5 Best OBD2 Scanner Reviews, Guides and Comparison – Top5ReviewSPOT

Last updated on February 19th, 2018 at 11:42 pm

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Are you in the market for the best OBD2 scanner? Even though you are a mechanic seeking an improvement in your Diagnostic equipment? We’ve got you covered!.

Actron CP9680-Best OBD2 Scanner ReviewThe OBD2 scanner is an improvement on its predecessor, OBD1. As long as you’ve got a car manufactured after 1996, you will find numerous applications. Its ability to pinpoint faults in a vehicle with specifics and not a vague “Check engine” notification makes an OBD2 scanner the best thing to happen to cars since airbags.

We bet you’ve been wondering about the important features your OBD2 scanner should have. Is an OBD2 scanner with freeze frame data better than one without? What’s the difference between a portable OBD2 scanner and OBD1? This are few questions that comes to mind.

Good thing is we’re here for you. In order to ensure that you make the right decision for yourself, we have done the research, compiled and compared data.

Our OBD2 scanner reviews, guides, comparison and our ultimate recommendation below would help you decide.

Here is our round up review.

Actron CP9680 OBD2 ScannerBest OBD2 Scanner - Top Choice9.4/10
PowerLead Cadt OBD2 ScannerBest OBD2 Scanner for the money - Budget Buy9.4/10
Innova 3100 OBD2 ScannerBest professional OBD2 scanner - Amazing Features9.2/10
Actron CP9580A OBD2 ScannerGood - excellent memory and fast diagnostic time 9.1/10
Innova 3160 OBD2 ScannerGood - large information displayed at once 9.0/10

You will find detail comparison chart as you read through

Let’s get started.

Why buy an OBD2 Scanner?

The following reasons will convince you that adding an OBD2 scanner is an excellent idea:

Vehicle Maintenance

The best OBD2 scanner makes vehicle maintenance easier. It makes going to the mechanic a much more efficient operation as it allows for the swift and easy detection of faults in your vehicle.

It alerts you to the needs of your vehicle therefore making it possible to use a vehicle for longer due to proper maintenance.

Cheaper option

OBD2 Sacanner provides a cheaper option than letting your vehicle break down completely. There’s a proverb that says “A stitch in time saves nine”.

An OBD2 scanner alerts you to the need for a stitch and upon further investigation it points out where this stitch should be made.

If you had to choose between averting a disaster due to warning signs being given or were allowed to endure a tragedy due to lack of knowledge, which would you choose? The earlier I guess!

Environmental Safety and Protection

Various forms of vehicle emission testing exist all over the world. As the world moves towards a greener and more energy efficient state, an OBD2 scanner helps in ensuring you’re not left behind. The OBD2 scanner places the emission analyser on board.

Your car becomes a portable green checker. With government environmental regulatory agencies becoming stricter, what could be better than your own environmental hazard warning system?

How does an OBD2 Scanner work?

The OBD2 scanner is an important part of many vehicles today, but how does it work?

The most basic OBD2 scanners work by simply inserting a universal plug into the OBD-2 diagnostic connector in a vehicle.

Some advanced versions of the OBD2 scanners also consist of keys or modules which supplement the universal connector so as to access or interact with specific information or controls.

When the OBD2 scanner detects a fault in the vehicle (depending on the make of the vehicle) a “Check Engine” light is turned on. These devices basically record and display the trouble code that the vehicle is sending.

You then use the code that is being displayed to uncover what is faulty in the vehicle. And once the problem has been fixed, wipe off the code from the vehicle’s memory. This switches off the “Check Engine” light until the another fault occurs.

Types of OBD2 Scanners

Many kinds of OBD2 scanners exist on the market today. Your option range from following:

Basic Handheld OBD2 Scanners

These OBD2 scanners are the easiest to use and are often the cheapest as well. They often consist of a basic scanner which simply reads the error codes and displays them on its screen.

The basic handheld usually has a black and white screen. The advantage of the basic handheld scanner is that it doesn’t need too much technical knowledge to operate.

A vehicle owner with the most rudimentary knowledge about cars can read and interpret the information it provides and act accordingly.

Professional OBD2 Scanners

The Professional OBD2 scanners are the kinds often used by mechanics and auto-experts. They are pricier than the basic handheld OBD2 scanners. The price difference is well deserved as the professional OBD2 scanners are capable of a lot more.

They usually have coloured screens and detailed displays.The major advantage of this scanner is that it provides automobile professionals an easier and more comprehensive way of discovering what needs to be done in a vehicle.

Mobile App OBD2 Scanners

The mobile app scanners are usually wireless enabled. They connect to an available mobile device which usually has a corresponding app that displays the vehicles data on the phone screen.

They could be Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled.The best thing about the Mobile App OBD2 scanners is its flexibility. It is able to cater to all the spectrums of OBD2 users, from the most unrefined amateur to the seasoned professional.

Best OBD2 Scanners Brands

As with every other product with different vendors, every manufacturer of OBD2 scanners lays claim to the title of “the best in the market”. The following are brands that actually provide quality scanners and more:

  • Innova OBD2 Scanners: Innova Electronic Corporation is a top provider of test equipment and diagnostic reporting tools for the automotive aftermarket. They offer products of the highest quality, cutting-edge diagnostics and value to their customers.
  • Actron OBD2 Scanners: Actron scanners are manufactured by the Bosch group. The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It has been involved in industrial production for more than a hundred years and in those years it has earned itself a reputation for products of the highest quality. One of their best OBD2 scanner is the  Actron CP9680. You will find it on our review below
  • Autel OBD2 Scanners: Autel ranks amongst the world’s leading makers and suppliers of professional diagnostic tools, equipment and accessories in the automotive aftermarket. Since its inception, it has been unwavering in its commitment to creating long-term value to its customers all over the world by ensuring that it makes available quality-assured, simple, economical and innovative products.
  • Launch OBD2 Scanners: Launch Tech Co., Ltd located in California in North America has a history of providing some very good OBD2 Scanners. The product line of the company comprises of automotive diagnostics tool..
  • ScanTool OBD2 Scanners: ScanTool.net, LLC located in Phoenix, Arizona Company was founded in April of 2002, with one goal in mind: to make an affordable, yet sophisticated, personal scan tool.It offers a complete line of smart phone & PC-based scan tools, which cover all OBD2 compliant vehicles.This brand also made our 5 best obd2 scanner list. 

Choosing the Best OBD2 Scanner: Factors to Consider

If you want the best OBD2 Scanner, here are a must factors to consider before buying one.

Vehicle Compatibility

Most OBD2 scanners share a Universal plug in. And they can work on nearly all kinds of vehicles.

But it is always safer to check for scanners that are proven to work on your vehicle type. You will find the list from the manufacturer’s website or product listings page


This is another factor that’s important. This is because every year technology grows in leaps and bounds. And continuously changing your OBD2 scanner because it is out-dated isn’t really an attractive option.

The best OBD2 Scanners should be update-able. Update able scanners save you money whilst giving you the best technological advancements available.

Full Code definition

There are thousands of vehicle error codes. Using an OBD2 scanner that gives you incomplete information is not something I would recommend. In choosing your scanner you should choose one that provides a large database for you to work with.

Data storage

The space available for data storage is another important factor in choosing an OBD2 scanner. The more storage space it has, the more information it is able to display per time. A large data storage space also means that the scanner will be able to focus on more tasks per time.


The display of any scanner should be easy to read and interpret. You should go for Scanners that make the process of data interpretation as smooth and as easy as possible. Scanners with a back-LED display are easier to read regardless of interior lighting conditions.

Quality and Design:

The toughness and look of an OBD2 scanner should also be considered very carefully. Most work areas are not particularly “soft” and a scanner that can take a bit of punishment without sustaining damage is one I’d definitely consider. You should consider the quality of the material used before buying a scanner.

Quick Review of the 5 Best OBD2 Scanners

1, Actron CP9680 OBD2 Scanner Review

Actron CP9680-Best OBD2 Scanner11

Making it onto our best OBD2 scanner review list isn’t a walk in the park. Actron CP9680 really shows it’s got what it takes to be here.

One reason is that Actron CP9680 has a wide range of compatibility with many vehicles regardless of their country of manufacture. It uses True Link technology which is responsible for its wide range of compatibility with OBD2 compliant vehicles.

Additionally the CP9680 has a live reading function. You can tell what’s going on in your car in real time. It can also give a graphical representation of the fault. This allows you to better analyse the fault and how best to rectify it.

This scan tool boasts of an LCD display which is easy to read in three different languages. It also read ABS and air bag data codes efficiently. Its code connect function allows the user access varied amounts of data; both generic and manufacturer specific codes.

Actron CP9680 is updateable. Just connect to the internet via the USB port and  and you quickly update your diagnostic tool. This greatly increases the life span of your device as updates are readily available.

Do you know you can download the hard copy of your data? It’s one thing we love about this device in addition to its external battery. The printed copy allows you to better analyse and store data for future use.

The only downside we found while using Actron CP9680 is the fact the Code Connect is available only in English. Even though other functions are available in two languages, this particular one isn’t. What a bummer!

Even with this slight issue, Actron CP9680 is a great scan and diagnostic tool. It is packed with many features for the professional mechanic; whilst still remaining easy enough to understand by a car aficionado. Both groups will definitely enjoy buying and using this scan tool.

Buy Actron CP9680 from Amazon

2, PowerLead Cadt OBD2 Scanner Review

PowerLead Cadt OBD2 Scanner

The makers of this scanner definitely had their heads screwed on tight when they created this beauty. PowerLead Cadt scanner wouldn’t be number two on our best OBD2 scanner review list if it wasn’t awesome.

This scanner was created to fit the standard 16 pin interface. Its operation is simple and convenient. Its small size enables single handed operation and its portability gives you flexibility of use.

It performed a variety of functions successfully including reading of trouble codes, clearing of trouble codes, engine oil reset with surprising speed and ease.

The display on the PowerLead scanner was easy enough to read. It also shows a live data stream, graph display as well as vehicle version information specific to that brand of vehicle. The clear adaptation of the display makes it a true delight to use.

It is really simple to use and the fact that all you have to do is plug it in and let it automatically detect the vehicles system, automatically scan it and show you the error codes makes it a truly delightful tool to have.

Despite the fact that the PowerLead scanner is an amateur’s dream it still has some flaws we wish were more clearly stated. As far as we know the PC software is a little flawed. It did not allow for saving the list of codes downloaded from the reader.

This PowerLead scanner is a great tool nonetheless. It’s a great tool for amateurs, mechanics and car aficionados who need something they can easily understand. In addition having one of these babies at home is cheaper than having to run over to the mechanic regularly for minor faults that can be easily resolved.

Buy PowerLead Cadt from Amazon

3, Innova 3100 OBD2 Scanner Review

Innova 3100 OBD2 Scanner Review

Every scan tool expert swears by the quality of Innova products. The Innova 3100 which comes in at number 3 on our best OBD2 scanner review list is no exception.

Innova 3100 distinguishes itself with the ability to quickly reveal the cause of “Check Engine” light warnings on any foreign or domestic 1996 and newer car, light truck or SUV. It can read and erase ABS light trouble codes for most GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota vehicles

The display screen is one we love. The 3100 features a patented all-in-one screen and LED display for quick “State Emissions” readiness check and drive cycle verification. And the best part is its automatic refreshment of data every 30 seconds when connected to the vehicle, making it easy to verify repair completion.

Innova 3100 diagnostic scan tool is a self-powered device that has the capability to provide you with some important information to troubleshoot car problems. It can tell you about the pending and current trouble codes and what monitoring tasks have been run.

We liked the fact that it comes along with a booklet that describes how OBD2 works. It also includes a code chart for several different cars. And the battery backup memory which provides off-car review and analysis is another feature we love.

The only downside we found is the fact that you would have to pay extra to get information through the manufacturer’s website about some trouble code definitions, a full diagnostic report, and probable causes. But the extra cost is definitely worth it if you ask us.

All in all, Innova 3100 is an excellent diagnostic tool. It’s easy to read display and easy to use keys make this tool perfect for professionals who need many features It is also perfect for DIYers who need an easy to understand scan tool.

Buy Innova 3100 from Amazon

4, Actron CP9580A OBD2 Scanner Review

Actron CP9580A-best OBD2 Scanner1

Actron CP9580Ais a quality product from the Actron brand, a sub division of the Bosch group. It maybe fourth on our best OBD2 scanner reviews, you shouldn’t underestimate this scanner.

Unlike other scanners, the CP9580A has an extra boon for its users. It was a delight to discover that with CodeConnect, it quickly pinpoints and prioritizes the solution and not just the code.

Actron CP9580A swiftly acknowledges your vehicle when connected and it scans fast. I should say the scanner directions are adequate and they are easy to use. It is speedy in discovering errors and making available directions to carry out the applicable repairs. This is due to the Code Connect feature which gives information about some probable fixes to known errors.

The software is internet updateable/upgradeable which is good as it ensures that there is continuity in the products utility.It also displays live engine data therefore providing an in-depth view always.

It also has a database that enables it to store trouble codes, graph data and play back data. This memory helps in ensuring that even in the car’s absence there’ll still be a record.

Despite it being an excellent product, improvements can be made. The scanner is updateable, but it is very difficult to update. This makes the fact that it can be updated moot!

Actron CP9580A is a good scan and diagnostic tool. Mechanics and other professionals who need scan tools with excellent memory and fast diagnostic time should totally buy this scanner.

Buy Actron CP9580A from Amazon

5, Innova 3160 OBD2 Scanner Reviews

Innova 3160e OBD2 Vehicles scanner

Coming in at number 5 on our best OBD2 scanner review list is the Innova 3160. A quality product from the Innova brand that doesn’t disappoint in the amount of great features it has.

Innova 3160 can read “Check Engine” light warnings on all 1996 and newer cars (foreign and domestic). It is also able to diagnose ABS and SRS codes on most 1996 and newer GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda vehicles.

The 3160 provides SAE enhanced live data like views and graphs for better fault analysis and rectification. It can also record and play back live PCM data streams on screen. It takes displays to the next level with its OBD2 Freeze Frame. It also turns off check engine, ABS and SRS lights

You can update this scan tool Unit using a USB flash drive on any Windows computer. This diagnostic tool also comes with OBD2 cable, USB cable, soft pouch, and a quick reference guide.

The Innova 3160 diagnostic scan tool performs exactly as it’s expected. It provides reliable information about your vehicle just like what other scanning tools do. To be exact, the screen can display about 25 car information at a time. Moreover, it’s easy to use and is quicker when it comes to generating scan results.

One downside we’ve found is the absence of some clear explanations for all of the manufacturer’s trouble codes, including ABS codes. For you to interpret the codes, you would therefore have to check them online.

All in all, Innova 3160 is a really good diagnostic tool. Technicians and car owners who want amazing features and a large amount of information displayed at once should definitely buy this

Buy Innova 3160 from Amazon

Comparison of the 5 Best OBD2 Scanners

Now you can compare the top5 above we reviewed.

OBD2 Scanner

PowerLead CadtActron CP9580AInnova 3100Actron CP9680Innova 3160
ABS coverageYesYesYesYesYes
Air bag coverageYesYesYesYesYes
Reads codeYesYesYesYesYes
Erases code & turns off CELYesYesYesYesYes
On Screen Code definitionYesYesNoYesYes
Displays freeze frame dataYesYesYesYesYes
Displays live engine dateNoYesNoYesYes
Displays graphYesYesYesYesYes
Print screen dataNoYesYesYesYes
Colour Screen>NoNoYesYesNo
Display Vehicle Emission statsYesYesYesYesYes

Our Verdicts

You’ve made it to the end of our guide. We hope you had as much fun reading this review as we had testing and writing it. Do you need further help deciding, here are a few recommendations to help you out:

  • Want the best professional OBD2 scanner to make your work easier? You can’t do better than the Innova 3100. It’s packed with amazing features you’d love.
  • On a budget but still want the best OBD2 scanner? Go for the PowerLead Cadt OBD2 scanner. It gives you all the necessary features at a great price.
  • Looking for the best USB OBD2 scannerActron CP9680 is your best bet. Its USB connection not only allows you connect to the internet to update this tool; you can even use it to print data for future use.

Have further questions? Leave us a comment below and we’d get back to you.

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