There’s no need to go into a panic when the Check Engine Light comes on! For ease of diagnostics and troubleshooting, automotive scanners have been a real godsend for mechanics and technicians. This is a quick listing of some of the best handheld scanners around for DIYers and professional technicians both.
1. Donop Professional U480 CAN OBD2 OBD II Car Diagnostic Scanner Engine Code Reader Tool, $14.00
This basic OBDII scanner is great for retrieving code information on post-1996 American and Asian vehicles, with an accurate and readable display and no need for batteries. It’s a stand-alone unit that has doesn’t require a laptop connection. While it can’t perform some of the more complex diagnostics of pricier units, it’s great for DIY mechanics.
2. iKKEGOL® v2.1 Bluetooth Mini Small Interface OBD2 Scanner Adapter Compatible with Android / Droid Torque, $10.99
Simple and inexpensive, this unit uses a wireless connection to communicate with your tablet or Android phone - the device alone can perform the diagnostics. Compliant with OBDII protocols, this scanner gives live engine data and connects to the vehicle’s ECU to retrieve fault codes and clear the Check Engine light.
3. INNOVA 3160 Diagnostic Scan Tool with ABS/SRS and Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles, $199.99
Innova’s ABS + Scan tool is a pro-level product that diagnoses ABS codes, transmission trouble codes, and more. It provides detailed explanations of the trouble codes displayed on its all-in-one screen.
4. iSaddle WIFI Wireless OBD2 OBDII Scan Tool Auto Scanner, $22.99
Similar to the IKKEGOL scanner mentioned above, the iSaddle is a Bluetooth interface for OBD-II systems. This scanner is also compatible with Windows and iOS iPhone systems, and comes with a CD for device drivers.
5. ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth: Professional OBD-II Scan Tool for Android & Windows, $79.95
The ScanTool 426101 uses Bluetooth to connect with your Android phone, and also can serve as a trip computer, logger, and real-time performance monitor. It’s also a reliable diagnostic scan tool. It’s especially useful in tracking down and diagnosing intermittent problems in real-time, which can otherwise be tricky to nail.
6. OBDLink SX USB: Professional OBD-II Scan Tool for Windows, $29.95
A long-time industry standard, the OBDLink SX connects to your tablet or laptop via a USB port, giving you trouble code information and links to an online database detailing trouble code descriptions.
7. INNOVA 3040 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader with Live Data for OBD2 Vehicles, $81.78
For a mid-priced scanner, you can’t go wrong with the INNOVA 3040. Unlike many other OBD-II vehicles, the INNOVA 3040 refreshes its information every 30 seconds, making false positive diagnosis less likely.
8. INNOVA 3030 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader, $56.99
For entry level or medium-skilled techs and owners, the INNOVA 3030 refreshes data every 30 seconds and displays 25 pieces of information and performance parameters at a time, giving a better picture of performance than just a simple trouble code reading.
9. INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader with ABS and Battery Backup, $99.99
More versatile and advanced than other INNOVA products mentioned here, the INNOVA 3100 helps read and erase ABS light trouble codes in GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota applications, and provides an all-in-one screen and LED display for state emissions compliance and drive cycle verification.
10. Autel MaxiScan MS300 CAN Diagnostic Scan Tool for OBDII Vehicles, $14.33
Don’t be fooled by the low price…the Autel MaxiScan MS300 is a sturdy and modern device that can be used to retrieve VIN number information on 2002 and newer vehicles, and supports CAN protocols, as well as all OBD-II protocols. It also features a complete list of trouble code definitions and a simple two-button operation to read and clear trouble codes.
Whether you’re a shade-tree tech, journeyman, or pro-level mechanic, there are lots of choices out there on the market if you’re looking for a scanner or code reader device. We hope this helps narrow down your decision!