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Published on January 4th, 2024
Content Manager at Innova Electronics
Innova diagnostic scanners assist you in understanding your vehicle, finding problems, and providing guidance for repairs. You can access the same advanced technology used by professionals, without the high costs or subscription fees.Learn more about Innova Scanners
In the world of fixing cars, the On-Board Diagnostics II (OBD2) scanner is pretty important. It's like a special tool that helps car owners, DIYers, or mechanics figure out what's happening inside a car's computer system. These tools come in different shapes and sizes, and they vary a lot by price.
If you're looking for the right OBD2 scanner for your needs, it's essential to understand how the price matches up with what it can do. Let's explore the different prices of OBD2 scanners and what features you get at each price point.
At its core, an OBD2 scanner is a device designed to communicate with a vehicle's onboard computer system through the standardized OBD2 port.
Don’t know where your OBD2 port is? Find out by clicking here.
This port allows users to retrieve Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) stored within the system, offering insights into various issues affecting the vehicle's performance. From simple code readers to sophisticated diagnostic tools, OBD2 scanners vary widely in their capabilities and price points.
Before we begin exploring the range of OBD2 scanner prices, it’s important to keep in mind that while prices are generally correlated with features, that’s not all there is to it.
For example, cheap entry-level scanners are great for quick code readings, but they do not offer any kind of support. On the other hand, expensive scanners have awesome advanced features you can play around with, but it comes at the cost of expensive annual update fees.
For example, brands like Snap-On or Autel have an impressive set of features, which is the reason why a lot of mechanics use these brands. But it often comes with a hefty annual update cost. Whereas brands like Innova or Bluedriver do not charge update fees, but offer less advanced features.
With this in mind, we strongly encourage you to choose the scanner that best fits your needs after thoroughly understanding the pros and cons. Buying the wrong OBD2 scanner can be a frustrating experience, and it is our goal to provide you an unbiased overview of OBD2 scanners based on their price ranges.
💡Code Reading and Clearing: This fundamental functionality is available across all price ranges of OBD2 scanners, allowing users to retrieve and clear diagnostic trouble codes from a vehicle's onboard computer system.
Venturing into the realm of entry-level OBD2 scanners, these scan tools cater to basic functionalities. They typically serve as straightforward code readers, displaying DTCs and providing fundamental information about detected problems.
Their primary function revolves around reading and clearing codes, making them suitable for individuals seeking a rudimentary diagnostic tool without extensive features. However, they often lack the advanced diagnostic capabilities or real-time data monitoring found in higher-priced models.
Currently, Innova does not offer any OBD2 scanners at this price point.
💡Live Data & System-Specific Tests: Mid to high-range OBD2 scanners offer real-time data monitoring during vehicle operation and perform detailed system-specific tests for in-depth diagnostics of brakes, airbags, transmission, and more.
Progressing along the spectrum, mid-range OBD2 scanners offer a more expansive array of features compared to their entry-level counterparts. These devices elevate beyond mere code reading, encompassing functionalities like OBD2 live data streaming. This enables users to monitor real-time parameters such as engine RPM, vehicle speed, coolant temperature, and more, providing a more comprehensive diagnostic experience.
Beyond this comes other functionalities like SMOG pre-check, battery reset, oil light reset, and so on, which are useful for everyday maintenance and vehicle upkeep.
Additionally, some mid-range scanners may offer enhanced diagnostic capabilities for manufacturer-specific vehicle systems such as ABS or SRS systems.
Finally, towards the higher end of the price range comes the All System Scan feature. This allows you to scan everything else, from audio problems to air conditioners.
Innova currently offers 5 OBD2 scanners at this price point. If you’d like to know the feature difference between each scanner, I encourage you to check out our Comparison Chart.
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💡Special Functions & Bi-Directional Control: Scan tools in this price range often offer bi-directional control, allowing users to interact with vehicle systems via commands for testing, actuation, and reprogramming. These scanners also facilitate special functions like calibrations, resets, relearns, and routines, providing extensive control and diagnostics for complex vehicle issues.
At the higher end of OBD2 scanner prices are the advanced OBD2 scanners. These scanners are typically only used by advanced DIYers or mechanics as they require quite a bit of mechanical knowledge.
These high-tier scanners are capable of cutting-edge functions such as OEM live data, which is extremely useful when attempting to pinpoint the exact issue behind your DTC. Unlike OBD2 live data, OEM live data allows you to view live data on manufacturer-specific systems like ABS, SRS, TPMS, and more.
Another highly valued feature at this price range would be bi-directional controls. Bi-directional features allow you to get live feedback from the car without having to dismantle the entire engine. For instance, you can test your fuel injector by simply commanding the vehicle to activate the injectors remotely. Based on the readings and responses received from the diagnostic scanner, you can then determine if the injector is malfunctioning.
Finally, there are special dealership-level functions you can enjoy such as routines, calibrations, relearns, and resets. These features can be useful if you’d like to perform ABS bleeds, perform steering angle sensor calibration, execute DPF Reset/Regen, and many more.
Innova currently offers 6 advanced OBD2 scanners at this price point. We do recommend the Innova 5610 as it is our most advanced handheld OBD2 scanner, but all the other options are also great choices.
💡All-in-One Functionality: At this premium price point, these advanced devices offer a comprehensive range of capabilities. From key programming to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), they encompass all the functionalities one would anticipate using at a mechanic shop, providing a versatile suite of tools for various automotive needs.
At the upper echelon of OBD2 scanner prices reside the professional-grade devices, offering a plethora of advanced diagnostic functionalities. These scanners are usually used by professional mechanics and automotive technicians.
At this price point, you can pretty much expect the device to do everything you want. From key programming to ADAS, it has all the functionalities you’d expect to use at a mechanic shop.
Furthermore, you can expect these professional-level scan tools to have vehicle-specific support. As you may be aware, some vehicle manufacturers lock out certain features. An example of this would be the FCA gateway via AUTOAUTH, which allows access to enhanced diagnostics on 2018 and newer FCA vehicles (including Jeep, Fiat, Chrysler, and Dodge).
Finally, some high-end tools offer remote programming and support, which enables you to fix your vehicle with the help of a professional…at the comfort of your own shop/garage.
While Innova does offer some advanced features (such as FCA gateway access) on its tablet OBD2 scanners (SDS tablets and the Innova 7111), we do not sell any scanners above the $1,000+ price point. Most mechanics tend to use products from brands like Snap-On at this level.
All OBD2 scanners have a wide range of purposes. While entry-level scanners serve admirably for basic code reading, those seeking deeper insights into their vehicle's health or professionals requiring extensive diagnostic capabilities should lean towards mid-high range or professional-grade scanners.
If you’re looking for a basic code reader that just does code reading/clearing, a cheap OBD2 scanner is probably the best use of your money. They’re cheap and even if they break, it won’t matter much.
If you’re looking for an OBD2 scanner to use long-term, I’d suggest you invest in an advanced OBD2 scanner below $500. Do be careful, however, when choosing the brand. Some brands do not offer support or charge hidden subscription fees.
If you’re looking for a professional OBD2 scanner, a $1,000+ scanner is your best choice. Although expensive and with hefty update fees, the sheer amount of advanced features available may make it worth the cost.
Overall, my suggestion would be to try both. Even if you’re a professional mechanic, you can use the Innova 5610 for everyday diagnostics. Its price point isn’t too worrying, and it’s durable against daily scratches and drops. Then, you can use your $1,000+ scanner for occasional advanced programming needs.
The choice is yours. There are both pros and cons to all types of scanners, and Innova isn’t an exception. Whichever tool you choose, we’re here to help guide you through your diagnostics journey.
Sometimes, it helps to just push ahead and take a leap of faith! Learn more about our OBD2 scanners and how it can help diagnose the hidden issues with your vehicle.Get Started
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