The Best Automotive Scan Tools
When it comes to automotive scan tools there are a lot of options out there, and each of these options will depend on what the intended use of the tool is going to be. If it is for personal use to check your own vehicle then you do not need anything too technical, so a basic scanner will work. But if you plan to be using it in a more technical/professional setting then you will want to invest in the tool that will help you get the job done.
After over a decade of working with different scan tool platforms, I have started to grow away from some of the more major brands of scan tools (Snap On, Mac, Matco) as I learned most of them were just re-branded/re-boxed import units, and most seem to always come with horrible support now days. After working in so many shops I had the opportunity to try a lot of different scanners and software, so below I am going to list a few of my top personal favorites, starting with the most simple and moving to the most advanced.
1: ANCEL AD410 OBD II Vehicle Scan Tool
- This Ancel handheld unit is perfect to keep in your garage if you simply want to be able to quickly check the trouble codes or emission status, it does not go into too much detail on things, so if you are just looking for something simple, yet helpful, then this will be a great unit for you to have.
2: Autel AL619 Autolink OBD II Scan Tool
- This Autel scan tool is awesome if you want to be able to read/clear engine data, as well as ABS and Airbag system data. This is a very great tool to have if you plan on doing any work at home. The simplicity and ease of use of this specific scanner is great, it only takes a few clicks to immediately find what you need, and so far what I have seen the smoothness of the operating software is great, no lags or glitching as of yet. It seems to be a lot more consistent than my old Mac Tools scanner that was over 3x the price! For the price, this scanner is a a great value and an awesome asset to have in any tool box.
3: LAUNCH CRP123 OBD II Scan Tool
- This Launch scan tool is a great unit and for me it is about tied with the Autel scanner above, it has the same features and ease of use, it use just set up with a different handheld configuration, and some people may like this more.
4: BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android
- This BlueDriver unit is awesome, as it is hands free and links wirelessly to your iPhone/iPad/Android. It has the ability to read and monitor Engine, ABS, SRS, Transmission data, so it can be very useful if you know what you are looking for, and the fact that it opens through an app on your device makes things one step easier as you eliminate the need for another tool in between. BlueDriver offers 24/7 support, so if you have any connectivity issues there is always someone that can help you get some assistance.
5: Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD II Scan Tool
- This Autel unit is a very great diagnostic unit. Along with in-depth code reading and reporting, it has multiple programming and reset features, including theft/immobilizer resets and the tire pressure monitoring system. This scanner has a quad core processor and a 7″ touch screen for quick and easy navigation. This scanner is perfect for the do it yourself/hobby mechanic, as well as the new technician who is just getting started and does not want to drop thousands into their first scan tool. I used this for about 2 years before upgrading to the bigger unit, and I never had any issues. I worked at a small shop that had the same scanner, the screen glitched on it and was not responding on time, without questions Autel replaced it with a brand new unit, so their customer service seems to be on point.
6: Autel Maxisys Elite Diagnostic Tool
- This beast here is the real deal. It is a full in depth scan tool, able to log in and access all equipped modules. It is a wireless setup, so you can carry it around the vehicle with you as you work, and you don’t need to worry about cables getting in the way. It runs a NVIDIA quad core processor on an Android operating system, so it is set up and performs like a high powered tablet. Autel offers 24/7 remote support, and as long as you are connected to WiFi they can access and diagnose your tool should there be any issue. The Maxisys Elite is definitely not a cheap investment, but if you are using it in a shop or service setting then it’s performance will help pay itself off very quick. In my opinion, and the opinion of many technicians I have worked with, this thing will outperform all of the Snap On scanners that retail 2-3x as much as this, it’s actually pretty crazy how much of a difference there is. I think people see the shiny new box on the tool truck and get suckered into it, I’ve been there many times haha. If you are looking for a tool that you can grow into with your career then this is the perfect choice.