If you’re looking to find the best bidirectional scan tool for your workshop, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’re going to take you through some of the finest options available on the market today, and explain how they can revolutionize your workflow.
Why? Because picking up a great OBD2 scan tool is one of the wisest investments a mechanic or car owner can make.
They save you loads of time and allow you to complete complex repairs with absolute ease. Read on to find out what to look for in your next OBD2 tool and how to find the perfect device for your needs.
Best Scan Tools with Bi-directional Function Comparison Chart
|Best of the Best||Best Cheap||Runner-up|
Launch X431 V Pro
ANCEL AD610 Elite
FOXWELL NT630 Plus
4.4 / 5
4.3 / 5
3.9 / 5
|20" x 14" x 4"||8.7" x 6.6" x 3.4"||17.7" x 9.8" x 2.4"|
|SRS, ABS Diagnosis||✔||✔||✔|
|Freeze frame data||✔||✔||✔|
What is a Bi-directional Scan tool?
A bidirectional scan tool is a vehicle diagnostic device that allows mechanics to send commands to a car, as well as read the data coming back from it. This is different from traditional scanners, which are usually read-only devices.
Bidirectional scanners provide an incredible amount of possibilities when it comes to vehicle repairs. They can run system tests, access the engine control module, and even perform ECU coding.
A bidirectional scanner is one of the best items that a mechanic can add to their toolkit.
Best Bidirectional Scan Tools For Vehicle Diagnostics
Launch X431 V Pro OBD2 Diagnostic Tool – Editor’s Pick
The first bidirectional scan tool that we’d recommend is the excellent Launch X431 V Pro. Launch is one of the leading names in the industry and has built a reputation for its high-quality products and friendly customer service.
Features and Functions:
The Launch X431 V Pro has all the basic functionality that you’d expect from a diagnostic scan tool. This means it can turn off the check engine light, read and clear error codes, and monitor vehicle sensors with ease.
Where this device really comes into its own is with its bidirectional features. Performing actuation tests is an absolute breeze with the Launch X431 V Pro and you’ll know within minutes which actuators are functioning correctly and which need some attention.
Since this is a bidirectional scan tool, you can use the device to control vehicle functions whilst you walk around the vehicle. For example, you could use the Launch tool to move the steering column whilst checking that the wheels respond accordingly.
The Launch X431 V Pro also has a very useful live data function that allows a mechanic to really get to grips with how a vehicle is performing in real-time. When using this device, you can see live data streams from all the systems in the car you’re testing.
The Launch X431 V Pro is compatible with vehicles from across Asian, European, and American markets. In fact, this bidirectional scan tool can be used with over 94 different car brands and 10,000 models.
The scan tool also has a multilingual menu system that can be configured in a range of different languages. If you work in a garage with people of different nationalities, then everyone will be able to get the most out of this device.
Autel Maxisys MS906BT Professional Scan Tool for Technicians
The next bidirectional scan tool we have for you is the Autel Maxisys MS906BT. This diagnostic scanner is extremely popular and many mechanics around the world use it every day in their professional workshops.
The Autel Maxisys MS906BT is built to the brand’s usual high standards. The responsive touch screen is protected by a durable plastic and rubber casing so there’s absolutely no need to worry about this device getting damaged.
Autel actually throws in a one year warranty with every purchase, which keeps you covered in the extremely unlikely event that you come across any manufacturer faults.
Features and Functions:
The device’s well-built exterior is combined with industry-leading software that is packed with features. The Autel Maxisys MS906BT is an upgrade on the legendary MS906 model and adds Bluetooth functionality for wireless diagnostics.
The inclusion of Bluetooth means that the mechanic is free to walk around a vehicle whilst using the tablet. This is particularly useful when the technician wants to command the car to perform a task and observe how it responds.
One of the most impressive features that this scan tool offers is its ECU coding ability, which allows the user to recode elements of a car’s CPU. This is particularly useful if a mechanic needs to setup new actuators and wants to make sure that they work in harmony with the rest of the subsystem.
The MS906BT runs on the Android operating system. One of the biggest advantages of using an Android OS is that is updated regularly and you’ll never be left with an obsolete tablet. Android is also extremely well optimized and responsive, so is unlikely to cause you any frustration.
This Autel bidirectional scan tool is compatible with more than 80 car brands from the US, Europe, and Asia. This means you are highly unlikely to run into a vehicle that you can’t use this scanner for.
To make use of this device’s wireless connectivity features, you simply insert the included Bluetooth transmitter into your vehicle’s diagnostic port. After that, just find the transmitter in the menus of your Autel device and you can link them up.
ANCEL AD610 Elite Scanning Tool (Cheap)
It’s true that a bidirectional scan tool can be an expensive investment. However, there are some cheaper options available, such as the Ancel AD610.
Ancel isn’t a brand to sacrifice on quality to provide cheap products, so you can rest easy knowing that your Ancel AD610 will have passed through some strict quality-control testing.
Despite this scan tool having an attractive price tag, it still manages to offer impressive functions that rival many of the more expensive models. For example, the AD610 can complete advanced ABS, SAS, and actuator tests.
Additionally, the device can turn off warning lights and run airbag checks. Its code reading abilities are also very solid and the AD610 can recognize and read trouble codes from a wide variety of vehicle systems.
Most importantly, this scan tool is able to clear error codes after a repair has been completed. You really don’t want to be handing a car back to a customer with fault codes still showing, so being able to clear them is essential.
The Ancel AD610 has a decent level of compatibility, covering around 62 global automotive brands. Although there are scan tools that are compatible with more vehicle brands than this, the AD610 covers more than enough manufacturers to make it a valuable diagnostic tool.
Since this scan tool is OBD2 compliant, it can be used with vehicles produced after 1996. If you want to run diagnostics on a car or van made before 1996, then you’ll need a dedicated OBD1 compliant device.
FOXWELL NT630 Plus Scanner (Cheap)
The Foxwell NT630 is another budget-orientated option that is pretty similar to the Ancel AD610. As with the Ancel device, you can expect to find advanced functions on the NT630 that you’d usually only expect to find on higher-priced models.
The NT630 scan tool is extremely well-built and feels like it costs much more than its very reasonable price tag. Foxwell also includes a one year warranty with your purchase to give you some extra peace of mind.
If you’re working on a budget, then the Foxwell NT630 is one of the best bidirectional scan tools you can buy. It offers professional-grade functionality in a very easy to use package. Its range of features makes it suitable for mechanics and amateur vehicle owners alike.
As soon as the Foxwell NT630 is connected to a vehicle it immediately reads its VIN number and tailors its functions accordingly. The VIN number lets the device know the exact make and model of the car it is working with and will report this information back to the mechanic.
The NT630 is a very capable trouble code reader and will highlight any problems in a vehicle’s systems. You can also access Foxwell’s database of error codes, where you can find information about tested fixes and repair ideas for specific codes.
One particularly useful feature of this scan tool is the ABS Bleeding feature. This prepares the ABS system for bleeding and ensures the process is as simple as possible. ABS bleeding can sometimes be a fiddly job, so having a tool to help you out is always nice.
For an affordable bidirectional scan tool, the Foxwell NT630 has a pretty impressive level of compatibility. Specifically, it can be used with over 52 vehicle brands from around the world.
The scanner works with most post-1996 vehicles but there are some exceptions where you won’t be able to use all of the device’s functions. If you want to find out which models this applies to then we’d recommend getting in touch with Foxwell’s helpful customer service team.
ANCEL FX6000 All System Code Reader for Technicians
Here we have another Ancel product, this time their FX6000 model. This diagnostic scanner has one of the most rugged designs that we’ve seen. The strong plastic housing is accented with rubber for extra protection.
The FX6000 is very easy-to-use and is a great product for people just getting into vehicle diagnostics. However, it still offers plenty of functionality for professionals and would improve the efficiency of any car workshop.
One thing that this tool does very well is Live Data streaming. Live Data allows the mechanic to view vehicle performance in real-time and observe how the engine responds as certain commands are given to the vehicle.
Since the FX6000 is bidirectional, these commands can be sent directly from the device. The Live Data that is produced can then be displayed graphically for easy analysis. The FX6000 really manages to showcase how effective a bidirectional can be and the amount of time it can save in the workshop.
The tablet is loaded with thousands of repair tips that have been tested by professional mechanics. When the FX6000 detects an error code, it will also provide the user with a selection of these tips to help them out with the repair.
This bidirectional scan tool is compatible with vehicles from the Asian, European, and American car markets. In fact, the FX6000 can be used with nearly all vehicles that are OBD2 compliant.
Having said that, it’s still worth doing some extra research to ensure that all of the FX6000’s features are going to be compatible with the vehicles you work with.
LAUNCH X431 V+ Diagnostic Scan Tool for Technicians
The Launch X431 V+ is very similar to the X431 Pro that we reviewed earlier in this list. The X431 V+ offers a slightly different set of features to the Pro version and is perhaps more suited to the professional workshop.
Having said that, both devices are excellent choices and the average user is unlikely to find any major differences between them.
Like the X431 Pro, the Launch X431 V+ can easily complete all the standard OBD functions, such as turning off warning lights and reading error codes. You also get the same easy access to ECU coding and can customize vehicles to a customer’s specific requirements.
The bidirectional tools work seamlessly on this device to give the user the maximum amount of control whilst they are completing their repairs. The fact that the Launch X431 V+ also makes repair suggestions when it reads error codes is also a fantastic feature.
The IMMO servicing function included with this bidirectional scan tool might be the most impressive feature the Launch X431 has to offer. This allows a mechanic to program new keys for a vehicle, in the event that the vehicle owner has lost their keys or they have been stolen.
The Launch X431 V+ comes with an array of different adapters to suit many different car brands and models. In fact, the adapters allow the X431 to be compatible with around 90% of vehicles from across the world. If you have a vehicle that is OBD2 compliant, then it is highly likely you’ll be able to make use of this scan tool.
Autel DS808 Diagnostic Tool with Control Ability
The Autel Maxidas DS808 is the upgraded version of the highly-rated DS708. This scan tool takes everything we loved about the DS708 and makes improvements on build quality, software, and usability.
This scan tool uses Bluetooth to connect up to compatible vehicles. You simply insert the included adapter into the OBD2 port of the vehicle you’d like to analyze and connect up wirelessly. This means the mechanic isn’t tethered down by a cable and can observe the vehicle from any angle they’d like.
In terms of functionality, the Autel Maxidas DS808 pulls no punches. It can read and clear error codes with ease and makes running tests on vehicle systems an absolute breeze. You can run diagnostic health-checks on the Transmission, ABS, airbag systems, and more.
Other standard functions that the DS808 completes include oil reset, TPMS programming, SAS calibration, and SRS system services. However, it is the scan tool’s set of advanced features that really help it stand out from its competition.
For example, the Autel Maxidas DS808 can prepare the braking system for bleeding. This is a really useful feature and can shave loads of time off a braking system repair job. Mechanics regularly report how much work they can get through when they have a capable scan tool such as this to hand.
This bidirectional scan tool has an impressive range of compatibility, able to function with over 80 different vehicle brands from all international markets.
If you run a professional workshop, then the compatibility of a scan tool should be one of your biggest concerns. The better the compatibility, the more vehicles you can use it with, and the more time you can save.
FOXWELL NT650 Elite Automotive Scan Tool
Our next recommendation is another diagnostic product from Foxwell, this time their NT650 Elite model. Foxwell is a highly respected brand in the industry and many professionals use their scan tools every single day in their workshops.
This particular device is built to Foxwell’s usual standards and is likely to last for a very long time. For extra peace of mind, the NT650 comes with a one year warranty, to protect the buyer against any unexpected manufacturer’s faults.
The NT650 is one of the most accurate scan tools that we’ve tested and can diagnose vehicle problems in a matter of seconds. This is thanks to the scanner’s comprehensive error code coverage – it can recognize fault codes from across all the different vehicle systems.
The error reports are displayed clearly on the device’s 4.3-inch color display for easy analysis. Often, compact scan tools like the NT650 can be hard to read, but that is definitely not the case here. The scanner is also very easy to use, with large buttons and shortcuts that are clearly arranged on the front of the tool.
Despite being a more affordable OBD2 scanner, the Foxwell NT650 is packed with useful features. These include ABS and SRS resets, DPF regeneration, and EPB reset.
One of the most impressive functions of this device is the SAS calibration circuit. This allows a mechanic to quickly recentre the steering angle sensor without having to make any complicated repairs.
This bidirectional scan tool can complete basic OBD2 functions on more than 58 car makes, and advanced functions on over 40. This coverage spans across vehicle manufacturers from all the major car markets around the world.
Foxwell is known for having a fantastic customer service team, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any more questions about the Foxwell NT650 Elite’s features or compatibility.
TOPDON ArtiDiag100 All-system Scanner with Control
TOPDON is one of the newer brands in the OBD2 scanner industry, but they are quickly starting to make a name for themselves. They focus on innovation, which means we can expect some interesting and unique features.
The ArtiDiag100 has a simple yet effective design that is very simple to use. There’s nothing worse than a bidirectional scan tool that is overly complicated, but this TOPDON manages to offer professional-grade functionality in an accessible package.
This OBD2 scanner works best when you connect to an OBD adapter via WiFi, but it still operates well over Bluetooth. It comes with a 12-month warranty and a year of free updates from the day you purchase.
Since this is a bidirectional scan tool, it can be used to directly control vehicle functions. This means that mechanics can command a vehicle to perform a task, whilst observing the resulting data at the same time.
The bi-directional control options in this OBD2 scanner also facilitate complex functions such as ECU re-coding. ECU coding is most commonly used to properly set up new fuel injectors and run actuator tests, but can also be used to customize a vehicle to a customer’s specifications.
Of course, you’ll also have access to all the basic functions that we’ve come to expect from the best bidirectional scan tools, such as code reading, oil reset, and DPF regeneration. The ArtiDiag100 completes all these functions with ease.
As with all of the scan tools on this list, the TOPDON device can be used with many different vehicle brands. Specifically, the scanner is compatible with 42 car makes from the European, Asian, and American automotive markets.
For all of these car manufacturers, you can expect this OBD2 scanner to give reliable and accurate readings. Any mechanic is bound to be impressed by what the ArtiDiag100 has to offer, especially when its relatively affordable price tag is taken into account.
OTC 3893 Encore Professional Diagnostic Tool
The final option on this list of the best bidirectional scan tools is the 3893 Encore model from OTC. This device comes with a comprehensive tool kit to ensure that the mechanic has everything they need to start running car diagnostics.
This kit includes OBD2 adapters for many different types of vehicles, USB charging cables for the scanner, and a protective carrying case. The OTC 3893 is the ideal tool if you’re a mechanic who often has to go on call-outs and would like all their equipment ready to go in one package.
This bidirectional scan tool makes use of the reliable Android operating system, so you can ensure that your device will be running smoothly and efficiently. Android is also regularly updated, so the OTC 3893’s software won’t quickly become obsolete.
One of the best features of this scan tool is the all-in-one bidirectional check that it can run. Simply set the test going and you’ll have results from across all your vehicle’s systems in a matter of minutes.
This check is extremely accurate and is a great place to start when you get a new vehicle in the workshop.
After the checks have been run, the 3893 can then be used to help with the repairs. For example, this OBD2 scanner has a very effective live data function that displays vehicle information in real-time. This means that the mechanic can monitor how a car responds as they start to make repairs.
Additionally, the OTC has an auto-identification circuit that recognizes the make and model of a car as soon as it is connected to it. It does this by reading the VIN number of the car, and can then tailor its functions to suit the specific model.
This auto-identification operation is also useful for anyone who is buying a used car. Unfortunately, private car sellers aren’t always honest about the vehicle they are selling, but with the OTC 3893 you can quickly confirm that the car is exactly what it is supposed to be.
When it comes to compatibility, this scanner goes above and beyond what is usually expected. Most devices are only compatible with vehicles built after 1996, but the OTC can be used with cars made as early as 1980.
This is because the OTC 3893 has an OBD1 circuit, which allows it to be compatible with older vehicles. Having this level of compatibility is extremely useful, and this alone helps the Encore stand out as one of the best bidirectional scan tools on this list.
This tool will help any workshop increase its capacity and ability to work with all kinds of vehicles. Whether you’re working with a brand new European car or an American hotrod from 1985, the OTC 3893 will always be able to help you out.
What is a bi-directional scan tool?
A bi-directional scanner is a type of OBD diagnostic tool that can send and receive information at the same time. This means that as well as being able to read error codes coming from the vehicle, it can also send commands back and potentially be able to make repairs all by itself.
Bi-directional scan tools are the standard choice in the professional workshop, thanks to their incredible versatility. They can save a mechanic loads of time and help them get through more jobs every day.
A bi-directional scan tool isn’t just suitable for professionals either. Their relative ease-of-use means that nearly all car owners will be able to get something out of them.
Being able to run your own diagnostics on your vehicle will mean you won’t have to shell out loads of cash for a professional repair when you don’t need to.
Differences between bi-directional vs normal scan tools?
The main difference between a normal and a bi-directional scan tool is that a normal scanner can only read data and cannot send information back to the vehicle. This means a normal OBD2 scanner is not capable of commanding a vehicle to perform functions on its own.
However, a normal scanner still has plenty of features that make it a viable and useful diagnostic tool. For example, it can display real-time data and capture freeze-frame information for easy performance analysis. A normal scanner is usually easy-to-use and can be great for amateur and professional mechanics alike.
Additionally, normal OBD2 scanners usually come with a significantly smaller price tag than bi-directional tools. If you don’t need the advanced features that a bi-directional scan tool has to offer, then there isn’t much point in paying the extra dough to get one.
How does bi-directional control work?
A bi-directional scan tool works by making use of specialized hardware that allows information to flow both ways between the tool and the vehicle. Because of this, the person using the tool can actually command the vehicle to perform various functions, such as opening the throttle or powering the ignition.
This allows mechanics to easily run tests on their vehicles without actually having to get in the driver’s seat. They can walk around the car whilst inputting commands on the bi-directional scan tool to see exactly how the vehicle systems respond.
As a result, a technician can pinpoint problems and issues with a vehicle without having to use a tedious trial-and-error approach. Being able to control a vehicle’s functions via an external tablet is a very powerful technique and can transform the way a workshop handles its jobs.
An affordable bi-directional scan tool?
Although a bi-directional scan tool is usually more expensive than one without the two-way controls, there are affordable options on the market. Of course, these devices won’t give you quite the same scope and functionality, but they are absolutely viable options.
One example of a cheaper bi-directional scan tool is ANCEL’s AD610 Elite. This bi-directional scan tool comes in at a very impressive price point, especially when you consider just how much it has to offer. There’s a full run-down of this product in our list above if you’d like some more information.
Foxwell’s NT630 Plus Scanner is another option that is much cheaper than the competition but doesn’t make too many sacrifices on functionality. Definitely another one to consider if you’re keen to find a bi-directional scan tool on a budget.
Should I buy a bi-directional scan tool?
This is probably the question we get asked most often when it comes to bi-directional scan tools and in most cases, the answer is yes! A bi-directional scan tool offers unrivaled functionality and does a lot of things that other types of scan tools just can’t compete with.
However, this functionality can come at a cost, and bi-directional scan tools are generally more expensive options. There are budget options available though, and we’ve included a couple of them in our list above.
We think that bi-directional scan tools are absolutely worth it for amateur and professional mechanics. These tools can greatly simplify a vehicle technician’s life and can complete jobs that are usually long and tedious in a matter of minutes.
It’s very unlikely that you’ll be disappointed after picking up your own bi-directional scan tool.