Best Bidirectional Scan Tool in 2021 [Reviewed by an Automotive Technician]

What is a bidirectional scan tool?

A Bidirectional Scan Tool or Bidirectional Scanner is a tool that you connect to a car’s computer diagnostic port and that not only enables you to read the error codes that may have been stored in the vehicle’s computer but also allows you to send commands and data as well as to write values in the ECU (Engine Control Unit) and other modules.

Modern cars have many modules and all are interconnected. It depends on the quality of the scan tool which modules you can access and what possibilities the tool gives you to work with each module.

Another interesting feature of bidirectional scan tools is the possibility of testing actuators and performing output tests to activate and deactivate systems of the vehicles to test them and evaluate how they are working.

How to choose the best bidirectional scan tool according to your needs

There are hundreds of scanners in the market; we are going to give you some pointers about bidirectional scanners to help you choose the best scanner to suit your needs.

Even if you have some experience using them, I hope this article helps you to expand your knowledge of the subject. Besides, we have selected 10 scantools that are considered the best in the market; we are going to give you a brief introduction to them and then we are going to tell you which are the best two and the criteria that we used to pick them.

When you work on car electronics you notice that you are not going to find, and I quote “The Lord of the Rings” here, “one ring to rule them all”, meaning that, unfortunately, you won’t be able to do everything with only one scanner. Some scanners are better for certain functions but are impractical or useless for others. Other scanners are perfect but don’t work well with every brand and so on.

If you are planning to start working in this field or if you are planning to expand your business, you are going to have many tools. The brands of cars that you are going to be working with does make a difference: if you are running a multi brand shop it’s harder than if you are running a specialized shop, working on one or a couple of brands at a time. Anyway, you will always have a favourite, that scantool that is practical and is the one you use to take a first look.

If you are not a professional but you want to add a great scanner to your toolbox without having to spend a lot of money, don’t worry. We have included some great affordable scanners that are excellent for both professional and personal use.

Bidirectional Scanners features

– Format: 

Bidirectional scanners may have three different formats.

– Handheld: This format is a standalone device that is powered by the OBD
  connector’s voltage supply pins. These units are generally OBD and/or OBD2
  compatible; that means that they have a 16 pin male connector that plugs into the
  car’s diagnostic port. These scanners are easy to use; you don’t have to load any
  program, they have an LCD screen and a set of basic buttons that will allow you to
  navigate through the different functions. If you need to enter a value they are not
  super practical but they are affordable, reliable and easy to use. 

– PC/Notebook/Android or IOS based scanners: These scantools are interfaces that
  allow you to connect to a car and enable you to use different softwares available on
  the market. There are great interfaces and softwares available, but we are not going
  to cover these kind of scanners in this article.

–  Stand alone scantools / Advanced handheld scanners: This type of scanner is a
  combination of the types of scanners described above. They come in the form of a
  tablet, they run using an operating system, Android being the most popular, but
  they are designed in such a way that they are very practical and easy to use.
  The interface is integrated on the device and in general they connect to the car by
  Bluetooth. They come with their own scanning software and the capabilities of the
  tools rely solely on the complexity of that software. These kind of scanners are
  becoming very popular among professionals all over the world.

Functions that you may find in a bidirectional scanner:

Every bidirectional scanner  has a set of basic functions such as reading and clearing error codes, monitoring vehicle sensors, reading live data and turning off the dreaded “check engine light”.

What will make a scanner stand out from others are their capabilities to access not only the car’s ECU (Engine Control Unit), but to also monitor other modules, performing actuators tests, reading and recording live data, coding and recoding different components and many other functions that will amaze you.

ECU coding ability is very useful in certain car models that have parts that need to be set up after they have been replaced. 

Another important feature is VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) recognition. This allows the device to detect the make and model of the car and will save you a lot of time, as you don’t need to enter all the VIN numbers manually. It also ensures that you are using the right set of tools for the car you are working with.

ABS Bleeding feature is another great tool. It lets you bleed an ABS system properly and it guides you to the right steps as if you were using the official dealership scan tool. 

There are countless features that a bidirectional scantool can have: live data streaming, automatic oil service reset, immobilizer functions that allow you to work with BCMs and to program keys, DPF service, BMS (Battery Management System), TPMS sensors programming, SAS calibration and many more.

List of compatible vehicles: 

Since the implementation of the OBDII standard in 1996, almost every brand uses this protocol to communicate with the scantools. You may be familiar with the standard OBD2 16 pin “D” shaped connector that can be found in most cars. There are generic OBD2 code readers that will work in all the cars that comply with this protocol; however, each car maker and brand has its own codes and when it comes to advanced functions, the commands, codes and protocols vary, so you are going to find out that there are scanners that work with only one brand, other scanners that work with a couple of brands and more complete scantools that are called “universal”, as they work with thousands of models of vehicles.

There are multi brand scanners that are not as accurate as a scanner made for a specific brand and model. Low cost / quality multi brand scanners may be good to detect a problem but then you are going to need a better scanner or a special scanner to be able to fix it.

A list of the best scan tools available on the market in 2021

Below you will find a list of 10 scantools sorted by price. We are going to give you an introduction and a review of each product, its pros and cons and some hints about how they work.

Foxwell NT510 BMW Scan Tool – Price $133 – $150

FOXWELL NT510 Elite Full Systems Scanner for BMW Automotive Obd2 Code Reader Bidirectional...
  • 🌞 ALL FEATURES IN YOUR HAND ➤ This bmw scanner is capable of reading and clearing trouble codes of all major systems, including engine,...
  • 🌵 DEEP FUNCTIONS FOR BMW ➤ Control service interval reset, brake deactivation, ABS activation, battery registration, abs bleeding,...
  • 🎁 BI-DIRECTIONAL/ACTIVE TEST OPERATION ➤ NT510 elite scanner for bmw allows you to temporarily activate or control a vehicle system or...

Don’t get fooled by the price tag of this tiny but awesome handheld scan tool. For little more money than a simple code reader, this tool is a powerful device that can be used by professionals and ordinary people. This particular device comes with dedicated software to work with BMW, Mini, and Rolls Royce models. There are other versions of the NT510 scan tool that come with dedicated software for other brands such as Audi, Honda, General Motors, and others. If you need to scan other brands, Foxwell sells updated packages for several brands for $80 each.

The Foxwell NT510 has all the basic features that you need from a scanner, such as the ability to read and clear DTCs, turn off the “check engine light” and other warning lights, reset service lights and enter in all the modules of any of the compatible vehicles, and it can read live data in every car compatible with this version.
The handheld device is heavily built, designed for professional use, which makes it tough and durable. The 2.8” backlit colour LCD display is small but the data and graphs are easy to read.

The advanced functions of the Foxwell NT510 include the ability to perform output tests – enabling and disabling actuators to check that they are working properly -, adaptation coding,  program control modules and the running of system tests.

If you register the device at the manufacturer’s website, you will be able to download free updates for the product’s lifetime. Foxwell also offers lifetime free technical support.

The NT510 can access old BMW car models from 1987 (pre OBD2 standard). For an additional cost you can buy a 20 pin adapter to be able to work in those models.

Foxwell NT510 Elite BMW Function List:

– It can read and delete DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) from every system of compatible
  cars including Engine, ABS, Airbag, Automatic Transmission, Door control modules, etc.

– Displays specific fault code definitions.

– Displays live sensor data with the reference values.

– It can display graphs up to 2 graphs of live data simultaneously.

– It can reset the oil service light and the oil service intervals.

– Performs electronic parking brake service functions, ideal for cars with electronic e-brake.

– It allows the user to manually operate and control bi-directional components and actuators.

– Supports battery registration.

– It can perform bidirectional active tests.

– It can perform DPF regeneration, ABS bleeding, BCM/SIR setup, it has many TPS
  functions, it can easily perform TBA (Throttle Body Alignment), and more.

– It has mild support to perform module coding.
– Idle speed adjustment when it’s available.

– Steering Angle Sensor calibration. 


Foxwell NT510 Elite BMW Compatible Vehicles

BMW

– 1 Series (E81, E82, E87, E88, F20, E81, E82, E87, E88)
– 2 Series (F22, F23, F45, F46, F87)
– 3 Series (E30, E36, E46, E90, E91, E92, E93, E30, F31, F34, F35, F80)
– 4 Series (F32, F33, F36, F82, F83, F32, F33)
– 5 Series (E28, E34, E39, E60, E61, F07, F10, F11, F18)
– 6 Series (E24, E63, E64, F06, F12, F13)
– 7 Series (E23, E32, E38, E65, E66, E68, F01, F02, F04, G11, G12)
– 8 Series (E31)
– I Series (I01, I12)
– X1 (X1_E84, X1_F48, X1_F49)
– X3 (X3_E83, X3_F25 )
– X4 (X4_F26)
– X5 (X5_E53, X5_E70, F15, X5_F85)
– X6 (X6_E71, X6_E72, X6_F86, X6_F16, )
– Z Series (Z1_E30, Z3_E36, Z4_E85/E86, Z8_E52, Z4_E89,  )

 Mini

– R50: “Mk I” Mini One & Cooper (2001–2006)
– R52: “Mk I” Mini Convertible (2004–2008)
– R53: “Mk I” Mini Cooper S (2001–2006)
– R55: “Mk II” Mini Clubman (2007–present)
– R56: “Mk II” Mini Hatch/Hardtop range (2006–2013)
– R57: “Mk II” Mini Convertible (2009–present)
– R58: Coupe (2012–present)
– R59: Roadster (2012–present)
– R60: Countryman (2010–present)
– R61: Paceman (2013-2016)
– F54: Clubman (2016-present)
– F55: Hatchback (2014-present)
– F56: Hatchback (2014-Present)
– F57: Convertible (2014-Present)

Rolls-Royce

RR1, RR2, RR3, RR4, RR

What we like…
  • As it is a small device you can operate the unit with only one hand. which makes it comfortable to use and operate.
  • A very comprehensive tool for its low cost. This unit could be considered a professional tool.
  • Integrated VIN code reader that enables the unit to auto-detect the vehicle model that is being connected.
  • Free updates for the life of the product.
  • Free technical support for the life of the product.
Be aware of…
  • It’s not wireless.
  • Small screen.
  • The price of the software to work with other brands costs half or more of the price of the unit.
  • If you purchased a lot of upgrades, you can only hold 5 brands on the device at the same time.

Foxwell NT650 ELITE Scan Tool – Price $165

FOXWELL NT650 Elite Car OBD2 Scanner Automotive OBD II ABS Air Bag Code Reader with SAS EPB DPF EPS...
  • 【Powerful Tool】FOXWELL NT650 Elite automobile code reader is a cost-effective solution for the service and maintenance of your vehicle.
  • 【Latest Technology】Upgraded the processor to 9X35 and the running memory to 1GBit which make the diagnostic scanner run faster. Auto VIN...
  • 【Global OBDII/ EOBD Scan】NT650 Elite odb2 diagnostics scanner provides comprehensive OBDII diagnostics for global OBDII/EOBD vehicles,...

Here we have another great bidirectional scanner from Foxwell. It’s another handheld device and it’s also a product that gives the buyer a lot of professional functions for a more than reasonable and affordable price.

This tool is multi brand and it lets you work with more than 70 car makes and more than 1000 vehicles. It’s like a big brother of the Foxwell NT510 that we just reviewed above, including all the functions that you can find in the NT510 and more.
But that’s not all. It has a bigger display of 4.3” and you can access almost every car from 1996 and up. It’s advisable that you check that the vehicles which you need to work with are covered by this tool before you buy it. This data can be found at Fowell’s website. It’s important to keep in mind that not all the functions are available for every brand. New functions are being added as new models appear and that’s why it’s important to keep the device always updated.

What we like…
  • As it is a small device, you can operate the unit with only one hand, which makes it comfortable to use and operate.
  • A very comprehensive tool for its low cost.
  • Integrated VIN code reader that enables the unit to auto-detect the vehicle model that is being connected.
  • Displays freeze frame data.
  • It has an SD card that allows the user to record and playback live sensor data.
  • Free updates for the lifetime of the product.
  • Free technical support for the life of the product.
Be aware of…
  • Poor transmission diagnostic abilities.
  • Not every function is available on many vehicles.
  • It’s not wireless.

Pros

– As it is a small device, you can operate the unit with only one hand, which makes it
  comfortable to use and operate.
– Very comprehensive tool for its low cost.
– Integrated VIN code reader that enables the unit to auto detect the vehicle model that is
  being connected.
– Displays freeze frame data.
– It has an SD card that allows the user to record and playback live sensor data.
– Free updates for the lifetime of the product.
– Free technical support for the life of the product.

What we like…
  • As it is a small device, you can operate the unit with only one hand, which makes it comfortable to use and operate.
  • A very comprehensive tool for its low cost.
  • Integrated VIN code reader that enables the unit to auto-detect the vehicle model that is being connected.
  • Displays freeze frame data.
  • It has an SD card that allows the user to record and playback live sensor data.
  • Free updates for the lifetime of the product.
  • Free technical support for the life of the product.
Be aware of…
  • Poor transmission diagnostic abilities.
  • Not every function is available on many vehicles.
  • It’s not wireless.

Cons

– Poor transmission diagnostic abilities.
– Not every function is available on many vehicles.
– It’s not wireless.

Conclusion: The NT650 is a simple but pretty comprehensive tool that covers a lot of makes and models. It’s a very interesting device to have in a mechanic garage or auto shop. It’s a great tool to have and use together with other tools if you are planning to use it at a professional level, and it’s a great tool to have if you are a DIY enthusiast.

Launch CRP 129E – Price $230

Sale
LAUNCH OBD2 Scanner-2021 New CRP129E Scan Tool for TCM Eng ABS SRS Code Reader,...
  • 2021 New Elite Version Launch crp129e is upgrade version of launch crp123/launch crp123e/launch viii, One-Click update , 5 Years warranty,...
  • 【Compared with launch VIII, What does launch crp129e upgrade】the launch crp129e obd2 scanner add two more reset service TPMS & Throttle...
  • 【FOUR SYSTEMS DIAGNOSTIC + LIVE DATA IN GRAPHING + DATA RECORD AND PLAYBACK】: Launch crp129e diagnostic tool read and reset Engine,...


This diagnostic tool is affordable and it’s an interesting option for home mechanics and professionals. It has features that many people wouldn’t think a tool of this price might have. This Launch’s product is compatible with more than 50 makes and more than a thousand models fitted with an OBDII port, meaning that it is compatible with vehicles from 1996 to the present.

The Launch CRP129e is tough, the cable is thick and it connects to the top of the device using a plug that can be easily threaded to keep it in place.
The unit has a 5” color touchscreen and runs under the Android operating system.
Launch offers free lifetime updates, which ensures the owners that the device will keep being useful to be used on new vehicles while the manufacturer keeps releasing new updates.
It has a great VIN decoding capacity, which enables it to easily detect the vehicle in which the scanner has been plugged.

This scan tool reads four types of codes: Engine, Airbag, ABS Brakes and Transmission. In this aspect the tool is pretty limited; we would like to be able to reach every module of a vehicle. However, it’s very accurate and displays great information about these four components.

The CRP129E displays live data and it can be saved for viewing later and can even be printed or emailed thanks to the tool’s Wi-Fi connection capabilities.
It can also create a fault report to be stored or to be sent by email.

Launch CRP129E Special Function List:

– TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) sensor reset.
– Performs electronic parking brake service functions, ideal to retract the electric parking
  brake calipers to perform maintenance tasks like replacing the rear brake pads.
– It can reset and calibrate throttle bodies after they have been cleaned or replaced.
– Steering Angle Sensor calibration.
– Oil change lamp reset.
– It can run a “cylinder power balance test”.

Pros

– It runs on Android.
– The 5” full color touchscreen makes it very easy to use.
– It comes with an SD slot to store data.
– Free updates for the lifetime of the product.
– It’s tough and well built.

Cons

– It can access only 4 modules.
– Not all the functions work in every car model.
– It has few advanced functions compared with other tools.

Conclusion: Launch CRP129E is a versatile OBDII scan tool that works with a large number of vehicles. It has an impressive interface but it’s a pretty limited tool. If it had access to every component of a vehicle it would be just perfect, but being able to read only the 4 main modules makes it pretty limited.

Innova CarScan Pro 5610 – Price $325


Innova 5610 code scanner(The picture is only to have a reference of the product I’m describing)

This handheld device doubles the price of the two first scanners that we reviewed put together.
Let’s see if it’s worth the money…

The 5610 is the most comprehensive scanner of the CarScan product line.
This scanner was designed by Innova to give DIYers a professional level tool.
It has an easy-to-read 3.5” full color display, it’s pretty big to be held with one hand only but it’s still a handheld device. The 5610 has a long removable cable to connect the device to the vehicles’ diagnostic port. 

The unit works as a great code reader while it provides a lot of advanced functions.
You can scan old OBD1 cars with this tool, but you can’t do it right away; first you need to perform a firmware update and follow some steps.
The 5610 stays on while it’s not connected to a car; that’s why it needs three AA batteries.

The scanner has the ability to read the vehicle’s VIN to determine its make and model. However, a menu will appear to confirm that the data is correct and, depending on the vehicle, it may ask you some additional questions like the mileage of the vehicle and if the detected make and model is correct.
The standard DTC scan is comprehensive, accurate and, if any DTC is found, it displays the freeze-frame data. This tool does more than just displaying and describing the error codes found: it also assigns each code a severity level. Level one means that you don’t have to rush to fix the error, level two prompts you to fix the error ASAP and level three warns you not to drive the car until the error has been repaired.
You will see 3 lights under the LCD display. Each light has a different color:

– Red warns you of the presence of permanent faults stored on the vehicle’s computer.
– Yellow reminds you that there are pending codes or other warnings.
– Green: the vehicle is OK; there are no pending errors.

The 5610 can connect to your phone or tablet; it’s IOS and Android compatible; and you can download for free the Innova RepairSolutions 2 companion app. This application helps you to find solutions and parts for the errors found by the scanner.

The Innova CarScan 5610 lets you record and replay live stream data from most modules.
You can view up to 4 parameters at the same time.

An interesting feature about the 5610 is its powerful database that enables access to  multiple helpful resources without the need to be online; everything is stored inside the unit.
The DTC Library contains a list of OBD1 and OBD2 DTC definitions, and there is a “LED and Icons” library that explains the several icon and LED combinations that the scanner displays while it’s being used.

Innova CarScan Pro 5610 Function List:

– It can detect and clear DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) from every system of compatible
  cars including Engine, ABS, Airbag, Automatic Transmission, Door control modules, etc.
– Run tests of the vehicle’s battery and charging system.
– Display live data in text or graph form.
– Store the live data for future playback and analysis.
– It can perform an EVAP leak test.
– It can perform an O2 sensors test.
– Enables you to reset the oil light after an oil change and in case that you have to do it
  manually it provides you with step by step instructions for every compatible vehicle.
– Runs a “complete” scan.
– Allows the user to reset and initialize the BMS (Battery Management System)
– Reads TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) settings.
– Reads automatic transmission temperature.
– It can perform output tests for many systems and actuators.
– Performs electronic parking brake service functions, ideal for cars with electronic e-brake.
– Tests EGRs.
– It has tools to determine cylinder compression and status.
– It can perform DPF regeneration, ABS bleeding, BCM/SIR setup, it has many TPS
  functions, can easily perform TBA (Throttle Body Alignment), and more.
– It can run a “cylinder power balance test”.

Pros

– Gives the user an interpretation of the error codes found.
– Integrated VIN code reader which enables the unit to auto-detect the vehicle model that is
  being connected.
– Displays freeze frame data.
– It can be turned on without being connected to a vehicle.
– It can help you to fix some errors and more with the Innova RepairSolutions 2 app.

Cons

– For a handheld device, it is too big to be comfortably operated with one hand.
– It has a small screen for such a big device.
– Price.
– It’s not wireless.
– It doesn’t come with any kind of case or carrying bag.

Conclusion: it’s not a bad tool, but compared to the Foxwell NT650 it seems that you are paying a lot of money for having features that are not essential and won’t make any difference in the end. Once you have found an error code, you can find how bad it is on the Internet, and if you have a little mechanical knowledge you will find out for yourself whether you can keep driving the vehicle or if you have to fix the problem asap.

Thinkcar Think Tool Mini – Price $600 – $800



(The picture is only to have a reference of the product I’m describing)

This scan tool is an innovative design from the brand Thinkcar. This is the world’s first modular all-in-one automotive diagnostic tool. The device is an advanced professional scanner that can perform full system scan diagnosis, it can code modules, perform bidirectional live output tests and it has many special functions.

The price of the Think Tool Mini depends on whether the package you buy brings just the device or the device and a number of accessories. This small yet powerful tool competes with professional scantools like the Autel DS808. Following the trend of other professional scantool makers, Thinkcar designed this product to run under the Android operating system. The unit is relatively small, with a full color 7” touchscreen. On the back of the unit you will find a dock where you can plug different tools. They actually offer 11 modules: a printer to print the diagnostics and other data, a battery tester, an infrared cam, a led lamp, an oscilloscope, and some more. Besides, it has a connector where you can plug a video scope and you can even choose to connect the tool via bluetooth or by cable.

The tool comes loaded with 37 brands. You can buy compatibility for extra brands separately for $69.95 each. There are a total of 115 brands available that cover more than 10.000 models. It has an automatic VIN decoder and it can scan all the modules of every vehicle listed as compatible with the device.

Some of the add on modules can be plugged to the scanner or used independently. For example, the printer works as a Wi-Fi printer and it can print documents from other devices.

The Think Tool mini lets you create a profile for every tested vehicle. All the data including diagnostic reports, realtime live data reports, thermal imaging, endoscope reports and others are all integrated allowing the technicians and the customers to get an insight and a maintenance history of the vehicle. This is called ThinkFile and it’s a very interesting feature.

Thinkcar Think Tool Mini Function List:

– It can read and delete DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) from every system of compatible
  cars including Engine, ABS, Airbag, Automatic Transmission, Door control modules, etc.
– Displays specific fault code definitions.
– Supports battery registration.
– It has 16 modes of oil service light and oil service intervals reset.
– Steering Angle Sensor calibration.
– Performs electronic parking brake service functions, ideal for cars with electronic e-brake.
– It can perform DPF regeneration, it has many TPS functions, it can performs TBA (Throttle
  Body Alignment), and more.
– It can perform bidirectional active tests.
– It has ABS bleeding special functions.
– Displays live sensor data with reference values.
– It can read and display live data in text or graphical format.
– It allows the user to manually operate and control bi-directional components and actuators.
– It can code modules.
– It can create and print analysis reports.


Pros

– It’s small but tough.
– Integrated VIN code reader that enables the unit to auto detect the vehicle model that is
  being connected.
– It has Wi-Fi.
– ThinkFile lets you create reports for you, your team and your customers.
– The capability of expanding the scanner’s function with tools such as the 4 channel
  oscilloscope or the endoscopic cam.

Cons

– The Think Tool can access a countless number of car makes and models, however, we
  couldn’t find consistent information about exactly how many brands and models are really
  covered by this product. If you check Amazon, for example, you will see that the number
  doesn’t match the number that you can find on the manufacturer’s website, and even on the
  manufacturer’s website the numbers don’t match. That’s why it’s important that, if you need
  to scan a certain make, you check with the seller or the manufacturer before you buy
  the product.
–  Some of the tools that can be snapped to the device are great but I wouldn’t risk it
  by using it as a led lamp, for example.
– Its price, and the fact that it doesn’t come with many brands preinstalled. Having the tool
  fitted with all the modules and every car available would make it really expensive. There are
  other tools that, without being this fancy, can scan almost every car in the world.

Conclusion: The Think Tool Mini is a professional scanner that can be used by DIYers too. Its design is unique and it’s something that you would like to show up. It’s very comprehensive but the fact that you have to buy a lot of brands separately makes it a little expensive. I would recommend buying it only if you are sure that you will be able to scan the vehicles you work with right ahead.

Launch X431 Diagun V – Price $710



(The picture is only to have a reference of the product I’m describing)

Launch X431 Diagun V is basically the mini version of the X431 Pro 3 that we are reviewing below. It comes with a 5.5” touchscreen and runs under Android 7.

It has the same functions as the X431 Pro V and it comes in a similar case with a large variety of connectors. The user interface looks quite the same as its bigger brother.

Conclusion: The pros and cons are the same as the X431 Pro 3 that we are going to review in this article too.
This is one of the best bidirectional scanners on the market and it has great support from its manufacturer. It’s a highly recommended product.

Autel MaxiPro MP808K – Price $750


(The picture is only to have a reference of the product I’m describing)

The MaxiPro MP808K is the same as the DS808K just that the MP808K brings 11 adapters that make the device compatible with a lot of OBDI cars.
This scan tool’s operating system is Android, but it’s an older version of the operating system: it runs Android 4 while the scantools tested come with Android 7.

Despite the fact that the device runs on Android, it has Wi-Fi, but it connects to the vehicles by cable, as it doesn’t have Bluetooth. The unit is light and well built and it comes in a tough case where you can store the device and the extra connectors.

The device has a 7” LCD touchscreen and, like the other devices we have been reviewing, it’s tough built. It can do a full system scan of cars from 80 different automakers, which is a really great number and ensures its compatibility with lots of vehicle models.

The MP808K, like many of the scanners reviewed in this article, supports auto VIN scan, manual VIN input, and automatic or manual vehicle selection. It’s a great and comprehensive bidirectional tool that reads codes and live data from all the vehicle systems that it supports.

This tool also has great features for professional mechanics and auto repair shops; it has some great features to help make the job easier:

– MaxiFix: it’s an online troubleshooter database that users can access, has all the
  common DTCs for most vehicles and allows users to share information and work together.
– Remote Desk: the MP808K works with TeamViewer and enables users to receive
  remote support from Autel’s support center, colleagues or friends by allowing them to
  control the diagnostic tool of the tablet on their PC.
– Shop Manager: it’s an application proprietary of Autel that helps users to deal with
  reports for customers, manage the workshop information, customer information records and
  more.
– Data Manager: It’s an app that supports storing, printing, and reviewing previously saved
  files.


Autel MaxiPro MP808K Function List:

– It can read and delete DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) from every system of compatible
  cars including Engine, ABS, Airbag, Automatic Transmission, Door control modules, etc.
– It can perform bidirectional active tests.
– It has special functions to bleed ABS brakes.
– Performs electronic parking brake service functions, ideal for cars with electronic e-brake.
– It can do some ECU coding but it’s not compatible with all vehicles.
– It can perform DPF regeneration; it can perform TBA (Throttle Body Alignment), and more.
– It can reset TPMS sensors and program them if you need to rotate tires but it can’t program
  new TPMS sensors if you have to replace one.
– Supports battery registration and reset.
– It can reset oil service intervals.
– Displays specific fault code definitions.
– Steering Angle Sensor calibration.
– It has IMMO Service, it can clear lost car keys information and it can program new keys into
  the car’s ECU database.
– Displays live sensor data with reference values.
– It allows the user to manually operate and control bi-directional components and actuators.
– It can code modules.
– It can create and print analysis reports.
– It can run a “cylinder power balance test”.

Pros

– Easy to use.
– Extensive vehicle coverage.
– It has Wi-Fi.
– It’s very portable.
– It lets you create reports of the scans for later viewing and/or send them to your
  customers.

Cons

– It’s not wireless.
– Not being wireless, it still needs to be charged.
– Only 1 year of free updates.

Conclusion: It is said that the MP808K is a light version of Autel MS906. For the little price difference I would buy the MS906 or MS906BT. It’s not a bad product at all but it’s not wireless and the processor is pretty slow compared to similar tools.

Launch X431 Pro 3 – Price $700 – $800 – $1159.-



(The picture is only to have a reference of the product I’m describing)

Launch X431 Pro 3 is a professional device based on Android. It seems that Launch’s engineers grabbed a tablet, made a super impact resistant case to make it tougher, and  created an app that works as a scan tool. The truth is, it may seem like that but the X431 Pro 3 is much more than that. It’s very near to be the “Swiss army knife” in the scanner universe.

It comes with a 10.1 screen and it connects to the vehicle’s diagnostic port through a bluetooth adapter that makes the whole experience very comfortable. Supports more than 10.000 models and Launch is constantly updating the software to add more vehicles to the application.

The device has been made for work: it comes in a big case with more than 20 adaptors to be able to connect the scantool to almost any pre OBD2 protocol.

It has all the basic functions that you would expect from a scanner but it has plenty of bidirectional functions. The live data streaming is delightful; you can monitor as many channels you want at once. It can graphic the data and allows you to save it.
It also has a special section to store previous scans, very useful for car shops. You can fill your shop’s name, address and other fields and it allows you to export the report as a PDF file so that you can email it to your customers.

You can perform advanced testing with this device and you can even make adaptations and program modules. However, it doesn’t come with a lot of help, so you have to be careful when you are entering a new value on a module. Depending on the make and model of the car, you will find more friendly menus and procedures, but you need to know exactly what you are doing when you are using these special functions.

The Launch tablet has an integrated battery that can last for a full day of work and a little more. Since it’s a tablet, the interface is a touch-screen, so with your hands free and without the need to struggle with cables, it is very comfortable to operate.
The Launch X-431 Pro has Wi-Fi and it’s great to send the reports to the customers or to a Wi-Fi printer, and having Google handy is very useful sometimes.

Pros

– It’s one of the best professional bidirectional scantools on the market.
– It is wireless.
– It has Wi-Fi.
– It comes with free updates for 3 years.
– It’s compatible with almost every car in the world.
– It is fast.
– Launch customer’s service is very supportive.
– It is light and comfortable to use.
– It lets you create reports of the scans for later viewing and/or to send them to your
  customers.

Cons

– It lacks enough directions and support for the module programming functions.
– It is easy to forget the OBD2 connector plugged into the vehicle by mistake.
– After the 3 years of free updates, updating the device is pretty expensive: $450.

Conclusion: The Launch X431 Pro 3 is so comprehensive that it would deserve a separate  article.
The 2021 model comes with an octa-core processor, which makes it really fast. It can do the same as the other models and more. Since its release, it has been acclaimed by the specialized press and professionals who work with it everyday on a daily basis.

Autel Maxisys MS906K – Price $920

(The picture is only to have a reference of the product I’m describing)

The Maxisys MS906K is one of the top products of the brand Autel. Like it’s main competitor, the Launch X431 Pro and, as it’s a trend nowadays, the system is built into a tablet running Android. In this case the tablet processor is an hexacore Exynos 5260 which is composed of a 1.3 GHZ quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 plus a dual-core 1.7 GHZ Cortex A-15. The system has an internal memory of 32GB SSD. The display is an 8” capacitive HD touchscreen, which it makes it easy to read and to work with.
The scanner is very well built; it looks strong and is resistant enough to be in a tough environment like a workshop. On top of that, the unit comes in a strong case in which you can store the unit. Inside this case you will find 12 adapters that will let you diagnose pre OBD2 cars.
This unit covers over 80 vehicle brands and supports full OBDI and OBDII protocols, which means that you can use this unit on almost any car manufactured between 1982 and the present. As is expected from a tool of this price; it can read and delete codes for all systems of compatible cars, such as the engine, ABS, transmission, airbags, instrument panels and many more. It provides live data feed, supports actuation tests, adaptation and part matching. The MS906’s auto VIN decoder identifies the vehicles very accurately and you can always choose to select the vehicle’s make and model manually.
This scan tool is Wi-Fi enabled, which is always very useful for downloading software updates, searching for repair tips or parts and even contacting Autel’s online help platform. This model can also connect to a PC with a USB cable.
Like its little brother, the MP808K has access to MaxiFix, Remote Desk, Shop Manager and Data Manager.

Autel MaxiSys MS906K Function List:

– It can read and delete DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) from every system of compatible
  cars including Engine, ABS, Airbag, Automatic Transmission, Door control modules, etc.
– It can perform bidirectional active tests.
– It has special functions to bleed ABS brakes.
– Performs electronic parking brake service functions, ideal for cars with electronic e-brake.
– It can do some ECU coding but it’s not compatible with all vehicles.
– It can perform DPF regeneration, it can perform TBA (Throttle Body Alignment), and more.
– It can reset TPMS sensors and program them if you need to rotate tires but it can’t program
  new TPMS sensors if you have to replace one.
– Supports battery registration and reset.
– It can reset oil service intervals.
– Displays specific fault code definitions.
– Steering Angle Sensor calibration.
– It has IMMO Service, it can clear lost car keys information and it can program new keys into
  the car’s ECU database.
– Displays live sensor data with reference values.
– It allows the user to manually operate and control bi-directional components and actuators.
– It can code modules.
– It can create and print analysis reports.
– It can run a “cylinder power balance test”.

Pros

– It’s tough and resistant.
– Simple interface.
– Extensive vehicle coverage.
– It has Wi-Fi.
– It’s very portable.
– It lets you create reports of the scans for later viewing and/or to send them to your
  customers.
– Good battery life.

Cons

– It comes with only 1 year of free updates.
– It’s an expensive device to come without a wireless connection.
– There have been several complains about the battery recharging time compared to other
  devices.

Conclusion: Autel MaxiSys MS906 is a professional tool that, with patience, can be used by DIYers and car enthusiasts. It’s a powerful tool that could be used in many shops.
It’s great that it’s compatible with so many makes and models. Autel is a brand well known by its quality and customer service. It’s a little pricey if you consider that it doesn’t have a Bluetooth interface and still in 2021 uses a cable to connect to the vehicles, which is a waste of time in these days when professionals need to scan several cars a day.

Autel Maxisys MS906BT – Price $1050 – $1200


The MaxiSys MS906BT is just like the MS906, works in exactly the same way and comes with the same extra adapters. The slight difference is that it’s Bluetooth, enabling you to scan the vehicles wirelessly. One extra feature is that it can be connected to an oscilloscope that is sold as an accessory.

Pros

– It’s tough and resistant.
– Simple interface.
– Extensive vehicle coverage.
– It is wireless
– It has Wi-Fi.
– It’s very portable.
– It lets you create reports of the scans for later viewing and/or send them to your
  customers.
– Good battery life.

Cons

– It comes with only 1 year of free updates.
– There have been several complains about the battery recharging time compared to other
  devices.

Conclusion: Autel MaxiSys MS906BT is one of the favourite tools of car enthusiasts and car shop owners. It’s a great professional tool and, with the addition of a bluetooth interface, it’s a great and handy product to have in your garage.

The 2 best devices on our list:

We gave you an extensive list of bidirectional scantools ordered by price. The idea is to give you a glimpse of what you can find on the market and see what is best for you.
In our opinion, there are some devices that should be on this list, but we have decided to choose two to make it less confusing. However, with all this data and depending on your budget, now you have the information to pick the best that suits your needs.

And the winners are…

Launch X431 Pro 3 as the best top range professional tool

We chose this device because of its brand, Launch is an excellent brand, (all the others are too), but most of all because it has a big screen, it’s wireless, its functions deserve an article in their own right, for they are countless, really. The customer support is great in every part of the world and you can get it for pretty less money than the Autel MS906BT. Besides, it comes with 3 years of free updates, and they are constantly upgrading their database and expanding the functions and the vehicles that can be scanned by this tool.
In addition, it’s the tool that comes ready to work with the most cars without having to spend an extra dime over the purchase price of the product.

Foxwell NT650 as the best affordable tool

This tool is really a surprise. It has many functions that only scanners of almost 10 times its price bring and it’s compatible with a lot of makes and models of vehicles.
It has lifetime updates, and it’s a good choice for DIYers and mechanics who are starting their own business or who want a scantool to do quick scans.

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