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12 Best Scanners To Diagnose Engine Misfire We've Tested 2023

Brandon Forder
  Feb 1, 2023 4:48 PM

The check engine misfire is inherently cryptic, providing only a broad warning that something may be wrong with your vehicle. However, an OBD-II scan tool can shed some engine misfire on the issue before you head over to the local auto shop. There is nothing more frustrating than shelling out several hundred dollars to have your car checked out only to discover that a loose gas cap was the root cause of the misfire indicator. On the other hand, the problem could be far more serious than it seems at first.

Most inexpensive and straightforward scanners can be found on Amazon for under $30. Simply connecting the gadget to your car's OBD-II port will aid in determining the source of the problem.

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Last update on 2023-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

Buying Guide

Types of scanners

Stand-alone scanners

Handheld computers that read your car's diagnostic data and obtain power from the car's data port are the most frequent sort of tool used for OBD code-reading.

You can find readers like this at auto-parts stores, and we tried out several for about $70. There is a wide range of device types, screen resolutions, and button arrangements and functionalities.

Smartphone connected scanners

The on-board diagnostic (OBD) scanners of this type are relatively new, but they are quickly gaining in popularity. Elm Electronics' ELM327 integrated circuit is the foundation of most Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanners. The adapter is merely an intermediary between your vehicle and your smartphone; the actual work of displaying, logging, and resetting diagnostic information is done by an accompanying software.

However, not every adaptor serves the same purpose.

Amazon, eBay, and other discount electronic retailers all have adapters at a low price. While some of these adapters are USB and WiFi-enabled, the most majority are Bluetooth dongles that are only compatible with Android and Windows systems.

Almost all low-cost adapters are based on the ELM327 design; however, Elm charges $15 per chip in bulk, thus a $9 buy-it-now deal might not actually employ an authentic chip.

New, authentic versions of Elm's chip allow for lower power consumption, a larger buffer for data transmission, and a few new instructions in specialized designs from firms like Carista, PLX Devices, and OBDLink. New Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth 4.0 protocols, which also enable iPhone compatibility, are more likely to be used by these adapters. You can't use your OBD adapter and a Wi-Fi internet connection at the same time since older iPhone adapters required setting up a Wi-Fi network.

Lemur, Bosch, and OBDEleven are just a few of the companies that use proprietary chips (incompatible with universal apps like OBD Fusion and Carista) to access your car's additional systems and read codes for things like the airbags, anti-lock brakes, central locking, and security. Because these dongles double as keys to their corresponding apps, you'll typically pay for the dongle but not for the program itself.

There is a wide range of compatibility and feature sets in the smartphone industry. When paired with a good universal adaptor, apps like FORScan (Android only) and Carista provide you extensive control over specific vehicles. There are also programs like Verizon's Hum and Automatic, which place more of an emphasis on supplementary functions like emergency roadside assistance similar to that provided by Onstar. There are others, like OBDEleven, which offer a specialized set of functions for a single manufacturer's automobiles but necessitate the purchase of a proprietary adapter and additional software to use.

Thankfully, you can get emissions readiness and engine diagnostics codes with almost any adapter/app combo, just like with a high-quality standalone scanner.

Troubleshooter functions

These provide a list of solutions that have been suggested to address issues found by the scanner. It's difficult to assign a grade to this aspect because the usefulness of the recommendation depends on the accuracy of the diagnosis. Since the Innova scanner requires a paid subscription in order to access Innova's database of fixes, we deducted half a point here.

Airbag codes

We were pleasantly impressed that BlueDriver could detect and reset our test code without any problems, as these are only visible to a scanner that is actively seeking for them. Even with the $9.99 extra diagnostic module that is available for matching model year Toyotas, OBD Fusion was unable to read any airbag codes on our test vehicle. Since it might potentially read your car's codes, we docked it 0.5 points.

ABS codes

They are also secretive and might be difficult to decipher. While both the Innova 3030g2 and OBD Fusion's 2007 Toyota in-app purchase claim to be able to read ABS codes, neither device worked with our test vehicle. Those scanners scored an.50 from us. As before, BlueDriver was the only scanner to recognize the test pattern.

Firmware updates

Since the OBD-II system is a fixed specification, any scanner should be able to read the check engine light on any car that complies with it, hence these aren't necessary for a universal scanner. It's comforting to know, though, that manufacturers can iron out such kinks. Even though major updates are unlikely for a sub-$100 tool, the fact that it may support a new feature that comes up in a few years is encouraging.


Not all automobiles can be scanned with an OBD2 device. In this case, you should check to determine if it offers maximum or universal compatibility. Remember to double-check the make and model of your vehicle before making any purchases. The adaptability with many gadgets is another plus. Some OBD2 scanners are compatible with iOS and Windows, while others only work with Android devices.

Considering that the Bluetooth OBD2 scanner requires you to sync up with your mobile device in order to display analysis results and make diagnoses, this consideration is relevant. Thus, it should work with your phone's operating system as well as your car's model.

Complete OBD Support

The scanner's OBD support has been upgraded so that it can be used in industrial settings. A proper and speedy diagnosis of the problem is now possible. Thanks to full OBD support, you can query the constantly watching systems for any outstanding DTCs.

DTCs and free frame data can be cleared, and the data can be displayed. If you want to start your vehicle's EVAP leak test, the canner must have a dedicated EVAP test button. Unfortunately, this feature isn't supported by the vast majority of OBD2 scanners.

O2 Sensor Test

The results of an O2 sensor test will be recorded mechanically. The emissions can be checked ahead of time, before the smog check is ever performed. At any moment, you can get your car inspected, and some places will even offer you feedback on what they find.


Before purchasing an OBD2 scanner, make sure you understand any applicable warranties. The length of time an item is covered by warranty might change from make to make. A one-year warranty is a good starting point for gauging durability.


What Can an OBD2 Scanner Do?

An OBD2 scanner, surprisingly, is a really useful piece of equipment. The on-board diagnostics (OBD2) scanner can be used to both diagnose and remove check engine lights.

Clearing a system code from a car can be helpful in a variety of situations. The first is to disable the "check engine" warning.

The check engine light on the dashboard prevents registration in many states; the OBD2 scanner can swiftly clear these codes so the light can be turned off.

You may get the VIN from the car's on-board computer and check the oil pressure with a decent OBD2 scanner.

All of these benefits make an OBD2 scanner an essential item for any car owner who wants to stay on top of routine maintenance and save money by diagnosing problems themselves instead of paying the steep prices that auto shops demand when they use their "high tech" equipment.

How Do OBD2 Scanners Work?

It's easy to see that an OBD2 scanner is a relatively straightforward piece of equipment. It's not just a scanner, to be sure. The OBD2 scanner will provide a comprehensive report on any issues with your car.

The SAE J1962 standard ensures that this connector will work with vehicles of any make or model. It doesn't matter if you have a Ford Raptor or a Mercedes-Benz S500; both can use the same cable to access their respective manufacturer's online troubleshooting resources.

Almost any OBD2 code scanner on the market should be compatible with your car. There is no need to buy batteries or charge an OBD2 scanner because they get their power directly from the vehicle.

An OBD2 scanner is a must-have accessory that makes car maintenance easier and more thorough. Sometimes an OBD2 scanner won't be able to read the vehicle's trouble codes even if it normally would.

The vehicle's computer may be shorted out, making it impossible for the unit to read the error codes.

Can OBD2 scanner damaged ECU?

It is theoretically conceivable for an OBD2 scanner to cause ECU damage. One can both read and write to an ECU with an OBD2 Scanner. Damage-free OBD2 Scanner use consists of simple code reading and clearing. However, there is a risk of damaging your ECU if you attempt to write data (ECU reprogramming) to ECU if the data is corrupt.

What can you do with an OBD2 scanner?

An OBD2 Scanner can be used to read the trouble codes stored in a vehicle. You may find out the vehicle identification number, temperature of the engine coolant, engine speed, fuel economy, and more.


A check engine light will eventually come on if you keep your automobile long enough. There are certain people, maybe the vast majority of people, who, when faced with such an unavoidable situation, should immediately contact a mechanic. (Preferably, one you already know and respect; if not, there's always Yelp.)

And then there's everyone else. The others are curious. Others, whether in admiration or pity, need an OBD-II scanner to confirm that the issue is beyond their skill set and need the assistance of a professional.

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