Actron CP9580A Review

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Review of: Actron CP9580A

Product Type: Handheld Unit

Reviewed by: Alex Meyer

Quality of Build

Value For Money

Ease of Use

What We Like

  • Compact, lightweight and built like a tank
  • Easy car and PC computer connectivity for updates and printing code reports
  • Battery backup for use when not connected to OBD II port and power

What We Don't Like

  • Model is currently discontinued, but the Actron CP9680 offers the same features plus a full color LCD display
  • No Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity
  • Cannot reset Electronic Suspension Control or Airbag trouble codes.

Handheld OBD II scanners all have their own heft and feel. Choosing one that’s easy to operate one-handed is every automotive technician’s and home mechanic’s best option, and the Actron CP9580A is purpose built with this feature in mind.

This is an updated version from the CP9580 we reviewed here. You can see how both compare here.

The arrow keys use a slightly different configuration with up and down buttons directly adjacent and left and right controls on either side. It seems counterintuitive at first, but given how most users will be scrolling rather than moving menus side-to-side it’s much easier to use.

The grips are rubberized and textured, so there’s no reason to worry about accidentally dropping your scanner while pulling OBD II codes

The connector cable is also sturdy and easily handles any twists or stretching you may need to do to read the scanner even if the OBD II port is less accessible from the driver’s side door or while driving the vehicle.

Best of all, the CP9580A is also brightly colored, so you aren’t going to be constantly trying to find it on your tool bench while diagnosing trouble codes.

Actron CP9580A Review

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Connectivity

The CP9580A can read ECU codes on CAN and OBD II vehicles model year 1996 and newer. Plug the connector end into the vehicle’s ECU port, power the device on and you’re ready to pull a code report, freeze-frame, or stream live data. This device also supports database and firmware updates via a PC with internet.

That means you can update the stored codes on the scanner with the latest information from car manufacturers and their authorized service centers.

More importantly, syncing your scanner up with an internet connected computer also updates the recommended fix descriptions on the device. 

While it doesn’t offer wireless connectivity for code reading and updating, it’s still easy to keep your device up to date.

Functionality

When your're trouble shooting a diagnostic code problem on a car, you don't have extra time to do research.

The CP9580A offers the ability to read full code summaries and suggested fixes right on the large backlit LCD display. 

That means less time searching through technical service bulletins online or in a manual filing system. Shops trying to minimize labor costs  or DIY mechanics looking to save time will find this to be a critical feature that makes your CP9580A indispensable for automotive diagnostic and repair work.

The freeze-frame feature also lets you take a snapshot of a vehicle’s operational stats from across the entire controller area network linked to the electronic control unit.

Diagnostic trouble codes can only take you so far when it comes to pinpointing a specific cause for car problems, so the ability to take real time readings and save them is invaluable to getting the right fix the first time.

Furthermore, you can connect this scanner up to your PC and print out freeze-frame reports for customer service files to share with other technicians and mechanics.

Everyone needs help or a second pair of eyes on a problem now and then, and the ability to print and share the OBD II data can make solving complex problems significantly easier.

Last but not least, the CP9580A supports live engine and ECU telemetry while test-driving. This useful feature can make all the difference when you are trying to diagnose a problem with a vehicle that only occurs under specific conditions.

A technician can easily glance down at the scanner during a test drive and make connections between what a car does when accelerating, braking, climbing, descending or turning, simplifying the troubleshooting process significantly.

  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: No
  • ABS/ESP Compatibility: The scanner can read most automatic braking system codes, but it does not read electronic suspension control trouble codes.
  • Engine Codes: Vehicles 1996 and newer with the latest database update
  • Freeze Frame: Yes
  • Memory Card Support: No
  • Data Stream: Yes
  • Smog Test:  Yes (includes emissions testing via the ECU)
  • Code Key For Quick Reference: Yes, it displays right on the main screen when viewing saved trouble codes.
  • ECU Reprogramming: No
  • Check Engine Light Reset: Yes

Ease of Use

Your OBD II scan tool needs to be simple and efficient. Take it out of your overalls pocket or off the tool bench, plug it in and get a code reading.

There are no complicated menus or inscrutable code numbers you need to look up online. 

Everything is displayed convenient for you on the large backlit LCD display.

More importantly, the text size can be adjusted in settings so you don’t have to squint to read what the code means or what the TSB recommended fixes or service protocols are to fix the problem. 


Learning to use this device takes less time than learning a new smartphone, and it’s built tough enough to stand the daily drops and rough handling that comes with use in a car shop.

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Conclusion

The Actron CP9580A makes a great “daily carry” OBD II scan tool for general troubleshooting and diagnostic work on cars sold in the United States.

It’s light, has a battery backup, and can receive regular updates via a Windows PC.

While it has a few minor drawbacks, you won’t find a better fit for your needs whether you're a certified automotive repair technician or a DIY mechanic tinkering in your own garage.

The model being discontinued by the manufacturer means it’s not easy to get your hands on this specific model, but the upgrade Actron CP9680 offers even more features for the same price. Check these handheld scanners out when you get the chance. You’ll be glad you did.

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