Car diagnostic scanners are used to monitor your cars overall health and find any issues that may be affecting your motor, it’s essentially a fault finder for your car. As long the OBD2 scanner used is compatible with your particular model of car, it should be a simple case of plugging it in and off you go. These scanners are a great way of finding out any general faults or problems with your motor yourself, without having to take it to a garage for a professional to check it.
There is a wide range of car code scanners to choose from, some designed to be compatible with certain motors, that’s why we’ve tried to make things as simple as possible by choosing what we believe to be the 5 top OBD2 scanners on the UK marketplace today.
Best OBD2 Scanners in the UK Reviews
1. NEXPEAK NX501
#1. NEXPEAK Car Universal OBDii Scanner Automotive NX501
NEXPEAK’s OBD2 Scanner is compatible with most OBD2 scanner protocols, and works with 16-pin interfaces: KWP2000, ISO9141, J1850 VPW, J1850 PWM and CAN. It can easily read the engine system, with basic functions including: read and clear DTCs, query freeze frame data, read dynamic DataStream, O2 sensor test, EVAP system test, on-board monitor test, read error code, read permanent DTC, among others. Just keep in mind that it only works with 12V vehicles.
A nice part of this code reader is the large, colour display, which shows you exactly what you need to know in detail and makes seeing what is wrong with your car, easy. You can even see some functions in graph form, so you can compare data analysis and diagnose more complex problems more easily. And since it can draw power from 12V vehicles, no batteries are needed.
The only real drawbacks to this OBD2 scanner are that it doesn’t work with all cars, and not all functions will work on all cars that it does work with. For example, O2 sensors on many newer cars do not work. For the price, it would be great if it worked on ALL cars.
Otherwise, this easily one of the best OBD2 scanners available – and our Top Pick for one. It works with the widest range of cars, has a large, readable screen and tons of features, and can read and store live data. A huge upgrade from your basic code reader.
- Works with tons of cars
- Has tons of functions and code readers
- No batteries. Just plug and play
- Built to last
- Not all functions will work on all cars (doesn’t work with some newer O2 sensors, for example)
#2. Seekone OBD2 Scanner
The Seekone SK860 OBD2 scanner is a bit more expensive than some of the other models, but like the NEXPEAK NX501, it packs a solid package with tons of features and capability. It works with most vehicles from 2000 or newer, and can read and clear DTC’s, MIL codes, live data stream, freeze frame data and even graphs. You have access to all 10 OBD service modes and will even define all DTC codes right there on the screen for you.
Other things we really like include the large, bright colour screen, which makes seeing what you’re doing and retrieving codes a breeze, as well as the large, bright red buttons, which make it ridiculously easy to navigate functions and get what you need. And the device, overall, is quite large – so the screen is very visible. For ease-of-use, this one wins – hands-down.
Anything we don’t like? Not too much, actually. It doesn’t work with as many cars as the NEXPEAK, which is why we don’t rank it quite as high. But for what it’s good at – it more than delivers.
Overall, this is another excellent OBD2 scanner that works with most newer vehicles and is built like a tank. We love the large screen and large red buttons and find the whole device easy to use; just plug, read codes and navigate to the definition. Can’t ask for more.
- Large, easy-to-read screen + durable build
- All 10 OBD functions; tons of features
- Works with most newer vehicles
- Doesn’t work older cars, as many cars as the NX501
#3. Autel AutoLink AL319 Universal
This OBD2 scanner isn’t nearly as expensive or as highly-featured as some other models, but it’s still an extremely capable and versatile piece of hardware. It won’t work on nearly as many cars (limited to OBD2 and CAN systems from 1996 or newer), but that’s still the majority of vehicles these days. It’s built for plug-and-play and doesn’t need batteries, so you can just plug it into any car and get to work immediately. And it retrieves both generic codes (P0, P2, etc.) and manufacturer codes (P1, U1, etc) for a wide range of versatile readings.
While it may not have as many functions as the NEXPEAK NX501, it does have a handy colour-coded LCD screen and built-in speaker which, together, make it easy to read codes and diagnose what’s wrong with the car both audibly and visibly. And you can look up exactly what the DTC codes mean right on the TFT screen and find out what’s wrong without even looking the device.
Now, it does have a few compatibility issues. Many diesel owners have reported problems with it – both on recent and older diesel models, despite its claiming compatibility with those models. Some people have also had complaints about its long-term durability.
Overall? It’s still a good scanner device. It’s not the best out there, especially compared to the NEXPEAK, but is still a reliable device for the majority of cars.
- Works with most cars
- Retrieves most codes (generic + manufacturer)
- Large, color-coded LCD + built-in speaker
- Built-in code lookup
- Doesn’t work with many diesel cars
- Not the most reliable long-term
#4. ANCEL AD310 Classic Enhanced
Simple but built to last. That’s how we describe the classic ANCEL AD310 – a versatile and durable code scanner that works with 12V vehicles and 16-pin OBD2 ports. It’s plug-and-play and dead simple to use. A great upgrade from basic OBDII scanners, the Ancel AD310 has a large, backlit LCD screen with large lettering that makes it easy to read off DCT codes and know exactly what is wrong with your car.
It can read both manufacturer and generic codes and has live data stream. It also has built-in DCT code lookup, so you easily diagnose the problems with your vehicle and get definitions right there inside the device. Easy! Finally, the build quality is excellent – it’s tough, durable and feels much more solid in your hands than many other cheaper models.
Again, the major drawback with this code reader is that it doesn’t work on all cars – even ones that it says it works on. You may want to double-check before purchasing one to make sure it will work your car.
Still, all in all, it’s a solidly-built, and reliable, OBD2 scanner that allows you to diagnose car troubles right in the device itself. And – it’s relatively inexpensive too but doesn’t sacrifice durability.
- Works with 12V vehicles, 16-pin OBD2 ports
- Plug-and-play, easy to use
- Large backlit LCD screen + large text
- Tough and durable, feels solid
- Doesn’t work on cars it claims to work on
A small, inexpensive but capable code scanner, this model uses the latest 16-pin interface to read codes from most 1996 or later US models and 2000-or-later EU models, as well as most newer OBDII and CAN domestic models. It can read and clear DTC codes, turn off the check engine light, retrieve vehicle info, from 2002+ models with Mode 9, display I/M monitor status, and even view data in a freeze-frame.
A simple plug-and-play model, it works quickly and with a little fiddling, and with no need for batteries. And, it’s faster and more reliable than Bluetooth type readers. And, it will display diagnostic definitions right on the large (but simple) LCD screen for quick, painless identification.
The main problem with the COOLANS reader, knocking it down a few pegs on our list, is that it just isn’t the most capable or the most durable code reader; the plastic its made from isn’t the most durable or heavy-duty, and it’s more likely to break from heavy use or impact than some nicer models.
What do we think? All-in-all, not a bad device; it does its job and works with all but the oldest or newest, most hi-tech cars. But it could be better quality and durability wise – though considering the price tag, that’s really all you can expect.
- Works with most vehicles (1996/2000 and newer)
- Large LCD screen + code definitions
- Quick plug-and-play design
- Not very durable. Cheap construction
- Doesn’t work with some popular models
Car OBD2 and Diagnostic Scanner Buying Considerations
Like all tools, you need to make sure you choose the right OBD2 scanner for your purposes. Thankfully, that’s not as difficult as it sounds. You’ve just got to ask yourself a few questions about OBD2 scanners and what you want out of yours, and make sure the one you choose fits.
Is it compatible with your car?
OBD2 scanners can actually use one of five basic signal protocols, and not all cars and scanners are compatible with each other. Many manufacturers will, of course, claim that their scanner works with ALL cars, but that isn’t always the case; it’s a good idea to do some basic compatibility checking and fact-checking to make sure whichever you’re looking at does work with your vehicle. The newer the model, the more cars it will work with; but the older the scanner, the more compatibility issues you’re gonna have.
What Functions do you need? Basic? High-End? Display?
The most basic code readers don’t have a lot of functions and options; they will merely read off the code to you in plain text, which you can then look up and diagnose. Great if you’re on a budget and don’t want fancy bells-and-whistles, not great if you’re trying to fix something.
Many higher-end and more expensive units, on the other hand, have advanced functions like airbag capability, live data and storage, even fancy display screens that show you what the code means (and what is wrong with your car) right on the screen, within seconds.
Will it be Upgradeable?
Many cheaper and more basic OBD2 scanners can’t be updated or upgraded, but many higher-end ones allow you to update the software/firmware and stay on top of new car models, etc. As cars improve tech-wise all the time, this is going to be a pretty important option and one you should definitely take advantage of.
We’ve tried to list the best diagnostic scanners out there for you to choose from, but there are literally hundreds of different models out there to choose from, a lot of them being the same standard models rebranded over and over. Generally, you can buy a good model at a reasonable price that won’t break the bank and will certainly cost you less than having to take it to a garage and have a mechanic run the tests on your car.