OBD or on-board diagnostics scanners give access to the different sub system statuses. They actually give a diagnostic review of the defects of the cars and their over-all health. This computer-based system was originally designed to reduce the emissions of the cars by monitoring the performance of major components of the engine of the car.
If the car has broken down in the middle of nowhere then an OBD helps to identify and analyze the cause of the fault. Early versions of this system only consisted of a light that would get illuminated when there was a malfunction. The second generation on board diagnostic scanner tool or OBD2 Scanner consists of an electronically controlled fuel ignition that analyzes engine performance through sensors and helps to control emission. All the cars that are compliant with the new OBD2 are usually fuel efficient, which will thereby help to keep the air clean. The malfunction indicator light (MIL) points out any problem of the car engine in a jiffy. Also, the OBD2 has reduced the occurrence of road accidents caused by minor defects in the car; the car cannot just break down in an isolated place without the driver knowing what should be done.
The MIL comes on whenever there is a problem with the engine. It does not always concern drivability but may indicate other trivial problems as well. But most often it is because a major issue has arisen and so one should never ignore the MIL when it is illuminated.
Like everything else in the world, OBD2 scanners, too, are of various kinds and one should always consider the pros and cons of each and every one of them before taking a final decision. All products do not give the same performance or show the same kind of functionalities – it is very important to choose the OBD that is suitable for one’s car; different OBD’s are good for different vehicles. The following should be considered while buying suitable OBD2 tools:
- Price: Although all of them have the same OBD2 technologies yet the prices vary: it depends on those extra features some of them provide. Due to the presence of some advanced features, some OBD2 equipments have a higher price. The price of OBD2 scanners mostly range from 250$-2500$.
- Compatibility of the vehicle: The OBD2 technology supports three kinds of hardware communication. Those OBD2 tools which support all three are called universal scanners and there are some which support only a specific one. Also, depending on the country the user lives in, it matters which OBD scanner he is using: some support OBD1 after a certain year and some OBD2.
- Functions: Apart from the basic function that all OBD2 scanners are supposed to perform, some of them offer extra amenities and services. Not everyone needs every one of them: it just has to be kept in mind which all are required otherwise it might lead to wastage of money.
- Manufacturer: Not all manufacturers produce every kind of OBD2 tool: some of them are better at making the advanced ones while others excel at producing the basic tools. Depending on what one might need, he should choose the manufacturer.
- Material of OBD2 tool: These tools come in different cases: some material which might be handy for person X might not be so for person Y.
Top 5 OBD2 scanners with their reviews
Autel AL519 Auto Link Enhanced OBD ll Scan Tool with Mode 6 – 5th place
This is a one-click patented product with I/M readiness key that provides state emissions readiness and gives drive cycle verification. It can also retrieve generic pending codes which are manufacturer specific and information on vehicles too (CIN, VIN, CVN). The malfunction light (MIL) is turned off automatically by the Autel Auto link enhanced OBD, which is a compact portable unit and thus can be carried anywhere. The AL159 weighs only 2 pounds and uses lithium metal batteries. This Auto Link Scanner supports all the 10 modes of OBD2 tests for a complete detection and solution of the defects. Autel AL519 comes with an in-built audio speaker and TFT color display that helps in the efficient and quick scanning of the vehicle system. The AL519 can also display VIN and freeze frame data, together with erasing and scanning manufacturer codes. This system can also be upgraded with the help of the internet, given it is compatible with the vehicle.
Autel AutoLink AL319 OBD II & CAN Scan Tool – 4th place
This Autel product functions well on all vehicles (domestic or imported) that have been manufactured on or after 1996. It consists of in-built speaker system and color coded LED’s that provide both audible and visual signals for readiness verification. It can retrieve generic as well as manufacturer specific codes, together with pending codes as well. Same as the AL519, the AL319 can also turn off malfunction indicator or MIL. Weighing 10.6 ounces, this OBD2 will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in repairing your car. The AL319 translates the computer codes for the user, based on the vehicle he is using. The “check engine” light needs to go off before the car is taken for inspection or else it will fail the inspection. The car’s own computer first needs to check if all the systems of the car are working properly and then once the “check engine” light goes off, an indication that the car is ready for inspection, the car can be taken in.
Oxgord CAN OBD II Scanner Tool for Check Engine Light & Diagnostics, Direct Scan and Read Out – 3rd place
Being an OBD2, this Oxgord model obviously works fine on all vehicles manufactured on and after 1996 in the US. It, too, reads both generic and manufacturer specific trouble codes and displays their meanings and explanations, over 3000 of them! It does a fantastic job at clearing trouble codes and turning off the MIL or “check engine” light. Weighing only 8 ounces, this is a great little device in a package with a manual on simple usage instruction. It includes a simple two-button operation and comes with a very clear display that also features a backlight so that it can also be read in the dark. The Oxgord CAN OBD2 Scanner needs no battery but uses the power from the car via the OBD2 connection. This product is value for money; quite a cheap investment for something that will work for a lifetime.
DIY Diagnostic Scan Tool NT301 Obdii Eobd Check Engine Light Obd2 Scanner with I/M Readiness Hot Keys Can Read and Clear Engine Fault Codes – 2nd place
The NT301 works wonders for OBD faults: the easiest and quickest solution to almost any OBD disruption. The NT301 code reader offers entry-level pros and tech-savvy DIYers useful information on troubleshooting OBD2 problems. DTC information, emissions readiness and erase functions are offered by this product. It also uses text and graph to explain live sensor data and helps to weed out any symptom-specific data parameter. The Foxwell NT301 works on both American and Australian cars manufactured after 1996 till date and Chinese cars after 2009. Weighing 10.4 ounces, the NT301 supports multiple code requests, clears codes, reads freeze frame data, reads, records, graphs and playbacks live sensor data, uses enhances mode 6 data, retrieves vehicle information, provides multilingual menu options and offers thousands of code troubleshooters. It also features the unique one click update that helps the consumers stay on board with the latest technologies.
Ancel AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner Car Engine Fault Code Reader – 1st place
This product by Ancel features a classic design, can clear trouble codes and do fast scans. Even beginners can save money and time by using this easy OBD product; read the error code and find and fix the problem. The post 1995 US-based cars, post 1999 EU-based cars and the Asian vehicles – all support this OBD2 tool. It easily determines the cause of the “check engine” lighting up, offers I/M monitor readiness test, views freeze frame data, reads the hard memory and historic codes and deciphers the data. The scanner is well-built with a large display and comes with a white backlight. The power is directly obtained from the OBD2 link connector of the vehicle and therefore the product needs no battery. Weighing 10.4 ounces, the Ancel AD310 is very easy to use and offers great value for money. A handy tool, the Ancel product is small enough to even fit into a glove box!
The best one so far:
The AD310 by Ancel is an absolute jewel among jewels and the following features would prove why:
It supports 8 languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and Finnish.
This product is the easiest to use as compared to the others and very much within a decent budget. The AD310 is quite cheap actually very useful. It can do fast scanning and clear trouble codes, turn of ‘engine ready’ light and offers I/M readiness. It has the software update feature and comes with a 3 year warranty.
Its special feature includes artificial mechanical designing. The product is also water proof and shows more stability than most other OBD’s. It is compatible with almost all vehicles: provides a much wider coverage than a lot of other OBD2 tools. It also does not to be operated by a battery and works when plugged into the OBD outlet of the car.
Considering all these features the AD310 definitely comes up as the best one by far.