Buying guide

TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]

Everyone dreads that moment when the check engine light pops onto your dashboard. Since you rarely know what it means, you immediately start to stress about what is wrong with your cars. If you have am the automotive diagnostic scanner, you can immediately run a check and interpret the codes to see if it is something that requires immediate attention. Not only can it save you time and money, but it also gives you peace of mind while you are on the road.

Here are a few tips on what to look for in the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner and a few reviews to help you start shopping.

TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
Quick choice
Price & Quality
TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
Autel Maxisys Pro MS908
Professional car diagnostic scanner for mechanics and technicians.
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Popular
TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
Launch X431 PROS
Best value for money. Suitable for both professional use and amateurs.
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Budget
TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
BlueDriver Bluetooth
A diagnostic tool that you can use via Bluetooth on your smartphone.
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Pros
Cons
Best Choice
TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
Autel Maxisys Pro MS908
  • Works on almost all types of cars including imports
  • Worth the money with all the time you save
  • Comes with a lot of features
  • Pretty slow in comparison to its competitors
  • The touchscreen can be temperamental
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    Launch X431 PROS
  • Great unit for the money
  • Nice quality unit with good functionality
  • Includes Bluetooth connectivity
  • Works on an Android operating system that needs to be updated
  • Doesn’t come with an SD card slot
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    BlueDriver Bluetooth
  • Comes with a free app and continuous updates
  • It saves you a lot of money in mechanic costs
  • Fast connection and supports a long list of vehicles
  • It is on the expensive side
  • Drains your battery quickly
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    Innova 3160g
  • Fast and effective, save you a lot of time and money
  • Perfect scanning tool for a DIYer
  • Includes stand-alone power and the screen is very clear
  • Does not come with decent instruction
  • Poor customer service and online code support software
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    Autel MaxiDiag MD808
  • It includes SRS, ABS, and additional error codes
  • Has a wide range of vehicle reports
  • An affordably priced device that is an all-around good scanner
  • Really slow scan time
  • The scanner doesn't do TPMS
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    Actron CP9690
  • Does a great job diagnosing a problem
  • High quality and easy to use a unit
  • Incredibly large database to find verified fixes
  • CodeConnect is very confusing to use and has a lot of problems
  • The desktop software is difficult to get connected
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    ANCEL AD310
  • Detects and explains fault codes easily
  • It’s a great machine for the price
  • Fast and simple to use, especially for non-professionals
  • Doesn’t come with an instruction manual to explain data abbreviations
  • Doesn’t always give you consistent readings
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    Autel AL519 AutoLink
  • Nice and colorful display
  • Great investment, saves you time and money
  • Solid unit that works on a wide variety of cars
  • Needs better instruction for detailed functionality
  • Takes a little while to link up
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    FOXWELL NT301
  • The online updates are easy to do
  • Easy to use and print out results
  • Can read generic codes as well
  • Customer support is not very helpful
  • It uses a lot of abbreviations that not everyone knows
  • Check Price
    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    Launch Creader 6001
  • Provides more advanced features you would normally find on more expensive units
  • Easy to use, worth the price
  • Can record data for later review
  • Doesn’t have the software needed to check engine and transmission trouble codes
  • Doesn’t have a battery so can’t be used off the vehicle
  • Check Price
    Price & Quality
    Autel Maxisys Pro MS908
    Overall rating
    9
    overall
    Quality
    10
    Price
    7
    Delivery speed
    10

    Autel Maxisys Pro MS908 (ECU Coding)

    Equipped a 9.7-inch display and a Cortex A9 quad-core processor, the Autel Maxisys Pro works in over eighty different vehicles from around the world.

    Known as one of the most advanced diagnostic scanners, this professional level system was created to give fast, reliable, and comprehensive diagnoses.
    From the autor

    This is a great tool for mechanics giving them professional solutions in a short amount of time.

    Featuring MaxiFix, an online troubleshooter database, you not only get a common DTC database but also a forum where users can share repair and diagnostic tips. You also get a Data Logging features that let you see all the records that have been with the diagnostic system. Plus, the Data Manager features help you keep all your saved files organized in the event you need to review or print them out.

    What's included?

    1. Read and Clear Error Codes
    2. Live Data Streaming and Actuation Tests
    3. Adaptation and ECU Coding
    4. Configure Display Options and Set Triggers
    5. Record and Playback of Problematic Sensor Outputs
    6. Reset All Service Lights
    7. Print Out Reports and Graphs
    8. Freeze Frame Data
    9. Update Car Firmware to Latest Version
    10. Flash Programming
    11. and much more that is too much to list

    The 1024 x 768 capacity touch screen has a fast and intuitive capability for testing, live data, and diagnosis codes. The Autel Maxisys can be paired with other accessories like the Digital Inspection Camera that allows you to see difficult to reach areas. This unit is constructed with a strong rubber housing that has an ergonomic design and a rechargeable battery that is built-in for up to eight hours of continuous operation.

    Pros
    • Works on almost all types of cars including imports
    • Worth the money with all the time you save
    • Comes with a lot of features
    Cons
    • Pretty slow in comparison to its competitors
    • The touchscreen can be temperamental
    • High price

    Check price on Amazon
    Popular
    Launch X431 PROS
    Overall rating
    8.7
    overall
    Quality
    9
    Price
    8
    Delivery speed
    9

    Launch X431 PROS (OBDII & OBD2)

    With an easy to read touchscreen interface, the Launch X431 Pros gives you a live data-stream that is easy to read and clear out trouble codes. The touchscreen HD display is full color and gives you access to all of the X431 testing components. Utilizing both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you can work wirelessly under the dashboard or under the hood.

    What's included

    1. Reading and Clearing Error Codes
    2. Component Activation
    3. Oil Reset Service
    4. Steering Angle Calibration
    5. Electronic Car Brake Reset
    6. Battery Maintenance
    7. ABS Bleeding
    8. Electronic Throttle Position
    9. DPF Regeneration
    10. Immobilizer Matching
    11. Fuel Injector Coding
    12. And so much more

    The X431 allows you to run diagnostic tests remotely, access repair functions, and perform active tests. This newest X431 model has an improved functionality in a new tablet-style and two-years of software updates.

    Pros
    • Great unit for the money
    • Nice quality unit with good functionality
    • Includes Bluetooth connectivity
    Cons
    • Works on an Android operating system that needs to be updated
    • Doesn’t come with an SD card slot

    Check price on Amazon
    Budget
    BlueDriver Bluetooth
    Overall rating
    9.3
    overall
    Quality
    9
    Price
    10
    Delivery speed
    9

    BlueDriver Bluetooth (Bluetooth)

    Utilizing Identifix database that professional mechanics use, the BlueDriver Bluetooth is able to match your vehicle with a database of over 30 million repairs. Gone are the day of googling unreliable fixes when you can get a Repair Report that contains fixes verified by Certified Professional Mechanics. Plus, you also get the free BlueDriver App which is available on both Android and iOS to give you another source for a complete vehicle repair solution.

    What's included

    1. Live Data Analysis
    2. Smog Check
    3. Freeze Frame Data
    4. Misfire Counts (Mode 6)
    5. View and Clear Codes
    6. Save and Export Code/Reports
    7. Vehicle Information

    Only BlueDriver is able to give you a complete set of diagnostics gathered from a wide range of car manufacturers. You also get constant free updates with Enhanced Diagnostics support for more brands. Other features include Smog Check, a list of detailed information about your vehicle, and live data.

    Pros
    • Comes with a free app and continuous updates
    • It saves you a lot of money in mechanic costs
    • Fast connection and supports a long list of vehicles
    Cons
    • It is on the expensive side
    • Drains your battery quickly

    Check price on Amazon

    Innova 3160g

    Innova 3160g
    Overall rating
    8.7
    overall
    Quality
    9
    Price
    8
    Delivery speed
    9

    Innova 3160g (All Rounder)

    A great tool for DIYers and professional, Innova 3160g can record and stream live data, initialize batteries, reset battery oil maintenance lights, and diagnose SRS, ABS, and check engine lights. You also get free internet updates to guarantee that the unit is working with the most up-to-date information and technology. It has a very clear screen and has stand-alone power so you don’t need the vehicle to be on for it to work.

    What's included

    1. Engine Management Light Diagnostic and Removal
    2. Erase Error Codes (including ABS & SRS)
    3. Reset Oil Lights and Battery Maintenance
    4. Stream and Record Live Data
    5. Charging System Testing
    6. Bluetooth via Smartphone Application

    The Innova 3160g takes all of the guesswork out of your vehicle’s repairs by using RepairSolutions that gives you step-by-step videos, repair costs, and verified fixes. Customer support is also available in both Spanish and English from experienced technicians helping you to save time and money.

    Pros
    • Fast and effective, save you a lot of time and money
    • Perfect scanning tool for a DIYer
    • Includes stand-alone power and the screen is very clear
    Cons
    • Does not come with decent instruction
    • Poor customer service and online code support software

    Autel MaxiDiag MD808

    Autel MaxiDiag MD808
    Overall rating
    8.3
    overall
    Quality
    8
    Price
    7
    Delivery speed
    10

    Autel MaxiDiag MD808 (All Rounder)

    The Autel MaxiDiag MD808 features a large service menu and all module diagnostics. It can print out diagnostic reports through a PC connection and can reset oil service, the battery, and service internals and mileage when needed. As it works, it scans all the available vehicle systems instead of just checking the transmission, SRS, ABS, and the engine like its competitors.

    What's included

    1. Read and Remove Car Fault Codes
    2. Oil Light Reset
    3. EPB and SAS Calibration
    4. DPF Regeneration
    5. Battery Management System
    6. ABS and SRS
    7. Live Data Graphing

    The large, easy to read screen offers push-button navigations and allows you to see all code definitions as well as playback, graph, and report live data. You also get free software for the life of the unit, and the Autel MaxiDiag MD808 also features multi-lingual definitions, instructions, and menu.

    Pros
    • It includes SRS, ABS, and additional error codes
    • Has a wide range of vehicle reports
    • An affordably priced device that is an all-around good scanner
    Cons
    • Really slow scan time
    • The scanner doesn't do TPMS

    Actron CP9690

    Actron CP9690
    Overall rating
    8.3
    overall
    Quality
    8
    Price
    7
    Delivery speed
    10

    Actron CP9690 (OBDII & OBD2)

    Offering advanced function to both technicians and DIYers, the Actron CP9690 provides all the features you want in a scan tool. Improved features include printing reports through a PC, playback, and record of stored vehicle information, graph engine data, and read manufacturer specific DTCs. Working with CodeConnect, it features ABS and Airbag display and helps you to prioritize troubleshooting with the most common fixes that are specific to your vehicle.

    What's included

    1. Powertrain and ABS Coverage
    2. Vehicle Identification
    3. Battery System Monitor
    4. Battery and Oil Light Reset
    5. ABS and Airbag Light Rest
    6. OBD 1/CAN Support
    7. Live Data Streaming

    Including a comprehensive database of over 26 million verified fixes, CodeConnect includes actually reported fixes that are then verified by ASE certified technicians taking vehicle repairs to whole other level for DIYers and technicians. It supports quick test, code criteria, five previous vehicle searches, and hands-free vehicle link.

    Pros
    • Does a great job diagnosing a problem
    • High quality and easy to use unit
    • Incredibly large database to find verified fixes
    Cons
    • CodeConnect is very confusing to use and has a lot of problems
    • The desktop software is difficult to get connected

    ANCEL AD310

    ANCEL AD310
    Overall rating
    7.7
    overall
    Quality
    8
    Price
    6
    Delivery speed
    9

    ANCEL AD310 (Budget)

    Featuring a large and easy to read LCD screen, the Ancel AD310 is a good upgrade from a basic diagnostic Code Reader. With a fast scan and classic design, the functions of this unit include reading and clearing error codes and detecting the Engine System. It can retrieve vehicle information for most domestic and import vehicles, and it can also read a live data stream.

    What's included

    1. Read and Erase Codes
    2. Live Data
    3. Freeze Frame Data
    4. Vehicle Identification

    The Ancel AD310 is unlike other models in its price range with its ability to supports ALL OBDII protocols. This well-built unit is a great choice for beginners since it is very easy to use that and will save you lots of money and time. Power is provided right from OBDII Data Link Connector in your car so you don’t have to worry about batteries, plus it comes with a 2 ½ feet cable made of a very thick flexible insulator.

    Pros
    • Detects and explains fault codes easily
    • It’s a great machine for the price
    • Fast and simple to use, especially for non-professionals
    Cons
    • Doesn’t come with an instruction manual to explain data abbreviations
    • Doesn’t always give you consistent readings

    Autel AL519 AutoLink

    Autel AL519 AutoLink
    Overall rating
    7.3
    overall
    Quality
    6
    Price
    7
    Delivery speed
    9

    Autel AL519 AutoLink (Budget)

    Supporting all ten modes of OBDII test to give you a complete diagnosis, the Autel AL519 AutoLink includes a built-in speaker, TFT color display, and the unique patented One-Click I/M Readiness Key. The One-Click keys are also handy for drive cycle verification and State Emissions readiness checks. Exemplifying affordability and power, this unit lets you do your job faster with the additional benefit of thousands of troubleshooter code tips that save you repair and diagnosis time.

    The color display gives you fast and easy system scanning on pretty much all import and domestic vehicles. It can easily determine the cause of a check engine light and then clear the code and reset the monitors.

    Plus, the bright color-coded LEDs and speakers give you an audible and visual tone for readiness verification.

    What's included

    1. Read and Clear Stored Faults
    2. Turn Off Engine Management Light
    3. Display Freeze Frame Data
    4. Show Vehicle Data and VIN
    5. Help Guides For Errors
    6. Graphs and Live Data Feedback
    7. Print Data

    The Freeze Frame Data lets you take a look at the operating parameters for a vehicle at the moment a trouble code is issued. This type of information will help the technician by duplicating the parameters for repair and diagnostic purposes. The View Data allows you to view real-time or live PID data of the computer in your vehicle while the onboard computer stores OBD II Diagnostic Trouble Codesarecodes to help the technician identify a specific problem area.

    Pros
    • Nice and colorful display
    • Great investment, saves you time and money
    • Solid unit that works on a wide variety of cars
    Cons
    • Needs better instruction for detailed functionality
    • Takes a little while to link up

    FOXWELL NT301

    FOXWELL NT301
    Overall rating
    7.7
    overall
    Quality
    7
    Price
    7
    Delivery speed
    9

    FOXWELL NT301 (Budget)

    The Foxwell NT301 allows you to read and erase codes and decode specific codes to help technicians identify problems in your vehicle as well as turn off check engine lights and find a bad O2 sensor. Live Data is given in both diagram and graph forms for almost all import and domestic vehicles. The car scanner can also provide sensor data on live vehicles in graph and text formats so you can focus on the suspected data parameters.

    What's included

    1. Read and Remove Error Codes
    2. Live Vehicle Sensor Data
    3. Turn Off Engine Management Light
    4. Freeze Frame Data

    Easy to use hotkeys are also featured to helps with emission monitoring and to catch recurrent problems to help you determine the health of your car quickly. Available to global customer, the Foxwell NT301 is an upgraded version with distinctive features from the basic car OBDII diagnostic scanner. You also don’t need batteries for this device as it is charged right to the interface in your vehicle.

    Pros
    • The online updates are easy to do
    • Easy to use and print out results
    • Can read generic codes as well
    Cons
    • Customer support is not very helpful
    • It uses a lot of abbreviations that not everyone knows

    Launch Creader 6001

    Launch Creader 6001
    Overall rating
    7
    overall
    Quality
    7
    Price
    7
    Delivery speed
    7

    Launch Creader 6001 (Budget)

    With the ability to work on most import and domestic vehicles, the Launch Creader offers support in Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, German, Spanish, French, and English. Providing basic OBD2 function, the Launch Creader will turn off the check engine light by clearing and reading the Diagnostic Trouble Codes. The Creader also is capable of freeze frame and reading data streams.

    What's included

    1. View and Remove Car Fault Codes
    2. Freeze Frame Data
    3. O2 Sensor
    4. I/M Readiness Checks

    With a thoughtful design, the Launch Creader comes equipped with four hot-keys that let you access those functions and a 2.8-inch LCD display screen. Giving you a graphical and colorful display of data streams, the Launch Creader also receives free updates through the internet and comes with a one-year warranty

    Pros
    • Provides more advanced features you would normally find on more expensive units
    • Easy to use, worth the price
    • Can record data for later review
    Cons
    • Doesn’t have the software needed to check engine and transmission trouble codes
    • Doesn’t have a battery so can’t be used off the vehicle

    Best professional automotive diagnostic scanner

    What to Look for When Buying a Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

    There are a few things you need to ask yourself when you are choosing the best professional automotive diagnostic scanner. Knowing these important things beforehand will make the selection process a lot easier.

    Basic Code Reader Versus a High-end Unit

    When comparing scanners on the market, remember that a basic code reader will come with limited functions. Its basic function is to let you know about a problem or trouble code that needs to be diagnosed. If you want a low-cost option, this is the way to go, but remember that it is designed so that it will only work with the most common car models.

    High-end units, on the other hand, are usually preferred most by professional mechanics who will run into incompatibility issues less often. When you compare a higher-end unit to a basic code reader, you will not more advanced functions like:

    ABS or Airbag capability
    Find and resets airbags and antilock brake systems.

    On-Screen Definitions
    Provides the definitions of diagnostic codes right on the screen of the device.

    Printing capability
    Has the capability to send results to a printer so you can have a physical copy.

    Live Data
    Provides real-time information about car performance and engine sensors. This feature still works even when you are driving.

    Data logging or storage
    Provides saved car information from the scanner’s memory so you can see it anytime

    Upgrades
    Only the high-end units can be upgraded, so if you need the scanner to keep up with the vehicles being sold today, you will need a scanner that can keep up as well. Also, remember that each update will cost you something so it is important to find out the cost beforehand.
    Types of Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

    Scanners that are PC-based use desktop computers to troubleshoot and diagnose issues with your vehicle

    Scanners with Bluetooth help to convert computers, tablets, and smartphones into advanced scanning tools that give you reliable and fast live performance data.

    Convenient and powerful, handheld auto scanners are often used by mechanics. These handy and powerful units are useful to mechanics to help identify failures with the transmission, brakes, and the engine. Displays can vary depending on the model but most of them have clear screens and colored graphics, however, they will also need additional items like battery packs, data and power cable, and a power supply.

    Characteristics to Look for in a Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

    1. Provides vehicle data in the fastest time possible
    2. Is compatible with most vehicles
    3. Easy to use even for DIYers
    4. Has the ability to log or store data
    5. Easy to use on a variety of platforms like smartphones, tablets, and laptops
    6. Can be upgraded
    7. Features a large, colored screen that you can easily read
    8. Small and portable
    9. Has an alternative power source
    10. Can be purchased in bundles with other pieces of equipment like cables and adapters
    11. Features wireless capabilities

    How to Choose the Best Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner for Your Vehicle

    If your vehicle was built after 1996, you will be able to benefit from a scanner that can address any electrical or mechanical issues that come up. The cheapest option is a basic code reader that can look up a code when it appears so that you can identify and address a wide variety of mechanical issues before they get too large.

    DIYers that restore old cars or work on their own vehicles frequently can also benefit from a low-cost scanner, however, professionals will more likely gravitate to an advanced version to locate and troubleshoot problems. Most DIY mechanics will choose a device that fits their needs as well as their budget.

    Make sure to do your homework and research the device beforehand so you will know if it is a wise investment for you. Many of these devices are small and compact that you can put in your glovebox while some other models will include advanced features that are user-friendly with mobile capabilities that can send the codes that are appearing right to your smartphone so you can start researching it online.

    Benefits of Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner

    Cars built these days use are using a lot more technology, and they probably have several computers running the main systems in your car. This can help when trying to diagnose an issue with your vehicle since a scanner will be able to quickly determine what is wrong with it. These scanners are usually easy to use and often come with a handy instruction book or software.

    Standardized Diagnostic Method

    Since all car manufacturers are required to meet a certain standard when designing your car’s vehicle, mechanics have had an easier time finding devices that would work on more than one car type. Previously a repair shop would have to purchase different tools and scanner for each make of car which can become very expensive. Now that this has been standardized, even a DIYer can purchase a scanner that is similar to what you would find in a repair shop.

    Comprehensive Scan of All Systems

    In most modern vehicles, there are a couple of computers that are in charge of most of the systems including the fuel injection, the automatic transmission, and the ignition system. There are also sensors placed all over the car to gather and transmit data back to the car’s main computer which allows for precise and careful control of the ignition and fuel so your car becomes increasingly efficient and clean. The smarter the car’s computer is the better it can maximize power and time everything for an eco-friendlier vehicle. The position of all the sensors helps the vehicle get instant reports to alert you when a problem is detected before it becomes serious. Through the scanner, you are also able to communicate with the vehicle through a bunch of complex codes so you can pinpoint the cause of any potential issue.

    Peace of Mind

    One of the best advantages of owning a good diagnostic tool for your car is that you no longer have to worry and wonder what the check engine light means. It is a nice feeling to know you can find out the cause yourself without having to take it to the mechanic. By using a diagnostic tool, to get the problem codes, you can do a fast check of all the vehicle’s systems and start interpreting the codes to see if it is a simple malfunction that you can deal with later or if you need to get to a mechanic immediately.

    Easy-To-Use Designs

    Scanning devices these days are easy to use. Typically, the device comes with a screen that you can hold in your hand. There is a short cable that connects the module to your car and once it is in place you only need to turn your car to the first notch so that the clock and lights come on. After inserting the VIN into the device, all you have to do is follow the rest of the directions on the screen to conduct the scan.

    Whenever light flashes on your dashboard, it always makes the driver feel nervous, dread, and annoyed. If you have a handy automotive diagnostic scanner, you can quickly research the code that appears to find out what is going on with your vehicle. Not only does this type of tool save you time and money, but it also gives you peace of mind with the knowledge of what you are encountering while you are on the road

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    TOP 10 best professional automotive diagnostic OBD2 scanner in 2018 [Full guide]
    Autel Maxisys Pro MS908