Actron 9680 Review

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QUICK OVERVIEW

Review of: Actron 9680

Product Type:  Handheld Unit

Reviewed by: Alex Meyer

Quality of Build

Value For Money

Ease of Use

What We Like

  • Easy access to Code Connect, which illustrates common fixes for OBD2 problems
  • Works on airbag codes for most makes and models
  • Delivers freeze frame data for easy reference
  • Record and playback live engine information
  • Comes with a component locator for your vehicle

What We Don't Like

  • Not all makes and models for certain years are compatible
  • May not work on resetting airbag codes for some vehicles
  • Not designed for most foreign cars

When comparing different OBD2 scanners, it can sometimes seem like they all have the same features. While that is mostly true, this model from Actron offers a bit more functionality and user insight so that you can make repairing your car even easier.

There's an updated version called CP9608a you can check out here.

In some cases, you may not have to take it to a mechanic, making this scanner one of the most valuable on the market.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why we like the Actron 9680.

Actron 9680 Review

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Look and Feel

When it comes to OBD2 scanners, there are two primary schools of thought. First, some of these devices are compact so that you can fit them in your pocket or glove compartment, making them even more portable and accessible.

Second, some scanners are a bit bulkier and heavier, but the reason is that they offer more screen space and menu options. The Actron 9680 is firmly in this group, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your preferences.

For our money, we appreciate a larger model because it’s so much easier to tell what the code is and see the data from your vehicle. While compact scanners can help you diagnose problems on the road, this unit is going to be much more insightful overall.

The size of the 9680 can take a little while to get used to, but the screen resolution is incredible. Also, because this model offers more information and details about your car’s issues, having this extra real estate comes in handy more often than not.

The buttons on this scanner are also helpful. With some of the smaller models, it’s difficult to hit the right button the first time. In some cases, you can spend more effort navigating through different screens to find the data you need.

This layout is both intuitive and tactile, making it accessible for everyone, even those who aren’t much of a gearhead.

Connectivity

For some users, a wireless OBD2 scanner is the best option because you can keep the transmitter plugged into your car at all times. While this model doesn’t have that option, it can sometimes be preferable.

The reason we like the standard 16-pronged connector is that you get more reliable feedback from your car. Wireless transmissions can be spotty at times, particularly if you’re out on the road. Although Bluetooth offers a more direct connection, those transmitters can drain your vehicle battery if you’re not careful.

The Actron 9680 doesn’t just connect to your car, either. You get access to Code Connect, which is a library of over 26 million fixes for common issues. One of the most significant drawbacks to OBD2 scanners is that you have to look up what a code means and what to do about it. With this unit, all of that information comes standard.

Functionality

Compared to most other “basic” OBD2 scanners, the Actron 9680 is miles above the rest. While it’s not the most sophisticated unit on the market, it does offer some incredible features that make it a worthwhile auto companion.

One thing that we should mention is that this model is not designed for foreign vehicles. Although it does offer codes and fixes for standard brands like Toyota and Hyundai, you shouldn’t try to connect it to cars made in other countries (i.e., Mercedes or BMW).

That being said, you shouldn’t have an issue finding the right code for the following brands: Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, Hyundai, Chrysler, and Nissan. As with all OBD2 scanners, as long as your car is from 1996 or later, this unit is compatible.

Here is a brief overview of the other functions that come with this machine.

Freeze Frame Data

When scanning your car, it helps to get a comprehensive view of what’s going on underneath the hood. Freeze Framing provides a snapshot of your vehicle’s performance so that you can identify current and potential engine problems.

Live Data Graphing and Recording

Although a snapshot is helpful, it doesn’t give you insight into how the car runs over time. Live graphing functionality allows you to keep the vehicle running so that you can see any problems and how they impact the engine.

Best of all, you can record and playback the live stream for comparison later. Or, if you take your car to a mechanic, he or she can get a better idea of what’s wrong.

Airbag and ABS Codes

Although most OBD2 scanners are much more functional today than they were in the beginning, some models are only designed for engine codes. That means that other vehicle systems like the brakes and airbags are inaccessible.

Fortunately, if you see a dashboard light for your ABS or airbag system, you can reset the code with this device. However, we highly recommend getting your vehicle checked out by a professional for safety reasons.

If you don’t fix your airbag correctly and you reset the code, it could lead to complications if and when the airbag deploys. Because the health and safety of you and your passengers could be at risk, you don’t want to handle these issues by yourself.

Monitor Your Electrical Systems

Another part of your car that other scanners may not be able to check is the electrical system. This system includes components like your battery, alternator, and charger. Although the 9680 can’t reset these lights, you can monitor these elements to make sure that they are operating correctly.

Component Locator

Finally, the one function we like as much as Code Connect is the Component Locator. In this menu, you can get a detailed description of where the faulty part is within your engine. All too often, the code will simply state the malfunctioning piece, meaning that you have to hunt it down.

With this menu option, fixing various engine problems is much easier. In some cases, you may not have to take your car into the mechanic for simple repairs. Save time and money with this tool.

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Conclusion

Overall, the most substantial limitation of this scanner is that it won’t work on foreign-made vehicles. However, if you have one of the brands listed, you should be able to take care of most engine problems and lights with this device.

We like that the 9680 has additional functions, including looking up repair codes, locating the faulty parts in your engine, and the ability to reset airbags and ABS. Overall, if you’re looking for a tool that can help you maintain your vehicle more efficiently, this is an excellent choice.

Summary
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Actron 9680
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