Car Scan Tools

Top 10 Best OBD2 Scanners for 2021 under $100

Reading Time: 20 minutes

Looking for the best OBD2 scanner for the money? Here are our top 10 recommendations for car scanners that can read and clear your check engine light.

There are hundreds of OBD2 scan tools available, ranging in price from $20-$2000+. But if you’re looking for a budget car scanner that can read and clear diagnostic trouble codes, then look no further than these 10 best OBD2 scanners under $100:

Remember, different check engine scanners have different functionality, so which one is best for you depends on your needs. Here are my top 3 picks overall to give you a better idea of which OBD2 scanner to buy.

Editor’s Picks

Best Overall Budget Choice Pro Choice
FIXD OBD2 Scanner ELM327 OBD2 Scanner Foxwell NT301 OBD2 Scanner
For the best overall value with transparent pricing and an easy-to-use smartphone app, FIXD takes the win for everyday drivers and shade tree mechanics. For around $15, the ELM327 is one of the cheapest code readers available. It gets the job done, but it will require you to download a third-party app.  For experienced DIYers and mechanics with a budget closer to $100, the Foxwell scanner offers advanced features perfect for a shop environment. Only drawback is the bulky design and lack of a smartphone app.

Why Should You Buy an OBD2 Scanner?

Since the introduction of OBD2, also referred to as onboard diagnostics or OBDII, virtually every gas-powered passenger vehicle built in 1996 or newer can be monitored and managed through this protocol. 

While this article isn’t all about OBD2, what you need to know is this: OBD2 scanners work with this system to retrieve information from your car’s ECU that can help analyze performance and repair needs. 

In simple terms? An OBD2 car scanner can help you understand what’s wrong with your vehicle when the check engine light comes on, help you start to diagnose issues before going to the repair shop, and potentially save you thousands of dollars. 

After all, these scan tools can show you not only what the check engine light means, but also potential ways to fix it. You can take this information and do it yourself to save money or walk into the mechanic with a clear picture of what’s going on so you don’t get scammed.

Now that you know why you need a car scanner, here are the top 10 best OBD2 scan tools for 2021 under $100:

Best OBD2 Scan Tools under $100

1. FIXD Sensor Professional Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner

FIXD was developed by 3 Georgia Tech engineering students who were sick of seeing people get ripped off at the repair shop. On a mission to help drivers better understand and better care for their cars, they designed FIXD’s state-of-the-art software in the U.S. 

The easy-to-use app is versatile enough for both beginners and avid DIYers. It is compatible with any vehicle that has an OBD2 port and connects wirelessly with Bluetooth to both iPhone and Android.

I love that the app not only gives simplified code descriptions in plain English, but it also guides drivers to other resources, including YouTube videos, blog articles, and more. It’s also the only OBD2 scan tool I’ve found that alerts you when it’s time for your car’s next routine maintenance service. Very handy for a busy mom like me.

If you don’t have a check engine light, there’s a diagnostic flowchart to help you diagnose your problem based on the symptoms. The optional FIXD Premium upgrade gives you access to even more features, including the FIXD Mechanic Hotline, emissions readiness testing, and confirmed cost estimates for your specific repairs.

Who It’s Best For: Everyone from the mom in the school pick-up line to experienced DIYers to owners of fleet vehicles can all benefit from this multi-functional OBD scan tool with a long list of helpful features and small, easy-to-use design. Priced at just $59.99, it’s also a great value for budget-conscious drivers.

Key Features:

  • Plain English check engine diagnostics
  • Reads and clears the check engine light
  • Issue severity warnings
  • Automated maintenance alerts
  • Multi-vehicle monitoring
  • Real-time health monitoring
  • Live data display
  • DIY repair guidance
  • Wireless Bluetooth connection
  • Easy-to-use smartphone app for iOS and Android
PROS CONS
  • Designed in the U.S.
  • Small design perfect for on-the-go diagnostics with your phone
  • Easy to set up and simple enough for anyone to use
  • Monitors up to 5 vehicles’ health simultaneously so you can take care of the whole family fleet
  • Maintenance alerts make it easy to stay up to date on oil changes and prevent breakdowns
  • Delivers “plain English” diagnostics in seconds directly to your phone
  • Comes with detailed articles and YouTube videos to help you fix car problems yourself
  • Affordable price
  • Comes with a protective case
  • Can’t read all codes (such as ABS & airbag)
  • Doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles that BlueDriver does
  • Advanced features (FIXD Mechanic Hotline, cost estimates, and more) are only available with a FIXD Premium subscription, which you can try for free with purchase of a sensor.

2. FOXWELL NT301 OBD2 Scanner

The Foxwell NT301 scan tool is ideal for professional mechanics or repair shops. Priced at $69.99, the large size makes the Foxwell NT301 easy to hold, while the 2.8-inch digital screen provides a clear readout for all data. This versatile scan tool allows users to read trouble codes, clear check engine lights, retrieve VIN information, and perform emissions tests. It can even be hooked up to a printer to print out data and information, but Foxwell does not have an app for its scan tool. 

Due to the complexity of the tool, it may also be less practical for most DIYers and everyday drivers.

Who It’s Best For: Someone in a more professional setting such as an independent repair shop.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Issue severity warnings
  • Real-time vehicle health monitoring
  • Reads most engine codes
PROS CONS
  • All-in-one design is more practical for shops
  • Shows live vehicle sensor data
  • Displays freeze-frame data at the time a DTC is triggered
  • Lifetime free software upgrades
  • Printer compatible
  • Emissions testing capability
  • Optional extension allows info to be displayed on a laptop computer
  • Customer support complaints
  • Bulky, corded design that takes up a lot of space in a tool box or glove compartment
  • Possibly too complicated for the average DIYer
  • Higher price point
  • Doesn’t read ABS or Airbag codes
  • No protective case
  • Only reads one car at a time
  • No smartphone app

3. ELM327 OBD2 Scanner

At only $10-$25 on Amazon, the ELM327 is the least expensive OBD2 scan tool we’ve found. However, this price only includes the interface that plugs into your car, unlike the FIXD Sensor and App which provides everything you need. You will need to download third-party software, such as Torque or DashCommand, to access your car’s diagnostic information. There are 2 options available, one that connects via Bluetooth and one that connects via WiFi.

Features such as diagnostic code descriptions, real-time monitoring, and automated maintenance alerts are entirely dependent on which third-party app you use. Some free apps exist that will give you basic information, but often you will have to spend more money to unlock more advanced features such as these if they’re even available at all.

The upside is the flexibility this offers the OBD2 “Power User.” Because it’s as simple as it is, I haven’t yet found a third-party app the ELM327 will not work with. This includes everything from engine diagnostics to performance data to custom coding the options and features of your car, a function that FIXD does not provide. If the app can do it, the ELM327 will enable it.

ELM327’s manufacturer will be closing in June 2022, so the ELM327 will no longer be available with microchips from the original manufacturer. Other companies have made copies of the original chips, but it’s unclear if they will match the quality or functionality of the original designer and manufacturer.

Who It’s Best For: Tech-savvy drivers and shade tree mechanics with a small budget who want to choose from a wide range of third-party apps to access their car’s information.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
  • Reads most engine codes
  • Android & iOS compatibility
PROS CONS
  • At $10-25, the ELM327 interface is extremely affordable, and less expensive than FIXD
  • Guaranteed to work with most OBD2 protocols
  • Bluetooth and WiFi versions ensure compatibility with both iOS and Android devices
  • Compatible with numerous third-party iOS and Android apps, including custom encoding apps
  • ELM327 is an interface only, requiring third-party software to provide full functionality
  • Actual cost to use may be more depending on the price of the third-party app
  • iOS devices require you to manually connect to its built-in WiFi before your app will connect to your car
  • Separate devices required for iOS and Android
  • Small chance your car may use an OBD2 protocol the ELM327 does not support

4. BlueDriver OBD2 Scanner

Based out of Canada, BlueDriver is a top-selling OBD2 scan tool on Amazon and a popular choice among DIYers. This is likely due to its ability to read a wide variety of OBD2 codes,  including ABS, airbag, transmission, and more.

Like FIXD, it has a compact design and connects to your phone via Bluetooth to continuously monitor vehicle health. It also comes with an easy-to-use app.

The main drawback of BlueDriver is its high starting point of $99.99, not including shipping.

Who It’s Best For: Professionals and everyday drivers alike, although the more advanced features offer the most value to the highly experienced DIYer.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Real-time vehicle health monitoring
  • DIY repair guidance
  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
  • Reads most engine codes
  • Android & iOS compatibility
PROS CONS
  • Highly versatile and well-made code reader that reads more than just engine codes (ABS, airbags, etc.)
  • Comes with Enhanced Diagnostics ideal for experienced DIYers
  • Generates Repair Reports which can easily be shared with your mechanic
  • Confirmed Fix & Smog Check available for free in the app
  • Does not currently support Enhanced Diagnostics (ABS, SRS, etc.) for all vehicles
  • Does not track routine maintenance and wear items like FIXD does
  • Only monitors one vehicle at a time
  • Higher priced at $99.99 

5. Innova CarScan Pro 5210 OBD2 Scanner

Starting at $99.99, the Innova CarScan Pro 5210 is one of Innova’s entry-level scan tools. While it has a higher starting price point than some, this scanner can read and clear check engine codes as well as ABS codes. It also displays real-time vehicle data, lets you perform battery and charging tests like FIXD, and shows emissions/smog readiness. 

The large size makes the Innova CarScan Pro 5210 easy to hold, while the full-color digital screen provides a clear readout for all data.

Who It’s Best For: A DIYer who wants a hand-held, plug-in scanner that shows live data and reads ABS codes.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Issue severity warnings
  • Real-time vehicle health monitoring
  • Live data display
  • Reads most engine codes
PROS CONS
  • Emissions testing capability
  • Able to read and clear ABS codes
  • Shows live vehicle sensor data
  • Displays freeze-frame data at the time a DTC is triggered
  • Bulkier scanner design 
  • Protective case costs extra
  • According to Amazon reviews, some users find the Innova CarScan Pro 5210 to be confusing and difficult to use
  • No smartphone app or wireless connection

6. Carly OBD2 Scanner

Carly is an OBD2 diagnostic scanner and app that allows users to understand and clear the check engine light. With the full paid version of Carly, users can also custom code their vehicles to fit their needs. This includes adjusting lighting and mirrors, deactivating the seatbelt warning, and more.

It is a European-based app, and some American users complain about customer support and verbiage used in the app. The biggest complaint about Carly is its subscription-based model. This makes it a much more expensive option compared to FIXD. 

Who It’s Best For: Hands-on drivers of foreign makes who like to tinker and custom code their vehicle to fit their needs.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Issue severity warnings
  • Real-time vehicle health monitoring
  • Reads most engine codes
  • Custom encoding option available
  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
  • Android & iOS compatibility
PROS CONS
  • Designed for car enthusiasts who want the ability to custom encode their vehicle to fit their needs
  • Free app lets you monitor your car’s health, tells the severity of your issue, clears engine codes, and more
  • Shows recommended service intervals for your car
  • Compatible with iOS & Android
  • Difficult to understand what features are available for your specific vehicle
  • Unclear pricing. Users must  purchase the adapter first, then download the Lite app to find out which specific features are supported for their vehicle and how much they will cost.
  • Advanced features & coding are only available on Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche, Renault, Seat, Skoda, Toyota, and VW
  • Vehicle coding and parameters reading functions require a monthly subscription
  • Unable to monitor multiple vehicles at once in the app

7. ZUS Nonda Smart Vehicle Health Monitor OBD2 Scanner

The ZUS Nonda Smart Vehicle Health Monitor is popular, with over 1 million units sold. It offers detailed engine diagnostics and remote vehicle health monitoring for under $60. Unlike FIXD, you cannot create multiple car profiles under the same account and remotely monitor all of them as this will create connectivity issues within the ZUS app. However, Nonda does offer some additional handy features, including the free Mileage Log and Automatic Car Finder.

Who It’s Best For: Beginners and everyday drivers who want to easily diagnose OBD2-related check engine light codes.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Real-time vehicle health monitoring
  • Reads most engine codes
  • DIY repair guidance
  • Live data display
  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
  • Android & iOS compatibility
PROS CONS
  • Designed for any driver, not just DIYers and gear-heads 
  • Includes additional features for free that can come in handy (i.e. Automatic Car Finder for when lost in parking lot and Driving Behavior Analysis that may help improve fuel efficiency)
  • Doesn’t read non-CEL codes (i.e. ABS, transmission, etc.)
  • Doesn’t read non-CEL codes (i.e. ABS, transmission, etc.)
  • Cannot connect multiple devices to the ZUS app to easily keep the whole family safe and connected
  • Customer complaints about connectivity issues and having to unplug and plug back in every time
  • User complaints about in-app displays for car data being too small to read and make useful while driving

8. Ancel AD310 OBD2 Scanner

This handheld scan tool allows users to read trouble codes, clear check engine lights and retrieve VIN information, and it is able to display live data and show freeze frame information. All of the information is displayed on the large, easy-to-read LCD screen, while the lightweight design and 2.5-foot cord make it ideal for working around your garage. Overall, this all-in-one scanner design is ideal for DIY mechanics on a budget. 

Ancel sells a variety of OBD2 diagnostic scanners that range in price and size. This is an older version that comes well-reviewed at about half the cost of the newer version.

Who It’s Best For: A more professional setting such as an independent repair shop.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Issue severity warnings
  • Real-time vehicle health monitoring
  • Reads most engine codes
  • Live data display
PROS CONS
  • Low price
  • Shows live vehicle sensor data
  • Displays freeze-frame data at the time a DTC is triggered
  • Large, easy-to-read LCD screen
  • Lightweight, handheld design
  • 2.5-foot cable
  • No smartphone integration
  • Doesn’t read ALL trouble codes, such as ABS and Airbag
  • Does not include a case
  • Reviews indicate questionable compatibility

9. OxGord OBD2 Scanner

The OxGord MS300 is an entry-level car scanner. Like Foxwell, Ancel, and Innova, this is a handheld scanner that you plug in manually rather than connect to your phone via Bluetooth. This OBD2 scan tool made the list due to its simplicity and practicality at a low price.

For only $19.95, this OBD2 scanner can read and clear certain diagnostic trouble codes as well as retrieve VIN information. It’s compact and lightweight compared to most handheld scanners; however, it’s not as versatile either. This OBD2 scanner is a basic model that is unable to read transmission, ABS, or airbag codes and doesn’t offer a live data feature.

Who It’s Best For: A more professional setting such as an independent repair shop.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Reads most engine codes
PROS CONS
  • Basic code reader at a low cost
  • Compact design means you can keep it in your glovebox
  • Bright, clear LCD screen
  • No live data
  • Doesn’t read ALL trouble codes, such as ABS and Airbag
  • Many bad reviews for quality control and useability
  • No smartphone app

10. BAFX OBD2 Scanner

BAFX guarantees that its interface is compatible with all OBD2 protocols for the low price of just $21.99. This means (unlike many cheap interfaces) BAFX will work with any car that supports OBD2.

You should note, however, that what you’re buying is only the interface that plugs into your car, unlike the FIXD Scanner and App which provides everything you need. You will need to download third-party software, such as Torque or DashCommand, to access your car’s diagnostic information. Some configuration between the app and the interface may be required, which could be an issue for less technically inclined people.

Additionally, features such as diagnostic code descriptions, real-time monitoring, and automated maintenance alerts are entirely dependent on which third-party app you use.

Lastly, the BAFX interface only works with Android phones. If you’re an iPhone user, check out one of the other OBD2 scanners on this list.

Who It’s Best For: Android users on a budget who are technically inclined and want to choose from a variety of third party apps to access their car’s information.

Key Features:

  • Diagnose and reset the check engine light
  • Reads most engine codes
  • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
PROS CONS
  • At $21.99, the BAFX interface is extremely affordable, and less expensive than FIXD
  • Guaranteed to work with all OBD2 protocols
  • Compatible with numerous third-party Android apps
  • BAFX is an interface only, requiring third-party software to provide full functionality
  • Actual cost to use may be more than $21.99 depending on the price of the third-party app
  • Android and Windows only, iPhone and Mac not supported

What to Look for in an OBD2 Scanner

Compatibility  

While there are many affordable car scanners available, not all are created equal. Make sure the one you pick is compatible with your vehicle make and model year. Most generic OBD scanners should work with all gas-powered vehicles built in 1996 or after because they are using the same OBD2 system.

Check your compatibility with FIXD here.

Price

A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of OBD2 scanners at various price points. While pro-grade scan tools can easily cost $10,000 (or more), the functionality they provide is often overkill for most DIYers and shade tree mechanics. If you’re looking for a solid tool that provides the must-have OBD2 features above, then any of the tools on this list should get you what you need. Plus, they all cost less than $100. Not bad for a tool that could end up saving you $1000s!

Features

  • Diagnose and Reset CEL

At minimum, your OBD2 scanner should be able to read most engine fault codes and reset the check engine light. This feature alone can save you $100+ by avoiding a diagnostic service fee and hard reset at the repair shop.

  • Issue Severity Warnings

Ever been scared to drive with a check engine light? Some OBD2 scanners not only tell you what your check engine light means in simple terms, but also how severe the issue is so you know if it’s safe to drive.

  • Real-Time Health Monitoring

To get the most value from your car scanner, look for a device that you can leave plugged in to monitor vehicle health 24/7 and get real-time feedback on your car. 

  • Multi-Vehicle Monitoring

Some wireless scan tools with smartphone apps, such as the FIXD Sensor, enable you to connect multiple vehicles to the app with multiple sensors. This way, you can monitor your whole fleet simultaneously from one phone.

  • Live Data Readings

Ideally, your scan tool should give you the option to view live vehicle data, such as oxygen sensor voltage, fuel trims, vehicle speed, and more while you drive. This makes it easy to check car performance and further diagnose issues when they arise.

  • DIY Repair Guidance

If you’re a hands-on driver interested in saving money with at-home repairs, you’ll need a scan tool that accurately diagnoses engine problems and suggests possible fixes with helpful blogs and videos to walk you through repairs.

  • Automated Maintenance Alerts

This is a rare feature with OBD2 scanners, but extremely helpful in extending the lifespan of your vehicle. Look for a scan tool that sends automated maintenance alerts based on your specific make, model, and mileage so you never miss an important oil change or other service.

  • Wireless Bluetooth Connectivity

When you’re stuck on the side of the road, the last thing you want is to be searching through your glove compartment and untangling messy wires. Make sure your OBD2 scanner is wireless and connects to your iOS or Android smartphone using Bluetooth technology for the fastest possible engine diagnostics.

FAQs

What is an OBD2 scanner?

An OBD2 scanner, also known as a car scanner or check engine light scanner, is a device that plugs into your car’s OBD2 (onboard diagnostics) port to tell you what’s going on with your car. You can use this device to read the code that’s triggering your check engine light and understand the problem so that you can further diagnose and fix the problem or go to a repair shop with clear, accurate information.

Where is my OBD2 port located? 

Your car’s OBD2 port is typically located under the dash behind the steering wheel. This image shows the most common OBD2 port locations:

What’s the difference between a car code reader and a car diagnostic scanner?

Before you buy an OBD2 scanner, it’s important to understand the difference between car code readers and car scan tools. 

A code reader is usually cheaper than a scan tool and provides far less functionality than an OBD2 scanner. While code readers connect to the OBD2 port like a scanner, they only tell you what the diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is and allow you to clear the code.

A scan tool, on the other hand, can be used for more than reading fault codes. They’re generally used for testing, engine diagnostics, real-time health monitoring, live data readouts, and more. They are extremely versatile tools and come in both hand-held and wireless options.

Are cheap OBD2 scanners any good?

That depends on what you need an OBD2 scanner for. If you own an independent repair shop and need a more robust obd2 scan tool for diagnosing customer’s vehicles, a cheap scanner probably won’t be the right fit. However, for most drivers and even experienced DIYers, a cheap, versatile OBD2 scan tool can get the job done without costing an arm and a leg.

Just make sure you choose an OBD2 scanner that’s the right mix of features and value, since not all cheap scanners are created equal. And keep in mind that some scan tools may seem cheap (like ELM327 and BAFX), but once you download a third-party app to use these interfaces, they can cost more than you initially expected.

Are OBD2 scanners easy to use?

Many of the car scanners on the market today are built with everyday drivers in mind and extremely user friendly. Wireless scanners with OBD2 apps are typically easier to use than handheld scanners and provide more support. I’ve found that the FIXD Sensor and app and BlueDriver OBD2 scanner reviewed above are the easiest ones to use for basic check engine diagnostics and live data.

Can an OBD2 scan tool really tell me what’s wrong with my car?

You bet. As long as your car is compatible, an OBD2 scanner can instantly tell you the meaning of 10,000+ codes your check engine light gives you. It only takes a couple minutes to install, and once it’s set up, you’ll have up-to-date information about your car at your fingertips on your smartphone. You can use this information to be more informed, knowledgeable, and confident at the auto shop so you don’t get ripped off or end up paying for repairs you don’t need.

Will an OBD2 scanner work with my car?

Most gas-powered vehicles built in 1996 or newer come equipped with an OBD2 port and are compatible with an OBD2 scanner.

To check your car’s compatibility with the FIXD Sensor, enter your vehicle information by clicking here

What are the different types of OBD2 devices?

Devices that plug into your OBD2 port typically fall into one of two categories: code readers and scan tools.  A code reader is a simple device that plugs in, displays trouble code information, lets you reset the Check Engine Light, and not much else. This is the type of device the auto parts store will plug in and read your codes for free. Many consumer grade OBD2 scanners, such as FIXD, also fall into this category. While they may not fix your car, the data they read and display is invaluable when it comes to repairing and maintaining your vehicle.

A scan tool is a much more sophisticated device, and far more expensive. It gives a professional mechanic full access to all of the car’s diagnostic data, systems, and features. A mechanic can use a scan tool to manually turn on the hybrid battery fan on a Toyota Prius, for example, to test whether it’s working or not. It can also read proprietary trouble codes that are not part of the OBD2 standard, but used by a manufacturer for additional sensors and data. Scan tools can also access the automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, and other electronic systems. These are typically quite expensive, and not cost-effective for the average owner or DIY home mechanic to buy.

There are a few unique devices that fall outside either of these categories. The Cobb Accessport, for example, functions as a code reader, but its primary function is to install custom engine programming software to improve power and performance. It uses the OBD2 port to do this, but its main purpose is to soup up the engine, not fix your car. Other devices, such as the VCDS software and cable available for Volkswagens, give the owner similar programming capabilities as the dealer. You can do anything from setting how long the interior lights stay on after closing the door to coding new keys to work with your car.

What is the difference between OBD1 and OBD2?

As the names imply, OBD1 was the first version of an electronic on-board diagnostic system for cars, and OBD2 is the second. OBD1 was a loose set of standards the California Air Resources Board (CARB) established in 1988. It required all cars sold in California to have some sort of electronic on-board diagnostic system. 

Manufacturers complied with this requirement, but everyone did it a little bit differently. You couldn’t take a scan tool for a Honda and plug it into a Chevrolet. At the time, CARB did not specify any standards for this system, though the Society of Automotive Engineers did suggest that the best way to accomplish CARB’s goal was to use a standard port and a standard set of electronic communication protocols across all manufacturers. In the mid-1990s, CARB saw the wisdom of this proposal, and incorporated it into a second on-board diagnostics requirement for all cars and trucks as of 1996. This standardized system is what we know today as OBD2. 

What is CAN Bus?

CAN is an acronym for Controller Area Network. This is a data network that runs throughout your car allowing different electronic controllers to communicate with each other and work together. A simple example of this in action would be your traction control system. The computer that runs the anti-lock brakes constantly monitors the speed of each wheel independently. If it sees a single wheel’s speed drop to zero, it briefly releases the brake on that wheel to allow it to spin again. 

These same sensors can also detect if one of the drive wheels is spinning faster than the others, indicating a wheelspin condition. The anti-lock system can automatically apply the brake to this wheel to slow it down. It can also talk to the engine management system and have it automatically reduce power, the same as if you’d lifted your foot off the gas pedal. These sensors and computers detect and react to such conditions faster than a human driver, and can correct the problem before you’ve even noticed it was there.

CAN Bus can get far more sophisticated, too. In many modern cars, the infotainment system controls not only the music and navigation, but also climate control and other features. The infotainment system must communicate with the climate control to tell it to set the temperature to 68, or to turn on the driver’s heated seat. CAN Bus allows an unprecedented amount of interoperability between the car’s various subsystems..

How do I connect my obd2 scanner?

To connect your hand-held or wireless OBD2 scanner to your car:

  1. Locate your car’s OBD2 port, usually located underneath the dash on the driver’s side.
  2. Plug your OBD2 scanner into the port.
  3. Turn on your vehicle.
  4. Scan for errors.

How do I connect my OBD2 scanner to my iPhone or Android smartphone?  

To connect your wireless bluetooth OBD2 scanner and app:

1. Select an OBD2 scan tool that works with a smartphone app. FIXD, BlueDriver, and Nonda are all great options with different pros and cons. 

2. Download your preferred scan tool’s app to your phone and register your account.

3. Plug your car scanner into the OBD2 port usually located below the dash on the driver’s side.

4. Turn on your car.

5. Use the app to scan your car for error codes.

I like to DIY some repairs and go to the repair shop for bigger repairs. Which car scanner is best for me?

For people who like to do simple maintenance and repairs at home while going to the repair shop for other issues, I definitely recommend FIXD. Not only is it a great value ($59.99 retail), it was originally designed for everyday drivers, not mechanics and gearheads. 

The app is extremely easy to set up and use. It also provides much more detailed information than other scanners, such as articles and videos on different diagnostic truble codes and how to fix them, which comes in handy when you like to DIY some projects. 

It also tracks maintenance and wear items such as wipers and tires for you so that you’ll know when it’s time to replace or perform a routine service.

Summary

If you own a car, then having an OBD2 scanner in your tool box or glove compartment is a must for easy check engine diagnostics, DIY repairs, and simply peace of mind. The right OBD2 scanner for you ultimately depends on how you plan to use it and what features are important to you.

To conclude this buying guide for the best OBD2 scanners in 2021 under $100, here are our top picks for the best OBD2 scan tool overall, best budget scan tool, and the best OBD2 scanner for advanced DIYers and shadetree mechanics:

Best Overall Budget Choice Pro Choice
FIXD OBD2 Scanner ELM327 OBD2 Scanner Foxwell NT301 OBD2 Scanner
For the best overall value with transparent pricing and an easy-to-use smartphone app, FIXD takes the win for everyday drivers and shade tree mechanics. For around $15, the ELM327 is one of the cheapest code readers available. It gets the job done, but it will require you to download a third-party app.  For experienced DIYers and mechanics with a budget closer to $100, the Foxwell scanner offers advanced features perfect for a shop environment. Only drawback is the bulky design and lack of a smartphone app.

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.

Kate McKnight
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.

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