What to Look For In an OBD2 Scanner

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An OBD2 scanner is crucial when your Check Engine light comes on. This article is for you if you are considering buying an OBD2 scanner. We will help you understand what to look for when choosing an OBD2 scanner. A personal OBD2 scanner on your sleeve will save you the shock when CEL suddenly comes on.

If you bought your car after 1996, it is fitted with an onboard computer called OBD2. OBD refers to onboard diagnostics that connect the machine to your vehicle’s computer system. Today, various brands have flocked to the market, some claiming to offer better diagnostics than the rest, but what do you look for before buying an OBD2 scanner?

3 Types of OBD-II Scanners

Before we look deeper into what to look for, you must learn the available types to determine your vehicle's requirements. This will help you find the best-suited OBD-II scanner for your own or professional use.

  • Basic code readers: As the name suggests, this tool is basic. Once you plug it into the vehicle’s OBD-II port, it will present the codes on your vehicle's issues. What is a Vehicle Code Reader? You further need to find other resources to understand what the code means. Basic code readers are the most basic and cheapest in the market.
  • DIY Scanners: Local mechanics and frequent car users or those who own a fleet of vehicles may need DIY scanners for varying uses. These are more advanced compared to basic scanners. DIY scanner fetches the code and tells you what the code means. If you prefer self-repair, have this tool on your sleeve unless the issues get out of hand. Additionally, a DIY scanner directs you to the exact issue and recommends the most viable solution. These scanners can further connect to mobile devices for convenient data access.
  • Professional scanners: High-end auto repair shops and vehicle dealerships invest in professional OBD-II scanners. You will also get these tools at vehicle manufacturing and assembling plants. OBD-II professional scanners are the size of a tablet. It gives you multiple options on potential issues that could be the cause of that error code. This is the most expensive scanner in the market, and most are used on heavy-duty trucks.

Features of high-end OBD-II scanners

Live feed: The scanner displays all information on the current working state of the vehicle. It gives you precise real-time information on anything out of the ordinary.

ABS and air bad control: High-end device functions detect airbags and anti-lock braking systems and may reset these functions.

Printing: A high-end scanner can print your scan results into physical copies.

Storage and data logging: Professional OBD-II scanners store scanning information for later use. The information is needed to analyze the car’s past performance.

What to look for when Buying OBD-II Scanner

There are several factors to consider when choosing the suitable OBD2 scanner for your car. Here are the main ones;

What level of functionality do you expect

The first question to ask yourself is what function you intend the tool to play. Is it a high model or a basic one? The functions of a basic code reader are limited. You only get the code. Nonetheless, it is an excellent tool when operating on a budget. Nevertheless, check that the code reader is compatible with your vehicles.

Relevant:What is a Car Diagnostic Scanner

If you are looking for high-end models with advanced solutions and increased safety for the driver, go for professional scanners. These are advanced features compatible with most vehicles for advanced code searches.

Best Professional Car Scanner

Option for model upgrade

Lower-scale OBD-II scanners have no option for upgrades. Unless you are strict on budget, we recommend you choose a higher-end model with options for future updates. Even so, you will spend more money on the initial purchase, but later the model will give you incredible bargaining power when upgrading.

Vehicle technology is changing rapidly. Electric vehicle sales are rising today and may need a different OBD-II scanning system. Additionally, other diagnostic features have an update option through smart devices. The app needs constant updating to receive additional features.

Compatibility with your car

Before spending your hard-earned cash on an OBD-II reader, it is important to understand whether it fits your car model in the first place. You will find at least five OBD-II scanners in the market, which differ in their signal processing procedure. Here are the top three scanners in the market to choose from.

PC-based scanners. A PC automatic scanner works once it connects to a PC. It has no internal power supply. A scanner is an essential tool for troubleshooting issues in your automobile.

Bluetooth scanners. As the name suggests, Bluetooth scanners connect to your smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth connectivity. The Bluetooth scanners connect to computers and help detect, notify, and troubleshoot sensor issues you face.

Handheld scanners. Handheld scanners are the most common automatic scanning devices in the auto repair market. They are popular among professionals and local mechanics. A handheld scanner has an attached screen that helps you check the engine, brakes, and vehicle transmission system. When buying the machine, check for an independent power supply and an additional battery pack.

Consider the brand

There are many OBD-II scanners in the market today. When buying these tools, you cannot risk taking chances. The auto repair industry has outstanding industry leaders who manufacture top-notch scanners with proven quality over the years. One of the leading manufacturers is Ancel. Your mechanic will suggest it if they have used it before. The reviews online are also incredible.

Size of the equipment

 Another factor to look out for when buying an OBD-II scanner is the equipment size. Every scanner comes with a range of complexity. Going with a Bluetooth OBD-II scanner will be the perfect solution if you are looking for a small and handy tool.

This tool is wireless and will comfortably fit in your pocket. A handheld scanner would sound more professional for professional diagnostics for an auto repair shop or car dealership. These are bulkier and require additional equipment. Further, they have extra features, which is why they are more expensive.


After these factors, you will know what to look for when buying an OBD-II scanner, and you will not rely on a mechanic whenever your Check Engine Light goes on. Nevertheless, if you are still determining where to buy original OBD-II scanners at the best price, visit the Ancel website, and you will find the right scanner.

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