Buying an auto code scanner can make it a lot easier to keep an eye on your car's health. Whether you're a mechanic who needs to look at auto codes daily or an Average Joe who wants to check his car's error codes, there's a perfect OBD scanner for you out there.
In 2021, you’ll find your best code scanner for cars coming from brands like BlueDriver, Autel, Nexpeak, Ancel, and Innova. Whether you’re looking for the best value car scanner or the best auto scanner money can buy, these are the brands you’ll want to check first.
In this article, we’re going to go through five of the best auto code scanners that you can buy in 2021. Each of them has a unique strength that makes them suitable for different kinds of buyers. So, rest assured that no matter what your budget or priority is, you’ll find what you need right here.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Top Contenders for the Best Auto Scanner in 2021
If you’re looking for the best code scanner for cars in 2021, you’ll find them among the following:
BlueDriver Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner
Let’s start this list with BlueDriver’s Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner. Coming out from the US, this auto code scanner is the perfect solution for people who prefer leveraging Bluetooth and smartphone apps.
With the Bluetooth connection, you can sync the OBD scanner with your smartphone through BlueDriver’s dedicated app. It works with both Android and iOS phones, so you won’t have to worry about compatibility.
Part of what makes this auto code scanner so fantastic is its functionality. Besides reading and clearing error codes, you can also use it to capture live data as it happens, generate reports, and even run advanced tests (e.g. counting the number of misfires in the engine).
Best of all, you won’t have to pay for anything other than the scanner. That means there’s no subscription fees or app fees either!
Autel MaxiCom MK808
Autel is another big name that you’ll frequently see when shopping for the best auto scanner. Its premium offering, the Autel MaxiCom MK808, is a tablet-like device with a large 7-inch LCD screen.
That is undoubtedly the kind of auto code scanner for professionals who work on cars every day and for auto enthusiasts with money to burn.
Besides making it much easier to navigate all of its functions, the device also comes in a very tough case that’s easy to carry and store in your car.
As you might expect in terms of functionality, this auto code scanner allows you to read and clear error codes from your car. But better than that, it can also recognise all your car’s identifying features, like its VIN, brand, model, and even its manufacturing year.
Above all, expert users will appreciate doing advanced programming on this scanner and connecting it to WiFi to print reports with the touch of a button.
Looking for something a little bit more budget-friendly? Well, Nexpeak’s got you covered with its NX501 scan tool. Two things you’ll want to know about this OBD scanner off the bat: one, it comes with free updates, and two, it’s affordable.
Coming at a lower price doesn’t mean that you’re sacrificing too much, though. The Nexpeak NX501 works with most vehicles on the market and has no problems reading generic codes.
Here's another budget-friendly, Bluetooth-enabled OBD scanner: the Ancel BD301. This is the best auto scanner if you're looking for something compact and easy to use. Better yet, it's also incredibly light and works either by itself or with a phone.
On its own, you've got a small LCD and four buttons, keeping things simple and straightforward. Still, you can pair it with an Android or iOS app, which will give you more information and much more functionality!
Innova CarScan Pro 5210
Some buyers will undoubtedly want something that offers professional features but at a consumer-level price tag. For those people, the Innova CarScan Pro 5210 is the answer.
It’s an advanced OBD scanner that can read almost any code that’s out there, and it even lets you test the battery and alternator, among many other car parts.
Better yet, it also offers advanced diagnostic features like hybrid diagnostics, total network module scanning, and so much more.
What Is the Best Car Code Scanner for the Money?
If money is no issue and you’re looking for the best of the best auto scanner, then you’ll want the Innova CarScan Pro 5210. It is a handheld OBD scanner with a built-in display and all the buttons you’ll need right on the device.
Besides reading almost any error code that a car might have today, it also comes with advanced diagnostics features that you won’t find on some other scanners, like its ability to run hybrid diagnostics.
So, if you’re looking for the best value car scanner that puts professional-level functionality in the palm of your hand, the Innova CarScan Pro 5210 is it!
Do All Code Scanners Work on All Cars?
When shopping for code scanners, it’s fair to wonder if all code scanners work on all cars. Well, as long as your vehicle has onboard diagnostics, any scanner will be able to read generic error codes.
Here’s what you need to remember: the onboard diagnostics on most cars will use the same generic codes to identify any problems it faces. However, some car brands may have unique codes that only some scanners can read.
To be sure, always check the auto code scanner to see if it can read any manufacturer-specific codes that might apply to the car you drive.
How Do I Choose an OBD Scanner?
When shopping for an OBD scanner, you’ll want to consider three things: your budget, the compatibility with your vehicle, and the features you need.
Firstly, you’ll want to buy an OBD scanner that you can comfortably afford. Let’s be honest here: an auto code scanner is not a critical piece of equipment unless you run your own workshop. So, there’s no point in spending a month’s rent on the coolest scanner out there. Instead, buy something you can afford.
Next, you’ll need to consider the compatibility of the scanner with your vehicle. As mentioned previously, most (if not all) scanners can read generic codes. However, some are also able to read manufacturer-specific codes that might apply to your car.
Lastly, consider the functionality. You don’t necessarily need a professional-grade OBD scanner (though that would be cool to have if you can afford it). Think about why you’re buying a scanner in the first place, and find one with just enough functionality to keep you happy.
The Best Buying Guide for Car Tools & Accessories
Whether you’re looking for the best OBD scanner or any other auto accessory, you can check out this blog. We come up with daily posts, so you’ll get updates about the latest products coming out in the auto world. And I think you’ll appreciate the expediency of using our car part finder in locating sellers for hard-to-find and discontinued auto parts! So what are you waiting for? Request a car part now!
By Ray Hasbollah