The Best OBD2 Scanner of 2019

After ten weeks of research, testing and comparing
features, then consulting with a local expert diagnostic technician, we picked the BlueDriver
as the best OBD2 scanner. The BlueDriver app and adapter combo has better
compatibility with systems like ABS and airbags than anything else under $100, and unlike
some scanners you won’t have to guess about what apps and cars it will work with. Now, this review wasn’t sponsored, and we
bought all of these scanners ourselves. We set out to find the best value for a car
enthusiast who just wants to know why that warning light came on. We found three top picks: one for advanced
smartphone scanning, one for no-fuss diagnostic work and one for teaching your car new tricks. So, what is OBD2 anyway? There’s a lot going on under the hood of your
car, and an on-board diagnostic scanner can give you a look at the data from the essential
systems. Every car sold in the US after 1996 has included
an on-board diagnostic computer system that works with the OBD2 standard. If you live in a state that requires a “smog
check,” OBD2 is the system they’re plugging into to make sure your engine is running the
way it should. If the computer sees a failure in an essential
system, it records the information and turns on your dashboard’s “malfunction indicator
lamp” – the check engine light. So, an OBD scanner, even the super-cheap ones,
can show you that “fault code” to tell you what triggered a check engine light. Most scanners can even show you the “freeze
frame” of what was going on with your car’s systems when that problem popped up. More advanced scanners will also show you
readouts of your engine’s systems in real time, either numerically or as a graph. Once you get above the $100 range, scanners
start to do other stuff, too, like checking manufacturer-specific airbag and braking systems
that aren’t included in the basic OBD system. So, what’s the deal with Bluetooth scanners? The latest trend in diagnostic tools is to
skip the standalone hardware and use a bluetooth adapter to send the car’s data stream wirelessly
to a smartphone or tablet. Just make sure the adapter you buy is compatible
with your device and the app you want to use. Some smartphone apps can do cool tricks that
standalone scanners can’t, like showing a virtual dashboard or logging performance on
a map. So, we bought seven standalone plug-in scanners
and four Bluetooth adapters. Here’s a list of the best OBD-II scanners: The best Bluetooth scan adapters to get data
into your smartphone are: #1 – Lemur – Bluedriver #2 – Carista – Bluetooth OBD2 Adapter #3 – Veepeak – OBDcheck BLE #4 – BAFX – 34t5 For standalone scanners that work all by themselves
we picked: #1 – Launch – CReader V+ #2 – Foxwell – NT301 #3 – Launch – CReader 4001 #4 – Innova – 3030g2 #5 – Autel – AutoLink AL319 #6 – Ancel – AD310 #7 – Autel – MaxiScan MS300 We tracked down three specific systems we
could unplug to make our test car’s computer generate a consistent set of error codes. Then we plugged in each scanner to see if
it could read and clear that warning. First, we unplugged an O2 sensor to confuse
the emissions monitoring system and generate a generic check engine light. Next, we unplugged a braking system fuse to
throw off the ABS computer. And finally, we unplugged the weight sensor
cables under the passenger seat to get an airbag warning code. The first basic emissions code was easy for
all of the scanners to catch, it’s a system that OBD2 was built around. The other two codes are specialized systems
that use manufacturer-specific programming, and we could only reset them with the more
sophisticated BlueDriver app. This video is just a quick look at our favorites
out of the 12 scanners we tested, if you want to look at results from all of our tests and
compare some of the other models, head over to our full review on Our top pick overall is BlueDriver from
a little company called Lemur. We were a bit skeptical when we first started
seeing reviews of the BlueDriver, it’s unheard of for a $100 scanner to have all of these
features (you normally wouldn’t see these codes without a $2-300 scan tool). It is right at the top of the price range
for this lineup of affordable scanners, but if you need to scan ABS and Airbag systems
it’s a bargain. Now, BlueDriver can’t read every system on
every car, so make sure to check the compatibility list on their website before you buy for a
specific job, but the list of systems it will read is downright impressive. Some other scanners only list vague compatibility
ranges. We were pretty frustrated that the Innova
didn’t read our test car’s ABS codes, but the BlueDriver list was precise and accurate. The fact that BlueDriver app gets regular
updates makes it more future-proof than most other scanners. The app is free, too, so you won’t need to
pay to unlock advanced features or if you borrow the hardware from a friend. What about downsides? Sure enough, even this wonder-scanner isn’t
perfect. We loved the interface overall, but the graph
readout takes some tweaking to make it really useful. Doing a complete scan is pretty slow, too. BlueDriver’s adapter also doesn’t connect
to other apps for stuff like mapping. That’s kind of annoying, though it’s nice
to have the adapter and app working together seamlessly. OK, we know that some of you hate the idea
of relying on a smartphone or iPad to work on cars, so we also recommend the Launch – CReader
V+. We didn’t find any standalone models in our
$100 budget that could read all the extra systems that BlueDriver can, but
for less than fifty bucks the CReader reads basic OBD codes without any extra complications. The feature that really sets this scanner
apart is that it has the best real-time graph display. We like the customizability of BlueDriver’s
interface, but the CReader graph just gives you the data you need with no tweaking. The V+ also connects to a few other systems,
like mode 6 and the fuel evaporation system test. The cheaper model from Launch is nearly the
same in every other way, but for about $10 more we think it’s worth having the
extra systems. The CReader’s interface isn’t as polished
as the BlueDriver app, but there’s no doubting that it’s a reliable tool at a good price. Now if there’s nothing wrong with your car
and you’re more of a power user than a mechanic, the Carista app and adapter combo are worth
taking a look at, maybe even in addition to the CReader or BlueDriver. Carista’s app includes basic OBD2 scanning,
but mostly it gives you control of some of the programmed features of your car’s control
systems. So, for example, we can makes Cara’s windows
and sunroof open from the remote like this: Carista isn’t really a diagnostic tool as
much as a key to the hidden secrets of your car’s features. This is also probably the easiest way to reset
those pesky oil change lights on newer cars, but check for compatibility if that’s on your
wish list. We were also a fan of the Carista adapter’s
price: last year it was $40, but at the new $20 price, it’s the best way to get into specialized
Android and iOS apps. This means you can use good diagnostic apps
like OBD fusion and Torque, so it’s definitely our pick for a multi-purpose Bluetooth adapter. But then, the flaws. Apps like Carista and other diagnostic apps
have subscription or unlock fees for advanced functions, so it’s not just a $20 adapter
you’ll be paying for. If you work on a bunch of different cars BlueDriver’s
one-time purchase will probably be cheaper. (Bluedriver also had better compatibility
than those apps in our tests.) Also note, the Carista app is supposed to work
with other bluetooth hardware in addition to their own, but it only worked with one
other Android-only adapter we tested. Not a huge deal now that their adapter is $20,
but if you’ve already got a different adapter that works fine with other apps it’s a bummer. So, those are our three picks for OBD2 scanners. If you want to see more details about compatibility and pricing check out our full write-up on Don’t forget to like and subscribe, and sign up for our email list if you don’t want to miss out on our
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