow drivers, mechanics, and automotive enthusiasts to troubleshoot errors and failures that limit car performance. These tools are compatible with onboard diagnostics systems (OBD) that monitor different features of the vehicle.
The automotive scan tools market features different brands with varying technical capabilities and pricing. How do you go about identifying the best scan tools for personal use? Here is a brief breakdown.
What is an automotive scan tool?
An automotive scan tool is a diagnostic tool used to interface with a vehicle's onboard diagnostics (OBD) system. This allows the user to read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), as well as view, live data streams from various sensors in the vehicle. Automotive scan tools come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, but most are handheld devices that connect to the vehicle via a cable.
Today, most vehicles on the road are equipped with some form of OBD system, and automotive scan tools have become an essential tool for many professional mechanics and do-it-yourselfers alike. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a complete novice, having a good automotive scan tool in your arsenal can save you a lot of time and headaches when trying to diagnose and fix vehicle problems.
What are the different types of automotive scan tools?
There are a few different types of automotive scan tools on the market, each with its own set of features and capabilities. The most basic type of scanner is known as an OBD I/M reader, which is designed specifically for reading and clearing diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). These scanners are relatively simple to use and are typically very affordable, making them a good choice for budget-minded individuals.
More advanced automotive scan tools, such as the ones made by Autel and Launch Tech USA, offer a wide range of features and capabilities. These higher-end scanners can be used to read and clear DTCs, as well as view, live data streams from various sensors in the vehicle. They can also be used to perform a variety of other diagnostic and troubleshooting tasks, such as resetting the check engine light or checking for fuel mixture issues. Some of the more advanced automotive scan tools even come with built-in databases that allow you to look up specific trouble codes and their possible causes.
No matter what type of automotive scan tool you choose, it's important to make sure that it's compatible with your vehicle. Most scanners on the market today are designed to work with a wide range of vehicles, but there are still some that are only compatible with certain makes and models. Be sure to check the compatibility list before making your purchase to ensure that the scanner will work with your car.
Do you need an automotive scan tool?
If you own a car, truck, or SUV, then the answer is most likely yes. An automotive scan tool can be a useful tool for diagnosing and repairing problems with your vehicle. It can also be used to simply read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs).
What to consider when choosing the automotive scan tool?
There are many different brands and models of automotive scan tools on the market, so it's important to choose one that is compatible with your vehicle and meets your specific needs. Here are some things to consider when choosing an automotive scan tool:
- Vehicle compatibility: Make sure the scan tool you choose is compatible with your vehicle. Most scan tools will work with multiple vehicles makes and models, but there are some that are specific to certain brands or models.
- Diagnostic capabilities: The most basic scan tools can only read and clear DTCs, but more advanced versions can also provide live data streams, perform bi-directional tests, and allow you to reprogram vehicle control modules.
- Price: Automotive scan tools can range in price from around $100 to over $1,000. Choose one that fits your budget but also has the features you need.
Once you've chosen an automotive scan tool, be sure to read the instructions carefully before using it on your vehicle. This will help you get the most out of the tool and avoid any potential damage to your vehicle.
List of best automotive scan tools
Autel Scanner MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Scanner
An advanced scanning device capable of diagnosing 85 different models of cars. It reads engine control module, transmission control module, power control module, ABS, and ordinary engine codes. The scanner displays real-time diagnostic data as the driver continues troubleshooting failures. It generates detailed reports and contains buttons that facilitate quicker car repairs.
LAUNCH CRP129E OBD2 Scan Tool
It is an affordable scan tool that is compatible with 57 vehicle brands. The scanner tracks up diverse data streams and can display diagnostic results of up to 10 car features. Drivers can perform oil resets, voltage tests, steering calibration and other feature reset using the maintenance tools of the device.
Actron CP9690 Elite OBD2 AutoScanner
This scan tool reads OBD1 and OBD2 car codes. They are vital for diagnosing old car models. It is easy to underrate the capabilities of this scanner owing to its simple design. It captures data from over 300 sensors and can generate comprehensive troubleshooting reports.
Autel ML629 OBD2 Scanner
It is a scaled-down, more affordable version of the Autel scanner earlier described. This version has limited functionalities but still enables drivers to troubleshoot a wide range of car issues. It accommodates software updates that enable it to improve diagnosis speed.
BlueDriver Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool
One of the most innovative car scan tools in the market compatible with handheld smartphone devices. The device connects with a mobile app and allows drivers to diagnose any vehicle brand. The scan tool is interconnected to an advanced database and generates extensive reports, guiding mechanics through the repair process.
OBDeleven Pro Diagnostic Scan Tool
It is another easy-to-use diagnostic tool that uses Bluetooth technology to facilitate the troubleshooting of car failures. It is popular among Audi and Volkswagen car owners. It performs several diagnostic tests and permits access to original manufacturer repair menus. A competitively priced tool that enables users to reset a variety of car codes.
Autel MaxiCOM MK908 Bi-Directional Diagnostic Scan Tool
A professional car scan tool that works perfectly diagnoses more than 80 vehicle brands. The sophisticated device reads error codes from any sensor on the car. It has advanced maintenance functions to assist professional mechanics to repair cars. The scanner has wireless capabilities and can perform remote diagnosis from 755 feet away.
Launch X431 V+ Bi-Directional Scanner
Another professional scan tool that converts several error codes to repair reports. The scanner has 24 language options and works with virtually any car model.
How to use the automotive scanner?
First, you need to purchase an automotive scanner. You can find these at most auto parts stores or online. Once you have your scanner, simply connect it to your vehicle's diagnostic port. This is usually located under the dash on the driver's side. Once connected, turn on the scanner and follow the prompts to run a scan.
Most scanners will give you a readout of any trouble codes that are present in your vehicle's computer system. These codes can tell you what is wrong with your car and help you troubleshoot the problem. In some cases, you may be able to fix the problem yourself. However, if the code indicates a more serious issue, it is best to take your car to a mechanic or dealer for further diagnosis and repairs.
Car scan tools are becoming necessary as vehicles advance and incorporate newer technologies. You can purchase a scanner for home use or professional services. Always verify the compatibility of the scan tool with the vehicle’s OBD. Check the warranty conditions and software support required for every car scan tool before purchase.
Why do the prices of car scan tools vary?
The cost of the scan tool depends on its technical capabilities. Some scanners work with a limited number of car brands, while others serve a bigger market. Scanners with more features are costlier.
What does an OBD2 scanner do?
The core function of the OBD2 scanner is to read engine codes. Most scanners have inbuilt OBD2 capabilities.