Automotive scanner: Know how to choose the best in 2021
Do you have a mechanic shop or do you always want to know if your car is in perfect working order? Then there is a device that is indispensable: The automotive scanner, capable of quickly pointing out any problem existing in a vehicle!
In this article, we will bring you all the information about the importance of an automotive scanner, the advantages of having one, everything it is capable of and, mainly, how to compare models and choose the best one. Stay with us to start understanding everything about such an important device!
First, the most important
- An automotive scanner is a device capable of diagnosing the functioning of various systems in an automobile.
- It is essential to have automotive scanners in machine shops. In addition, it may be a good idea to have them even for home use.
- There is a huge range of automotive scanners: Some make only very simple diagnostics that help with daily maintenance, others read each system and find any problems that may exist in the vehicle.
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The best models of automotive scanner: The opinion of the newsroom
With so many automotive scanners available in the market, a choice can be quite complicated. But we are committed to finding the best and, after many evaluations, we have prepared a short list that will surely please you!
- The best automotive scanner for airbag and ABS
- A complete model
- The most cost-effective automotive scanner
We come to the buying guide, the most informative section of our article! It is there that we give you all the information we obtained after much research and dedication!
In the next lines, you will find everything you need to become an expert in the purchase of automotive scanners!
What is an automotive scanner and what is it for?
The automotive scanner is a device capable of making quick diagnoses about the functioning of different parts of a vehicle. It can be used not only in passenger cars, but depending on models, even on trucks, buses or motorcycles.
After being connected to the car with a cable, the scanner tests all the parameters established for several systems, such as ABS, airbags, electronic injection, among others. It displays all the information collected on your screen. The device always has software and an operating system from the factory.
The main benefit of the automotive scanner is to speed up the diagnosis of vehicle problems. With it, instead of manually testing each of the parts or systems, the mechanic can already be clear on what is wrong quite quickly. The next step is to fix it!
Did you know that the OBD system, used as the basis for the vast majority of automotive scanners, was developed in 1982? This coincides with a period in which cars started to have more and more electronic components.
The company responsible for creating this system was the California Air Resources Board. At first, it was difficult to find compatible vehicles, but as of 1996 it was already mandatory for all new cars launched in the United States to have entry to the device.
What are the advantages of having an automotive scanner in a workshop?
Without an automotive scanner, every new vehicle that arrives at a workshop needs to look for the problem in different parts. The diagnostic process alone can take many hours, generating delay and less profit, since the workload ends up being less.
Therefore, the automotive scanner becomes indispensable. Since it can identify problems in many car systems at a high speed, it ensures that each repair takes hours less. The workshop wins in virtually all aspects, including reputation with customers!
It is a relatively cheap device for what it offers and quite easy to use. For those who already have the habit of handling smartphones or tablets, it is very intuitive to work with an automotive scanner.
The main disadvantage of an automotive scanner is the fact that it is not compatible with all automobiles: The ports required for connection have become mandatory only since 2010. Thus, in some models, the old diagnostic style will be inevitable.
See the table below for the main advantages and disadvantages of an automotive scanner:
- It generates much more agility in the diagnostics of a workshop
- Increases customer turnover by ensuring speed of service
- Low price for everything you offer
- Very simple handling
- Some vehicles are not compatible with any model
Is it worth having an automotive scanner for personal use?
We talked about the advantages of an automotive scanner in a workshop above. But what if you want one to use in your vehicle whenever necessary, is it worth it?
It depends. If you understand car repair and can fix most problems, the answer is yes. In this case, you will save on workshop costs and also gain on issues such as agility and free time.
Otherwise, the biggest benefit that the automotive scanner will bring you is the constant knowledge on issues like consumption and battery charge of your vehicle. If you want to invest money for this information, go ahead!
But, in general, there are only real advantages to having an automotive scanner for personal use if you really intend to always avoid workshops and carry out repairs yourself.
How does an automotive scanner work?
The first step in the operation of an automotive scanner is the connection. For most models, the standard is the OBD type plug. Entry to it is mandatory on vehicles manufactured. There are some variations specific to certain automakers.
The automotive scanner receives the information in the same way as the on-board computer.
Once the scanner is connected to the car’s OBD (or similar) port, it will receive signals and voltages that show what works and what doesn’t. These are the same mechanisms that cause, for example, a light to come on in the panel after being processed by the on-board computer.
When, for example, the ABS light comes on on the vehicle’s dashboard, you know there is a problem with that system. The information was given through the signs of one of the wheels, but it is not known which one. The automotive scanner can inform on your display exactly where the problem is.
Therefore, after receiving all signals from all car systems compatible with the device, the scanner displays all the information on its screen. It is up to the user to interpret them and act in the best possible way!
What problems can an automotive scanner identify?
Automotive scanners are able to identify problems from many different sources in a vehicle. However, not all are complete in this sense.
Some are only compatible with the electronic injection system, others with airbags or ABS, there are those that read questions related to the engine or battery, and it is possible that you will find a model specialized in oil and temperature.
The most common is to find an automotive scanner that works with electronic injection or ABS. But, if you decide to buy a complete model, it is possible that it will be able to make diagnostics on all sectors mentioned above.
It is always important to look at the technical specifications of an automotive scanner to know exactly which parts of an automobile it is capable of reading. Do not finalize your purchase thinking that any model is compatible with all systems! Know exactly what you’re getting.
It is also worth remembering that, although most automotive scanners are only compatible with cars, there are also models capable of diagnosing motorcycles, trucks, buses, among others.
What types of automotive scanner?
There are three main types of automotive scanners, according to the operating system, available: generic OBD, enhanced OBD and manufacturers’ own versions. Shall we learn more about them?
- Generic OBD: It is the simplest type, able to find only basic information about vehicle components. It works through emissions from the engine and the on-board computer, not being able to go beyond that.
- Enhanced OBD: The most efficient version of generic OBD. It is able to scan all systems in the vehicle to find a diagnosis. More expensive, however, with higher efficiency.
- Factory scanners: They have as many functions as the enhanced OBD, or even more. However, they only work on vehicles of a certain automaker, since they are manufactured by them for internal use, which limits them a lot for use in workshops.
See the table below for a comparison of the three types:
What are the operating systems for automotive scanners?
In order to display information on their screens and to have an easy and intuitive navigation, automotive scanners need operating systems. The two most common are well known to everyone: Android and Windows.
- Android: Ensures greater speed for the automotive scanner. All the knowledge applied in smartphones is available, mainly allowing quality performance, agility and ease when performing multiple simultaneous tasks.
- Windows: It has neither the same speed nor the same efficiency as Android, but it makes up for it with a greater amount of features and with more attractive layouts.
Both operating systems have advantages and disadvantages. So you can rest assured that you are purchasing a product regardless of whether it uses Android or Windows.
How much does it cost and where to buy an automotive scanner?
The number of functions and compatibility are the main factors that influence the prices of automotive scanners. We found models that vary between R $ 35 and R $ 5,000, which shows how huge the range of types of this equipment really is.
You can purchase an automotive scanner at automotive specialty stores, workshops, or multiple electronics stores. The best idea, however, is to buy from Amazon, which has many good options. See also Amazon.
Purchase criteria: Factors for choosing an automotive scanner
Now that you know all the benefits that an automotive scanner offers you, it’s time to find out how to choose the perfect model. We have selected some technical criteria that can help you:
- Vehicle compatibility
- Diagnostic capacity
In the lines below, you will find more information about each one!
Do you want an automotive scanner for a workshop or for a specific vehicle? This question can lead to different paths when choosing a device to buy.
If the idea is to buy it for a workshop, you can look for an automotive scanner with almost universal compatibility, capable of connecting to an immense majority of vehicles. This will help you to be able to make diagnostics on cars in most customers.
However, if the model is for personal use, it may be the best possible compatible only with your car. There is no need for the compatibility range to be that big, with other factors becoming much more important!
In line with vehicle compatibility, we have the ability to diagnose. Here, you need to think about whether you want a complete model, capable of identifying problems in almost every sector of a car, or if you want something specific.
Scanners with only a few functions may be sufficient for specific workshops.
For workshops that work in specific areas, some functions may be sufficient. For example, if the specialty is brake, there is no reason to diagnose engines or airbags. And for home use, few details are also able to satisfy the consumer.
The most complex and feature-rich automotive scanners, which read all sectors of an automobile, can be particularly important for general workshops. In them, understanding everything that happens with a vehicle is indispensable!
We have already mentioned the OBD input, present in all modern vehicles, which generates the connection with the automotive scanner. However, there are still other connectivity options that can be quite interesting.
Some modern models work, for example, with USB and Bluetooth. These connections may not be sufficient for all diagnostics, but they help with basic information.
If you intend to buy a scanner for home use, by the way, you can choose one that works via USB or Bluetooth and make only simple diagnostics. The value will be much more pleasant to the pocket.
Regardless of the operating system, the automotive scanner needs to have an interface that is intuitive and easy to read. There is no point in being able to make a huge number of diagnoses, but presenting them in an unrecognizable way on the screen!
If you can see an automotive scanner in operation before you buy it, you’ll be able to understand how to handle it and how to navigate your system. Thus, you will know if it offers a good enough interface, capable of being understood by everyone who will eventually handle it!
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