Best Car Diagnostic Scan Tools

Car Diagnostic Scan Tools: Everything You Need To Know

  • Post last modified:22/02/2024

Confused by Check Engine lights? Diagnose car troubles like a pro! This guide unlocks the secrets of car diagnostic scan tools: Choose the perfect one for you!

Automotive diagnostic service tools can help you to identify problems within your car. This will allow you to anticipate system failures before they happen and prepare yourself in terms of cost and time.

This guide will provide you with a quick overview of the different types of car diagnostic scan tools that are used to test vehicles. It will also give you tips for choosing the best scan tools for your needs.

What’s the Difference Between Code Readers and Car Diagnostic Scan Tools?

The first thing you need to know about selecting diagnostic equipment is that different levels of expertise are needed for different types of tests. For example, if you’re a beginner and just want to know if your car is running well, then a simple tool like an OBD2 scanner might be all you need. Car Code Readers interpret these signals in a way that’s easy to understand. You don’t need a computer science degree to decode it.

If, on the other hand, you’re an experienced technician who needs to diagnose engine problems quickly and accurately, then a more professional scan tool or code reader might be more suitable.

In general, a diagnostic tool can perform basic troubleshooting and engine analysis, while a scan tool is typically more advanced and can read out vehicle fault codes from your vehicle’s computer system. A basic code reader may be the best choice if you don’t have enough experience or training with cars.

The Basics of Code Readers

Car code scanners can give you live and real-time information about what is going on underneath the hood. They’re great to have on hand for any circumstance. If you’re interested in mechanics, you can use it to save time and money by completing repairs yourself.

Most scanners are pretty straightforward to use but there are some differences between different types. Here’s a basic overview of the process:

  1. The first thing to do is plug the device into your car using either Bluetooth or the diagnostic connector.
  2. The next step is to enter your vehicle identification number.
  3. The third step: From the code, letters represent different areas on a vehicle. For example, “U” stands for unidentified while “B” stands for body

Car code readers are handy when buying a car from a private seller. They can save you a lot of money by identifying any problems before deciding to buy.

Professional Scan Tools: What Scan Tools Do Mechanics Use?

Mechanics rely on a variety of tools to diagnose and repair cars, and professional scan tools are some of the most important. These powerful devices go far beyond the basic code readers you might find at an auto parts store, offering deep insights into a vehicle’s various systems and components. See a sample diagnostic scan report that is included with every pre-purchase vehicle inspection by BPC Auto Inspect.

Here are Some of the Top Scan Tool Brands Used by Professional Mechanics:

  • Snap-on is a well-established brand known for its high-quality and durable tools, Snap-on scan tools are built to withstand the demands of a busy workshop. They offer a wide range of features, including bi-directional control, real-time data streaming, and advanced coding capabilities.
  • Autel has become a popular choice for mechanics in recent years, thanks to the innovative and user-friendly scan tools. Their MaxiSys line of tablets offers a powerful combination of hardware and software, making it easy to diagnose even the most complex problems.
  • Launch is another leading brand in the professional scan tool market. AUSCAN 3, the dynamic tool of the new generation, offers robust vehicle coverage and comprehensive system diagnostics making it the tool of choice for every workshop. Their X-431 series of scanners are known for their accuracy and reliability, and they offer a wide range of features to meet the needs of any mechanic. My favourite and the one I use at BPC Auto Inspect is the Launch CRP 129X. Download professional diagnostic scan report by Launch CRP 129X on BMW X6 xDrive30d.
  • Bosch is a world-renowned automotive supplier, and their scan tools are no exception. Their KTS series of scanners are used by many dealerships and independent shops alike, and they offer a comprehensive suite of diagnostic capabilities.

What Makes These Scan Tools Different?

Professional scan tools offer several advantages including:

  • More comprehensive coverage: They can access and read data from all of a vehicle’s systems, not just the engine.
  • Advanced features: They offer features like bi-directional control, which allows mechanics to test and actuate components, and real-time data streaming, which provides a live view of how a system is operating.
  • Deeper diagnostic capabilities: They can provide more detailed information about trouble codes, making it easier for mechanics to pinpoint the exact cause of a problem.
  • Durability: They are built to withstand the rigours of a professional workshop environment.

If you’re a serious DIY mechanic or you own a fleet of vehicles, investing in a professional scan tool can be a worthwhile investment. However, it’s important to choose a tool that is compatible with the make and model of your vehicle and that has the features you need.

What Factors to Consider When Choosing a Vehicle Diagnostic Tool or Equipment

Choosing the right car diagnostics tool is essential in determining the success of your vehicle maintenance and repair. It is important to have all the right tools for the job. There are many factors to consider when choosing a car diagnostics tool or equipment.

  1. Safety: Safety is one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a car diagnostics tool or equipment. Choose products that are UL-approved, CE certified and ROHS compliant for safety purposes.
  2. Durability: Durability is another important factor when it comes to choosing a car diagnostics tool or equipment as you want something that will last long and not break down easily which will save you money in the long run.
  3. Accuracy: Accuracy is also an important factor when it comes to choosing a scanner.

The Best Online Stores for Buying Quality Car Diagnostic Tools and Devices Online

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EBay is where I got my Launch CRP 129X (eBay affiliate link) and has many listings of other scan tools for every need.

The internet has grown to be the most popular place for people to buy products. Buying quality automotive diagnostics equipment online has become a very popular trend in recent years with the rise of the internet and online shopping. Popular search terms like, professional car diagnostic tool Australia, car diagnostic scanner Bunnings, Repco scanners, SuperCheap Auto diagnostic scanner, Auto One diagnostic tools, OBD2 scanners and best car diagnostic tool australia.

There are many reasons why people are buying their automotive diagnostics equipment online and they include:

  • Convenience: You can order your automotive diagnostics equipment online and have it delivered right to your doorstep. This makes it easier for you to purchase quality automotive diagnostic tools and devices when you need them without going through a lot of hassle.
  • Safety: When you buy your auto diagnostic equipment from an offline store, you might not know if these stores are genuine or not. However, when you buy from an online store, this is not a problem because these stores have websites where you can see if they are genuine or not. Online stores have professional customer support that will answer any of your questions and deliver the items as quickly as possible. Offline stores usually have no customer support and it could take a long time for them to deliver the items because of this.
  • Options: If you only make repairs on your vehicle (and don’t plan on making any for anyone else), you might find a used machine more cost-effective than a new one. If you are opening a new auto repair shop, you might find that it is cheaper to get a used diagnostic tool for each bay. You can save money on buying equipment when using this method. A pre-owned automotive diagnostic tester in each bay could result in higher productivity because you wouldn’t have to share with your co-workers. You can get the high quality of an OE quality tool at a very affordable price.


So, what’s the verdict? Code reader or scan tool? It all boils down to your needs and comfort level. If you simply want to know that “Check Engine” doesn’t mean impending doom, a trusty code reader will give you basic peace of mind. But if you crave deeper insights, like the ones you saw in my professional diagnostic report, a scan tool becomes your key to understanding your car’s language.

Remember, I wasn’t just reading codes; I was analyzing live data, testing components, and even suggesting corrective actions based on specific manufacturer specs. That’s the power you gain with a scan tool. Now, the internet is full of tempting deals and eBay might be whispering about a bargain scan tool but remember, you get what you pay for.

Trustworthy brands like Snap-on, Autel, and Launch offer the best in OBD2 scanners with robust features and reliable software updates, crucial for accurate diagnoses. Cheap knock-offs? They might leave you in the dark just when you need the light most. So, make an informed choice. If curiosity and control beckon, invest in a quality car diagnostic scan tool and unlock the secrets of your car’s health.

You might save yourself a costly trip to the mechanic, and who knows, you might even discover a hidden mechanical passion (I did!). Ultimately, the choice is yours, but remember, knowledge is power – especially when it comes to your four-wheeled companion. Drive safe, drive informed, and drive with confidence!

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