Best GM Code Readers – 2020 Complete Review

Investing in the right GM code reader will help you get a better insight into your car’s health and prove to be a great tool for the diagnosis of any problem your vehicle may be encountering. It can be quite an alarming situation to see the ‘check engine’ light on the counter, which is when a GM code reader proves to be helpful.

However, the abundance of GM code readers on the market poses to be somewhat of a problem as it makes it hard to decide which product to invest in.

You don’t have to worry anymore!

We have a detailed post, including all there is to know about a GM code reader, including some recommendations of the best units on the market. 

Comparison Chart of the Best GM Code Readers

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Autel MS300

  • Weighs about 10 ounces
  • The easy-to-use nature of this unit makes it the best overall
  • Works with US, European and Asian OBD2 compliant vehicles
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iCarsoft i900

  • Weighs about 9.6 ounces
  • Offers OBD2 functions for all OBD2 compliant vehicles
  • Multitude of features offered by this unit makes it the runner-up
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FOXWELL NT301

  • Weighs about 1.05 pounds
  • 2.8’’ wide TFT color screen display
  • Best for the money with excellent features
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Actron CP9690

  • Automatically identifies vehicle upon plugging in
  • Compatible with all 1996 and newer OBD2 vehicles
  • The high functionality of this unit makes it the best GM code reader 1982 to 1995
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INNOVA 3123 GM OBD1

  • Weighs about 11 ounces
  • Compatible with most cars and trucks made between 1982 and 1995
  • Simple yet functional design it offers makes it the best GM OBD1 code reader
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Will Any Code Reader Work With GM Vehicles?

Not all code readers work with GM vehicles. There are many code readers available on the market which are not compatible with GM vehicles. This is the reason consumers are urged to check the compatibility of their vehicle with any code reader they wish to invest in.

Often times, a code reader or scanner may work for some functions with your vehicle but will not offer all the features it carries, which is equally disappointing for a consumer. All of this can be avoided if you surf the website of the product manufacturer and enter your vehicle model number first, to see if the product is compatible with your vehicle. You can also contact the customer service for this information.

How to Choose a Code Reader

You may wonder what about a code reader makes it worthy of investment. There are many options on the market, making big claims, but what are the key factors you should look into that majorly affect the experience you will have with the product? Let’s take a look at them:

User-Convenience

If the product is not convenient to use, it is not worthy of investment. The dimensions, weight, and whether it is handy will affect the convenience of the unit. Furthermore, it should have a decent user interface, so you don’t have trouble navigating its menu.

Price Range

It is important to set a price range for yourself when you go out to look for a code reader as they come in all sorts of prices. They can be as cheap as $20 and as expensive as $20,000. The points which raise the price point are software updates, lifetime support, and warranty.

Warranty

Having a warranty makes the product a little more reliable. It is crucial to check the product warranty and its implications when you decide to buy one. 

Quick Take - Best GM Code Readers

In a hurry? Here's a snapshot of the best GM code readers:

  1. Autel MS300
  2. iCarsoft i900
  3. FOXWELL NT301

Review of the Best GM Code Readers

Here are the product recommendations we talked about. All of these units are phenomenal, so you’ll be good to go if you choose any of them. However, we have categorized them and went in detail and discussed the pros and cons to provide all you need to know to aid your decision. 

Best Overall:
Autel MS300

PROS

  • An affordable option, making it ideal for many
  • Portable, handy, convenient two-button hardware
  • Allows to read and erase diagnostic trouble codes easily
  • Easy to read, backlit LCD screen and multi-lingual menu
  • Turns off check engine light due to the malfunction indicator lamp

CONS

  • Faces issues in erasing the codes
  • Isn’t compatible with all European models
  • You will need to search the web for understanding what the codes mean

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers find this product to be one of the best they have ever used. Users commented that the product is extremely easy to use and handy thanks to the portable construction. Furthermore, they said they had to do a little research to understand the code after diagnosis, as some codes had brief descriptions. However, they didn’t have any problems with it and were overall satisfied with this product.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It stood out to us as the product was compliant with many domestic and foreign vehicles plus carried an array of features for the diagnosis of errors. The user interface is very straightforward and intuitive. Furthermore, it allowed users to read and erase DTCs and reset OBD2 monitor status to turn off the check engine line after figuring out the malfunction.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be suitable for anyone who is on a budget and requires a product that is easy to use. Its construction is handy and portable, allowing it to be a great addition to any diagnostic tool kit.

Bottom Line

Overall, this unit is a worthy investment as it functions for an array of vehicles. It offers many features that are rare to observe in a product with such a straightforward and easy-to-use design. It is an excellent product and is highly reliable.

Runner-up:
iCarsoft i900

iCarsoft i900 General Motors Gm Obd2 Car Truck Diagnostic Scanner Tool Reset Erase Fault Code

PROS

  • Highly versatile and offers ten modes of operation
  • Comes with a one-year warranty which makes it a reliable option
  • Live data stream allows performing diagnosis without turning the car off
  • Comes with a lifetime free software upgrade; thus you don’t have to spend any money on software updates
  • Can read and clear diagnostic codes while performing diagnosis on full systems engine, transmission, ABS, etc.

CONS

  • Updates are slow on this product
  • Does not support SRS diagnostics
  • Interface is a little difficult to understand

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers found this product to be a perfect partner for their GM vehicles. It carries a live stream option that doesn’t require you to turn your car off for diagnosis and has become an appreciated feature by consumers. Furthermore, they commented that they previously had to pay a mechanic for the Air Ride module, which this unit makes easy to access.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This product instantly caught our eye as the design it carries was sturdy, constructed with quality materials, and innovative as it offers multiple features, including reading and clearing diagnostic trouble codes. This unit is a highly reliable and foolproof method to diagnose vehicle errors on your own, especially since it offers 10 modes of operation and live data stream.

Who Will Use This Most

Experienced users and professional personnel will get the maximum use out of this product as it offers many advanced features, and the user interface isn’t basic enough for beginners. It could be an incredible addition to your diagnostic tool kit with the portable design and great quality build.

Bottom Line

All in all, it is truly a great product. The pros largely outweigh the cons, which makes this a great investment. It is reliable and comes from a renowned manufacturer that is known to engineer quality products, and this is one of their masterpieces that has become loved and appreciated by the masses.

Best for the Money:
FOXWELL NT301

PROS

  • Has free lifetime software updates
  • Comes with a 1-year warranty making it reliable
  • Can display data in text form and graph form, so it is easy for the user to view
  • Allows to read and clear DTCs for both domestic and foreign vehicles thus it is versatile
  • Comes with a built-in DTC lookup library to accurately determine any error with your vehicle

CONS

  • Isn’t compatible with all Jeeps
  • Menu isn’t intuitive and requires a little warming up to
  • Instructions are vague and a little difficult to understand

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are ecstatic about this product. They commented on how advanced this product is and can diagnose multiple errors and explain the technicalities of the error well. Another feature that was appreciated by the buyers was the display screen, which is wide and offers text to be visualized in both text and graph form.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It caught our attention for being so affordable, yet having a very advanced and practical design. It offers many features that are perhaps expected from a much higher-end product, such as reading and erasing DTCs, a built-in DTC library, the ability to display data in both digital and graphical forms, etc.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be great for those who are well aware of the technicalities of errors or are perhaps professionals such as a mechanic. This product offers many advanced features that allow for a more accurate and thorough diagnosis of your vehicle. The portable nature would make it your favorite diagnostic tool.

Bottom Line

Overall, this unit is an exceptional one. It is comparable to much higher-end units as it takes a dive into many advanced features yet doesn’t break the bank. It is your best bet if you want advanced features on a budget. It truly is a worthy investment.

Best GM Code Reader 1982 to 1995:
Actron CP9690

PROS

  • Easy-to-read display allows you to read and erase diagnostic trouble codes
  • Comes with all that is needed to operate the product including a 6’’ extension cord
  • Strong build, innovative design and portable nature allows it to be a great diagnostic tool
  • Can diagnose an array of diagnostic trouble codes since it runs on a database with 26 million verified fixes
  • Versatile nature allows it to run on both OBD1 and OBD2 vehicles and offers more than 300 PIDs depending upon the vehicle

CONS

  • Isn’t the most budget-friendly option
  • Needs 4 AA batteries which are not included
  • Data refresh rate is slower when compared to its counterparts of the same price range

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are impressed with the features this unit offers, which are truly diverse and work for an array of vehicles. People with diesel vehicles, as well as truck owners, can make use of it thanks to the comprehensive database it offers. Many buyers especially commended the software updates on this unit, which makes it relevant and useful for cars post-1996 as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The diversity this unit offers in terms of the vehicles it can work for is what sparked our interest in the unit. It works for both OBD1 and OBD2 vehicles. The advanced features such as live real-time data enable you to visualize, record and replay vehicle sensor, switch, etc., making it highly functional.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be great for a professional as this unit works for both OBD1 and OBD2 vehicles. It can be a great addition to your diagnostic tool kit as the product offers basic and advanced features that are highly functional for many cars. Another great factor is that it works for trucks and diesel vehicles, as well.

Bottom Line

Overall, this unit is well-constructed, highly functional, and a great investment. If this is compatible with your vehicle and offers the features you’ve been looking for, you couldn’t go wrong with it. It is a safe bet and a reliable option.

Best GM OBD1 Code Reader:
INNOVA 3123 GM OBD1

PROS

  • Very pocket-friendly
  • Portable design makes storing and carrying easy
  • Thorough instructions are helpful and available in three languages
  • Innovative design makes it highly functional for ECM and ABS diagnosis
  • Constructed with superior quality material which makes it strong and rugged

CONS

  • Prongs seem fragile and loose fitting
  • Buttons are a bit stiff and often get stuck
  • Needs extension cable to function well which needs to be bought separately

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are impressed with the good construction of this product. It doesn’t feel cheap in any way. The design is well-thought-through and hand-held, making it convenient for buyers to carry this unit. The codes it displays are easy to understand as the coupled manual comes with a ton of definitions and illustrations, which has made this product a consumer favorite.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The minimalistic design of this product is what piqued our interest. There are so many products on the market which ​have advanced features ​that might make it difficult for some people to decipher it. Understanding the codes is important, which makes it easy to decipher by providing useful definitions.

Who Will Use This Most

This product is engineered to work for OBD1 vehicles and is compatible with most of the cars and trucks manufactured between 1982 and 1995. Its simplicity makes it an exceptional unit to consider for those of you who have trouble understanding what codes mean as it breaks them down to simple definitions.

Bottom Line

Overall, this is a very basic functioning product and features a simple yet practical design. It might not be everyone’s forte, but it is still a great option if simplicity and practicality are what you’re looking for in a product, then this is worthy of investment.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

You may wonder what the key factors you should be on the lookout for when you’re interested in buying a code reader. Well, we have for you all the necessary elements to consider when you’re buying a GM code reader that make or break the deal. These include:

Updated Software

The product you invest in would ideally have a free lifetime software update. This ensures your product doesn’t lag or become slow over time and aid in the diagnosis of newer vehicles. 

Brand Name

The brand you invest in will make a world of difference. It’s better to opt for a renowned brand as you can buy the product with a certain set of expectations, given the brand is known for its reliability and great quality engineered products.

App-Support

Products usually come with an app to function. It is better to opt for a product that comes with its own app instead of with a third-party application as they generally run smoother and offer a better interface.

Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind

A lot of people consider their vehicles to be more than just a method of transportation. It is a big investment, be it emotional or financial; thus, you wouldn’t want anything but the best for it. Therefore, there are a few things one should be cautious of when buying a GM code reader.

Spend only on what you need:

Many times, we want the most advanced features, which can be unnecessary as we forget we only need something that would work with our vehicle. Don’t be catapulted into the advertisements, make a smart decision. The more advanced the features a product carries, the more expensive it will be. Thus, invest in a product that works with your vehicle well.

Double Check the Compatibility

A common complaint you see people making is that the code reader they bought doesn’t work with their vehicle, and they had to go through an extensive return process with the tech support. This situation is unfavorable and can be avoided if you check the product manufacturer’s website and make sure that the product is compatible with your vehicle.

Tech Support Matters

We often don’t consider tech support to be an important factor, but make sure the product you invest in has a good tech support team to guide you through the installation or working of the product if you need it.

Conclusion

There are plenty of products on the market, but the only way you will find the best one for your vehicle is by doing thorough research of the unit you’re interested in. Don’t forget to compare the features it offers with other products.

It can be a tough job to find the perfect product for yourself, but if you keep in mind all the factors we talked about and the important considerations you need to make, the entire process will become much easier for you.