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OBD2 Scan Tools and Code Readers

June 17th, 2015 · No Comments

OBDII (On Board Diagnostics – second implementation) is a system installed in all modern vehicles whereby you can connect a code reader to the vehicle and get diagnostic information.  Sometimes it will identify a faulty part exactly, sometimes it will identify a problem and you will need to trace it back to the cause, it can also be used to get information on how well the car is running.

Basic OBDII code readers will read your trouble codes and give you that basic information, many of these will also allow you to clear the codes.  Better OBDII  code scanners can give you more detailed information such as real time data, readiness monitor status, memory and manufacturer specific codes.  The amount of information and the usefullness of your scanner will depend on the type you purchase.

I’ve spent too much time driving up to an auto parts store or a repair shop when I needed to read my OBDII codes, so I decided to get my own OBDII scan tool.  There are several different manufacturers; as with any tool purchase, quality will likely be affected by the brand you choose.  There are two different kinds of scanners you can get, self contained handhelds and computer/tablet/phone software based tools with hardware interfaces.  Below I will briefly describe a few of these that I have seen and what I eventually chose.

Dedicated Hardware OBDII Diagnostic Code Scan Tools

I was considering one of the handheld models, I liked the Actron brand and considered them to be one of the best. I was looking at this one because it had a variety of enhanced features such as memory, update capable that I thought would be useful.

Actron CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus
http://amzn.to/1Ral2Uk
B008ZDYLC2

Actron ODBII CP9580A Enhanced AutoScanner Plus

A less expensive Actron device is this one, which is an easy to use basic reader

Actron CP9575 AutoScanner
http://amzn.to/1GglaLV
B003IOKPLO

Actron CP9575 AutoScanner

Software ODBII Scan Tools and OBDII Adapters

A friend of mine had gotten this scanner and I was able to try it out briefly.  Although I didn’t get to spend much time with this particular tool, I was impressed, I think the software layout is one of the best in the tablet market, the interfaces is probably one of the better ones too.  The drawbacks are that the OBDLink software only works with OBDLink adapters, and they are more expensive than the other adapters.

There are three versions of the ScanTool ODBII Diagnostic adapter, a Wi-Fi version that works with iOS, Android and Windows; a Bluetooth version that works with Android only; and another Bluetooth version that works with Android and Windows.

 

Red ScanTool OBDLink MX Wi-Fi: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for iOS, Android & Windows
http://amzn.to/1RajGJk
B00OCYXTYY

 

ScanTool OBDLink MX Wi-Fi: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for iOS, Android & Windows

 

Green ScanTool 427201 OBDLink LX Bluetooth: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for Android & Windows
http://amzn.to/1HUJYPf
B00H9S71LW

Black ScanTool 426101 OBDLink MX Bluetooth: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for Android & Windows
http://amzn.to/1Rajj1c
B006NZTZLQ

Not wanting to spend that much money I found a bluetooth adapter that was less expensive but still had good reviews on amazon.  It will run with many different apps, features and functionality are heavily dependent on the app being used since the device itself is a generic adapter.  I have been pleased with it

BAFX Products – Bluetooth OBD2 scan tool – For check engine light & diagnostics – Android ONLY
http://amzn.to/1BjJjpl
B005NLQAHS

BAFX Products – Bluetooth OBD2 scan tool – For check engine light & diagnostics – Android ONLY

 

My opinion of these tools mentioned here is that they all to be pretty good tools, I personally think Actron is one of the top brands in the dedicated scan tool market and the OBDLink systems seem to be one of the best in the hybrid software/interface.  I choose the BAFX model based on it’s decent reviews and lower cost as a cheap way to test out these devices on my own and stop making so many trips to the auto parts store to use their scan tools.  It has performed well and I have been pleased with it.

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Tags: Auto Maintenance · Maintenance · Tools

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