Today’s vehicles arrive packed with technology and premium features. but the downside to this is that taking your car in even to get a small issue such as a brake light checked can be an expensive treat.
However, thanks to OBD (Onboard Diagnostics) scanners, it is now possible to diagnose small and certain big issues right in the comfort of your home. But when shopping for the best OBD2 scanner, you may have come across the term ELM327.
So, what exactly is ELM327, how does it work and most importantly what are its supported protocols? If you’re looking to answers to these questions, you’ve reached the right place, because this article will provide the best information to ease your buying decision.
- 1 What does ELM327 Mean?
- 2 How does ELM327 Work?
- 3 Best ELM327 Bluetooth Hardware
- 4 Best ELM327 WiFi Hardware
- 5 Best ELM327 Software
- 6 Final Thoughts:
What does ELM327 Mean?
Brought to you by ELM Electronics, ELM327 is basically a programmed microcontroller that is engineered to translate the OBD interface found in most vehicles. This company has been producing ELM27 chips since 2005, and it has been integrated ever since in some of the best OBD devices in the market.
To explain briefly, OBDII scanners can be embedded with a wide range of chipsets, but ELM327 is the most common owing to several reasons, most notably because it supports a broad range of protocols.
Speaking of which, ELM327 supports an extensive list of SAE and ISO protocols including SAE J1850 PWM (41.6 kbit/s), ISO 9141-2 (5 baud init, 10.4 kbit/s), ISO 15765-4 CAN (29 bit ID, 500 kbit/s), ISO 15765-4 CAN (11 bit ID, 250 kbit/s), SAE J1939 (500kbit/s).
How does ELM327 Work?
Even though ELM327 OBDII scanners are designed to help you diagnose issues with your vehicle, you will probably need additional software or hardware. These devices serve as a bridge between the onboard computer of your vehicle and your handheld devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets and via wired USB, WiFi or Bluetooth.
If you’re wondering which type of device connectivity option is right for you, it varies but here’s a quick breakdown:
- Wired USB connections – this the most widely compatible option, and ELM327 devices that support it are generally inexpensive due to the lack of wireless radio. Adding to this, they provide a solid connection, but on the downside, you do have a cable that can get on the way.
- WiFi – just as the name would suggest, these devices connected wirelessly, but as are susceptible to dropped connections.
- Bluetooth – Bluetooth ELM327 scanners also connect wirelessly with your device, but just like WiFi may incur dropped connections. Adding to this, this range of Bluetooth enabled ELM327 devices are readily available but may be incompatible with some devices such as iPhones.
One thing worth noting when you’re shopping for the best Elm 327 interface is that since Elm Electronics did not copy protect the v1.0 of the ELM327 microcontroller code, the market is flourished with clones and pirates.
But don’t break a sweat just yet, because after diligently researching this space, we’ve narrowed down on 7 best Elm327 adapters that you can trust will render accurate information about your vehicle.
First of all, let’s have a look at the best ELM hardwares comparison chart:
Mestart ELM327 Mini Interface Bluetooth OBDII OBD2 Car Scanner
FOXWELL FW601 Elm327 Obd2 Scanner WiFi Code Reader
Vgate iCar Pro OBD2 Scanner ELM327 interface
|Dimensions||1.9 x 1 x 1.3 inches||4.5 x 3.6 x 1.2 inches||2.6 x 2.6 x 1.4 inches|
|Weight||0.64 ounces||2.4 ounces||3.2 ounces |
4.1 / 5
4.2 / 5
4.3 / 5
|Turning off CEL||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible App||Torque Pro||Torque Pro||DashCommand|
Best ELM327 Bluetooth Hardware
1. ELM327 Mini Interface Mestart OBDII OBD2 Bluetooth Car Diagnostic Scan Tool
First, this tool can be used with all gasoline-powered vehicles sold in the USA after 1998, and European gasoline cars of the model year 2001 and newer.
It also works with leading vehicle brands including Ford, GM, Honda, Cadillac, Audi and Bentley, making it an ideal choice to diagnose issues from different model vehicles. Next, it offers excellent wireless connectivity via the latest Bluetooth technology, so you can say goodbye to using any annoying batteries, cables or switches.
With regards to connectivity range, this ELM327 Mini Interface connects with the OBDII component of your vehicle from up to an impressive 10 meters away, which is slightly more than similar models in its segment.
But that’s just the beginning of its list of premium features, the ELM327 mini interface Mestart OBDII hardware Bluetooth device can be connected with Windows PC’s and laptops, Android devices, and even Symbian devices. Further, it works well with myriad different apps such as Torque Lite (free), Torque Pro and OBD Car Doctor (free).
And if you’re wondering what exactly can it do when connected with a compatible app, the short answer is a whole lot! To name a few functions, they include displaying sensor data for coolant temperature, calculated load value, engine speed, fuel pressure, and absolute throttle position.
Pros and cons of ELM327 Mini Interface:
- OBDII compliant and with several protocols
- Works with USA vehicles of 1998 model year and newer
- Works with Windows, Android and Symbian devices
- Can be mated with several third-party apps
- Latest Bluetooth wireless connectivity
- Works better with paid apps
- Phone or connected device may have to be rebooted at times
With regards to protocols, the Mestart OBDII OBD2 ELM327 scan tool is OBDII compliant, hence it supports almost all OBDII protocols including SO9141-2(5 baud unit, 10. 4Kbaud), ISO14230-4 KWP (5 baud unit, 10. 4 Baud) and ISO14230-4 KWP (fast unit, 10. 4 Baud).
In terms of usability, the Mestart Mini interface ELM327 hardware device connects easily with your vehicle’s OBDII port, and then a Bluetooth enabled compatible device. And in case you have trouble with the installation, use the guide in the package to set up the device.
2. Vgate iCar Pro OS iPhone iPad/Android ELM327 Adapter
It is available in a choice of three different variants – iOS iPhone iPad/Android, Torque Android and iOS iPhone iPad/Android, so regardless of what device you have it will work for you.
In terms of performance, the Vgate iCar Pro device doesn’t disappoint with its plethora of functions including its ability to check and diagnose a wide range of codes. Adding to this, it boasts a compact footprint and connects using Bluetooth 4.0 technology with the most leading app including Torque Pro, DashCommand, and OBD Auto Doctor.
It can also read and delete fault codes, turn off MIL (Check Engine Light), and read ECU data (fuel system status, engine ROM, etc.) in real time. Some of these readouts help you prepare for your vehicle’s emissions test, so you pass on the first go.
But what makes it unique its auto-sleep/auto-wake function, which minimizes power consumption in an effort to preserve battery life. And the icing on the cake is its 2 year warranty, which protects you against any manufacturer defects.
Pros and Cons:
- Available in three different models
- 2 year warranty
- Covers all OBDII vehicles
- Supports all OBDII protocols
- Connects with the latest Bluetooth 4.0 technology
- May not work with older versions of iOS
- A bit expensive but works like a charm
When it comes to protocol support, the Vgate iCar Pro Elm327 adapter leads the pack with its compatibility with all OBD2 communication protocols, and all OBD2 empowered vehicles such as those sold in the USA of 1996 model year and newer.
Best ELM327 WiFi Hardware
1. FOXWELL FW601 Elm327 OBD2 Scanner
Foxwell ELM327 can read and clear several error codes in your vehicle including Check Engine Light. It can even check the monitors of your vehicle, display its information and display sensory data among other metrics.
With regards to sensory data, the FOXWELL ELM327 scanner can calculate load value, check coolant temperature, fuel system status, air flow rate, fuel pressure, and even oxygen sensor voltages among others.
The FOXWELL FW601 Elm327 Obd2 Scanner is easy to use by simply downloading the app on your device, connecting the scanner to your vehicle’s OBDII port and turning it on, and then linking it with your device.
Pros and Cons:
- Works with leading brand vehicles
- Compatible with all OBDII protocols
- Can check sensory information
- Supports Android and iOS devices
- WiFi connectivity so no wires in your way
- Cannot use Bluetooth apps at the same time
- Using all its features can be overwhelming
The FOXWELL FW601 Elm327 Obd2 Scanner is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Moreover, this ELM327 hardware offers comprehensive support for vehicles newer than 2000 and all OOBDII protocols such as CAN, KWP2000 and ISO9141-2.
Even though the FOXWELL FW601 Elm327 Obd2 Scanner is compatible with a wide range of OBDII apps, it works best with OBD Auto Doctor, DashCommand for iOS devices and Torque Pro, Hob Drive for Android devices.
2. Foseal Improved Version Car WiFi OBD2 Scanner
For starters, this wireless OBDII scanner can be used with both Android and iOS devices, and help you diagnose and clear a wide range of trouble codes including check engine light, and both generic and vehicle manufacturer codes.
Speaking of which, when connected properly, this smart OBDII scanning tool can display real-time sensory data such as short term fuel trim, intake manifold pressure, oxygen sensor, timing lights and absolute throttle position among others.
Tipping the scales at just 0.64 ounces and measuring 3.5 x 1.8 x 1 inch, the Foseal OBDII ELM327 WiFi scanning device is easy to fit into your pocket and carry around on the go.
Pros and Cons:
- Works on all vehicles newer than 1996
- Compatible with Android and iOS devices
- Connects via WiFi with third party apps
- Displays a long list of sensory data
- Backed by 18-month warranty
- Doesn’t work on cars with 24V voltage
- Doesn’t work on 1996 F350 7.3 diesel, 2012 Ford Fusion, and 2014 BRZ
- Adapter is a bit longer than other similar models
All in all, the Foseal ELM327 device works well on all 1996 and newer model vehicles sold in the USA, so no matter the brand or the device you’re using, it will work for you. It can be connected with your vehicle’s OBDII port and several different paid and free third part ELM327 apps such as inCarDoc for iOS devices and Torque Pro for Android.
Last but not least, it supports an extensive list of OBDII protocols that includes SAE J1850 PWM(41.6Kbaud), ISO15765-4 CAN(11bit ID,500) and SAE J1939 CAN(29bit ID,250, etc. To top things off, the Foseal OBDII wireless car diagnostic tool is backed by an 18-month warranty against any manufacturer defects.
3. OHP WiFi ELM327 Forscan OBD2 Adapter
To kick things off, this OBDII ELM327 scanning tool can both read and troubleshoot fault codes (DTC), reset oil and most other electronic modules including ABS, airbag, instrument cluster and much more.
Moving further, the OHP WiFi ELM327 hardware device when connected with the Forscan ELM327 hardware renders allows you to apply several different modifications such as heated steering wheel, tire size correction, global windows, and Bambi mode.
Pros and Cons:
- Works on vehicles 1996 and newer
- Read and troubleshoot fault codes (DTC)
- Works best with Forscan software
- Compatible with Android and iOS devices
- Ability to apply Forscan mods
- May get a little warm at times
- May lose connection when streaming data
In terms of coverage, the OHP WiFi ELM327 car diagnostic scanners can be used with all 1996 and newer vehicles sold in the USA including top brands such as Mazda and Ford. Adding to this, it offers solid wireless WiFi connectivity – better than Bluetooth and USB, and supports all OBDII software such as Torque and DashCommand.
4. GEMWON ELM327 WiFi OBDII Scanner
Adding to this, this OBDII ELM327 scanner can be connected with both Android and Apple mobile devices via the latest 802.11a/b/g WiFi.
When connected properly with the right app, device, and OBDII port, the GEMWON ELM327 OBDII scanning tool can display current sensor data such as calculated load value, coolant temperature, long term fuel trim, and oxygen sensor voltages. It is backed by an 18-month manufacturer warranty, so you can rest assured it will serve you well for many years to come.
Pros and Cons:
- Supports a long list of OBDII protocols
- Can be connected with iOS and Android devices
- Compatible with leading OBDII apps
- Supports all OBDII compliant vehicles
- Can be used wirelessly from over 50 ft away
- The device feels a bit fragile
- May drain your battery more than other devices
The GEMWON ELM327 vehicle diagnostics scanner is a step above the competition, owing mostly to its multi-OBDII protocol support including SAE J1850 PWM(41.6Kbaud), ISO15765-4 CAN(11bit ID,500 Kbaud) and ISO15765-4 CAN(11bit ID,250 Kbaud).
The GEMWON ELM327 OBDII vehicle scanner when connected with a compatible app such as DashCommand or Torque Pro can read and diagnose generic as well as manufacturer-specific trouble codes in their massive 3000 generic code database for any 12v and OBD II compliant vehicles including Mercedes Benz and Subaru.
5. Vgate WiFi iCar2 OBDII Elm327 Code Reader
The Vgate iCar2 ELM327 OBDII vehicle scanning tool can read several different types of engine data in real time such as calculated load value, intake manifold pressure, oxygen sensor voltages, intake air pressure and absolute throttle position.
To add to this, the Vgate WiFi iCar2 OBD scanning tool can read and clear diagnostic trouble codes such as Check Engine Light and other generic and manufacturer specific codes.
Unlike most other OBDII scanning devices in its segment, the Vgate WiFi iCar2 ELM327 tool can be ordered in an assortment of colors including black and orange. This plug-and-play OBDII scanning tool is easy to use and is backed by a 1-year hassle free warranty against any manufacturer defects.
Pros and Cons:
- Works with American, European and Asian made vehicles
- Compatible with both iOS and Android
- Supports all vehicles of model year 1996 and newer
- Compliant with most OBDII protocols
- Can read and clear Check Engine Light, generic/manufacturer specific codes
- Doesn’t power up on its own when the vehicle is started again
- May not connect well with some third party apps
The Vgate WiFi iCar2 OBDII Elm327 Code Reader comes slots in at the last position on this list of best OBDII hardware for its excellent diagnostic performance for all 1996 and newer vehicles including cars and trucks sold in the USA.
But that’s not all, it even supports American, European and Asian made vehicle, and most if not all OBDII protocols including CAN, KWP2000, ISO9141-2, J1850 VPW, and J1850 PWM.
Best ELM327 Software
Best ELM327 for PC
OBD Auto Doctor
OBD Auto Doctor is claimed one of the leading car diagnostics software, and when connected with your PC can turn it into a highly capable vehicle scanner. This all-in-one solution allows you to detect a wide range of issues with your vehicle such as Check Engine Light, Malfunction Indicator (MIL), and renders engine sensor data in real time.
Adding to this, the OBD Auto Doctor ELM327 app also allows you to closely monitor your vehicle’s engine performance and functionality, making it easier to be prepared for its next emissions test. Even though OBD Auto Doctor works best with PC’s, it is also available for MAC, Android and iPhone and Windows mobile devices.
Best ELM327 for iOS
When looking for the best ELM327 software for iOS devices, you will be spoilt for choice, but the Torque Pro app takes home the gold. This is mainly because it comes with a rather extensive list of features, some that aren’t available in other expensive ELM327 OBDII apps.
To name a few key features, they include mileage information, comprehensive fault code database from leading car manufacturers, CO2 emission readouts, 0-60mph (0-100 kmph) speed timings and horsepower, dynamometer and torque gauges. It is also available for Android devices and in two versions – Torque Pro Lite and Torque pro.
DashCommand is another big name in the ELM327 software space, owing mostly to its compatibility with both iOS, Android and Windows devices. It uses the GPS & accelerometer sensors in Apple devices, and offers an advanced set of features that includes race track, skid pad and inclinometer.
DashCommand is OBDII compliant, and can log and playback several different parameters. Adding to this, it allows you to create stunning dashboards, with a wide range of styles including analog gauges, digital gauges, indicator lights and much more.
Best ELM327 App Android
If you have an Android device and want to get great results from your ELM327 adapter, then Carista is a great choice. It is engineered to detect several key issues with your vehicle such as Check Engine Light and customize several functions of your vehicle including windows, lights, instruments and more.
One of the great features of Carista its in onboard toolbox, from where you can access several functions such as servicing your electronic parking brake, resetting your oil service indicator, etc. If you just want to try the Carista ELM327 app and see if it works for you, good news is that it is available in a free version to check out its basic features.
Piston is a free ELM327 app that works perfectly with Android devices. It may not ring in with a whole bunch of premium features but is capable of reading live data, displays fault codes and clear them, and logged freeze and frame data. It is designed with simplicity in mind, so whether you can use it even if you’re just getting your feet wet with car diagnostics.
ELM327 technology has made it easier to diagnose several issues with your vehicle right in the comfort of your home. This saves you a considerable amount of cash, given that you don’t have to take your car to the mechanic for something that can be easily fixed by you such as a headlight.
But in order for the best ELM327 hardware to work, it should be connected with the best ELM327 app to render the information. The ELM327 hardware and software mentioned on this list are some of the best available in their respective segments, and some of the paid apps even come with premium features that will help you gag what’s wrong with your vehicle in real time.