What Is The Best OBD Scanner To Buy?
Are you looking to buy an OBD Scanner and wondering what is the best one to buy?
This guide will help you understand more about diagnostic OBD scan tools and put you in the right direction in your buying journey. While it does not explain in detail the different OBDII scan tools types and functions, but it will explain to you the 5 essential steps to consider before you decide what diagnostic scan tool to buy.
OBD Diagnostic Scan Tools come in different hardware, software, compatibility, functions and features. They are nothing like buying an electronic device or a car. So, when looking for the best OBD scanner for your need, the answer depends on what you need the scan tool for. With the sheer number of available scan tools on the market, it can be overwhelming to know which OBD scan tool to buy or where to buy it from.
Without good understanding of the right steps for buying an OBD2 scan tool that best suits your need, there's a high possibility that you may end up buying the wrong one. This will cost you time and money. Especially if you end up buying the wrong OBD scanner from the wrong seller!
That’s why, we’ve decided to put together this guide to help you make an informed decision before you buy your next diagnostic scan tool.
The 5 Essential Steps For Buying The Best OBD Scanner For Your Need
1- What cars you want the OBD scanner for?
The first step in the buying process is to know what cars you want the OBD scanner to cover. If you are a professional mechanic or an automotive diagnostic workshop, you’ll probably want to go for an OBD scanner that covers all cars. If you are a Korean cars specialised mechanic or workshop, then why not go for a professional OBD scanner for Korean cars only.
On the other hand, If you are a home mechanic or a DIYer, then you will probably need an OBD scan tool to cover a specific model, brand or maybe 3-4 brands to cover family’s and friends’ cars. The introduction of professional single brand OBD scan tools in the past years made it possible for individuals to own a professional OBD scan tool for their required brand, without having to invest in a professional diagnostic tool that covers all cars.
2- What year models you want the OBD scanner to cover?
The variety of diagnostic tools will depend on their ability to cover older cars and also the ability to cover most recent cars. Price difference for OBD scanners that cover older to most recent compared to OBD scanners that cover up to 2-3 years old cars can be huge, so if you are tight on budget or just want a second or third OBD scan tool for your workshop, then the second option is definitely worth considering.
3- What systems you want the OBD scanner to diagnose?
The second question you’ll need to answer is what level of ECU scanning you would like to have in an OBD scanner.
Throughout the car are various computers called electronic control units, or ECUs. Each one is designed to control sensors within a system like Engine, Transmission, Body, ABS etc. And then they all report to the Control Area Network (CAN). The OBD scanner will help you access these systems to read sensors values and report them as live data or fault codes.
OBD scanners have different capabilities and software in terms of the number of systems they can scan. So depending on what systems you want to scan, whether engine only, 4 systems, multi systems or all system OBD scanning, you can start filtering scan tools accordingly.
Of course OBD scanners’ prices will depend on car coverage, systems and other diagnostics functions that come with the OBD scanner which I will explain in the next section.
4- What functions you want your OBD scanner to perform?
Some additional reset functions can be available in some OBD scanners that will allow users to perform services other than just scan codes. These include Oil service and mileage intervals reset. Steering Angle sensor reset. Diesel particulate filter regeneration. Electronic park brake and more. While these can be widely available on scan tools in different combinations, other scan tools can also offer advanced “bi-directional” access. This will allow you to do coding and adaptation jobs including injector coding, gear relearn, brake bleed, throttle body alignment, ECU Pass-thru and many more.
Unlike the previous steps, this one can not be categorised in 1-2 options. The different combinations of available options vary a lot between what OBD scanners can offer. So when looking for an OBD Scanner to buy, think about the functions you'd like to have in your OBD Scanner. The cost of these functions can add a lot on the price of the scan tool. For example, if you won't be needing Throttle Body Alignment & Coding functions, try to filter out these functions from your OBD scan tool options, you'd save couple of hundred dollars without these functions. Same goes for other functions as well.
The compatibility for special functions will vary from one model to another. So if the OBD scanner ad says it does injector coding, this does not mean it will allow this on all cars. That’s why, if you are buying the OBD scanner to perform any specific service or coding function, always make sure that the OBD scan tool does cover this function for the specific car you want it for.
5- Where to Buy OBD Scanner From?
Well, this is simple but also the most important step. Buy from your local supplier who can give you expert advice, excellent return policy and a excellent guarantee!
Buying an OBD scan tool is not like buying any other electronic device. There can be compatibility issues, software bugs, or you just may have questions before or after the purchase. Your local supplier should be in a position to provide you with all information you require, and also, be able to repair or take back the OBD Scanner in the case it did not work for the purpose.
So, when buying an OBD scanner you’ll need a local expert advise with an excellent return policy and guarantee no matter what level of diagnostician you are. From entry to most advanced.
We do not recommend buying from overseas sellers. Although you can find it cheaper but you may not get the special software or updates available for your market. For example, most scan tools available from AZscanners have Australian specific software. This ensures that Aussie customers can get a software not available on scan tools supplied by overseas sellers even if it is the exact same model. You may also not get the same customer support and guarantee you will have with your local supplier. Saving a couple of dollars on buying an OBD scan tool from overseas is a risky business. Especially when it comes to buying OBD diagnostic tools.
I hope these steps will help put you in the right direction in your buying process for the best OBD scanner for your need. And if you found this useful and want to share with other friends who might also be looking to buy an OBD scanner soon, then please go ahead and share it. Our aim is to help as many people as possible understand scan tools and be able to buy the one that will work for them well.