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Best Car Diagnostic Tools

Expert Reviews & Buying Guide

quadcopter reviewsBest Car Diagnostic Tools

Our Recommendations

In a hurry? Here are the best products at a glance.

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How to Choose the Best Diagnostic Tool

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!

Best Car Diagnostic Tools

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.

Best Car Diagnostic Tools

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.

How to Choose the Best Diagnostic Tool

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.

Best Car Diagnostic Tools

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.

Best Car Diagnostic Tools

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.

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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!

Top 10 Products

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!

Innova 3100j Scan Tool

Innova 3100j Scan Tool
Our Top Pick is this professional car diagnostic tool from Innova that you can easily use in your home garage! It works on just about all OBD2 vehicles that are 1996 and newer, including cars, SUVs, trucks, and even newer hybrids. You can do a lot with this tool! It allows you to check for engine light problems, then shut the indicator light off when the problem’s fixed. It also reads anti-lock braking (ABS) and airbag (SRS) information and allows you to erase the codes when repairs are done. We like that this device lets you do battery and alternator testing, as well as erase the oil check light once you’re done changing your oil. The LCD screen is bright and easy to read, and the device can be updated online to handle new codes and functions! We think this is a great diagnostic tool that can handle just about anything you need to fix or diagnose on your own!
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OxGord OBD2 Scanner

OxGord OBD2 Scanner
If you’re looking for the best cheap car diagnostic tool that gets the job done, this scanner from OxGord is a great diagnostic tool! This tool works on both OBD2 and CAN systems for vehicles that are 1996 and newer. It can even find the VIN number on a vehicle from most 2002 and newer cars! We like that this scanner is super easy to use – just plug it in, turn on your engine, and it’ll do the work! The display is bright and easy to read, and it can find over 3,000 generic error codes to help you diagnose your car’s problems quickly. Once your car’s fixed, you can go through and erase any codes or shut off the check engine light. It’s powered by the car’s OBD2 port, so there is no need for carrying around extra batteries. We also like that it’s compact and easy to store in your glove compartment or in your garage tool kit!
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ANCEL Universal OBD II Scanner

ANCEL Universal OBD II Scanner
For those of you who own international brand vehicles, this scanner from Ancel is the best diagnostic tool for cars made in the United States, Europe, and Asia! This scanner works with U.S. cars that are 1996 and newer, and it works with EU and Asian brands that are 2000 and newer! We like that it supports 8 different languages, so you can set it to whichever language you’re most comfortable using. The display is clear, bright, and easy to navigate, so you can get your diagnostic information, clear dashboard warnings, and get back on the road. It also handles all OBD2 protocols, so you can feel confident this scanner will accurately indicate what’s wrong with your vehicle. The handheld device is powered by your car’s OBD2 port, and the shorter cable makes this easy to use from the driver's seat. This is a great tool for both professional mechanics and home users to keep their cars in great condition!
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BAFX Products OBDII Scan Tool

BAFX Products OBDII Scan Tool
To prepare yourself for your annual emissions test, it’s a good idea to have a basic scanner available to diagnose problems before you go in for testing! This tool from BAFX is a simple scanner you can pair up with your Android or Windows devices to test your car for problems and decide how to best go about fixing them! This tiny device plugs into your OBD2 port, and it sends a Bluetooth signal to your device to let you know if there are any issues. You use this with whichever car diagnostic app you prefer to use, which you can download online. Then, let the device pull any codes or information it can find, and erase codes when your car is fixed. This is the best universal car diagnostic tool for any vehicle that’s 1996 or newer and bought in the United States and will work for cars purchased from several other countries, too (check online for available years).
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Autel AL319 OBD II Scanner

Autel AL319 OBD II Scanner
When looking for the top car diagnostic tool for beginners, we found this plug and play scanner from Autel that even complete novices can handle! We like that this tool works on just about any OBD2-compliant vehicle, including cars bought in the European Union and Asia after 2002! The LCD display is bright, colorful, and easy to read, and it’s all powered by the car’s OBD2 port. No batteries required! We also like that this scanner can find generic and manufacturer specific codes, and can gather information in real time while your car’s running. You can set it to several different language options, and you can even tell it to give you sound indicators like beeping or alarms when it finds a problem! The simple functions and well-organized interface make this super easy to use. You can easily diagnose problems, or prepare for your emissions test, without worrying about dealing with a mechanic who may try to upsell you repairs!
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Veepeak OBD2 Scanner

Veepeak OBD2 Scanner
Next up in our car diagnostic tool reviews is this inexpensive and basic scanner from Veepeak that is great for beginners to help them better diagnose problems with their vehicles. It can handle both OBD2 and CAN protocols, and it works quickly to scan for problems so you can get on with repairs. It’s also incredibly easy to use: simply plug it into the OBD2 port, turn on the engine, and wait for codes to appear on the screen. You don’t need a special app or computer program to run it or find the codes – everything you need comes in the user manual, including explanations for all the codes it can identify. Once you’ve done your repairs, you can plug it back in to clear any codes that have been taken care of. We also think this is a great scanner to keep with you to prepare for emissions testing, so you can fix any issues and ensure you’ll pass!
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Foxwell OBD2 Scanner

Foxwell OBD2 Scanner
Another of our favorite picks for the best professional car diagnostic tool you can use at home comes to us from Foxwell. This scanner is great for beginners because it gives you the options to see real-time data in either text or graph forms – whichever you’re most comfortable with! It can identify all OBD2 protocols, emissions data, VIN numbers, and more to help you best diagnose the problem and fix it quickly. After repairs are done, you can clear the vehicle’s indicator lights and codes to get your car back on the road. Another cool feature? You can print out your diagnostics reports on paper! This is great for keeping a record of your repairs, or take the printout to your mechanic so they can better help you with repairs. We think this is a tool that car owners can use to save money on unnecessary repairs, pass emissions tests, and keep their car running smoothly for years to come.
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Udiag OBD2 Scanner

Udiag OBD2 Scanner
If you want a small scanner you can keep in your car for on-demand diagnostic testing, we like this diagnostic tool for quick checks. We like the compact size of this tool, which you can easily use with one hand. The 2.5 foot cord is plenty long enough to use inside the car and folds up to store in your glove compartment for easy access when you need it. We also like that it’s durable, with anti-slip coating on the case and thick cord to keep everything working properly. It can diagnose emissions problems, all OBD2 protocols, and much more to help you make better decisions about what to do next. This device will tell you what’s wrong with your car, and it will let you know if it’s something you can repair on your own or if you’ll need professional help. It works on all OBD2-compatible cars, and you can set it to do read-outs in several languages, too!
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Lemur OBDII Scan Tool

If you’re a professional mechanic looking to upgrade your OBD2 tools, or you’re a DIY mechanic that wants the best, this scanner from Lemur is a great option to get accurate information quickly. We like that this scanner pairs up with both Android and iOS devices, so you can use your phone or tablet to view, save, and send diagnostic reports to whoever needs it. All you have to do is connect the device to your car, connect the Bluetooth to your phone, and use the BlueDriver app to see your diagnostic data right on your phone screen! Once you run the diagnostics, the app will give you the option to create repair reports you can either give to your mechanic or as a mechanic you can give them to your clients. We think this is a great diagnostic tool for anyone looking to get accurate information from their car, and get accurate advice on how to best repair problems!
If you’re a professional mechanic looking to upgrade your OBD2 tools, or you’re a DIY mechanic that wants the best, this scanner from Lemur is a great option to get accurate information quickly. We like that this scanner pairs up with both Android and iOS devices, so you can use your phone or tablet to view, save, and send diagnostic reports to whoever needs it. All you have to do is connect the device to your car, connect the Bluetooth to your phone, and use the BlueDriver app to see your diagnostic data right on your phone screen! Once you run the diagnostics, the app will give you the option to create repair reports you can either give to your mechanic or as a mechanic you can give them to your clients. We think this is a great diagnostic tool for anyone looking to get accurate information from their car, and get accurate advice on how to best repair problems!
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KONNWEI OBD2 Scanner

Last up in our car diagnostic tool review is this versatile OBD2 scanner from KONNWEI that provides diagnostics for just about any vehicle out there! This scanner works on U.S. vehicles 1996 and newer, including several international brands and CAN vehicles. It can read all OBD2 protocols and check O2 sensors, emissions function, and much more! We like that the display screen is bright and easy to read, with colorful text and graphics that are easy to understand. We also like that it comes with a 5-foot cable, so you can use the reader from inside or outside the car for better convenience! You can also hook this scanner up to your laptop via USB cable to update it when new diagnostic protocols come out or print out reports to take to your local mechanic for advice on how to repair problems. This versatile and durable scanner will make a great addition to anyone’s professional or DIY car repair kit!
Last up in our car diagnostic tool review is this versatile OBD2 scanner from KONNWEI that provides diagnostics for just about any vehicle out there! This scanner works on U.S. vehicles 1996 and newer, including several international brands and CAN vehicles. It can read all OBD2 protocols and check O2 sensors, emissions function, and much more! We like that the display screen is bright and easy to read, with colorful text and graphics that are easy to understand. We also like that it comes with a 5-foot cable, so you can use the reader from inside or outside the car for better convenience! You can also hook this scanner up to your laptop via USB cable to update it when new diagnostic protocols come out or print out reports to take to your local mechanic for advice on how to repair problems. This versatile and durable scanner will make a great addition to anyone’s professional or DIY car repair kit!
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Review and Buying Guide GeekWrapped