Having an OBD II scanner can save you a lot of hassle and a lot of money. Instead of needing to take your vehicle into the shop every time the check engine light comes on, you can simply diagnose the problem yourself.
Especially if you have some skills of your own when it comes to working on cars, an OBD II scanner can really be a big help.
So if you’re a vehicle owner but don’t already have a good, solid ODB 2 scanner, then it’s time to get one.
But since there’s such a variety of options out on the market these days in a wide array of price ranges, this guide will help narrow it down to just one that you can keep on hand and use for years on your vehicle, or the vehicle of a friend of family member in need.
What Exactly Does an ODB II Scanner Do?
Modern vehicles have in-built OBD II systems to monitor the vehicles performance and be able to check for and diagnose issues. This system triggers the CEL (check engine light) when one of its sensors detects a problem.
An OBD II scanner or code reader connects to the vehicle’s OBD II system and identifies the issue through DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes). Each issue has a corresponding DTC, often allowing you to diagnose your problem on the spot.
However, some specific issues can’t be diagnosed by the code reader. In this case, you might get an error code that suggests a suspected issue and you will then need to go and check the components yourself or take your car into the shop to find out exactly what’s wrong.
What is the Best OBD II Scanner You Can Buy?
For at home use, you probably don’t need to spend a fortune on your code reader. Unless you work at an auto shop, there’s no need to go overboard and shell out for the fanciest and most expensive model on the market.
With that said, a good mid-range model will probably be the best choice for you. Here are some excellent options to choose from.
Ancel AD310 OBD II Scanner
This is a very good, dependable option that offers a great value for the price. Its low price tag makes it accessible for just about anyone, and it has a durable build quality that should last a very long time.
This universal OBD code reader works with domestic vehicles from all manufacturers, as well as models from the following countries:
As you can see, this does not include Japanese models, so be sure to check for compatibility with your vehicle and those you intend to use this device with the most.
The Ancel AD310 does not require to be powered externally or through a battery. It draws power when connected to your vehicle, making it convenient to take with you anywhere and not worry about whether you can turn it on or not.
Although it’s not comprehensive, the AD310 comes with plenty of functionality for the average user. It includes:
- CEL testing
- I/M monitor testing
- Viewable DTC history
- Read hard memory
- Screen freeze framing
- Pending / intermittent memory reading
- Definition of DTCs
Overall, it’s an excellent option for its price range.
Ancel AD530 OBD II Scanner
The AD530 is a more powerful model, with all the capabilities of the AD310 and more. It does, however, cost a bit more than the AD310.
The first thing you’ll notice about the AD530 is its large and relatively high quality screen. Most OBD II code readers have the most basic screen possible, but part of what you’re paying for with this one is an upgraded display, so that’s nice for people who plan on using one of these more than once in a great while.
Next, the AD530 offers quite a lot of functions. This includes being able to determine the VIN number of the vehicle it’s connected to, and several other added features, like:
- EVAP system diagnostics
- O2 sensor checks
- Live graphical data
- Ability to reset monitor
- On-board monitoring
All of this is in addition to the basic features offered by the AD310. And like the AD310, it’s a universal OBD II scanner with support for certain manufacturer-specific DTCs.
All in all, the Ancel AD530 is an ideal mid-range option with a good balance of features for price.
Ancel BD200 Bluetooth OBD II Scanner
Last on our list for today is a cordless scanner that you can use via Bluetooth. This is a really convenient option since you don’t have to worry about things like cord length or positioning to view the OBD2 scanner screen.
You can simply view all of the relevant data on your own smart phone device, allowing you to store the information directly on your phone.
It includes full OBD 2 functionality that is comparable to that of the AD530 model. This means it can do everything that the other models in this list can do but also has the convenient feature of Bluetooth connectivity. It even includes some additional performance tests, such as:
- PID chart with RPM
- ECT, & more
The trip analysis can feed real-time data from the car into your smart phone. That way you can have status updates during a long road trip that indicates everything you might want to keep an eye on, like coolant temperature, distance travelled, and more.
Altogether, this is an impressive and highly useful device that brings the convenience of modern technology right into your vehicle.
Having and OBD2 scanner for your vehicle is extremely convenient if the check engine light ever comes on. It’s also a good idea to periodically check on your vehicle and see if any pending codes come up. This will give you a good idea about the health of various systems in the vehicle and whether or not they need maintenance to prevent issues from arising in the first place.
Choose one of the options from this list and you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ll never have any surprises with your vehicle and that it will always be in good working order.