These are the best automotive diagnostic scanners for sale on the market this year. The best automotive diagnostic scanner gives you a diagnosis of the car’s problems before you go to the mechanic, and you don’t have to be a mechanic to figure out how to use it.
It requires few if any additional tools to use and doesn’t have a manual thicker than the car’s user’s guide that you didn’t read.
The best automotive diagnostic scanner costs less than the trip to the mechanic and gives you actionable diagnostic codes so you can tell the mechanic what the problem is, for those times you do need the expert’s assistance.
Scroll down for reviews on top rated diagnostic scanners for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs including Actron vs BAFX vs ScanTool.
Actron CP9125 PocketScan Code Reader
This automatic diagnostic scanner is designed for the non-mechanic. It can ask the car’s computer what is wrong and give you a diagnostic code’s meaning. The device can even clear the trouble code if you fix the problem, like tightening the gas cap or replacing a spark plug.
The tool is compatible with virtually every car on the market, American and foreign, as long as the car was made after 1995. Better yet, the code reader’s software can be updated, so it will work with the cars you might buy in the future.
BAFX Products – Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool
This tool can find out why the check engine light is on and translate the car’s error codes into something you can work with, even able to interpret manufacturer specific error codes as long as the vehicle was made after 1995.
It is cheaper than most other diagnostic tools. You can track data like O2 sensor readings and other performance information using this device, useful data for a mechanic if you have to take the car into the shop.
The only downside of this diagnostic device is that it only works with Android smart phones if you install an additional app and connects automatically with Windows PCs. This is not the right diagnostic tool for Apple users.
ScanTool OBDLink MX Bluetooth
This scan tool lets you turn a smartphone or personal computer into an advanced automotive diagnostic tool. It has a free Android app if you don’t want to use professional grade apps like Dash Command.
This OBD diagnostic scanner works with both Android smart phones and Windows devices. It doesn’t work with iPhones, and it doesn’t work with hybrid or electric vehicles.
For those who work with standard cars and can’t work without a smart phone, this is a great automotive diagnostic scanner to have.
Actron CP9575 AutoScanner
This scanner costs more than many other diagnostic scanners, but it can do much more than the competitors. Not only does it read diagnostic codes from the car’s computer, it can capture live engine data like oxygen sensor levels and RPMs.
It can generate freeze frame data and track the OBD-II drive cycle. It rivals the tools the mechanic would break out to diagnose the root cause – and you can get it for less than two hundred dollars.
This Auto Scanner can read all generic engine codes and manufacturer specific codes, 15,000 in all. Most other scanners have the few hundred standard codes or the three thousand most common ones.
This automotive diagnostic scanner can upload the data to the internet if you want to post the information on a forum for advice or email it to the car dealer for their opinion.
Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus
While this is the most expensive auto scanner on the list, it is easily equivalent to what most auto mechanics have. In that regard, the cost can be considered an investment in avoiding unnecessary auto shop visits or excessive repairs.
This auto-scanner has pretty much every diagnostic code in existence in its database. It has generic codes and manufacturer’s error codes for every make and model of vehicle that has computer codes for the engine’s errors.
It works with both OBD-II and CAN vehicles, and the software can be updated as new vehicles and error codes come out.
The tool can connect to a knowledge base with the most likely solutions based on the error codes your car is generating via the “CodeConnect” button.
This alone lets you know whether or not you actually have to take it into the shop, and you’ll avoid the problem of a mechanic fixing three items in the hope of eliminating the error message. You can buy it with or without a protective hard case.
This is the best automotive diagnostic scanner for someone who wants to maintain their own vehicles as much as possible or to avoid being ripped off by yet another mechanic.
Originally posted 2014-10-02 12:42:08. Updated and Republished.