What To Know Before Buying An OBD2 Scanner
There are few things more stressful than a check engine light. Fortunately, OBD2 (OBD-II) scanners enable drivers to see what their engine fault code means so they go into the repair shop informed or even do at-home repairs.
Wondering how OBD2 scanners work? They connect to the OBD (onboard diagnostics) port inside your vehicle, usually located under the dash, to translate information from your car’s computer into simple terms you or a mechanic can understand and utilize to fix the issue.
Before buying an OBD2 scan tool for your make and model, it’s important to know how you are going to be using the device and what features matter to you.
Many cheap scan tools can spit out a code, but they don’t tell you what it means in simple terms – which means you’ll end up wasting time Googling the answers you need. On the other hand, many car scanners that cost $1000+ may offer in-depth diagnostics, but these are typically unnecessary for the average driver and even many DIYers.
To find the best OBD2 scanner for you, look for a versatile scan tool that offers the features you’ll need most.
Features To Look For In A Car Scanner
Your OBD2 scanner should offer versatile features that will help you save money and feel more confident at the repair shop, including the ability to:
Translate Engine Codes Into Plain English
Basic code readers give you the DTC, or engine fault code, but not what it means in simple, easy-to-understand terms. You’ll want to look for a scan tool that can “talk” to your car’s OBD2 computer to tell you what your code is and what it means in plain English.
See Possible Fixes To Try First
Look for an OBD-II scanner that describes your car problem in detail and offers a list of possible solutions to try so that you can avoid a laundry list of repairs or even tackle them at home.
Never Miss Important Maintenance
Avoid costly repairs & breakdowns with automatic reminders for factory recommended maintenance intervals based on your specific make, model, & mileage.
Know If It’s Safe To Keep Driving
There’s nothing worse than being stranded at home because you’re unsure if it’s safe to drive. The best OBD2 scanners not only describe your engine code, but also how severe the problem is so you can take action accordingly.
Monitor Multiple Vehicles – From Anywhere
With this feature, you can link multiple OBD2 scanners to one account and remotely monitor the health of your entire family’s fleet of vehicles – whether they’re just down the road or 500 miles away!
Wires are a hassle to hook up to an already-crowded space. You’ll want an OBD2 scanner that connects wirelessly to your smartphone using Bluetooth technology.
Continuously Monitor Car Health In Real Time
To stay on top of your car health, look for an OBD-II sensor that delivers live OBD2 data in real time, including information regarding fuel trims, oxygen sensor voltage, battery voltage, and more.
Quickly & Easily Clear Codes
It’s helpful to have the option to quickly and easily clear check engine codes that aren’t serious (such as a loose gas cap) without having to do a hard reset.
How To Know If Your Vehicle Is Compatible With An OBD Scanner
Before buying an OBD2 scanner, make sure it’s compatible with your vehicle. OBD scanners should work with any vehicle equipped with an onboard diagnostics (OBD2) port. This includes most gas-powered vehicles that are model year 1996 or newer and most diesel engines 2008 or newer.
If connecting wirelessly via Bluetooth, you’ll also want to look for a car scanner that is compatible with your smartphone.
(RELATED: Where Is My OBD2 Port?)
Budget OBD2 Scan Tools
Last but not least, consider what you’re willing to pay for a car scanner and know the value you’re getting for your money by doing thorough research. This includes understanding the tool and company behind it. Also keep in mind that some scanners cost more than others. What’s more important is what the scanner offers, based on your unique needs and car experience level.
Be sure to check out our list of the top 10 best OBD2 scanners under $100 for a tool that fits your budget!
The FIXD Sensor and free app is an extremely popular OBD2 scan tool with over 10,000 positive reviews online and over 2 million sensors sold. This compact device can translate 7,000+ engine fault codes into plain English right on your smartphone and also tracks routine maintenance and wear items (like tires and battery) for you.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, FIXD was developed by John Gattuso, Frederick Grimm, and Julian Knight, 3 engineering students at Georgia Tech who were sick of seeing people get ripped off by dishonest mechanics. Their state-of-the-art software has been designed in the U.S. and is versatile enough for both beginners and experienced DIYers alike. It is compatible with any vehicle that has an OBD2 port and connects wirelessly with Bluetooth.
FIXD OBD2 Scanner & App
What stands out most about the FIXD car scanner is the free app for Android & iOS. Not only is it easy for anyone to use with a streamlined, intuitive design, but it gives users detailed information about their engine code in plain English, a list of possible fixes, and links to in-depth OBD2 code descriptions and videos that can help diagnose your specific error code.
PLUS, unlike most OBD2 scan tools on the market today, FIXD sends automated maintenance alerts straight to your phone to help you stay on top of oil changes, tire rotations, and more and avoid costly problems down the road.
Pros & Cons of FIXD
|FIXD PROS||FIXD CONS|
|Designed in the U.S.||Unable to read all codes (such as ABS & airbag)|
|Easy for anyone to set up and use (even non-gearheads)||Doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles that BlueDriver does|
|Connect up to 5 FIXD Sensors to remotely monitor the whole family’s fleet of vehicles from anywhere on one phone||Advanced features (Confirmed Fix & Cost and Emissions Pre-Check) are only available with a FIXD Premium subscription, which also provides on-call support from the FIXD Mechanic Hotline|
|Maintenance alerts make it easy to stay up to date on factory-recommended maintenance intervals|
|Delivers “plain English” diagnostics in seconds directly to your phone|
|Comes with detailed articles and YouTube videos to help you fix car problems yourself|
|Highly affordable price point with special offers available|
Who FIXD Is Best For:
FIXD’s clear and easy display is best for everyday drivers and beginner to amateur DIYers looking for a good “bang for your buck” car scanner.
BlueDriver is a #1 best seller on Amazon with an 80% 5-star rating and is very popular among car enthusiasts and skilled DIYers thanks to its ability to read a wide range of codes, including ABS, airbag, transmission, and more.
BlueDriver is based in Canada and led by CEO Maurice Tuff who holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Memorial University, MBA from London Business School, and Professional Engineering certificate from PEGNL.
BlueDriver OBD Scanner & App
The BlueDriver device is compact in design and connects to your phone via Bluetooth to continuously monitor its health and diagnose a wide range of error codes with ease. BlueDriver also comes with a free app for iOS and Android that is easy to use and translates codes into simple terms.
Pros & Cons of BlueDriver
|BlueDriver PROS||BlueDriver CONS|
|Highly versatile and well-made code reader that reads more than just engine codes (ABS, airbags, etc.)||Does not currently support Enhanced Diagnostics (ABS, SRS, etc.) for all vehicles|
|Comes with Enhanced Diagnostics ideal for experienced DIYers||Does not track routine maintenance and wear items like FIXD does|
|Generates Repair Reports which can easily be shared with your mechanic||Only monitors one vehicle at a time|
|Confirmed Fix & Smog Check available for free in the app|
Who BlueDriver Is Best For:
Professionals and everyday drivers alike, although the more advanced features offer the most value to the highly experienced DIYer.
FIXD vs. BlueDriver: Key Features at a Glance
|Price||$59 USD + FREE Shipping|
Click here to save 67% now
|Country of Origin||USA||Canada|
|Translate Engine Codes Into Plain English||✔||✔|
|See Possible Fixes To Try First||✔||✔|
|Never Miss Important Maintenance||✔|
|Know If It’s Safe To Keep Driving||✔|
|Monitor Multiple Vehicles – From Anywhere||✔|
|Continuously Monitor Car Health In Real Time||✔||✔|
|Quickly & Easily Clear Codes||✔||✔|
|Android & iOS Compatible||✔||✔|
|Car Compatibility||Works with all gas-powered vehicles 1996 or newer and all diesel vehicles made in 2008 or newer>> Compatibility Checker||Works with all gas-powered vehicles 1996 or newer and all diesel vehicles made in 2008 or newer|
Which Is Better: FIXD or BlueDriver?
We might be a little bit biased, but for the everyday driver looking for a versatile car scanner at a great value, get FIXD. At about half the price of BlueDriver, not only does it come with all of the basic engine diagnostic features most car owners need when their check engine light comes on, but it also delivers automated maintenance alerts directly to your phone.
No more wondering when it’s time to get the oil changed or if that mechanic is trying to take advantage of you. Understand what’s going on with your vehicle and stay on top of routine maintenance with FIXD on your side.
FIXD is saving car owners $1000s everyday with their handy little device that’s priced under $60. Join over 2 million happy customers by claiming your own FIXD OBD2 scanner today!
Do I need to know about cars to use FIXD?
No! FIXD is here to demystify your check engine light – even if you don’t consider yourself a car enthusiast… yet. FIXD easily diagnoses your car and breaks down the issues in plain English.
Can FIXD be used on multiple cars?
Yes. You can plug the FIXD Sensor into as many vehicles as you’d like. For the best value, consider buying a bundle pack and connecting multiple sensors to each of your family members’ vehicles for simplified remote monitoring.
Does the FIXD car scanner really work?
You bet. FIXD gives you the plain English readout of over 10,000 codes that your check engine light gives you. There will be times when your car has a problem too big for you to tackle alone and need to have taken to a shop – that’s why FIXD Premium has a network of trusted mechanics that we can recommend in your area. Going into a repair shop with more information, and knowing it’s accurate information, is the best way to avoid wasting time and money on unnecessary repairs.
Can FIXD clear codes?
Yes! The FIXD Sensor is able to clear any engine codes detected by the device. This is especially useful when your code is nothing serious and easy to resolve (like a loose gas cap).
Is there a monthly fee for FIXD?
No, you can use the FIXD Sensor and free app as many times as you’d like. You only have to pay for the sensor. If you’d like to access more enhanced features, including the Confirmed Fix & Cost for your specific error code as well as the FIXD Mechanic Hotline, check out FIXD Premium. You also get a free trial of FIXD Premium with your purchase of the FIXD Sensor. Click here to try FIXD for just $19.99!
What Is FIXD Premium?
FIXD Premium is an annual subscription that gives you access to everything that comes with the FIXD Sensor and free app, PLUS:
Mechanic Hotline: From trusted second opinions to questions about what parts to buy to DIY repair walkthroughs, our FIXD Mechanics are here for you 6 days a week, 8:00am to 5:00pm.
Confirmed Fix & Cost: With FIXD Premium, you’ll not only know what your engine code means, but you’ll also get fair market prices for your specific repairs to avoid rip-offs.
Issue Forecast & Commonality: Predict future car problems before they start, helping you extend the life of your vehicle and avoid costly repairs down the road.
Incident History Report: Buying a used car? Find out previous owner information, accident history, & details of any car before you buy.
Emissions Precheck: Save money and avoid a wasted trip to a crowded testing station by checking your emissions at home.
Click here to learn more about FIXD Premium.
Wife, mom, Content Manager & Senior Copywriter at FIXD. From the garage to the gym, I love helping people learn and grow. Dream car: ‘69 Acapulco Blue Mustang.