Our Top Picks for the Best Professional Car Diagnostic Tools of 2023

The best professional OBD2 scanners will save you time, money, and energy. With an OBD2 scanner, you can quickly and easily read the codes generated by your car’s onboard computer, giving you valuable insight into any problems that may be affecting your vehicle’s performance. There are plenty of OBD2 scanners on the market, but not all are created equal.

If you’re looking for fully capable professional car diagnostic tools, and the best professional OBD2 scanner, you came to the right place. Our team has researched and tested OBD scanners across the board to narrow down the list of scan tools to just three of the best professional automotive diagnostic scanners in terms of functionality, quality, and overall value.

Why Use an OBD2 Scanner?

OBD2 diagnostic scan tools are electronic devices that connect to a car’s onboard computer to read and diagnose engine issues. OBD stands for “On-Board Diagnostics,” and the number 2 refers to the fact that this is the second generation of onboard diagnostic systems used in vehicles.

OBD scanning tools allow vehicle owners or mechanics to access the status of vehicle systems and diagnostic codes. In the early 1980s, the first on-board vehicle computers, which could be considered to be the primitive form of today’s OBD scanners, were introduced. Since then, the amount of available diagnostic information on those devices has significantly increased.

Early OBD illuminated a malfunctioning indicator light (MIL), otherwise known as idiot light, if there was a problem detected. However, no information would be provided to the nature of the problem. Modern OBD tools on the other hand use a standardized digital communication port in order to provide real-time data that can be used to not just detect an overall problem, but provide real-time data and diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), which makes finding or identifying a problem and being able to fix it possible.

OBD2 scan tools are also a step up from initial OBD1 scanners that are OEM-specific and scan codes in vehicles made during 1988-1996. OBD2 is more comprehensive and advanced. It is also not OEM-specific, although some manufacturers may use OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) codes for systems that are specifically unique to their vehicles.  

All vehicles manufactured after 1996 in the United States are required to have an OBD2 system. The OBD2 system constantly monitors various sensors and components in the engine and transmission systems to ensure they are working correctly. If a problem is detected, the system generates a code, which can be read by an OBD2 diagnostic scan tool.

How OBD2 Tools Vary

OBD2 diagnostic scan tools come in many different forms. Some are simple handheld devices, while others are more advanced tools that connect to a computer or mobile device via a wireless Bluetooth connection. These tools can read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), which provide valuable information about any issues with the engine or transmission system. DTCs can include information about a variety of issues, including sensor malfunctions, misfires, and emissions problems.

In addition to reading DTCs, many OBD2 diagnostic scan tools can also perform live data streaming, which allows you to monitor various engine parameters in real-time, including RPM, fuel pressure, and temperature. This can help you identify problems that may not trigger a diagnostic trouble code but can still impact the engine’s performance.

Some OBD2 diagnostic scan tools are designed for use by professional mechanics and technicians and can perform more advanced diagnostics, such as ABS and SRS system diagnostics. These tools often come with a wide range of adapters to ensure compatibility with various vehicle makes and models.

Overall, OBD2 diagnostic scan tools are essential for anyone who wants to diagnose and repair issues with their car’s engine or transmission system. They provide valuable information about the health of the vehicle and can help you save time and money by identifying problems before they become more severe.

How We Evaluated Each Professional Car Diagnostic Tool

Buying a professional OBD scanner isn’t as complicated as you may think. Most of them are actually plug-and-play devices that don’t require complex installation procedures and can be mastered without too much hassle.

Even so, there were several things we kept in mind as we tested and reviewed each scanner and they were each judged by the following criteria: 

Vehicle Compatibility – This is undoubtedly the most important thing you should consider when looking for an OBD2 scanner. You may want to know that while some scan tools are designed to cover just one or two vehicle brands, others are universal and work with a wide variety of car models. 

For example, while the Foxwell NT510 covers BMW, Rolls-Royce & Mini, the Ancel AD410 works on all OBD2 cars. Thus, we made sure to mention the compatibility of each scanner. 

Cost – These devices cost anywhere from $50 to thousands of dollars, so the price can vary widely. This tends to depend on the features that it comes with and what it offers. We made sure to call out the overall value of each tool to make sure you get the most for your money. 

Usability – A diagnostic scan tool won’t help you in any way if you can’t figure out how to use it. We made sure every tool on this list is convenient and user-friendly, so you don’t have to waste your time with unnecessarily complicated tech. 

Upgradability – OBD scanners need to be upgradable in order to accommodate the latest diagnostic technology and newer vehicle models. If you buy one that doesn’t get software updates, it will be obsolete the moment you buy a newer car. We made sure each tool on this list has free software updates, so that you know you’re making a sound long-term investment on your purchase.

Professional Car Diagnostic Tool Comparison Chart: The Top 3 Choices of 2023

There are so many different car diagnostic scanners currently on the market, so it can be difficult to tell which ones are the best. Our top 3 picks for the best professional diagnostic scanners for vehicles are:

Let’s break down the specific features of our 3 best car scanners for professionals.

Editor's ChoiceBest for Pro TechniciansRunner-up
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Launch X431 V+
Launch X431 V+
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Autel MK808BT
Autel MK808BT
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Our Rating
4.64.6 / 5
4.64.6 / 5
4.64.6 / 5
Product Weight0.96oz13.23 lbs2.42 lbs
Bluetooth FunctionYesYesYes
Color ScreenNoYesYes
Full OBD2 Test ModesYesYesYes
Airbag DiagnosticsYesYesYes
Special Service FunctionsTPMS ResetFullFull
Transmission DiagnosticsYesYesYes

Reviews & Comparisons: The 3 Best Professional Car Diagnostic Tools of 2023

1. FIXD™ OBD2 Scanner – Editor’s Pick

FIXD™ review
FIXD™ Professional OBD2 Scanner
4.64.6 / 5
FIXD™ with its features are beyond the capabilities of any ordinary car code reader.

When comparing prices with other professional-grade scan tools, the FIXD™ Professional Bluetooth OBD2 scan tool might seem inexpensive. However, even with a lower price, this tool is loaded with features that give it well-deserving praise as a contender among the top professional scan tools on the market today. It also is the perfect starting point for car owners just starting to read their own DTCs. 

Let’s take a look at some of the key features that the FIXD™ OBD2 scanner offers, along with its pros and cons.

Key Features of the FIXD™ OBD2 Scanner

The FIXD™ OBD2 professional scan tool comes with an application that is compatible with both Android and IOS platforms, as well as freeze-frame technology. The Bluetooth adapter gives clear reads from your car to your phone in seconds.

Additionally, this professional scanner can even display the data speed and the engine RPMs besides its other data readings.

A few features of this Professional Automotive Diagnostic Scanner include:

  • Enhanced set of diagnostics, i.e., ABS, Climate Control, Airbag Control, etc.
  • Customization options of live data with the help of data streams.
  • Information about the vehicle, such as vehicle specifications, recalls, etc.
  • Enables you to be sure that you pass an emissions test with I/M readiness, O2 sensors, and smog tests.
  • Its freeze frame data feature gives you a clear insight of where the problem is occurring.

FIXD Savings

Pros of the FIXD™ OBD2 Scanner

The FIXD™ OBD2 Scanner is a great product for DIY home mechanics to start off with. It’s small, easy to use and inexpensive. It even has some of the same features and functionalities that some of the more expensive models tend to offer.

Here are some of the other major pro’s to this FIXD™ OBD2 Scanner model:

  • Capable of reading and clearing fault codes.
  • Can also read and clear ABS, Transmission error codes, etc.
  • Comes with a freeze frame feature.
  • Check if the vehicle is ready for smog test as well.
  • Real time cost estimates.
  • 24/7 car health monitoring.
  • Under $100
  • Up to 50% discount available at the official website.
  • Free updates

Cons of FIXD™ OBD2 Scanner

Even with some of the same functionalities as the more expensive models, the FIXD™ OBD2 car scanner does have some cons. They include:

  • Only iPhone and Android platforms are supported by this tool
  • Sells out regularly.
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2. Launch X431 V+ Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool

The Launch X431 V+ Automotive Diagnostic Tool is one of the best professional OBD2 scanners available and has a top-notch reputation to boot. This particular product has an extremely advanced user interface that is packed with features to help any professional mechanic.

 Let’s take a look at some of the key features, pro’s and con’s to this OBD2 scanner model.

Launch X431 V+ review
4.34.3 / 5
Easy to use interface that has powerful functions, quick auto scanning and vehicle diagnosis, and a touchscreen user interface that is easy to learn.

Key Features of the Launch X431 V+

The Launch X431 V+ OBD2 Scanner is one of the highest quality OBD2 code readers on the market. However, it also comes with quite a large price tag. These are some of the key features you get with this particular car diagnostic tool:

  • Capable of diagnosing all vehicle systems including: transmission, engine, ABSSRS, communication and more.
  • Bluetooth connection and hands free technology
  • 10 inch, LCD full color screen
  • Also functions as a bi-directional scan tool that can both send and receive information from your engine

While these features are not necessary for a beginner home mechanic, they are useful for professionals. Overall, if you choose to invest in the Launch X431 V+ Automotive Scan Tool, you’ll be able to more accurately diagnose issues that come up within your vehicle.

Launch X431 V+ Automotive Diagnostic Tool

Pros of the Launch X431 V+

While the Launch X431 V+ model comes with a higher price tag, the additional key features may seem worth it to make the investment. Additionally, here are some of our biggest pros to buying this upgraded OBD2 scanner.

  • Wireless diagnosis with the help of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Can read and clear engine codes effectively
  • It has a durable and sturdy design.
  • Waterproof and dust-resistant
  • It comes with a 7000mAh battery.
  • Comes with anti-theft matching feature
  • Offers free updates

Cons of the Launch X431 V+

Even with the advanced functionalities of this model, there is still one major con. It is listed below and deals with a certain mobile operating system not being supported: 

  • Even though this model is one of the most advanced on the market, it is not compatible with the iOS operating system. However, we do recommend this model for mechanic repair shops and professional repairmen.

3. Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Bluetooth Scanner

The Autel MaxiCOM MK808 Automotive Diagnostic Scanner is a tool that is loaded with a variety of basic and advanced features. With a large responsive touchscreen, this iPad-like scanner will improve the quality of your car diagnostics.

Let’s explore the key features, pro’s and con’s of this car diagnostic tool model.

Key Features of the Autel MaxiCOM MK808

The Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT diagnostic scanner is a great mid-range option for the more advanced home mechanic or a repair shop and comes with a lower price tag. Some of the key features you can find on this OBD2 scanner include: 

  • 7 inch, full-color touchscreen
  • Wirelessly send information to other devices, as well as store vital car information without an SD card.
  • Includes useful features like: Oil resetSRS, IMMO Keys, DPFTPMS Relearn, ABS Brake Bleed, EPB calibration, BMS, SAS, etc.
  • Protect this product with a free one year warranty.

While this model is less advanced than the Launch X431 V+, it still has the advanced features needed for repair shops and its advantage is a reasonable mid-range price point. Let’s explore some of the pro’s and con’s to this model.

Pros of the Autel MaxiCOM MK808

Some of the biggest pro’s to the Autel MaxiCOM MK808BT include: 

  • Has a well-laid out design with easy to press buttons.
  • You can navigate the interface easily.
  • You can effectively clear codes.
  • Comes with a highly responsive touchscreen.
  • Can display information without being connected to a computer.
  • Supports various functions.
  • Can display sensor IDs from the ECU of a vehicle.
  • With its help, sensors can be registered to vehicles.
  • Free updates.

Cons of the Autel MaxiCOM MK808

Though this is a reasonably priced model with advanced key features, it does have some cons to it as well:

  • The response time of this tool is slow.
  • Doesn’t scan very fast
  • No coding
  • Actuation is not allowed

What Type Of Professional Car Diagnostics Tool Do You Need?

Every OBD scanner falls into one of two main categories, namely diagnostic scan tools and adapters. 

Diagnostic scan tools are the traditional scanners. They are stand-alone devices that connect to the OBD2 port using an OBD connector. 

Adapters are usually small and can be left plugged in. It makes more sense to buy one of these if you want a device that can do real-time active testing and vehicle monitoring. However, most of them are not as durable as traditional scan tools. Additionally, some apps require paid subscriptions to use.

So, ultimately your choice here not only depends on your budget but also if you’re comfortable using one over the other.

Other Automotive Diagnostic Scanners to Consider

If those three automotive diagnostic scanners don’t seem valuable for you, check out some of the other top models on the market right now including:

These car code readers are still top quality with advanced features, like the models we highlighted above. They will still connect directly to your car, read check engine light DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes) and provide insight into your car’s diagnostic system.

Learn More About the Best OBD2 Scanners on the Market with OBD Station

When it comes to choosing the best OBD2 scanner, there are a lot of factors to consider, including price, functionality, and ease of use. The three scanners listed above are some of the best scan tools on the market, offering a wide range of features at various price points. No matter which one you choose, you’ll be well-equipped to diagnose any issues with your car’s engine and get it back on the road in no time.

Deciding which scan tool is perfect for your workbench can be a tedious task. However, after this extensive review of the Top OBDII scan tools, you will be able to make an informed decision about the perfect scanning tool for you or your vehicle needs.

If you want to learn more about on-board diagnostic scanners and explore more ways to help diagnose your car issues at home, OBD Station is the perfect place to do so. OBD Station is the best source for updates on OBD II Scanners, at home auto repairs, and industry updates. You can explore more of our product reviews, our blog posts and more.

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