Buying an OBD-II scanner in 2022: the best models

OBD2 scanner with backlit screen, isolated on white background.

You can save money on unexpected repairs by keeping one of the best OBD-II scanners in your car. A check engine light is the last thing you need, so why pay a mechanic to diagnose and fix something you could have done yourself in a few minutes?

You can access your car’s computer system directly through the on-board diagnostic (OBD) scanner, which plugs into the access port by the driver’s seat. The light can tell you if the problem is something simple you can fix yourself, or something that will cost you thousands of dollars to fix.

You can also see what’s going on with your car’s engine, transmission, and other critical systems with, sometimes called OBD2 scanners in Europe. You normally can only get that information from your mechanic.

No matter if you’re taking your car in for a routine inspection or a major repair, having this vital information on hand always helps. If nothing else, it will prevent you from paying for repairs you don’t need.

Once you know everything about your wheels, you can do a lot of the smaller stuff yourself. Consequently, the best OBD-II scanners, priced between $25 and $200, are worth their weight in gold.

More than a dozen OBD-II scanners have been tested and rated based on features, size, warranty, setup, ease of use, and – most importantly – value. There are thousands of automotive problems that can be diagnosed with the best OBD-II scanners.

In the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Mexico, and New Zealand, OBD-II/EOBD scanners are available on almost all passenger vehicles sold since 1996. If you don’t know where your car’s OBD-II port is, here’s how to find it

There are many different types of OBD-II scanners, but not all of them are created equal. In general, there are two types of devices.

Handheld OBD-II scanners have their own screen and cable to connect to the car’s OBD port.

Connecting via Bluetooth, wireless OBD2II scanners plug into the port and display their results on a smartphone or tablet.

Whatever type you choose, there are several high-performance OBD-II scanners that cost less than $200. Some of them are under $30. Having one of the best OBD-II scanners in your car is no longer an unaffordable luxury.

How do I choose the best OBD-II scanner?

The best OBD-II scanner we used and tested is the Innova CarScan Inspector 6100p. It has a color display, delivers a ton of useful data, shuts off the oil-change light and can run your car through a pre-inspection test. Unlike most scanners, it has both a handheld screen and the ability to connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth.

Innova provides code definitions to help you identify car problems and Repair Solutions2 will provide you with the exact parts you need, recall information and more.

Our second Editor’s Choice is the Topdon ArtiDiag500. As the only scanner that can connect to Wi-Fi, it has a horizontal screen, a full complement of features, and a full complement of capabilities.

In our analysis of Bluetooth-only scanners, the BlueDriver Pro Scan Tool is the clear winner. You can leave it connected to your OBD-II port, but the app is well-designed and elegant.

A Bosch OBD 1300 might be a godsend if you have a GM, Ford, Chrysler or Toyota car from the 1980s or early 1990s. Special cables are included to connect to pre-1996 “OBD-I” vehicles.