Is an Expensive OBD2 Scanner Worth It?

Ross Ballot
by Ross Ballot
Photo Credit: nachandrei /

While the purpose of an OBD2 scanner can prove invaluable in diagnosing a vehicle’s issues, the cost of entry varies widely. How much you spend on an OBD2 scanner depends on your specific needs and usage. Let’s explore the factors and features to consider.

Diagnostic Features:

Expensive OBD2 scanners often come with advanced diagnostic features and capabilities. If you're a professional mechanic or someone who needs in-depth diagnostics, investing in a high-end scanner may be worth it.

Cheaper scanners might provide basic code reading and clearing functionalities, but they may lack advanced features like live data streaming, graphing, and detailed system analysis.

Vehicle Compatibility:

Some higher-end scanners offer compatibility with a wider range of vehicles, including older and exotic models. If you work with various vehicle makes and models, investing in a more expensive scanner may provide better coverage.

Build Quality and Durability:

Expensive scanners often have better build quality, durable materials, and more robust construction. This can be important if you plan to use the scanner frequently or in demanding environments.

Update and Support:

High-quality scanners typically receive regular updates to support new vehicle models and address software issues. A reputable brand may also offer better customer support and warranty options.

Promoted Product: TOPDON TopScan

Small enough to disappear in your pocket, the TOPDON TopScan that pairs with your phone and turns it into the perfect scan tool. To use it, just plug the TopScan into the OBD2 port of your vehicle and open the TopScan app on your phone.

You can use the TopScan to clear fault codes, but it does a whole lot more than that. It offers advanced diagnostics, allowing you to scan all vehicle systems – everything from engine and transmission to airbag, ABS, and air conditioning.

There are two versions of the TopScan – Lite and Pro. The TopScan light offers 8 reset function, while the Pro offers an additional 5 advanced functions.

If the TopScan does find a problem, you can access a DTC Repair Guide to process fault codes and get some guidance on making any necessary repairs. And with TopScan’s bi-directional control, you can access vehicle-specific subsystems and component parts. This lets users analyze and locate faulty parts quickly and easily.

You can also use the TopScan to access your vehicle’s subsystems and component parts to locate faulty parts so you know exactly what needs your attention.

TopScan is outfitted with AutoVIN and AutoScan functions. AutoVIN quickly identifies vehicle information such as make, model, and year, while AutoScan detects vehicle systems and retrieves DTCs.

If you are in the market for a compact and versatile OBD2 scanner so you can diagnose your vehicle without taking it to a garage, the TOPDON TopScan is well worth checking out.

Photo Credit: Velimir Zeland /

Specialized Functions:

Expensive scanners may include specialized functions, such as programming, ABS/SRS diagnosis, and oil reset capabilities. If you need these features, it might justify the higher cost.

Ease of Use:

Cheaper scanners are often simpler to use, which might be sufficient for basic users. However, more expensive models might come with user-friendly interfaces, touchscreens, and intuitive menus, making them more accessible for novices as well.

Wireless Connectivity:

Some high-end scanners offer wireless connectivity, allowing you to connect them to smartphones or tablets for a more convenient user experience. This can be a valuable feature for those who prefer a wireless setup.

In summary, the decision to invest in an expensive OBD2 scanner depends on your specific requirements and budget. If you only need basic code reading and clearing, a less expensive scanner might suffice. However, if you require advanced diagnostics and features, or if you work with a wide range of vehicles professionally, a higher-end scanner may be a worthwhile investment. Consider your specific needs and research the features offered by different models to make an informed decision.

Ross Ballot
Ross Ballot

Ross hosts The Off the Road Again Podcast. He has been in the off-road world since he was a kid riding in the back of his dad’s YJ Wrangler. He works in marketing by day and in his free time contributes to Hooniverse, AutoGuide, and, and in the past has contributed to UTV Driver, ATV Rider, and Everyday Driver. Ross drives a 2018 Lexus GX460 that is an ongoing build project featured on multiple websites and the podcast.

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