No matter what kind of car you drive, you want to make sure that it’s in peak condition at all times. While you could take it into a mechanic to have it inspected regularly, that’s not very cost-effective, mainly if all you need is a diagnostic.
Fortunately, there are plenty of diagnose tools for cars and programs out there that can make it easier for you to inspect your car. To make things even more convenient, you can download apps to your phone or mobile device, further enabling you to diagnose your vehicle on the go.
Today we’re going to be looking at the best OBD2 apps, as well as the adapters you’ll need to attach them to your car. Whether you’re an auto enthusiast or you just want a quick and easy way to monitor your vehicle’s health, these apps will be invaluable.
Now quick note, things depend a little bit on what phone you use.
|TOP PICK!||1. BlueDriver
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|2. OBD Car Doctor Pro
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|4. Torque Lite
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|5. Car Scanner ELM OBD2
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Our Recommended best OBD2 Apps
When picking out any kind of scanning tool for your car, you can either opt for something that’s meant for casual users or something designed for professionals. If you’re interested in the latter, then BlueDriver is an excellent choice.
I like that this scanning app gives you total control over the information you receive, as well as a complete suite of diagnostic options for keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape. Let’s see what it can do for you.
Scan and Clear All OBD2 Codes
Ever since OBD2 codes became the standard in 1996, all vehicles are required to have them at the ready when you use a device like this.
The primary purpose of an OBD2 scanner is to figure out what your check engine light means. Since there are so many internal components in the engine, having a list of diagnostic trouble codes helps you understand what’s going on beneath the hood at any given time.
Thankfully, BlueDriver takes things a step further by enabling you to diagnose a wide array of systems in your vehicle, including the airbags, brakes, and oil system. Although the engine contains most of the vital elements of your car, these peripheral items are also essential.
Compared to other OBD2 apps, BlueDriver gives you a better look at what’s happening in your vehicle so that you can decide to either take it to a professional or fix the issue yourself.
One problem with many standard OBD2 scanners is that they only tell you the codes for the engine and little else. While that can be helpful for determining what’s wrong, it doesn’t do much for preventative maintenance.
Fortunately, BlueDriver gives you a more comprehensive view of your car’s internal workings by providing real-time scanning and data.
The reports you get are detailed and thorough, and they give you much better insight into how your car works and how well it’s operating at any given time. Simply put, if you want to be sure that your vehicle is running smoothly, having access to these reports is a huge benefit.
Wireless Bluetooth Integration
If you shop around for different OBD2 scanners, you’ll notice that a lot of them are wired to your car manually. While this setup does provide reliable information and a much stronger connection, it also means that you have to stay tethered to the vehicle to get any kind of readings.
Thankfully, when you download and install an OBD2 app like BlueDriver, you get a wireless connection to your car. As long as you have a compatible adapter, you can diagnose what’s happening beneath the hood from almost anywhere.
Adapter: BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone, iPad & Android
As I mentioned, you have to buy this particular adapter for the BlueDriver app. However, what’s nice about that is you don’t have to worry about syncing the app to the adapter as you would with a third-party option.
Another excellent feature of this device (which we’ll see a lot) is the fact that you can leave it plugged into your car. It shouldn’t drain the battery unless you leave your vehicle unattended for days on end.
Read our full review of the Bluedriver Bluetooth here
2. OBD Car Doctor Pro
With some OBD2 apps, you have to buy a proprietary adapter for it to work correctly. So, when comparing different options, you’ll want to keep that in mind, particularly if you have an adapter already (or want the option to switch programs later on).
Fortunately, the Car Doctor Pro is a multi-use app that works with various adapters, so you don’t have to worry about shelling out extra for a name-brand device. Also, it can download on both Android and iPhone, making it even more versatile.
Real Time Fuel Monitoring
With many modern OBD2 scanners, you can monitor your car in real time. While this helps with things like engine performance and brake systems, you usually don’t get much insight into your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
With the Car Doctor Pro, however, you can see how well your car is using fuel at any time, even while you’re on the road. I don’t recommend using the app while driving, but you can have a passenger check for you, or you can look at it when you arrive at your destination.
Overall, if you want to maximize your fuel savings, then this is the app to get.
Check Engine and Other Internal Systems
Another thing that I like about most modern OBD2 scanners is that they have graduated way beyond the scope of the check engine light.
With the Car Doctor Pro, you can monitor all kinds of systems inside your car, including the brakes, airbags, oil, and fuel (obviously). With that kind of versatility, you’ll be sure to utilize this app all the time, even when things seem to be running smoothly.
Part of the reason I like being able to check a variety of internal systems is that doing so can give you much better insight into how your car wears down over time. You can track the progress of things like fuel consumption and oil changes to see how they impact your vehicle’s health in the long run.
Works With Third-Party Adapters
As I’ve mentioned, this app works with almost any third-party adapter. However, that being said, the one that I’ve listed directly below is probably the best option, considering that it can handle all of the diagnostic tools that the app delivers.
Adaptor: Foseal Car WIFI OBD 2 OBD2 OBDII Scan Tool Foseal Scanner Adapter Check Engine Light Diagnostic Tool for iOS & Android
Technically speaking, this OBD2 adapter for your car can be used with a variety of apps on your phone or mobile device. Thankfully, though, this particular device pairs well with most apps, including the Doctor Pro.
What I like about this adapter is that it works with both Android and iPhone, as well as the fact that it can connect to all of your car’s internal systems. While that won’t help if you don’t have a reader that can handle all of that data, it’s nice to know that you have more than enough support.
Next, we have another OBD2 app that requires a proprietary adapter. However, with so many tools at your fingertips, this isn’t really an issue. Also, there are many different adapter options, so you still have choices available for this professional-grade system.
Although you may not think that being able to customize your dashboard would be much of a benefit, it can make a significant difference in the usability of any app.
When you consider how much data you can monitor, as well as the sheer number of makes and models out there, customization ensures that you don’t waste time sifting through details that are irrelevant to your car.
Also, changing the look of the app helps it become more intuitive, which is always a plus.
Real-Time and Freeze Frame Data
As I mentioned, many modern OBD2 scanners allow you to scan your vehicle in real time. This function is beneficial, particularly if you’re trying to perform preventative maintenance on it. Being able to get a birds-eye view of your engine helps you spot potential issues before they take over.
Another benefit is having freeze frame data. This setting allows you to get a quick glimpse of what’s happening without having to turn the car on or keep it running for a while. Overall, having both settings in the app ensure that you get a better understanding of its performance.
Unlimited App Updates
As with any technology, OBD2 apps and scanners have to be updated, lest they become obsolete. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that with OBDLink, since you get unlimited updates for life. Never worry about having to buy a new program down the line.
Adaptor: OBDLink ScanTool OBDLink MX Bluetooth: Professional Grade OBD-II Automotive Scan Tool for Windows and Android
Although you do have to buy this particular adapter for the OBDLink app, it’s one of the best on the market, so don’t feel bad about it. This device is faster and more reliable than most, and it can stay plugged into your car without draining the battery. Also, it’s compatible with both Android and iPhone systems.
4. Torque Lite
As the name suggests, this OBD2 scanner is a lite version of a more complete option. While I would typically recommend the full version, the Torque Lite is perfect for casual users who want to be able to diagnose check engine lights, but not perform repairs in their garage.
OBD2 Scanning and Resetting
Overall, OBD2 scanners are simply meant to tell you why a dashboard light came on, and this app does precisely that. Assuming that you’re not interested in doing a deep dive into your car’s performance or engine systems, this app is perfectly designed for a quick and easy diagnosis.
Intuitive Menu Display
Compared to other OBD2 apps, this one is much easier to read and understand the data. Also, you can customize the look and feel of the menu, which helps you save time during the diagnostic phase, as well as become more comfortable with the various tools and options.
Logs Data for Long-Term Tracking
Although the Torque Lite is missing a lot of the professional-grade features, one thing that’s really nice is that it will log data internally. Thus, if you want to keep track of your car’s performance over the long term, this app will enable you to do that.
Adaptor: Veepeak Mini WiFi OBD2 Scanner Compatible iOS and Android
This adapter doesn’t have much in particular to offer, but it does work with this app, and it’s compatible with both Android and iPhone. It can access various parts of your car’s internal systems, but if you only use the Torque Lite version, then you won’t have to worry about that anyway.
5. Car Scanner ELM OBD2
Our final OBD2 app is both highly sensitive and limited in scope. I would highly recommend this version for drivers who want to be more in tune with their vehicle’s performance without having to go too deep into the particulars of how the engine works.
That being said, this is one of the more intuitive and comprehensive OBD2 apps that doesn’t come with high-end features, so it should be an excellent choice, provided that it’s compatible with your make and model.
Cars these days don’t rely on analog parts and components to work. Instead, they have an onboard computer that checks everything thousands of times per day.
Fortunately, you can tap into that computer with this device. Although this app doesn’t have all makes and models, as long as you have one that’s compatible, you can see a lot more information than you could with most other OBD2 apps.
Customizable Menu Layout
As I’ve mentioned with other apps on this list, there’s something really helpful about being able to adjust the layout to fit your needs. Not only can you remove any redundant information that doesn’t apply to your car, but you can see everything easier and faster.
The look and feel of this app are more than polished enough to work for both casual drivers and hardcore auto enthusiasts.
HUD Can Project on Your Windshield
One interesting feature of this app is that you can project the display onto your car’s windshield. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that while driving, it can be helpful when in the garage since it will be easier to read all of the data.
Overall, this function isn’t a necessary component of the app, but it’s a nice bonus that can make it more fun and more accessible to the average driver.
Adaptor: Kitbest Bluetooth OBD OBD2 Scanner Adapter for Android
This particular adapter doesn’t work with iPhone, so keep that in mind. Also, syncing between this and the app can be glitchy at times. Nonetheless, it’s a simple wireless connection that can be left plugged in without draining your vehicle’s battery.
We’ve taken a look at some of the best OBD2 scanning apps, but if you want the best of the best, then nothing compares to the BlueDriver system.
I like this app/adapter combo because it’s made for professionals. Even if you’re not prepared to take a more involved approach to DIY maintenance, it’s much better to have a high-end diagnostic tool than something less involved.
I love that the app can monitor almost all of your car’s various components, as well as provide insight into how to perform repairs and other updates as necessary. I also appreciate the fact that the adapter can stay plugged into your vehicle for real-time streaming wherever you are.