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The Best OBD2 Scanner For Diagnosing Your Vehicle’s Issues

If you want to buy a new car or want to remain updated on your tow-behind vehicle, the best OBD2 scanner is what you need.

Traveling with a tow-behind vehicle can be a lifesaver, but these machines can also give us a lot of grief. That flashing check-engine light, that weird rattling noise, and several other telltale signs signal something wrong, but how can we know for sure?

The first instinct for such problems is to take your vehicle to the mechanic. That makes sense, but not many folks have the ready cash to pay a mechanic or repairman every other week. It may cost hundreds of dollars for a mechanic to check your car, even if the issue is a laughably minor one.

Another problem for RV travelers is not having a "local" mechanic that you can trust. With the best OBD2 scanner on hand, you can identify just what’s wrong with your vehicle. Often, you can repair these problems with your basic RV tool kit and the creative use of YouTube videos. But how do you know which scanner to pick?

Comparison Table

First Things First: Is There a Scanner for Your RV?

RV And Man

image via: pixabay

We know what you're thinking. Do they make an OBD2 scanner for my RV? Yes, and no.

If you have a smaller, Class B RV with a regular gasoline engine, most OBD2 scanners will be somewhat effective in diagnosing engine problems. The engines in many of the Class B RVs are the same stock engines used in pick-up trucks and vans by the major auto manufacturers.

If you have a larger Class A or Class C rig with a non-standard engine or a diesel-powered rig, your options are much more limited. The first problem is that you probably have a different plug-in under the dash.

We did find a couple of scanners that work well on many RVs and will highlight those in a minute. You should still check with your regular mechanic or RV dealer to make sure that a scanner will work on your model.

How the Best OBD2 Scanner Will Benefit Your Vehicle’s Performance

The best OBD2 scanners do come in different price ranges, but they’re still an additional cost. But when you're on the road, that $100 to $200 scanner may end up saving you many more hundreds (or even thousands) in repair costs and countless days of precious travel time!

So why exactly should we invest in them? Let’s discuss the benefits of getting a decent scanner below, so that you may make the most informed decision possible:

It provides enhanced compatibility

Auto scanners have come a long way, thanks to our rapidly advancing technology. Since 1996, every vehicle has to be manufactured in a way that it meets the standards of the best OBD2 scanner.

While there might still be some vehicles that may not match certain scanners, at least we don’t have to get a separate scanner for each vehicle.

Its comprehensive diagnosis makes it easy to view data

When you use the best OBD2 scanner, you can use it to view the data from the sensors in your vehicle. Every modern vehicle will have an onboard computer that handles its systems.

These include fuel injection, auto transmission, ignition information, and so on. When you use a scanner tool, it can communicate with all these modules and use that information to troubleshoot any problems.

It will help relieve mental stress

A blinking engine light or any other telltale sign of trouble can be a major source of tension for any vehicle owner. And this can be especially troubling for a traveler in the middle of the Arizona desert.

When you have the best OBD2 scanner as a diagnostic tool, all it takes is a rapid scan. That will set your mind at ease, especially if the fault turns out to be a minor malfunction that you can easily fix yourself. If it’s something major, you’ll know that paying for a mechanic is worth it.

It’s user-friendly

The best OBD2 scanners are designed to be user-friendly. You get a cable to connect the scanner to a port under the dashboard at the driver’s side. After connecting, you need to turn the key once to make the lights come on. From there, you get on-screen instruction and fill in the required details. There might even be a touch screen for some models, making navigation even easier.

While not all RVs will have the standard plug-in, there are normally adapters available for your model RV. The industry is working on standardizing the connectors, but it takes a few years to get all the manufacturers on the same page.

It comes with great prices

You may think that technology like this would cost a fortune. Luckily, this isn’t true! Granted, such diagnostic tools could break the bank if you go for the more specialized models. However, there are some lower-end versions that are quite affordable for the average car owner.

Classifications of OBD2 Scanners

There are a few classifications of the best OBD2 scanners. The first two divisions are as follows:

It comes with great prices


This is the more expensive kind, which comes with a setup that gives you information about live data, recorded data, advanced troubleshooting, and manufacturer-specific codes.

Code readers


These are devices which can read codes from any vehicle with an OBD2 system. It can also clear the codes, but they won’t be the manufacturer-specific kind.

Connection Types


Another classification of the best OBD2 scanners focuses on the connection format. The three main kinds include:

Handheld scanners


These are devices for mechanics and other professionals who work with vehicles. They’re designed for working with several types of systems, including the engine, the brakes, and the transmission system.

Bluetooth scanners


As the name suggests, these scanners use the Bluetooth connectivity in a smartphone or a tablet. You may also use your computer as a scan tool for diagnosing and troubleshooting your vehicle issues.

PC-based scanners


These will use the power of your PC to operate, diagnosing the problems with your vehicle in that manner.

How to Choose the Best OBD2 Scanner

ScanGauge - SG2 II Ultra Compact 3-in-1 Automotive Computer with...
  • Programmable 3-in-1 automotive trip computer, diagnostic scan tool, and up to 37 digital gauges in one (vehicle...
  • Watch fuel consumption, cost-per-mile, coolant temperature, engine speed, horsepower, and much more in real time. No...
  • Works on all 1996 or newer OBDII cars, including gas, diesel, propane and hybrid vehicles; Simple 5-button operation...

With several versions of the best OBD2 scanner available, how would you know which one will suit your needs? We can narrow that down with the following considerations:

Choose a reputable brand

The best OBD2 scanner should have a quality brand name behind it. This isn’t really a status symbol, so the brand name stands for the experience of the company and its decent customer service. The most popular brand names for such scanners include BAFX, Autel USA, Launch Tech, and Innova.

Inquire if the scanner offers high visibility of information

The screen on your scanner should also have high-quality information. You should be able to see the codes clearly along with real-time info. This will ensure that the scanner is actually useful to the vehicle owner.

Check if it provides data storage

The data storage method is an important consideration if you need the scanner for professional purposes. You might need to scan several vehicles in one day, so an organized storage format is indispensable in such cases.

Ask the manufacturer if it comes with an app

Some brands provide apps for the scanners, where you can monitor several vehicles and learn code definitions. Each manufacturer may have different features in their apps, so you should check to see what you’re getting before the final purchase.

Overall Pricing of OBD2 Scanners

The pricing of OBD2 scanners varies across a wide range. There are several features and specifications that might jack up the cost, along with the brand name. However, the prices of the best OBD2 scanners range between $​ and $​$$ (yes, you read that correctly).

How We Reviewed and Selected the Best OBD2 Scanner

Most vehicle owners need to consider several factors before deciding upon the best OBD2 scanner. Taking this into account, we've made sure to select scanners according to the most important requirements. Therefore, you’ll find some of those scanners offering basic necessities while others provide highly advanced features. Each item has no less than an Amazon rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon, so there should be no wrong choices.

Some of the Best OBD2 Scanner Options We Have

Below are some of the best OBD2 scanners available on the market today. Choosing carefully according to your requirements will definitely help you find the right OBD2 scanner for your vehicle:


ScanGauge by Linear Logic

ScanGauge offers four different models in its OBD2 Scanner line-up.  We'll look at three of them. The last model (ScanGaugeKR) is for big rigs and contain features to allow long-haul truck drivers to track and maintain good fuel economy.


ScanGaugeII

ScanGauge - SG2 II Ultra Compact 3-in-1 Automotive Computer with...
  • Programmable 3-in-1 automotive trip computer, diagnostic scan tool, and up to 37 digital gauges in one (vehicle...
  • Watch fuel consumption, cost-per-mile, coolant temperature, engine speed, horsepower, and much more in real time. No...
  • Works on all 1996 or newer OBDII cars, including gas, diesel, propane and hybrid vehicles; Simple 5-button operation...

The ScanGaugeII will monitor your vehicle and provide you with real-time data. It includes 15 digital gauges and 5 trip data sets. It installs easily and will also alert you to pending trouble codes. Designed to use the standard OBD2 16-pin connector.  The price is in the mid-area, currently ranging from $​ to $​$. Works with many Class B RVs and holds steady at 4.5 out of 5 stars with Amazon customers.


ScanGaugeE

This basic scanner displays real-time data about fuel economy. This allows you to track and adjust your driving style to promote better fuel economy. The ScanGaugeE also includes 15 digital gauges and has the ability to display two gauges simultaneously. This model is slightly less expensive ranging from $90 to $120, but rates well at 4.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Uses the standard OBD2 interface. Compatible with many Class B RVs.


ScanGaugeD

ScanGauge SGDFFP J1939 & J1708 Vehicle Monitor (Frustration Free)
  • Affordable Compatibility in a Compact Design
  • Specialized Cable - Works on 9 pin and 6 pin plugs
  • Monitor The Most Vital Systems

This real-time scanner allows a user to select up to four separate functions (out of 15) to monitor at the same time. This shows you accurately what is happening at all times. While only rating at 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon, this unit receives very good reviews from RV owners in many forums. This scanner also includes X-Gauge technology, which allows the addition of extra, vehicle exclusive gauges (not applicable to all vehicles). This unit is designed to work with many Class A RVs and diesel engines. The cost of this scanner is decent, ranging from $ to $​$. It comes equipped with J1939 & J1708 6- and 9-pin connectors.

ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD Scanner

ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced Universal OBD II Scanner Car Engine Fault...
  • Classic design, fast scan and clear trouble codes, even a beginner can use this unit to read the error code, find out...
  • Works on MOST 1996 US-Based, 2000 EU-Based and Asian cars, and newer OBD II & CAN domestic or import vehicles. Supports...
  • Easily determines the cause of the check engine light. I/M monitor readiness test, turn off the MIL (check engine light)...

The ANCEL AD310 might be one of the best OBD2 scanners on the market due to its multiple languages and informative display. The classic design will scan your vehicle quickly and give you the code along with their description and suggest possible solutions as well.

One possible issue with this scanner is that it doesn’t work with apps. However, the company is transparent about this omission, so there are no unpleasant surprises. With this tool in hand, you’ll be able to switch off that bothersome engine light and know why it went on in the first place. This scanner gets an Amazon rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, with the current price ranging from $​ to $​$.

BAFX Products Bluetooth Diagnostic OBDII Reader/Scanner

Bafx Products Wireless Bluetooth Obd2 Scanner Diagnostic Code Reader &...
  • NOT COMPATIBLE WITH iOS DEVICES - (iPhones, iPads etc); OUR BLUETOOTH OBD2 scanner IS ONLY COMPATIBLE WITH ANDROID OR...
  • READ & RESET - Our OBD2 diagnostic scanner tool will work on all cars purchased in the USA model year 1996 or newer;...
  • REAL TIME - Monitor the diagnostic sensors in your vehicle in real time for things like O2 data, fuel pressure, EVAP...

The BAFX Products scanner comes from a well-known brand in this particular market. From this, we know that the performance is likely to be satisfactory if not outstanding. This scanner is suitable for Android smartphones or computers with the Windows system. It works with several apps such a Torque, Piston, Carista, and Scan Master.

BAFX OBDII scanner will allow you to build graphics and analyze them live. However, it won’t give you much except the most basic features if you just have the free apps.

This handy scanner has an Amazon rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars and is available within the price range of $​ and $​. Getting the paid version of the apps, which can cost up to $​$, is recommended, so you might want to consider that as part of the price as well.

Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Scanner Diagnostic Scan Tool

Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 Diagnostic Scan Tool with All System basic...
  • 【MULTIFUNCTIONAL SCAN TOOL】 Once accessed to the Diagnostics service of MaxiCOM MK808 scan tool, here are a variety...
  • 【FULL SYSTEM DIAGNOSES】 With so many special services, the full system diagnosed will not absent. This diagnostic...
  • 【WIDE VEHICLE COVERAGE】 Autel MaxiCOM MK808 code reader works on most 1996 US-based, 2000 EU-based and newer...

The Autel MaxiCOM MK808 OBD2 gives you useful service functions such as oil reset, SAS, EPB, etc. It will also give you an all-system diagnosis, which means you can detect problems with all the systems in your vehicle, even including the wiper process.

The 7-inch touchscreen is another convenient factor, while the 1-year quality warranty is quite heartening. You’ll still have to make absolutely sure that the features are available with the kind of vehicle you own.

This all-encompassing scanner has an Amazon rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, even though the price ranges from $​ to $​$. This is not a scanner for casual use. There are online coupons for a discount, however, so you might be able to save some cash!

LAUNCH X431 V OBD2 Scanner

LAUNCH X431 V PRO (Same Function as X431 V+) Bi-Directional Scan Tool...
  • 🚗【 2020 Ver. LAUNCH X431 V Pro 】:LAUNCH X431 V pro scan tool is a 8inch branded Lenovo Android tablet with...
  • 🚗🚗【Bi-Directional + ECU Coding+Over 30 Reset Services+ Active Test + Adaptation+ Initialization + Matching 】:...
  • 🚗【 Covering 99.99% Vehicles on the World & MULTI-LANGUAGE 】: LAUNCH X431 V scan tool works on ECU of vehicle...

The LAUNCH X431 V (X431 PRO) features key programming, one-key generation for diagnostic reports, free updates, live data graphing, and several other functions. You’ll be able to easily reach and understand the information on a bright LED screen, especially with the simple user interface.

This scanner is also portable, as it weighs just over a pound and measures 10.2 x 2.8 x 8.3 inches. It supports five languages as well as a range of systems.

The Amazon rating of the LAUNCH scan tool is a great 4.6 out of 5 stars. The major issue with this scanner seems to be the price, which ranges from $​$ to $​$$ but considering this is a professional level device, it's understandable.

BlueDriver Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
  • Read and clear your Check Engine Light and all other vehicle systems. Get your unlimited free vehicle specific Repair...
  • As easy to use as a code reader with all the capabilities of an expensive handheld scan tool, plus the benefits of your...
  • Officially licensed and certified for Apple and Android devices

This BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional works through an app along with the physical sensor. One great factor about this OBD2 scanner is that it works for both Android and Apple so that you won’t be limited by the kind of operating system on your phone. The data transfers directly to your smartphone, providing interactive data mapping and data storage.

With the huge database of codes available, this might be the best OBD2 scanner for your personal use. However, the vehicle metrics are a bit limited, and therefore, you may have issues using it with non-American vehicles.

Even with the downsides, this tool has an Amazon rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. The price range is a bit steep, starting from $​ and going up to $​$.

NEXPEAK OBD2 Scanner NX501

NEXPEAK OBD2 Scanner NX501 Enhanced OBD II Auto Code Reader Car...
  • Professional Quality Auto Scanner: The NEXPEAK NX501 is an enhanced OBD II professional auto scanner that allows you to...
  • Wide Array of Compatibility: Accurately read and erase error codes on all OBD2 protocol vehicles with a 16 PIN interface...
  • More than Just an OBD II Scanner: Read and erase fault codes, retrieve I/M readiness and freeze frame data, display...

The NEXPEAK OBD2 NX501 scanner is an enhanced version of the basic OBD2 scanner. With this tool, you can check all the fault codes related to your engine and turn off the MIL (malfunction indicator lamp). This will also monitor the health status of your vehicle’s battery and remind you when you need a replacement.

You’ll be able to avoid spending unnecessary money for simple checkups with this gadget, so we’d definitely say it’s worth a shot. The free lifetime update service is another plus, though the updates are dependent on the website and not available on their own.

This device gained an above-average Amazon rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. At a price range between $65 and $110, you can expect quite a thorough analysis without blowing all your savings.

Innova 3100j CanOBD2 Diagnostic Tool

Scanner / Car Code Reader with Live Data
  • Quickly reveal the cause of "Check Engine" light warnings on any 1996 and newer OBD2 car, light truck, SUV and hybrids
  • Read and erase ABS & SRS light trouble codes on most OBD2 vehicles
  • Battery & alternator tests check the performance of a vehicle's charging system

The Innova 3100j CanOBD2 Diagnostic Tool is touted as one of the best OBD2 scanners currently available. It can quickly read ABS and SRS codes as well as erase the unnecessary ones. The screen is brightly-lit, easy to understand, and displays a lot of information at the same time. The Freeze Frame feature will let you know just when a warning light came on and how you can turn it off.

The downside is that there’s no documentation for codes. However, everyone has the internet these days, so looking them up shouldn’t be an issue. The customer support is great so that you won’t be alone!

This scan tool is mentioned by MotorHome Magazine as an excellent addition to any RV tool kit. We have an Amazon rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars with this tool, with the price ranging from $​ to $​$.

AIOBD 3009 OBD2 Code Reader

OBD2 Scanner Engine Check Light Fault Code Reader Automotive CAN...
  • Essential Tool for Engine: A handy tool to read error code, to find out problem and to erase code. No bettary request,...
  • Wide Compality: Compatible with MOST 1996 US-Based, 2000 EU-Based and Asian cars, and newer OBD II CAN domestic or...
  • Comprehensive Engine Scanner: Read and clean codes; Live data in both graph and text format.Access to emissions...

This AIOBD 3009 OBD2 Code Reader is compatible with a wide range of vehicles. It also has a quality warranty of one year, with a full spectrum of the most basic functions. This scanner will check your engine lights, clear your codes, and reset the monitor if required. The display is large and easy to read, with contrast adjustments for added convenience.

There have been a few complaints about the manual being a bit hard to understand, but the customer service seems to be on point. If you have an issue, the company is ready to help you every step of the way.

This scanner tool gets an Amazon rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars, which is quite impressive. The price range is also reasonable, starting at $34 and going up to $65.

So, Which OBD2 Scanner Will Keep Your Vehicle Going?

Each of the options above could be the best OBD2 scanner for your diagnostic needs. The most logical choice depends on your specific requirements. If you simply want a basic function to maintain your tow-behind, you can go for one of the cheaper models.

But if you want functionality for both your RV and your tow-behind, we have to stick with either the Innova 3100j or one of the three ScanGauge models.

ScanGauge seems to offer more usability for Class A and C RVs. RV forums are filled with comments from owners of the various scanners. As we stated, most seem to work adequately on reading most of the basic engine codes. Very few seem to work with ABS system diagnostics. Most comments point to the ScanGauge for reliability and versatility.

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