Gone are the days when you needed a stand alone OBD-II reader tied with a cable to the OBD port of your car. Now you can turn your Android or iPhone smartphone into a car diagnostic tool. All you will need is an ELM327 bluetooth adapter. (What is ELM327?) The OBD II Bluetooth adapters not only read and erase the check engine light (CEL) but can also stream live data from the different sensors of the car. The best part is that most of these adapters cost under $100. With so many options out there we decided to review several and here are our top picks. First let’s watch this quick video so you can see how easy and powerful these OBD-II scanners are.
These scanners work with any vehicle with an OBD 2 port. All cars made after 1996 sold in USA should have an OBD-II port.
Average Cost $99
The BlueDriver Bluetooth scanner is one the most popular devices and that’s for a good reason. This scanner works with both iPhone and Android phones. It even works with the iPad. Besides reading and erasing the check engine light it lets you do other things such as: display vehicle info, display VIN, assembly location, engine data, fuel economy. All these outputs can be saved or printed if you like. Another great feature of BlueDriver is that it will tell you if the car is ready to pass the emission test / smog readiness test. You will also be able to run repair reports. If you get a check engine code, the software will give you some ideas as what could be the issue and suggest possible solutions for your particular make and model.
- Compatible with iPhone, Android, iPad
- Free software, BlueDriver App
- Save or print all your saved data and reports.
- Vehicle specific repair reports. (FREE)
- Check emission inspection,smog test status.
Average Cost: $25
The least expensive alternative is also one of the most popular OBD2 Bluetooth adapters. It will allow you to read both generic and manufacturer specific trouble codes. The adapter does come with a software but many users prefer to use this with the Torque App. Why? This adapter becomes a very powerful tool when combined with Torque Pro app which you can get from the Play Store.
There are a lot of fake adapters out there that try to copy BAFX Bluetooth adapter so be careful. The fake adapters have comparability issues and bluetooth problems so stay away from them. You can get the authentic adapter on Amazon, see here.
- Easily read check engine light and reset.
- Monitor live sensor data such as O2, Engine RPM, Throttle position, speed fuel trim and a lot more.
- Check emission readiness.
- Keep track of your 0-60 mph times.
- The original adapter by BAFX Products is more stable, has faster data transfer rate, should not have any issues.
- The cheapest OBD II bluetooth adapter (excluding fake products)
Average Cost $99
ScanTool Bluetooth adapter will turn your Android smartphone or Windows PC into a scanner. Sorry Apple iPhone users, this is not for you. If you would like a compatible adapter made by ScanTool check out the OBDLink MX Wi-Fi. Comes with it’s own software but can also be used with the app of your choice. It supports all OBD-2 protocols plus it supports SW-CAN an MS-CAN protocols.
- Fast communication with your car’s ECU which is helpful if you want to look at live data.
- Comes with ScanTool.net OBDwiz software, free.
- Compatible with 3rd party apps such as Torque and Dashcommand
Average Cost: $80-$120
Here is another adapter that works both on Android and Apple smartphones. Besides reading and erasing the check engine light this Bluetooth OBD II adapter will allow you to save maintenace records, save trip data, fuel economy MPG consumption. Most of this data can be streamed in real time. It will read most European, Asian and Domestic vehicles. The fuel consumption test is designed to help the driver understand their driving habits and help them drive more efficiently. While this is a good app, it has only one disadvantage. It only works with the proprietary app thus you can’t use any other apps such as Torque. Compatible with OBDII Protocols: CAN J1850PWM, J1850VPW, IS09141 and KWP2000
Using a OBD II Bluetooth adapter in your car is easy. You can watch the video below or follow these steps: Install the software that comes with the device or download the Torque app from the store. Go to your phone settings and enable Bluetooth devices. Plug in the adapter of your choice, see list below, into the OBD II port located under the dash on the drivers side, usually right above the gas or the brake pedal. Open the software installed earlier and you are good to go.