You don’t need to be a professional mechanic to use the best car diagnostic tools with your car, truck, or SUV. We found several that are convenient and easy to use at home to help you diagnose your car’s problems before taking it to a mechanic or doing your own repairs. Before we get into the reviews, here are a few key features to look for when choosing a car diagnostic tool for your auto repair kit. Let’s get started!
OBD2 Vehicles: We let you know if each diagnostic tool we reviewed works with the on-board diagnostic (OBD) ports in your vehicle. One of the most recent on-board diagnostic ports is the OBD2, which are typically found in cars made after 1996.
CAN Vehicles:The Controller Area Network (CAN) is commonly found in European vehicles. It allows the electronic systems throughout your car to communicate with one other. We’ll tell you if each tool can diagnose or fix problems with your vehicle’s CAN system.
All OBD2 Protocols: For OBD2 diagnostic tools, we’ll let you know if they can handle all OBD2 protocols, or if they only handle some. If the tool handles all protocols, they will include the following: ISO9141, KWP2000, J1850 PWM, J1850 VPW and CAN.
Powered by Car: Some car diagnostic tools are powered by plugging them into the OBD2 Data Link Connector, and no extra batteries are required. Other tools may require you to purchase extra batteries or plug into the dashboard’s 12V power outlet to work.
Cable Length: We’ll also tell you the cable length for each tool, so you can choose the right one for your situation. A short cable is easier to store, but a longer cable allows you to use it while outside the vehicle.
LCD Display: An LCD display can be incredibly convenient when using a car diagnostic tool, especially in poorly lit conditions. LCD screens can also provide you with color-coded icons and information, making diagnostic information easy to read when you’re in a hurry!
Now that you know which features to look for, let’s get to the best car diagnostic tool review! We researched several tools and found 10 models to fit your budget, car model, and experience level. Whether you’re a professional mechanic or DIY gear head, there is a tool here for you! If you’re short on time, it’s okay! Check out our Top Pick and Budget Pick now, and then come back later when you have more time to look around!