Hi everyone! I’m thinking of purchasing an OBD II scanner. Any opinions on who makes good ones? I saw some Actron and Craftsman scanners at Sears, but I have to sort through features to see how elaborate a tool I need.
Unless your spending $600-$2,000, your looking at code readers. Most code readers, from $50-$250, will read the engine codes that will set your ‘Check Engine’ light on. But, few will read ABS codes, transmission controller codes, or body control module codes. Even some of the expensive scanners will not read those codes. Also, check to make sure it will erase the codes. Some units will not. This gets frustrating when you fix the problem, but cannot clear the codes.
Also, be aware that reading the code is but the first step to diagnosing the problem. The code only tells you what the computer ‘sees’ as a problem,either a sensor circuit issue or a range tolerance issue, but not a ‘replace this and everything is fine’ deal. Most factory service manuals have a step-by-step process to correct problems displayed with the codes. You could pay for a lot of expensive sensors that are not the problem if you mis-read what a code is telling you.
I have an CanOBD2 scanner model number 3100 from Innova.It is much better than a lot of simpler code readers, and is ABS upgradeable. It even shows code definitions on the screen, and has the code definitions for the manufacturer specific codes in the P1xx, P2xx, and P3xx ranges. Not for all manufacturers, but they also offer great support on their website http://www.canobd2.com/
The$99.99 Innova at Wal-Mart will read and clear codes. Prices may have changed, so check around. I wouldn’t spend more unless I ran a service shop.
Several will display live data which will greatly improve the chances of successfully diagnosing a problem.
You can get one that reads the codes and let’s you clear them on Amazon for $16+shipping. For the most part that’s all you’ll need.
If you have a laptop you can easily turn it into a basic scantool for less than $100. You just need a cable & software. I have OBDwiz which is a free shareware. With cable & software you can read & clear codes, but you can also do basic real time scantool stuff.
I just bought an EQUUS scanner from Amazon for less than $200. It reads CAN, and other models can read brake codes, etc. I got the 3140 because here in Mexico there are a lot of OBDI cars, and the 3140 will read several makes befoe 1996. Check it out for yourself on Amazon. Mine does both freeze frame and live data. You can look at your sensors while running the speed limit, but please don’t read it when there are other cars near you.
Like Cigroller said, You can buy a OBD-2 to USB cable on eBay that will allow your laptop to function as a sophisticated scan tool…Most cables come with a free software disc or you can buy some very capable software. The cables and freeware sell for under $30…
Thanks for all the good answers! I do realize that it might not do me much good in a lot of cases, but I’m hoping it will point me in the right direction. From there, I may or may not be able to fix it, but at least it may help me discuss the problem with someone who can.