Top 10 Picks
Tt Topdon Code Readers
Updated December 6, 2022
1
OBD2 Scanner TOPDON AD600S Scan Tool, Code Reader, Diagnostics Scanner for ABS/SRS/at/Engine, 8 Reset Services, Oil/Brake/BMS/SAS/DPF/TPMS Reset/ABS Bleeding/Throttle Adaptation, Free Lifetime Upgrade
【🔥🔥8 Reset Service Car Scanner 】TOPDON obd2 scanner AD600S is the upgrade version of TOPDON AD600, AD500 and AD500S.This diagnostic scan tool Adds 3 more commonly used reset function.✅Except for OIL RESET, BRAKE RESET, TPMS RESET, Throttle Adaptation, SAS RESET, ✅it add the BMS RESET, ABS BLEEDING, DPF RESET, ✅more practical reset functions than TOPDON AD600 and AD500S. For the cost you’re getting value from this handy car scanner to reset systems. *Function menu varies by vehicle’s specifics.
【👍 Recommended by Youtuber Samcrac 👍 2022 New, 4 Systems Diagnostic Tool. 】This is an OBDII scanner and 4 systems diagnostic tool made for home mechanics, DIYers, and professionals. You can access AT/ENG/ABS/SRS fault codes to find the right troubleshooting procedure, and diagnose with full 10 OBD2 test modes to fix most of emission issues. Give your aging cars satisfying routine maintenance to avoid costly repairs, a breakdown, or even a crash.*DOESN'T WORK WITH 5G.
【No extra software fee + One-click Lifetime Free Updates】The touch-sensitive screen on this scan tool makes operation much easier than the simple button-based OBD2 code readers. The icons are clear and its 5” color screen with high resolution will leave you with no trouble interpreting results in a dark garage. One-click lifetime updates over Wi-Fi will keep the software current and the coverage addition constant. Android 6.0 ensures lightning-fast bootup and processing.
【Powerful Compatibility + Work on 90 Vehicle Brands】Most OBD2 scanners work with vehicles manufactured after 2001, but TOPDON ArtiDiag600S compatible with OBDII-equipped vehicles built after 1996, and it works on more than 90 Vehicle Brands.It supports Diesel (12v only), gasoline, 12V passenger car, pickup, light-duty truck, SUV, minivans, compatible with OBD2/EOBD/JOBD&CAN protocols.*Menus vary by make, model, and year of gasoline or diesel engine vehicle. Email us your VIN data.
Weight
1 lbs
Color
Blue
9.9
JunkieScore
16% OFF
2
OBD2 Scanner TOPDON AL600, ABS SRS Code Reader Car Diagnostic Tool, Active Test for ABS, SRS Diagnostics, with Car Maintenance Reset Service of Oil, BMS, SAS
ABS/SRS OBD2 Scanner > Enjoy this ABS OBD2 code reader to reveal exact issues underlying in your brake, airbag, and engine systems, test individual ABS/SRS sensors, valves, or solenoids to quickly locate malfunctions (compatible with GM, Nissan, Fiat, Benz, Volvo, Land Rover, BMW, USA Ford), making sure critical safety systems work in perfect harmony together against accidents to be safe than sorry. NOTE: Only support upgrade on windows.
3 Most Needed Service Functions > This code reader guides you through step by step procedures to reset oil service light and programmed mileage intervals for engine efficiency (Oil Reset); to calibrate steering wheel position for vehicle’s traveling in a straight line (SAS Reset); to clear the original low battery fault information against coming battery failures or damage (BMS Reset); saving your needless visits to mechanics.
Full OBD2 Diagnostics > Say goodbye to the hassle of manual check-ups via this srs code reader. Quickly correct Check Engine Light warning on most OBD2/CAN compatible vehicles. Easily access to your emission status with one simple click I/M Readiness; and being filled with features for live data readings, freeze frame data, plus EVAP system, onboard monitor test means this scan tool checks all daily car care boxes.
Thrives on Simplicity > Red-Yellow-Green LEDs in this OBD2 scanner quickly show the overall DTC status without toggling through menu selections. HELP hotkey takes you directly to detailed descriptions/tips. Read/Erase DTC, I/M readiness shortcuts are added for optimized operation, along with DTC Lookup library for interpreting codes, designing the ABS OBD2 code reader a pleasure to use right out of the package even for beginners.
Weight
1 lbs
9.8
JunkieScore
23% OFF
3
OBD2 Scanner TOPDON AD500S Car Code Reader Scan Tool, Engine ABS SRS Transmission Diagnostics Tool, Oil Reset, BMS, Bleeding, DPF, Throttle Adaptation 5 Resets Car Scanner, Free Upgrade for DIY
Warranty1 Year
👍【2022 UPGRADED CAR SCANNER WITH 5 RESET SERVICES】Comprehensive, accurate, and fast. Much more than a basic OBD2 code reader’s capability. 🤙The large 5” color screen presents quality results quickly and straightforwardly. This TOPDON 2022 newly-released diagnostic tool is equipped with 5 common used reset functions including oil reset, BMS reset, ABS bleeding, DPF reset, throttle adaptation. **The function list is related to vehicle’s make, model, and year.
👍【4 SYSTEMS DIAGNOSIS + AUTOMATIC AUTOVIN SCAN】This car scanner carries out essential diagnoses that any mechanics and car owners can rely on. It includes the ABS/SRS/Engine/Transmission diagnostics to troubleshoot underlying safety issues for 90 car manufacturers; this obd2 scanner shows quick and accurate vehicle identification via auto VIN scan, helping you pinpoint the cause issue by reading codes, freeze frame and real-time live data.
👍【FULL OBD2 COMPLIANCY + DATA RECORD & PLAYBACK】Full OBD2 tests help fix emission-related problems common in cars running for over 3 years. You can easily view diagnostic results with the automatic inspection report recorded, played back, and printed via PC. Up to 4 data streams can be merged in a graphic to display a clear comparison. Any confusing codes triggered? Look up what they mean right on the DTC Library or try Online Feedback to network with our experts.
👍【GREAT COMPATIBILITY + ONE-CLICK UPDATE LATEST SOFTWARE】One-click WiFi free updates on the internet for lifetime allows you to get the latest bug fixes, new vehicles, newly added parameters, and functionality. 🤙Extensive vehicle coverage includes 90 vehicle makers, works on most vehicles after 1996 and up to 2020. It supports Diesel (12v only), 12V passenger car, pickup, and light-duty truck, SUV, gasoline, minivans, compatible with OBD2/EOBD/JOBD&CAN protocols. **DOESN'T WORK WITH 5G.
Weight
2 lbs
Color
grey
9.7
JunkieScore
4
OBD2 Scanner, TOPDON ArtiDiag600 Code Reader, Scan Tool for Engine/SRS/ABS/at, Oil/EPB/SAS/TPMS Reset Throttle Matching Car Scanner, AutoVIN, 2022 CAN Diagnostic Tool for DIYer, Free WiFi Update
【8 Hot Reset Services, Auto VIN】TOPDON ArtiDiag600 is upgrade version of TOPDON Artidiag500 and TODON Artidiag500S.Enjoy 8 most popular maintenance services(enjoy Lifetime free upgrade) in this scan tool: Oil reset, SAS reset, EPB reset, TPMS reset, Throttle Matching, BMS RESET, INJECTOR CODING, and DPF RESET. ***Please Email us your VIN to Check Compatibility before purchase. Auto-VIN: automatically identify vehicle’s make, model, year information. AutoVIN doesn’t work on ALL cars. Feel free to enter the VIN data manually.
【4 Systems Diagnosis, Data Graphical Display, Data Record & Playback】This TOPDON Car Scanner works for Engine/SRS/ABS/Transmission diagnoses,which is compatible with 42 car brands now and enjoy lifetime free update for more features and more compatible car models. It displays live data stream graphically, supports data record&playback and shares report via email for print or troubleshooting. ***DO NOT SUPPORT KEY PROGRAM.***
【Auto-Saved Report, DTC Lookup, Feedback Online】Inspection report records at this code reader automatically saved or manually screenshoted can be shared by e-mail. Find detailed DTCs explanations at DTC LookUP Library or FAQ at "Data" menu. Get Technical Support via support@topdon.com or online feedback. TOPDON offers reliable customer support on Facebook during weekdays. Search “TOPDON Official” on Facebook and contact us via message.
【Touch Screen & Button, One-click WIFI Software Update, Battery Voltage Test】the combination of touch screen and button on this TOPDON OBD2 scanner bring huge convience of operation for car repair work. One click wifi software update save update efforts a lot.NOT a bi-directional diagnostic scanner. Active Test is NOT available.***
Weight
2 lbs
9.5
JunkieScore
5
OBD2 Scanner Bluetooth, TOPDON SmartDiag Mini Code Reader, Car Diagnostic Tool with All System Diagnosis, Oil Reset/SAS/BMS/DPF/ABS Bleeding/Injector Coding/Throttle, AutoVIN for DIYers
Warranty12 Month Warranty
▲All System Diagnosis Lifetime Free Use▲the Bluetooth car diagnostic tool can diagnose all available car systems such as ABS, SRS, Engine, TPMS, EPB, Transmission. with data revealed in detailed text, merged graph for easy view. Diagnostic menus are depended on car’s make, model and year. PLEASE NOTE: NO Active Test.
▲8 Commonly-used Maintenance Services▲Get everything you need in daily car diagnostic work with common reset functions, Oil reset(for 53 brands), SAS(for 44 brands), BMS(for 31 brands), DPF Regeneration(for 39 brands), ABS Bleeding(for 34 brands), Injector Coding(for 41 brands), Throttle Adaptation(for 37 brands).
▲Professional Scan Tool on the Go▲this portable bluetooth scanner can support Android 5.0.1/IOSIOS10.09 and higher version devices, making your smartphones & tablets a pro-level scan tool, with features equivalent to at least $150-200 range diagnostic tool. It provides all 10 OBDII functions.
▲Software Package&24*7 Customer Service▲All OBD2 functions and all system diagnostics are free for life. The 8 commonly-used reset/maintenance services are free for the first year. From the second year on, a fee of £39.99 will be charged per year. In case of any questions, please feel free to let us know. TOPDON offers reliable customer support on Facebook during weekdays. Search “TOPDON Official” on Facebook and contact us via message.
9.3
JunkieScore
40% OFF
6
OBD2 Scanner TOPDON ArtiDiag500 Oil/SAS/Throttle Reset Engine/ABS/SRS/Transmission, Diagnostic Scan Tool, AutoVIN, Car Check Engine Code Reader with Battery Test, Lifetime Wi-Fi Free Update
Warranty1 Year
[Oil/SAS/Throttle Reset] New 3 reset functions are available! TOPDON ArtiDiag500 OBD2 scanner with Oil /SAS/Throttle Reset to maintain your vehicle systems safely. Just Click "Upgrade" to obtain 3 special reset functions.
[OBD2 Scanner] The TOPDON OBD2 scanner performs all ENG/AT/SRS/ABS diagnostics with 4-in-1 graphic live data. It covers all OBD2 tests for 54 manufacturers and 10000+ model. It also features 5-second one-touch AutoVIN, a free one-touch lifetime upgrade through WiFi, library DTC, 9 languages, printable auto-generated report with email sharing, smooth Android 7.0, 16GB ROM, vivid 5-inch touchscreen, and up to 10 hours of battery life.
[4 Car System Code Reader] The TOPDON OBD2 scanner accesses 4 systems: Engine/ABS/SRS/Transmission. It identifies the ECU version, pull DTCs with 4-in-1 graphic live data and DTC explanation to identify issues, erase DTCs to turn off the warning lights after repair (For cars made in 2005 and newer). In order to help you extend the lifespan of your vehicle while improving performance, this code reader also includes all obd2 test modes to solve the majority of emission-related concerns for all vehicles.
[User-Oriented TOPDON OBD2 Scanner] With this scan tool's touchscreen and rubberized buttons, you may easily navigate through menus or process while following a logical path even when wearing gloves. With 16GB on-board memory, the scanner enables for the recording of several diagnostic reports, which can be shared via email and printed for review. Along with this, you can upgrade your software for free for lifetime with one-touch over Wi-Fi for that help update the features and expanding car coverage.
9.2
JunkieScore
7
OBD2 Scanner TOPDON AD500, Scan Tool, Code Reader, 3 Reset Service, Oil/SAS Reset Throttle Matching, Engine/SRS/ABS/AT, Diagnostic Scanner for All OBD2 Car, Free Lifetime Update, AutoVIN, Battery Test
👏👏👏【Newly Added 3 RESET FUNCTIONS】Purchase after October 18, 2022, with the same cost, TOPDON AD500 obd2 scanner has been fully upgraded. 👉Click the "Update" to upgrade the system and get 3 more reset services: ✅Oil reset, ✅Throttle Adaptation, ✅SAS Reset. It will help you save a ton of money and add functionality. 📞If you have any questions, you can also call us directly during normal business hours: US phone service 👉833-956-8335👈 Monday-Friday 9:00AM-6PM Eastern Time.
【2022 NEWEST OBD2 SCANNER】This TOPDON Artidiag500 with OE level engine, transmission, ABS, SRS system diagnostic scanner suits for 57 car brands, 10000 models on a global scale. One-click AutoVIN, 5.0” 720P touchscreen display, Lifetime update via WiFi, 4-in-1 merged live data graph, battery voltage monitor, Android7.0; Worry-free product assurance provided for 1 year.
【4 Systems Diagnostic Scanner + AUTOVIN 】This TOPDON obd2 scanner diagnostic code reader goes beyond offering riches of engine, transmission, ABS, and SRS diagnostic data of most 2006 & newer vehicles, compatible with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda; but also using AutoVIN technology to pinpoint the accurate diagnostic procedure for each specific vehicle, for you to repair correctly.
【Over 10000+ Vehicle Coverage + 9 Free Languages Car Scanner】Cover 57 brands, 10000+ models up to 2022. Use this TOPDON obd2 scanner to have full OBD2 tests on most 1996 & newer 12V Cars, SUVs, Light Trucks/Hybrids for any emission-related issues. All modes of OBD2 test for OBD2, EOBD, JOBD, CAN 1996 & newer cars. The multilingual setting allows easy switch of 9 languages (EN, FR, ES, DE, IT, RU, PT, JP, KR) back and forth as necessary.
Weight
1 lbs
9.0
JunkieScore
8
OBD2 Scanner Code Reader AL600 - ABS & SRS Diagnostics with Active Test, Car Diagnostic Scan Tool with Oil/ BMS/ SAS Reset, Full OBD2 Functions, Lifetime Free Update, LED Lights - by TOPDON
【ABS & SRS Scan Tool 】 Help you diagnose issues with both anti-lock braking system (ABS) and internal airbag system (SRS); test their sensors, valves, or solenoids; and keep track of any threats in real time to prevent unexpected damage with these 2 essential safety systems, which a normal OBD2 scanner cannot do. Compatible with GM, Nissan, Fiat, Benz, Volvo, LandRover, BMW, USAFord.
【3 Reset Services 】Easy to set up 3 regular reset services for Oil Light, Battery Management System, and Steering Angle Position. With this diagnostic tool, you can reset the oil service light and reset pre-programmed mileage intervals for energy efficiency; adjust or reset the steering angle position to keep steering aligned; and clear the original low battery fault information. No need to leave home for shop-quality car maintenance.
【All OBD2 Test Modes 】 Quickly tell you the exact cause behind the check engine warning light. This ABS & SRS scan tool is also a fully-featured obd2 code reader; can read/clear engine light codes, show live data, and do I/M readiness test ... to solve emission issues, and help pass smog test for most post-1996 OBD2/CAN vehicles. Plus, it has the now-popular DTC lookup library to save searching repair materials online.
【User-Oriented 】 Physically, you will like the feel of this obd2 scanner with the black rubber grip thing all around the outside edge. Durable enough to stand the accidental drop. Thanks to its easily accessible menu, you can operate all functions in minutes, with the press of a few buttons. 3-color LEDs intuitively indicate if everything's good, there's a warning, or there's a serious issue. There’s even an LED integrated into the connector port so you can hook it up in darkness.
8.8
JunkieScore
33% OFF
9
OBD2 Scanner Wireless, TOPDON AD800BT, Free Lifetime Upgrade, Scan Tool, Automotive Diagnostic Tool, Full System Diagnosis, 28+ Reset Services, Oil Reset/ABS Bleeding/IMMO/TPMS/SAS/BMS/EPB/DPF/AutoVIN
【2022 New, 28 Hot Reset Services】Enjoy pop-up guidance for easy access to 28 most popular maintenance services in this diagnostic tool: Oil, SAS, EPB & Tire Pressure Reset; Injector Coding; SAS Calibration; ABS Bleeding; DPF Regeneration; Battery, Throttle, Headlight, Gearbox & Anti-theft Matching (ONLY For Asian cars with low-grade IMMO); EGR Adaption; Tooth Learning; Sunroof Initialization. *Menus vary by make, model, and year of gasoline or diesel engine vehicle. Email us your VIN data.
【✅NO Fee of Lifetime Software Upgrade】TOPDON ArtiDiag800BT all system scanner skip the costly subscription to stay up to date. Buy now to enjoy lifetime free update via WiFi in this TOPDON obd2 scanner so you can fix bugs, grow features, and cover newly released car models throughout the whole period of use. 🚘Free your wallet from suffering yearly 75~250 bucks subscription fee required by other scanners.🚘***DO NOT SUPPORT KEY PROGRAM.***
【All Systems Car Scanner】This TOPDON diagnostic scanner can get OE-level analysis of ECM, ABS, airbag, SAS, DPF, EVAP, TPMS, BMS, EPB, among other available on-board systems. Pull, clear their codes; turn off related warning lights; check freeze frame data; view live stream in detailed text, merged graph you need to diagnose, repair, and maintain for majority of car makes and models worldwide. NOT a bi-directional diagnostic scanner. Active Test is NOT available.
【Wireless & Bluetooth + AUTOVIN + 32G ROM 】Experience no strings attached wireless diagnostics with long working range of 33 feet (10m) thanks to the included Blue-tooth 4.0 VCI dongle. Automatically identify vehicle’s make, model, year information, and quickly match the right software at a single touch upon this scan tool, with a full, clear, and accurate report automatically generated for further analysis. *AutoVIN doesn’t work on ALL cars. Feel free to enter the VIN data manually.
Weight
1 lbs
Color
ArtiDiag800BT
8.5
JunkieScore
10
TOPDON Phoenix Lite 2, Bi-Directional Scan Tool, 2022 Newest Ver, 2 Years Free Update, Wireless Automotive Diagnostic Scanner, ECU Coding, 28+ Reset Services, Full Systems Scan, AutoAuth for FCA SGW
Warranty1 Year
🚘ONLINE/ECU CODING For VEHICLE MODIFICATION▶The Phoenix Lite 2 scan tool supports Online/ECU coding for vehicles, compatible with VW, SEAT, SKODA, PORSCHE, BENZ, BMW, and more, which can help to match and code after ECU replacement, including Light Module, ABS Module, and can also unlock hidden functions such as movement pointer and horn alerts when locking/unlocking the car.
🚘BI-DIRECTIONAL CONTROL▶As a Bi-Directional Control Scanner, the Phoenix Lite 2 can be used to verify diagnosis and pinpoint repairs needed with powerful active actuator tests, locating problem areas including Fuel Injector, Coolant Fans, Coolant Pump, Windshield Wipers, EGR Valve, Sunroof, Windows and more.***NOTE: Some compatible vehicle models about "Active Test" need to be connected to the Internet to use.
🚘200 VEHICLE MODELS OE-LEVEL DIAGNOSIS, 28+ RESET SERVICE▶Equipped with all system diagnostic functions, the Phoenix Lite 2 can perform basic functions including ECU lookup, read and clear fault codes, read data stream for over 200 models, compatible with GM, FORD, TOYOTA, BENZ, BMW and more, up to 2022. Offering 28 maintenance services including Oil Reset, EPB Reset, Suspension Reset to meet all your needs. Refer to special function menu in specific system for more functions.
🚘V.A.G GUIDED FUNCTION▶The Phoenix Lite 2 car diagnostic tool has access to V.A.G Guided Function with step-by-step procedures, which streamlines the repair process and promotes a quick and accurate car diagnosis. Follow the prompts for easy and convenient operation, suitable for VW, SKODA and SEAT vehicles. 
Weight
2 lbs
8.3
JunkieScore
Our #1 Pick in Tt Topdon Code Readers

1
OBD2 Scanner TOPDON AD600S Scan Tool, Code Reader, Diagnostics Scanner for ABS/SRS/at/Engine, 8 Reset Services, Oil/Brake/BMS/SAS/DPF/TPMS Reset/ABS Bleeding/Throttle Adaptation, Free Lifetime Upgrade
【🔥🔥8 Reset Service Car Scanner 】TOPDON obd2 scanner AD600S is the upgrade version of TOPDON AD600, AD500 and AD500S.This diagnostic scan tool Adds 3 more commonly used reset function.✅Except for OIL RESET, BRAKE RESET, TPMS RESET, Throttle Adaptation, SAS RESET, ✅it add the BMS RESET, ABS BLEEDING, DPF RESET, ✅more practical reset functions than TOPDON AD600 and AD500S. For the cost you’re getting value from this handy car scanner to reset systems. *Function menu varies by vehicle’s specifics.
【👍 Recommended by Youtuber Samcrac 👍 2022 New, 4 Systems Diagnostic Tool. 】This is an OBDII scanner and 4 systems diagnostic tool made for home mechanics, DIYers, and professionals. You can access AT/ENG/ABS/SRS fault codes to find the right troubleshooting procedure, and diagnose with full 10 OBD2 test modes to fix most of emission issues. Give your aging cars satisfying routine maintenance to avoid costly repairs, a breakdown, or even a crash.*DOESN'T WORK WITH 5G.
【No extra software fee + One-click Lifetime Free Updates】The touch-sensitive screen on this scan tool makes operation much easier than the simple button-based OBD2 code readers. The icons are clear and its 5” color screen with high resolution will leave you with no trouble interpreting results in a dark garage. One-click lifetime updates over Wi-Fi will keep the software current and the coverage addition constant. Android 6.0 ensures lightning-fast bootup and processing.
【Powerful Compatibility + Work on 90 Vehicle Brands】Most OBD2 scanners work with vehicles manufactured after 2001, but TOPDON ArtiDiag600S compatible with OBDII-equipped vehicles built after 1996, and it works on more than 90 Vehicle Brands.It supports Diesel (12v only), gasoline, 12V passenger car, pickup, light-duty truck, SUV, minivans, compatible with OBD2/EOBD/JOBD&CAN protocols.*Menus vary by make, model, and year of gasoline or diesel engine vehicle. Email us your VIN data.
Weight
1 lbs
Color
Blue
9.9
JunkieScore
16% OFF

Simple OBD2 Scanner Buying Guide

Author Ann M
Published on October 19, 2022
by Ann M

This guide will cover Onboard Diagnostic Scanners (OBD2) and why this affordable and invaluable tool should be as ubiquitous as a spare tire for nearly all vehicle owners. Every domestic or imported vehicle manufactured since 1996 is mandated to be equipped with a data port located near the driver’s seat. In the years prior to 1996, domestically sold vehicles weren’t required to feature these data ports. If you own a Ford, GM, Chrysler, or Toyota from the 1980s-1995, there is a scanner that is adaptable to OBD1 technology. More on that later.

Most drivers, when the inevitable check engine or oil change light pops-up, will race towards the nearest mechanic shop or dealer service center and begrudgingly shell-out $249 for a vehicle diagnostic check.

The price of OBD scanners has dropped precipitously in recent years, which means that they are no longer cost-prohibitive. Even if you are a neophyte to car repairs, you can’t afford to not feature one of these devices in your arsenal. It should be noted that major auto parts retailers will OBD scan your vehicle and provide you with codes free of charge, or let you borrow their scanner.

Next, I will outline the benefits of owning an OBD scanner, even if you aren’t mechanically inclined.

Benefits of Owning an OBD2 Scanner

- At a typical cost starting at $30, these devices are affordable, and will pay for themselves if they save you even one trip to the shop.
- Erase error codes and turn off oil change lights in your driveway.
- In-depth diagnostic information of all major systems of your vehicle, including predictive repairs.
- Spot-check the integrity and honesty of your mechanic.
- Avoid costly, unnecessary repairs.
- Diagnose and repair basic issues yourself without the need for expensive technicians.

Like most consumer electronics, selecting the right make and model can be a daunting task. In the next section, I will cover the basic differences between the types of OBD scanners and the features you should focus on.

Types & Features of OBD2 Scanners

Entry-level, or handheld scanners are hardwired, which means that you attach a cable adapter to the data port in your vehicle which transmits a wired signal to the device. The information they provide is basic, like typical error codes. You will be relegated to cross-referencing these codes to Google. Their scope is more narrow than the more expensive OBDs. Most of the entry-level models will not facilitate the removal of error lights, and provide only the most basic of diagnostic information.

Inexpensive OBDs are simply code readers, and more elaborate ones are scan tools. For the typical car owner seeking to audit their mechanic or assess and address a basic issue, a code reader is likely adequate. For more advanced diagnostics and car repairs, a scan tool is probably the answer. All scan tools are code readers, but not all code readers are scan tools.

Also available at the entry price level are dongle-style tools that plug into your data port and transmit all pertinent vehicle data to a number of different apps. They do not have wires, a keyboard, or a screen like handheld units.

At the top of the price range are the wireless OBDs, which transmit their data on-screen or via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to a customized app. These devices provide the most in-depth diagnostics, parts recommendations, service updates (like recalls), thorough vehicular systems evaluations, and repair instructions. They will also turn your check engine or oil change light off. They can even evaluate the health of your battery, and offer predictive information if a system is bound for maintenance or repair. They have the traditional keyboard and screen, but also work through diagnostic apps.

It’s important to cross-reference your vehicle with the model of scanner you are considering purchasing. Not all devices work with every make and model of cars.

If you are simply wanting to diagnose your check engine light, the less-expensive code readers will suffice. If you plan on tackling a portion of your ongoing maintenance and repairs and are fairly mechanically-adept, spring for one of the more elaborate scanning models.

The differences in scanners can be subtle, so scour the reviews to make an informed buying decision. In the next section, I’ll provide you with a few of the top-rated devices, their prices, and key features.

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