Best OBD2 Software of 2020 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

These days, cars are not just cars but a whole computer in their own right. They are capable of doing anything from playing music and videos to going on cruise control mode. Smart cars can also adjust fuel levels in the car. Cars are also equipped with internet, Bluetooth, radio, air conditioning and everything else you can possibly think of. All of this might have made car rides more comfortable and enjoyable, but they have also made them more complex.

There are a lot of things that could go wrong, and with so many tools present in the car, it can become difficult to pinpoint the faulty area. For that, on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems have been developed. Now, almost every car on the road has an in-built OBD or an OBD2 port to connect to an external scanner or port.

Scanners are almost always very expensive. So for people who are not professional mechanics, a cheaper software alternative is better. We have compiled a list of the best OBD2 software you can install on your laptop, mobile, or PC for this purpose. 

Comparison of the Best OBD2 Softwares

PRODUCTDETAILS
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OBD Fusion (Car Diagnostics)

  • Supports over 150 parameter IDs
  • Best overall that can check several codes
  • Compatible with Android 4.3 and above with Bluetooth
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FAP Citroen/Peugeot ELM327 OBD2

  • Supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Runner-up with display customization feature
  • For Android operating systems of 4.0.3 and above
View Latest Price
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Car Diagnostic Pro (OBD2 + Enhanced)

  • The software size is 11.8 MB
  • Supports Android version 4.4 and above
  • Best for the money
View Latest Price
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OBDTest

  • It occupies a space of just 6.7 MB
  • Best OBD2 software for laptop
  • Works with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
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AUTO Diagnostic ,OBD2,Elm327

  • Compatible with Bluetooth connection
  • Best OBD II software for Windows
  • It has three versions: free, suite cloud, and professional
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OBD Car Scanner for ELM327 Diagnostic Tool

  • Only takes up 6.4 MB of space
  • Works on Android 4.1 and above
  • Best OBD2 software for Android
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What is OBD2 Software and What is it Used for?

An OBD, or On-Board Diagnostic, is a program that monitors the health of your car in several different ways. What it does is gather data from the Electronic Control Unit, or ECU, about the status or health of the engine. Some cars have in-built systems and some have a port for you to connect a device to. These devices usually come with an interface to give you more control over the process. When talking about OBD2 software, that interface becomes your laptop, mobile, or PC.

There are many applications this software is used for. The number of applications you get depends on the software you are using. Using OBD2, you can check for your vehicle’s emissions and find out the reason the check engine light is actually on. There are different codes for different problems, and these codes vary depending on your car manufacturer. These are called Diagnostic Trouble Codes, or DTC. 

Over the years, there have been many changes in OBD and its interface. Nowadays, you don’t always have to connect to your car through a wire, you can also use Bluetooth connection to get your data. It has become increasingly important to maintain emission standards according to the current environmental issues the world is facing. 

What Should I Look for When Buying OBD2 Software? 

To get your hands on the best software that can help you diagnose problems efficiently, make sure to look for the following:

Compatibility

When it comes to compatibility, there are two things you need to consider. First is that the OBD2 standard was adopted in cars made since 1996. If your car or truck is from 1996 or later, then it will be compatible with OBD2 scanners. Cars that were made before 1996 will have OBD1 compatibility. So, make sure to check on your car year.

The second thing is that not every OBD2 scanner or software is compatible with every vehicle. You should look for one that is compatible with your car’s model and manufacturer. Some scanners are for trucks, as well. There are basically five different OBD2 protocols. Your car may have any one of them depending on the manufacturer. 

Functions

Depending on what you will be using it for, the functionality of your software may vary. There are many things you can monitor using software, such as fuel level, engine temperature, battery condition, and more. These are the basic functionalities. There are also software programs that connect through Wi-Fi to your device and can send you real-time GPS location of your car and if your car has been in an accident, it will send for rescue. Granted, these advanced features come with a higher price, but they can be worth it. There are also some other advanced features that might be required only if you are a mechanic. 

Connection

OBD scanners traditionally have cords to connect with the car. These days, however, with the introduction of software and apps, people use Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi-connected scanners. This allows for more mobility. You can move around while you do your work. A Wi-Fi connection can even let you get real-time data from your car if it is far away. Some might even support both these options. These software programs come in many different forms. Some are for Windows and some for Macs, while others are for mobile phones, including both Android and iOS.

Quick Take - Best OBD2 Software

In a hurry? Here's a snapshot of the best OBD2 software:

  1. OBD Fusion (Car Diagnostics)
  2. FAP Citroen/Peugeot ELM327 OBD
  3. Car Diagnostic Pro (OBD2 + Enhanced)

Review of the Best OBD2 Software

There are many different OBD2 software apps available that you can install on your devices. Some of the very best are given below with a complete review of each.

PROS

  • GPS tracking is available
  • Provides real-time graphs of sensors
  • Supports user-defined parameter IDs
  • Emission readiness status for all 50 US states
  • Shows engine torque, power, turbo boost pressure, and air to fuel ratio

CONS

  • Limited to SAE PID readings only 

What Recent Buyers Report

Users are generally satisfied with this software. It is considered very reliable with pop-up warnings and notifications. The graphics also appeal to everyone. The price is not too bad for most people. People that had trouble with it are mostly those that do not fully understand how to use an OBD2 system. Other than that, there were hardly any complaints.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

This software has the most features of any OBD2 app for Android. It supports many vehicles, including Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Mazda. It warns you about the check engine light and you can easily rectify it by pinpointing the issue. You can also read the DTCs. The dashboard is customizable, so you can change it according to your comfort. For Ford and General Motors cars, there are PIDs for oil and transmission temperatures, as well. You can also export all the data to a spreadsheet and customize the units according to your preference (metric, imperial, or English). 

Who Will Use This Most

This app is primarily for DIYers. At the same time, it has many features that a professional mechanic might use. If you are a car enthusiast and own one of the vehicles supported by the OBD Fusion, then you should purchase this app. It has many features at a very low price, which is a good trade-off. 

Bottom Line

This is our top pick for a reason. There are many OBD tools available online, but some of them are cheap knock-offs and end up being a waste of money. This is a reliable software that gives you many advanced features to make sure your car is healthy and working properly.

PROS

  • You can also monitor EGR
  • You can customize the display of sensor data
  • Monitors engine fan, fuel pump, and fuel to air ratio
  • Checks the condition of Diesel Particulate Filter, or DPF
  • Can check real-time data from ECU and clear any faults

CONS

  • Only for Citroen and Peugeot vehicles

What Recent Buyers Report

This app works fine for most users. Some face problems with the app lagging, but that might have to do with their phones. Most users can work with it easily. It is said to be reliable and provides good, real-time data from the ECU. The chart display of the sensor data is also easy to understand.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This works for both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. It doesn’t take up too much space. Plus, you can easily customize the display of your data, which is preferred by most people. You can test many functions of your car like its fan, fuel, EGR, air mixture, and fix the check engine light. It has everything a DIY car owner might require.

Who Will Use This Most

This software is compatible with Android 4.0.3 and above. Users with such a phone can use it and in this day and age, who doesn’t? The cars it works with are Peugeot and Citroen. You also need an ELM327 Bluetooth or Wi-Fi adapter. However, take note that it is not for a mechanic working in a shop but for someone who wants to keep his/her car in good shape.

Bottom Line

This is our second pick for OBD2 software. It has all the functionalities a home mechanic might need to check their car’s health. You don’t need regular visits to workshops, you can do the work yourself. It has graphics to help you understand the sensor data better, as well.

PROS

  • Can see O2 sensor test results
  • Displays emission on-board results
  • Has GPS tracking functionality available
  • Can connect using both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • You can see real-time data and freeze-frame data

CONS

  • Does not support every Ford, Nissan, General Motors, KIA, and Toyota model

What Recent Buyers Report

Everyone finds this app easy to use and understand. The pro version has no ads to distract you and it also connects easily. It has a very low price and gives good results in return. GPS tracking is a plus for many users, as well. You can keep track of your car at all times.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a professional tool. It has everything you need for a full diagnosis using software. Moreover, the app is cheap and gives good value for money. You can read all the test results and see real-time data on your device from the ECU.

Who Will Use This Most

Like much of the software on the list, this one also needs ELM 327 Wi-Fi or Bluetooth adapter. This is for both professionals and home mechanics. It is quite easy to get the hang of, so anyone can use it. However, you should check the model of your car first. The enhanced features don’t work for every version.

Bottom Line

To put it simply, this software will not disappoint you with its performance, despite the fact that it comes at a low price. You can expect all the tests to give accurate results. The advanced features can also be used by professionals or by beginners who know what they are doing.

Best OBD2 Software for Laptop:
OBDTest

PROS

  • You can read DTCs easily
  • Can connect to your tablet as well
  • Can store and review previous data
  • Displays real-time parameters: RPM, oxygen sensors, and more
  • New version has Japanese language support

CONS

  • Not compatible with every car

What Recent Buyers Report

For most users, it is easy to install and set up on your phone or laptop. It delivers everything that it promises. For some people, it might not work because of the make and model of their car. However, for a novice user, it gives a good and easy to understand interface.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Not all OBD2 software works on laptops. This one does and delivers good reliable results. You get all the basic functionalities that an OBD scanner should have. It also displays the accelerator pedal position, among other things. You can check the O2 sensor readings and compare the current data to the previous recordings, as it allows you to save your data.

Who Will Use This Most

This software is not really for professional use. It still gives you a good range of functionalities. The minimum Android requirement is 4.0, making it available to a wide user base. Any DIY mechanic or car enthusiast can also use it to maintain their car's health. Just make sure to check the compatibility.

Bottom Line

This software requires ELM 327 adapters, like many other OBD systems that work on both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. This is a good choice if you want to connect it with your laptop sometimes. You can also connect it with your phone.

Best OBD2 Software for Windows:
AUTO Diagnostic, OBD2, Elm327

PROS

  • Can see and clear fault codes
  • Gives real-time information in graphical format
  • Notifies rescue units in case of an accident
  • You can set threshold alarms for various things like speed and temperature

CONS

  • It does not have Wi-Fi connectivity

What Recent Buyers Report

This software has many in-built functionalities that help users maintain their cars. Users report that it works well and delivers what it promises. It works well with Windows systems, as well. It has an easy to understand interface that lets any user benefit from it easily.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This software has many amazing features. You can choose the ones you want, depending on your needs. It has a camera to monitor the vehicle’s route, a fatigue function to check if the driver is too tired, and an auto-theft function to prevent unauthorized usage of the car. It also has a license plate recognition option, traffic monitoring, and an option to export data in the CSV format. 

Who Will Use This Most

This product comes in three forms. One is free and is designed for novice users. This gives limited functionality. The second version, called Auto Suite Cloud, has some additional functions, as well. The professional version, the XXXX More, has options for advanced use by mechanics. That version works with Ford, Opal, Toyota, Audi, and more. 

Bottom Line

This OBD software is very versatile in its functionality. It is for anyone from a car enthusiast to a professional mechanic. You can choose the version you want. The functionalities it provides are modern and not only help you maintain your car’s health, but yours as well. 


Best OBD2 Software for Android:
OBD Car Scanner for ELM327 Diagnostic Tool

PROS

  • The download is free for all
  • Checks and displays O2 sensor results
  • Clears fault codes to turn off the check engine light
  • Monitors speed, air intake temperature, and fuel pressure
  • Displays RPMs, fuel system status, coolant temperature, and more

CONS

  • Has in-app purchases that can get annoying

What Recent Buyers Report

The interface for most users is very easy to use. It provides good details of everything and users are mostly satisfied with it. It does what it says and everyone that has used it has gotten good and reliable results. Thus, no one really has any complaints about it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is one of the best Android scanners that you must get your hands on. The interface is very simple, and downloading it is even free. It does have in-app purchases afterward, though. This does not take up a huge amount of memory, plus, it provides all the functionalities that good OBD software should.

Who Will Use This Most

If you do not want to spend money on software you have not tested yet in fear of wasting your money, then this is a good option. Once you download it, it will not disappoint you. It is for Android users and those on a budget. It is not ideal for a professional mechanic, but is great for your average home user.

Bottom Line

This is some of the best OBD2 software for your Android device. It has many options for you to view. You can see the load value, short and long-term fuel trim, absolute throttle position, and many more. It also comes with a guide to help you install and use it with ease.

Advantages and Disadvantages of OBD2 Software

While OBD2 software comes with the benefit of diagnosing your car, it does have its set of limitations too. 

Pros

Let’s first see all the advantages you can get by investing in an OBD2 software: 

Low Price

A full professional scanner ranges from $1000 or more. If you are going to just be using it on your car and for some basic tests, then you will not want to spend that much. Software or apps for phones are a good alternative. They provide everything a novice might need to keep their car in good shape. 

Easy to Use

These software programs are always designed keeping user-friendliness in mind. Software that is not easy to use is always rejected. The OBD2 software programs mentioned on this list are also pretty easy to use and understand. Keeping in mind that most people who will be using it are not professionals, they include guides as well.

Extra Functions

Nowadays, these software programs not only have readings for engine health but also many other things, as well. When you connect to the internet, it sends you real-time traffic reports to help you choose your route, sends a report to rescue units in case of a crash, helps monitor speed, and much more. This has turned into not just a diagnostic system but much more. You can now collect more data from your ECU.

Cons

On the flip-side, its drawbacks include:

Limited Functionality

If you are a professional mechanic, then software might not be the right choice for you. It does not give that much of a detailed view of the engine. Since you will be working with many different models of cars and/or trucks before you fix them, you will need a detailed view of the engine instead of its real-time GPS location.

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying? 

Before you go ahead and make the purchase, be aware of the following to be completely sure of the unit you want. 

Compatibility

As discussed above, before buying, it is important to check whether the software or application you are installing will actually be able to read the data from your vehicle’s ECU. Most software apps come with a list of vehicles they are compatible with. 

PIDs

PIDs are parameter IDs. These are codes used to request data from your vehicle. These vary from car to car. There are some standard IDs as well that are available online. You might want to check what they mean before using the software. Some software programs are also compatible with user-made PIDs. 

Connectivity

Check the connection modes available to you. If you are using a software or app, then you probably want a wireless connection, and that is the norm, as well. Some have Bluetooth connections and some Wi-Fi. Internet connectivity provides far greater functionality than Bluetooth, but it depends on your preference.

Conclusion 

OBD2 software not only helps maintain your car health but also helps you get rid of certain problems. These applications are a good alternative to the expensive scanners used by professionals. They let you maintain your car at home without making expensive trips to the mechanic. Many of them come with additional features that are very helpful, too. The list we have made gives you options for everything to choose from.