How Do I Know What Scan Tool I Need?

  • 4 min read

We know how difficult it can be to find the correct tool for your needs. There is a world of information and mis-information on the internet, all leading you in many different directions and probably feeling slightly confused, not to mention the amount of tools to choose from and that's even before you try and figure out what will be compatible with your vehicle. We deal with this every day and know exactly what you're going through. 

That is why we are here, to help!

Figuring out which Scan Tool is the right one for you can be daunting when you first start out. This is why we have made this little guide to help you find the scanner which will suit your needs. Reading and clearing Engine codes is what we extensively deal with, so there are multiple options for these tools. We also stock scanners which go further in depth by reading and clearing Airbag, ABS codes. If you are only dealing with one brand for example BMW we have singular make tools. We also stock trade specific tools such as key programmers for locksmiths. To help you find the tool you need, just follow the steps below.

The first question we ask is..

 1. Home or Professional use?
First of all, are you looking at buying a scanner for use at home on your cars or are you a professional garage which needs a scanner which will cover a greater range of vehicles?  If you are looking for a scanner which covers a range of OBDI and OBDII cars and systems you should check out the...

Foxwell GT60 - Ideally used in a workshop or by a call out mechanic.

Autel MK808 - An entry level professional scan tool 

Autel Maxisys MS906BT - Bi-directional professional scan tool

 Autel Maxisys Elite - Equipped with the Maxi-flash pass thru device. Capable of ECU programming 

Autel Maxisys Ultra - The ultimate diagnostic platform for professional workshops 

If you are a mechanic that requires a basic tool, home user or maybe a small car dealer read on 

2. Is your car OBD2 compliant?

While it is hard to say that all cars are OBD2 compliant from a certain date, a good guideline for car compliance would be:

American Vehicles
- 1996 onwards


European Vehicles
- 2001 onwards for Petrol
- 2004 onwards for Diesel


Australian Vehicles
- Holden from 2006 - Commodore from VZ
- AU Ford from 2006 - Falcon from BA, Ranger from 2007


Japanese vehicles
These vary by manufacturer and even model but all are OBD2 from 2008
- Honda from 2001
- Hyundai from 2001
- Kia from 2006
- Mazda from 2001
- Mitsubishi from 2006
- Nissan from 2007
- Subaru from 2003 (engine codes only - full OBD2 from 2008)
- Suzuki from 2006
- Toyota from 2006
 - Toyota Diesel from 2008

Please note that some models will be OBD2 compliant from earlier than these dates, this is just a guide to show your what should safely be OBD2 compliant This is a helpful guide to determining if your car is OBD2 compliant but if you are still unsure please don't hesitate to contact us.

If you can see your car falls under the above category then you can choose any scanner from the selection safely

3. My Car is not OBD2 compliant
If it is not OBD2 compliant then it will still be running it's own manufacturer specific diagnostic system. This is commonly known as an OBD1 system and your best bet for finding a scanner for your car will be under single make tools or selecting an all make compatible diagnostic tool such as any Launch X-431 scan tool or AUTEL Maxisys or maxicom scan tool

The most cost effective solution for someone seeking a tool to work with their OBD1 vehicle would be the single brand scan tool such as the foxwell NT510 Elite or the CGSulit 580Pro as you can program up to 5 vehicle makes and have a huge range of functions.


4. My Car is OBD2 compliant.
If your car is OBD2 compliant then your options are numerous. It all depends if you just want a handheld unit or something that will connect to your smartphone

Handheld Units
Great units which are standalone and run off the car battery so all you do is plug in to your car and scan away. If you are after a scanner which will just read and clear engine fault codes then the ANCEL AS100 is the most basic and cost effective option 

If you want to get a little deeper and also read live data coming from your engine sensors, print diagnostic reports, test o2 and emissions systems then the FOXWELL NT301 is a good option


IPhone, Ipad and Android Units

The most user friendly plug in device is the NEXPEAK. It works off ELM327 interface. Apple products do not work with cheaper Bluetooth units so this wifi unit has been built to work with apple devices as well as android. It will provide both live data and engine code reading and clearing

If you are wanting a Bluetooth plug in device that goes more in depth and allows you to monitor exactly whats going on with your vehicle the Thinkdiag Mini  is very popular offering great value for money and allows you to access every available module in the vehicle from your mobile phone. 

The Bluedriver LSB2 is another popular option for a plug in device that works through your mobile phone however the Thinkdiag mini does offer you more in depth information and functionality