Should I Buy an OBD2 Scanner?

motorcycle obd scanner

An OBD2 scanner is a great diagnostic tool for assessing a vehicle’s overall health and diagnosing error codes. But is it worth investing in a unit when you can always get your vehicle scanned for free at AutoZone or any other part store? 

Yes, they are worth the investment. For one, having an idea of the problem saves you from getting ripped off. Also, some repairs are straightforward, and the scanner helps narrow down the fault, making the process easy rather than paying an exorbitant price at the dealership. 

Ultimately, the scanner will pay for itself over time. So, instead of worrying whether an OBD2 scanner is a worthwhile investment, you should focus more on factors to consider when buying one and the reliable ones you can buy. 

Factors to Consider when Buying an OBD2 Scanner


The first factor to consider before buying an OBD scanner is to check that it is suitable for your individual needs. You want to check that the scanner is compatible with your vehicle. A universal device is a good idea as you won't be limited to only a particular manufacturer. 

You’ll also need to factor in the purpose of the scan tool. Are you looking to diagnose issues and fix them yourself, or just to get a clue about what your vehicle needs? Buying a professional-grade diagnostic scanner is pointless if you only want to scan for diagnostic codes to get an insight into the problem. 

Device capability

There are several devices on the market with different capabilities. Ranging from bidirectional devices that can diagnose and send commands to vehicle modules to inexpensive code readers that read and clear stored vehicle codes. 

A basic code reader is enough for a regular driver looking to stay on top of potential issues to have some clue about the issue. But a seasoned DIYer looking to handle most of their vehicle repairs will be better off with a scan tool with more functionalities than the basic scanner. 

Software updates 

Most manufacturers provide software updates for their tools to include support for newer vehicles. Firstly, you need to verify that the product you are buying gets software updates from time to time to improve the device. You also want to check whether the update is free or requires payment. 

Generally, most basic or DIY-focused scanners get free updates. Professional-grade scanners usually require payments — often yearly subscriptions — to get access to the latest software. So, before buying, you need to ensure that the manufacturer provides routine updates to improve support for new vehicles.

Reliable Entry-Level and Professional-Grade OBD2 Scanners 

The internet has told everyone how helpful car scanners are in tackling vehicle problems. But choosing a reliable scanner from the host of device on the market can be overwhelming. 

ANCEL is one brand that have proven reliable over the years. The company has a broad range of diagnostic tools, including OBD2 code readers for regular DIYers and professionals. Their V6 Pro is a top of the line scanner designed for professional mechanics while the AD410 is an inexpensive scanner designed for regular drivers. 

ANCEL AD410 OBD2 Scanner 

The ANCEL AD410 is a budget scanner under $100, suitable for all 1996 or newer model-year vehicles sold in the United States. Apart from reading and erasing error codes, the unit has a built-in diagnostic code library for retrieving code definitions. 

The unit also has an I/M Readiness monitor to test if your vehicle is ready for emission testing. The Live Data segment displays the operation graph of the different sensors. It also has freeze frame data, which shows pre-recorded parameters captured during systems failure. 

The device can also perform oxygen sensors and EVAP system testing to detect leaks in the EVAP system. But not all vehicles support the EVAP test. 

The unit has five buttons — up and down buttons for navigation, enter and exit buttons, and an I/M Readiness button for quick access to the readiness test. Unlike the entry-level ANCEL AD310, this device features a more colorful LCD display. It also supports eight languages and has free lifetime software updates. 


The ANCEL V6 Pro is a professional-grade diagnostic tool for mechanics. It differs from basic scan tools as it can run a full vehicle diagnostic. So, whether you want to read your engine, transmission, airbags, battery, air conditioning, anti-lock braking, steering angle sensors, door lock, body, or tire diagnostic code, the ANCEL V6 Pro is up to the task. 

The scanner offers bidirectional controls, which allow the system to send commands to test vehicle modules and can be used to reset, reprogram, or code the modules. It has a Bluetooth dongle for a wireless VCI connection and a USB cable for a wired connection. 

When diagnosing vehicles, you can either allow the device auto-detect the make and model or manually select it. The scanner is powered by an 8000mAh rechargeable battery, features an 8.0’ touchscreen display, and runs on Android 10 operating system. 

The device also comes with a charger for recharging the device. It also has a rear camera for taking pictures and recording videos and supports up to 32 GB of additional storage. The scanner also supports eleven languages and comes with two years of free updates. 

A quick comparison between ANCEL’s top of the line V6 Pro and entry level AD410



Engine code reader

All system diagnostic scanner

Beginner friendly

Has some complex functionalities

Suitable for regular drivers and average DIYer

Best for mechanics and dealerships

Buttons for navigation

8’0 touchscreen display

Live data readings

Live data readings

Plug and play system

Battery powered

Supports only cable connection

Supports Bluetooth and cable connection

Cannot program keys

Key programming

Cost under $100

Cost over $500

Supports eight languages 

Supports eleven languages

Lifetime software updates

Two years of free updates

Final Thoughts

A car scanner is a device that every driver must have regardless of whether you make your vehicle repairs yourself or not. Running a quick scan on your system gives an insight into the source of the problem and also arms you with adequate information when dealing with mechanics.

And there are entry-level OBD scanners that costs under $100. But you want to ensure that the system is compatible with your vehicle, has the capability of diagnosing your issue and gets software updates from time to time. 

ANCEL’s AD410 scanner is one of such inexpensive ane beginner friendly device. They also have the V6 Pro for professional mechanics and other broad range of diagnostic tools.

What is the Best Code Reader for Vehicles Where to Buy OBD2 Scanner