Best OBD1 Scanners – 2020 Complete Round-up

OBD1 is a system that supports cars that were manufactured before 1996.

If you need an OBD1 scanner to diagnose the problems in your car so that they are solved instantly, then this is a very useful device for you.

This article will guide you on the best OBD1 scanners you can get on the market today.

Comparison Chart of the Best OBD1 Scanners

PRODUCTDETAILS
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INNOVA 3120

  • Can diagnose and erase OBD2/ABS codes on newer vehicles
  • Engineered to receive OEM diagnostic codes from OBD 1 and OBD 2 vehicles
  • 2.8-inch color display that shows 20 information pieces at one time, making it the best overall
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Innova 30203

  • Records and displays real-time data
  • Equipped with 15 inspection maintenance monitor coverage
  • Works on all 1996 and newer models, making it the runner-up
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Actron CP9690

  • Engineered with CodeConnect, a database to report and verify fixes
  • Provides ABS/Airbag codes and definitions for most models of vehicles
  • 3.5-inch color display to read and display codes, making it the best for the money
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INNOVA 3123

  • Reads ABS and ECM codes
  • Self-test connector on your vehicle’s computer
  • Designed to work on GM vehicles, making it the best for GM
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INNOVA 3145

  • Supports MCU and EEC-IV computer control system
  • Has a memory feature that can store codes even if the reader is unplugged
  • Operates on most Ford, Lincoln and Mercury domestic cars (1982-1995 models), making it the best for Ford
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INNOVA 3140g

  • Codes available on the phone with Bluetooth function
  • Can stream, record, graph and playback data in real-time and later as well
  • Can read generic and manufacturer-specific codes, making it the best for Honda and Toyota
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LAUNCH X431

  • Comes with an oil reset reader
  • Built-in 3000 generic code definitions
  • Full system diagnosis with 11 special functions, making it the best for Nissan and Chrysler
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FOXWELL NT510

  • Brake deactivation and DPF regeneration are a few of its special features
  • Compatible with a large range of BMW vehicles, making it the best for BMW
  • Reads as well as clears trouble codes such as engine and airbag transmission
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What is an OBD1 Scanner and What is it Used For?

OBD stands for Onboard Diagnostics, and an OBD1 scanner is a device that uses interface technology to detect any issues that your car may have. OBD1 is the first generation of this system that is compatible with vehicles that were produced before 1996. Many OBD1 scanners are designed to operate in only specific models of vehicles since every manufacturer has their own OBD-1 plugs and jacks. These scanners are basically code readers, and they only display codes on screens. They don’t reveal code numbers; rather, they blink a light that you must count. They give access to data streams so you can take a look at freeze-frame data, tables, etc. 

What is the Difference Between an OB1 and OB2 Scanner?

OBD1 is a diagnostic system that concentrates on the emission control systems of the vehicle. OBD2 is a technologically advanced version of an OBD1 and has enhanced signaling protocols as well as messaging format. It provides improved results in emission control systems. 

OBD1 connects to a console in order to diagnose problems and read data, while OBD2 can read data through the use of a Bluetooth connection. 

OBD1 was produced much earlier than OBD2, which was introduced in the early 1990s and had a better interface and standardized trouble codes to diagnose the vehicle’s engine problems.

What to Look for When Buying an OBD1 Scanner

OBD-1 scanners use handheld connectors to communicate with onboard computers of the specific manufacturer of the vehicle. It’s a good investment to make for those car-owners who do not have the technical expertise to diagnose problems in their vehicles and need a specific scanner that is compatible with the model that they own. Here are a few considerations to be made when looking for such a scanner:

The Model

You need to take into consideration what model your car is and who the manufacturer is. Some OBD scanners may work on Ford vehicles, but not on Toyota or Chrysler. Hence, you need to see what the right fit is for your device and your vehicle.

Your Knowledge of Cars

Some devices are specifically designed for mechanics and experts, while some are manufactured solely for the purpose of newbies and beginners. If you do not have much knowledge of cars and their issues, then it would be a waste of money trying to figure out a device that was created for an expert. 

Budget

You need to fix a spending amount so that you can simply rule out the devices that fall out of your range. If you are willing to stretch the budget, then that’s fine, but if you have a strict price range, then only look at those models that you think are within your budget. 

Quick Take - Best OBD1 Scanners

In a hurry? Here's a snapshot of the best OBD1 scanners:

  1. INNOVA 3120
  2. Innova 30203
  3. Actron CP9690

Review of the Best OBD1 Scanners

Now that you know what an OBD1 scanner is and how to choose one that suits your vehicle, let’s get into the review of the best units that you can choose from in order to diagnose the problems in your car efficiently.

Best Overall:
 INNOVA 3120

PROS

  • Compatible with DTC definitions
  • Device is super easy to use and understand
  • Easy to hold because of its ergonomic design
  • Able to scan and diagnose vehicle even when the engine is off
  • Multilingual and displays information in English, Spanish and French

CONS

  • Coverage is limited
  • Manual is not comprehensive
  • Does not support airbag functions and more advanced features

What Recent Buyers Report

According to users, this device is great and works as advertised. It is worth the price, and you don’t have to go to the mechanic even if you own this OBD scanner. It has made diagnostics easy and saves a lot of money on repair and diagnostics.

Why it Stands Out to Us

INNOVA diagnostic scan tools are manufactured with high-quality components, and INNOVA 3120 is not an exception to this. It can check engine light codes with just a press of the button, and read and erase them. It also automatically refreshes your vehicle’s data after every 30 seconds to make it simpler to verify the completion of the repair.

Who Will Use This Most

This device operates on OBD-1 vehicles that were designed in the years 1982-1995. It is an ideal scanner for those vehicle owners who want to repair the vehicles themselves (DIY). It is overall best for both normal car users as well as expert technicians.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the best OBD-1 scanner on the market, then this is it. Although the initial payment for this device may seem high, its quality and service are just as great, and it can save you a lot of money, time and the hassle of going to a mechanic to diagnose the problems with your vehicle.

Runner-up:
 Innova 30203

PROS

  • Really easy to use and user-friendly
  • Has a robust build to ensure durability
  • Refreshes data after every half a minute to verify completion
  • Backlit display shows 20 pieces of information of diagnostics at once
  • Diagnoses the problem and gives the solution online, saving you a lot of money

CONS

  • Does not support airbag codes
  • Cannot read codes in different languages
  • Does not support ABS/SRS Codes in Asian and European countries

What Recent Buyers Report

This OBD scanner is slick and is a great scanner tool for the price. It saves a lot of time on sporadic problems and makes it easier to diagnose issues very quickly. It is also super reliable and efficient and gives detailed information about diagnostics. Overall, users find it to be a very useful tool.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The patented large screen and user-friendly interface are great features that make diagnosing a breeze. Its build is rugged as well, and INNOVA has ASE certified expert technicians who can help you understand your vehicle diagnosis better, saving up the time and cost of going to a mechanic.

Who Will Use This Most

Since this scanner operates on all 1996 cars and the ones manufactured after that, as well as light trucks, SUVs, and minivans, this is a great tool for these vehicle-owners to have because it will save time and money. It’s also a great scanner for those drivers who work in harsh conditions and need a robust scanner at hand.

Bottom Line

If you are on the hunt for a superb-quality code reader that will not break the bank, then this device is perfect for you. It comes with 15 inspection maintenance monitor coverage that will verify repairs once they’ve been fixed, and then refreshes the data every 30 seconds to verify completion.

Best for the Money:
 Actron CP9690

PROS

  • Portable design and ergonomic handle
  • Comes with a large screen for ease of navigation
  • Covers a wide variety of vehicles from 1984-2013 models
  • Reads codes in three languages with an easy-to-use menu
  • Equipped with a built-in library to read code definitions and provide fixes

CONS

  • Does not come with a USB adapter
  • Issues with customer service of the brand
  • CodeConnect is only in the English language

What Recent Buyers Report

It’s a great device for clearing codes, and the instruction manual shows the many different functions that you can test on this scanner. It has a lot of information available for OBD-1 systems and is a useful device if you know how to read live data to diagnose vehicle issues.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This device includes all the advanced and latest features that you would expect from a good-quality OBD-1 scanner. It has CodeConnect, Airbag, and ABS display and also ranks troubleshooting according to the highest reported fixes, considering your vehicle’s model and manufacturer. It also comes with OBD-1 cables that can read data for both OBD-1 and OBD-2 vehicles.

Who Will Use This Most

This device is created for those users who prefer doing things themselves rather than asking someone else to do it or getting help from an expert. It is also a great tool for vintage car enthusiasts who do not want to sell off their old cars but want to keep them up and running.

Bottom Line

The CP9690 model by Actron is a great tool that can be used on car models that most other scanners do not support. Other really noteworthy features include the sufficiently-sized color screen and the fact that the scanner is able to graph live engine data and then transfer the data that it records to your computer. All in all, this amazing scanner is a bang for the buck.

Best for GM:
 INNOVA 3123

PROS

  • Has a compact and portable size
  • Very straightforward instructions and user-friendly device
  • Comes with a manual for understanding code definitions
  • One of the most affordable options out there for OBD-1 scanners
  • Instruction guide comes in English, Spanish and French languages

CONS

  • Scanner does not support live data
  • Metal prongs are not that strong or sturdy
  • Only scans GM vehicles and is unsuitable for other models

What Recent Buyers Report

Many users report that this unit works flawlessly on GM vehicles and is super-fast and efficient. It does not erase the code, but rather blinks the engine light to help you pinpoint the problem, which makes it easier to locate the issue. It is well worth the money and gives clear instructions as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This OBD-1 scanner is a reliable and efficient GM code reader. It has a simple interface that allows new car owners to perform diagnostic functions that were usually only done by mechanics. It is an excellent code reader that is equipped with amazing features and functionality. It lets you effectively scan your vehicles with ease.

Who Will Use This Most

The INNOVA 3123 is an excellent code reader for DIY vehicle owners. It is a very simple and easy device to get used to. It is a must-have scan tool that aids in troubleshooting Check Engine Lights.

Bottom Line

This device is an amazing tool for GM vehicles. It can help you save time as well as money as you can do for free what a mechanic would have done with a cost. It is also one of the cheapest code readers available out there.

Best for Ford:
 INNOVA 3145

PROS

  • Weighs light and is easy to travel with
  • Super-easy to use and operates speedily
  • Has a digital display that shows numeric codes
  • Comes with Double-A batteries and an OBD-1 diagnostic tool
  • Instruction manual contains a guide for OBD-1 diagnostics and all Ford OBD tests

CONS

  • Does not read live data
  • Unfit for cars manufactured after 1995
  • Needs an extension cable since it comes with a short one

What Recent Buyers Report

Vehicle owners like the scanner’s size, its ease of use, and its dependability. Ninety percent of the users claimed that this device met or surpassed their expectations. They found the diagnosis to be accurate in determining the cause of the vehicle’s problem and diagnosing their check engine light problems.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Even though there are several low-priced code readers and scanners offered on the market, they aren’t as effective or precise as the Innova 3145 Ford Digital Code Reader. Furthermore, whilst most readers have a blinking light that the user has to look out for and sum for them to get the diagnosis code, this reader is easy to understand as the whole code is evidently shown on the scanner’s big digital screen.

Who Will Use This Most

This scanner is a great tool for anyone who wants to access trouble codes on their car or truck while sitting at home. It is a great device for car novices as well, as they can save money by not visiting a mechanic. It is also recommended for DIYers who wish to fix matters with their vehicles at home. It is also a must-have device if you are a car enthusiast preserving an old car.

Bottom Line

The INNOVA 3145 is a crucial buy for any user still depending on blinking lights for code reading. It is the most economical, highest rated, and most famous digital display OBD-I reader for Ford. This is undoubtedly the best choice for an individual with an old Ford that needs TLC.

Best for Honda and Toyota:
 INNOVA 3140g

PROS

  • Can display more than 20 values at one time
  • Super-fast and refreshes data every 30 seconds
  • Has Bluetooth connectivity feature to see verified fixes
  • Handle is ergonomically designed to reduce pressure on the wrists
  • Multilingual code reader and can give codes in English, Spanish and French

CONS

  • Instruction manual does not come with the product
  • Has a small display screen which can be problematic for some users

What Recent Buyers Report

This is a specialized scanning tool, but with a user-friendly interface. The 3.5-inch screen with the multilingual menu makes using this device easy and smooth. It has a great and precise design and is also able to perform many functions. You can also use it on a huge variety of vehicle makes and models.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This device offers a ton of different features with accurate results. It allows you to read two diverse parameters at once, helping you monitor how one affects the other. It is a unique but important feature that the INNOVA 3140g offers. You can effortlessly determine how one variable affects the other variable and decide what action to take.

Who Will Use This Most

INNOVA 3140g was designed for regular DIYers as well as expert mechanics. However, this device is more suited for a regular DIYer than a professional mechanic. This is because it lacks highly specialized features that a mechanic would require from such a device.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for the best OBD-1 scanner for Honda and Toyota models, then this is the device for you. It is durable, lightweight, compact, dependable, precise, and easy to use. As long as your car is a 1996 model or newer, there is a high probability that they will be compatible.

Best for Nissan and Chrysler:
 LAUNCH X431

PROS

  • Provides access to BCM and PCM
  • Equipped with a Wi-Fi printer feature
  • Allows you to observe live wheel speed
  • Equipped with all the connectors and cables required
  • Gives launch experts access to data to find solutions quickly

CONS

  • Because of the sturdy build, the device is heavy
  • Can lag a bit if you want to check several PIDs
  • Unable to check the battery’s health levels or crank voltage

What Recent Buyers Report

The scanner performs just as advertised, and once you figure out how to navigate the menus, the unit becomes very practical and useful. It has a lot of data-stream options and provides Wi-Fi updates for a range of items. It takes some time for it to turn on and get scanning, but it does do a lot.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This scanner is able to perform numerous special functions with convenient buttons to read codes and updates online. It is a professional scanning device that can clear codes on the engine system, ABS/SRS system, and the transmission system. It is also plug-and-play and supports a number of different languages.

Who Will Use This Most

This scanner is for specialists, mechanics, and auto-repair shops. It can help shop owners and professionals find solutions to issues quickly. Users who have knowledge of cars would also buy it as it offers a range of advanced features. It is also easy to use and functions smoothly.

Bottom Line

The Launch X431 comes with some brilliant features and functions that will help you eliminate the high cost of car repairs. It is made with professionals in mind, and covers a wide range of features and is also very easy to use. If you want to provide extraordinary service to your customers, then you should consider opting for this device.

Best for BMW:
 FOXWELL NT510

PROS

  • Equipped with free software updates
  • One-year warranty and free returns included
  • Ideal design and ergonomically built for users
  • Does not come with a VIN lock, making it easier for it to be used on other vehicles
  • Scanner supports the TF memory card which allows the user to make a backup of diagnostic data

CONS

  • Not able to program keys or any other system
  • Unable to differentiate a new battery from the old one
  • You cannot use a MAC computer for updating the scanner

What Recent Buyers Report

Foxwell is a popular scanning tool brand with a range of products to offer. This scanner is durably made and compact in design. It fits the hand perfectly and works like a charm. You just need to plug it into the port and read the results as you drive. The big TFT screen is super simple to read and has a multilingual menu, as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This device is able to read ordinary as well as advanced codes in an interface for both beginners and professionals. It is easy to add other car models to the device as long as they don’t surpass 5 at once. This device is also able to identify electric as well as brake issues with a reset feature. It comes with a sturdy design that is easy to use and hold.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a well-built device with a number of functions available. It is also simple to use, making it a user-friendly device. Along with its outstanding price, it offers both basic and advanced functions, making it appropriate for both DIYers and car repair shops.

Bottom Line

This device covers a variety of different vehicles and assists users who want to diagnose more than one car model. It comes with a bilingual menu and a huge TFT screen for ease of use. Also, it performs fast and correct scans, which saves time, unlike other scan tools available on the market.

Advantages of Investing in a Quality OBD1 Scanner

Now that you have gone through all the different types of the best OBD-1 scanners, let’s delve into the importance of purchasing one for your vehicle.

Saving Money

The biggest advantage of purchasing a high-quality OBD1 scanner is the amount of money you will save on diagnosing your vehicle. A code-reader can easily define what the vehicle’s problem is, and you can then take it for repair.

Compatible with Models

OBD scanners are compatible across different vehicles. So, if you decide to purchase a new car, you do not have to buy a new OBD scanner each time; you can easily get one that supports most vehicles.

Promotes DIY fixes

If you can analyze what the vehicle’s problem is, you can further research and read codes to determine how the problem can be fixed. This increases your knowledge and skills, and the next time you have a problem, you can google or YouTube how to fix them. This is also a great advantage because sometimes you do not have a mechanic nearby, and the problem may need an immediate solution. In these extreme cases, an OBD-1 scanner can be godsend. 

Conclusion

All in all, the products listed above were a complete round-up of the best OBD-1 scanners that you can find on the market. Hopefully, this review gave you an extensive guide on how to choose a suitable model and which one is best suited for your vehicle. 

People Also Ask

Now that you have read the reviews and the advantages of purchasing an OBD-1 scanner let’s dive into a few frequently answered questions to eradicate any ambiguities that you may have regarding the setting up of an OBD-1 scanner or its compatibility with other vehicles. 

Can OBD2 Scan OBD1?

Yes, OBD2 devices can scan OBD-1, but it largely depends on the type of vehicle, model, and manufacturer of the vehicle as well. Also, not all OBD-2 scanners have that feature of catering to OBD-1 systems. OBD1 scanners cannot scan OBD-2 vehicles. 

How Do I Know if My Car is OBD1 or OBD2?

The main way to determine whether your car is OBD-1 or OBD-2 is by checking the year that the vehicle was manufactured. If your car was manufactured in the early ’90s, say before 1995, then it is OBD-1. If you have a vehicle that was manufactured after 1996, then OBD2 tools would be compatible with it. 

How is OBD1 Diagnosed?

Diagnosing OBD-1 depends on the model of the vehicle and the manufacturer. For a Ford vehicle, you can check their check engine light through the diagnostic connector situated at the engine compartment by the fender. Accessing OBD-1 codes requires a few items: a long gauge, a jumper as well as a test light with specified measurements.