There are many different models and types of diagnostic scanners on the market today. Choosing the right one for your needs and preferences may seem confusing but it doesn’t have to be. We have provided the features that a great diagnostic scan tool has by reviewing the top rated diagnostic scan tools available.
Introduction to the Diagnostic Scan Reviews
A car owner can get many benefits from having a good diagnostic scan tool at the ready in case it is needed. They can even be used on the road if a vehicle breaks down while traveling to determine whether the car is safe to continue driving or if it needs to be towed to a garage.
There are many different models of diagnostic scan tools available to choose. We will reveal to you just how valuable a diagnostic scanning tool can be as well as give you information on the kinds of problems that these convenient tools can detect.
Having a diagnostic scan tool can help you save time and money at the repair shop because the technician will not have to figure out what it wrong when you bring it in. The codes that the tool has will give them the information they need to fix your vehicle fast and get it back on the road.
Top Ranked Diagnostic Scans
INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader
Why is it the Top Pick?
The INNOVA diagnostic scan can help you discover the reason your vehicle has the “Check Engine” light on and will work on both foreign and domestic vehicles that are 1996 and newer. You will be able to read as well as erase the ABS light trouble codes for most Toyotas, Chryslers, Fords and GMs.
The LED display and patented all-in-one screen provides quick State Emissions readiness and also drive cycle verification.
When you connect the INNOVA Diagnostic Scan Tool to your vehicle, it will refresh its data every 30 seconds so not only will you get up to the minute information, you will know when the repairs have been completed and the vehicle is back in working order.
Thanks to the battery backup memory, you can review and analyze the information you have found out when the Diagnostic Scan is not connected to the vehicle. (This is after the scan has been performed)
This convenient diagnostic scan tool is easy to hook up and use; just plug the diagnostic scanner into your vehicles DLC port, Make sure the PC link software is downloaded on your computer and connect the diagnostic tool to your computer which will give you instant access to important information about the trouble your vehicle may be having.
Actron CP9550 PocketScan Plus
Why is it a Top Pick?
If you want a fast and easy way to figure out what is going on with your vehicle, the Actron Pocketscan Plus is just what you need.
They are one of the best ways around to diagnose issues your vehicle has and can be used to turn off the check engine light as well.
The Actron Pocketscan is able to be used with vehicles that are 1996 and newer. You can get emissions displays as well which will help you have the information you need when it’s time to register your vehicle.
A benefit to using the Actron Pocketscan Plus is that you will also have access to RepairPath.com which is a website that will provide even more diagnostic and repair information about your vehicle.
Not only can you diagnose trouble, it can also freeze frame data that you need to refer to or write down, give you VIN information and does Inspection Maintenance Readiness testing to alert you to anything that would prevent your vehicle from passing inspection. Use it to diagnose problems and then to verify that the repairs have been made and the problem no longer exists.
If you have an automobile do-it-yourself-er, this is a perfect gift that they will find very valuable. The compact size makes it easy to carry in a glove box or even your pocket. Having the Actron diagnostic Scan tool helps you figure out what is wrong with your vehicle when the check engine light comes on.
Instead of just seeing the light and having NO idea, you will be able to take it to the mechanic with information that will be helpful and prevent repairs that DON’T need to be made from being made. Your Actron Diagnostic Scan tool can read DTCs when it is connected so you get super fast diagnostics. It also reads and displays OBD-II generic code definitions, malfunction indicator light statuses, I/M monitors, pending codes, freeze frame data, the vehicle’s VIN, and more.
The easy to see and read backlit display makes reading what is on it simple and straightforward. You can power this diagnostic scan tool by car battery through your vehicle’s OBD-II connector which is located under the dashboard in most vehicles.
Autel AL519 Color Screen OBDII/CAN Scan Tool
Why is it a Top Pick?
The patented One-Click I/M readiness key, TFT color display and built in speaker make this diagnostic scan tool one you definitely want to have in your tool box. This scanner supports all 10 modes of OBD-II testing to provide car owners with a thorough and complete diagnosis.
Along with complete diagnostics, you will get thousands of troubleshooter code tips that can make the technicians working on your vehicle not have to waste yours or their time and your money trying to figure out what is wrong.
The Autel diagnostic scan works with all vehicles that are 1996 and newer, whether they are domestic or foreign makes. You power the diagnostic scan tool with the vehicle’s battery for your convenience. You also get CD software and a USB cable as well.
You will be able to retrieve generic and manufacturer specific codes for your vehicle as well as pending codes too. It can turn off the check engine light, clear codes and resets the monitors as well.
Another customer favorite feature is that is can read, record and play back live sensor data and has an I/M readiness status for checking emission compliance. Something very handy when you need to get your registration renewed.
You will find the lightweight and compact size easy to take anywhere so you are never caught without you diagnostic tool, should you need it for your vehicle or to help someone else figure out what is going wrong with theirs. Since you have both brightly color-coded LED lights and a built in speaker you will get both visual and audible tones that can signify readiness verification.
Top Rated Diagnostic Scan Summary
Any one of these diagnostic scans work great to provide you with valuable information and insight as to what could be going wrong with your vehicle. They are all also able to give you emissions information so you know whether you will pass vehicle the inspection or not BEFORE you get to the garage.
Below we have a detailed buyer’s guide that will give you even more information about what a diagnostic scan tool can do and how you can benefit from having one around if you need it.
Once you have the information that we provide in this buyer’s guide and have the read the reviews of the top rated diagnostic scans, you will be able to be confident in your choice and have something that will fit your needs and preferences.
Diagnostic Scan Buyers Guide
What is a Diagnostic Scan?
Diagnostic scanners are very useful to have around when your car breaks down or starts acting funny and you don’t know what’s wrong. Every vehicle from 1996 and newer has information ports, usually under the dashboard, that are a part of the vehicle. Plug the diagnostic scan tool into one of these information ports and you can determine where the problem might be originating from.
The messages that the diagnostic scan accesses are decoded through the on board system in the vehicle. The scanner pulls these codes and narrows down the potential origination spot of the trouble. All vehicles since 1996 have computer chips that have been installed. These computer chips monitor the system and this is where the diagnostic scan pulls the information from.
Why You Should Buy a Diagnostic Scan Tool
Car owners will reap a lot of benefits from having a good quality diagnostic scan tool handy, Aside from determining if the car can be safely driven when a problem arises, they help car owners same money and time at the garage by determining what the problem is. Thanks to the information that the scan tool provides, you will know before you even speak to the technician, what the problem probably is and where the problem is.
One place having a diagnostic scan can be really valuable is when you are looking to purchase a used car. If the car is newer than 1995 (1996 and newer) you can plug the diagnostic scan into the port and find out exactly what is wrong with that used car you are considering. It definitely helps with weeding out the lemons or the surprise you would have from buying a vehicle you think is okay.
Garages oftentimes charge for diagnostics to be run, so having this step taken care of and having the information to give the technician saves you a lot of both money and time.
How do Diagnostic Scanners Work?
It may seem just like magic, but diagnostic scanners work very simply: plug the scan tool into one of the data output ports. You will find this is close to the steering wheel and under the dashboard than anywhere else. Once plugging it in, the scanner will tell you that the car is safe to still drive or whether you have to have it towed to avoid more serious damage.
Once the scan has been done, the scan tool can be hooked up to a computer and more specific information can be obtained. Some car diagnostic software even has cost information for your local area.
After 1996, car manufacturers added built in computers that contained a diagnostic system that car owners or technicians could access through the data ports. There are several different computer chips that take care of monitoring different vehicle systems such as transmission, brakes, engine and more.
When the check engine light comes on it gives you the opportunity to plug in the scan tool and access the on-board system which will in turn provide a DTC. or diagnostic trouble code. The scanner can read the codes and then will translate them into understandable terms that will tell you what the problem most likely is.
What the Diagnostic Scan Can Find Out
Diagnostic scan tools are designed to uncover many different problems that can occur in a vehicle. Each problem has its own Diagnostic Trouble Code. There are several different code ranges that deal with different parts of the vehicle.
Code P0100 to P0199 – These codes will be dealing with your vehicles engine intake exhaust and carburetor sensors. If anything is wrong with the oxygen sensor, oil temp sensor, fuel pressure sensor or mass airflow sensor, it will have these codes attached to the problem.
Code P0200 to P0299 – Next the codes will alert the car owner or technician that there is something wrong with the engine’s combustion cylinders. That could include something like the injection pump, fuel injectors, combustion cylinders, or turbocharger if it has one. It can also include problems with the throttle position sensors.
Code P0300 to P0399 – Now we’ve moved into the vehicle engine’s output and ignitions systems. Timing chains, ignition coils, crankshaft and camshaft all fall under this set of codes.
Code P0400 to P0499 – Exhaust and emissions control falls under the 4th set of codes. This will cover problems like gases soiling from the engine, overheating, excess pressure in the exhaust system, evaporative emissions control system failure and problems with the catalytic converter.
Code P0500 to P0599 – Electrical system problems will be labeled with the 5th set of codes. It could be the power steering or cruise control as well as the idle control system or the electrical wiring.
The Different Types of Diagnostic Scan Tools
There are a few different types of diagnostic scan tools and the main difference is in the types of codes it reads. This will determine which system the scan tool can access to alert users to the problem. Many users or technicians will only access the problems using the basic OBD.
Other scan tools will be more complicated but also provide more diagnostic capabilities. The more in depth ones can often diagnose problems with the anti-lock brakes and tire pressure monitoring. The more expensive scanners tend to diagnose the potential problems in many different systems.
The best diagnostic scan tool that you choose will depend on the amount of money you want to spend on it and also how much of a detailed report you need. For just detecting trouble codes, you don’t need to worry about spending a ton of money and can handle a more basic tool.
For those who want to get all of the diagnostic information including analysis and I/M information, you will want to invest in a higher grade and quality diagnostic scan. The model car and age will determine how much information you can get.
Most people will want the midrange priced model. These middle of the road diagnostic scan tools are reasonable in price, so they make great diagnostic scans for the budget minded who still want to ensure the safety of their family and friends as well as have some knowledge of what is going on with their vehicles.
If you have a car newer than 1996, you will find that the majority of them, if not all of them, have these on-board computers. If you know how to read the codes and decipher what is going on it can prevent the chance of you being taken for a financial ride with the technician or garage.
Now that you have the information you need, you can start your search for the perfect diagnostic scan tool for your vehicle and your needs. With education comes confidence and you will definitely have what it takes to make the decision, fear free.
Whether it is one of the three top rated Diagnostic Scan Tools reviewed here, or something you find on your own, having a tool that you can use to troubleshoot problems going on with your vehicle and not be at the mercy of a technician in a garage that you may not know. You will love having the answers to issues that arise with your vehicle right there at your fingertips instead of being in the dark about it and hoping the garage only fixes what is actually wrong.
- INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader – 3INNOVA 3100 Diagnostic Scan Tool/Code Reader
- Actron CP9550 PocketScan Plus – Actron CP9550 PocketScan Plus
- Autel AL519 Color Screen OBDII/CAN Scan Tool – Autel AL519 Color Screen OBDII/CAN Scan Tool