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How Do I Know What Scan Tool I Need?

Navigating through the maze of information and misinformation online can leave you feeling overwhelmed when searching for the right tool to meet your needs. With countless options available and the added complexity of ensuring compatibility with your vehicle, the process can be downright confusing. We understand this struggle all too well, as it's something we encounter daily.

That's why we're here – to lend a helping hand!

Figuring out which Scan Tool is the right one for you can feel like a daunting task, especially for beginners. To simplify the process, we've crafted this guide to assist you in finding the scanner that best suits your requirements. Whether you're primarily concerned with reading and clearing engine codes or require more advanced functionalities such as addressing airbag and ABS issues, we've got you covered with a range of options. Additionally, we offer tools tailored to specific brands like BMW, as well as trade-specific equipment such as key programmers for locksmiths.

To guide you in finding the ideal tool for your needs, simply follow the steps below.

The first question we ask is..

1. Home or Professional use?

First of all, are you looking at buying a scanner for use at home on your cars or are you a professional garage which needs a scanner which will cover a greater range of vehicles? If your needs extend to covering OBDI and OBDII cars across all systems, we recommend exploring the following models:

  • Autel MK808 - An entry level professional diagnostic scan tool.
  • Launch X431 ProS V5.0 - An extremely popular, Bi-directional scan tool offering OEM level diagnostics at a great price.

  • Launch X431 Pro 5 - A Professional scan tool equipped with the J2534 Pass thru device for ECU programming and capable of covering 24V systems with the add-on module.
  • Autel MaxiSys MS906 Pro Bi-directional Professional Scan Tool - The most popular high end professional scan tool offering comprehensive vehicle coverage. Packed with an array of advanced features, it delivers exceptional speed and efficiency in diagnostic operations.

  • Topdon Phoenix Max Professional Diagnostic Scan Tool 12/24 V With Or Without Truck Adapter Kit - The most popular professional scan tool in the market with noticeably more capabilities than other acclaimed models. It is the model of choice for any automotive specialist wanting to achieve higher levels of productivity and provide a wider scope of services on all vehicle models for valued clients.


If you are a mechanic that requires a basic tool, home user or maybe a small car dealer read on.

2. Is your car OBD2 compliant?

While it is hard to say that all cars are OBD2 Scan Tool compliant from a certain date, a good guideline for car compliance would be:

American Vehicles:

  • 1996 onwards

European Vehicles:

  • 2001 onwards for Petrol
  • 2004 onwards for Diesel

Australian Vehicles:

  • Holden from 2006 - Commodore from VZ
  • AU Ford from 2006 - Falcon from BA, Ranger from 2007

Japanese Vehicles:

These vary by manufacturer and even model but all are OBD2 from 2008

  • Honda from 2001
  • Hyundai from 2001
  • Kia from 2006
  • Mazda from 2001
  • Mitsubishi from 2006
  • Nissan from 2007
  • Subaru from 2003 (engine codes only - full OBD2 from 2008)
  • Suzuki from 2006
  • Toyota from 2006
  • Toyota Diesel from 2008

Please note that some models will be OBD2 compliant from earlier than these dates, this is just a guide to show your what should safely be OBD2 compliant This is a helpful guide to determining if your car is OBD2 compliant but if you are still unsure please don't hesitate to contact us.

If you can see your car falls under the above category then you can choose any scanner from the selection safely.

3. My Car is not OBD2 compliant:

If your car isn't OBD2 compliant, it likely operates on its own manufacturer-specific diagnostic system, commonly referred to as an OBD1 system. In this case, your optimal choice for a scanner would be among single-make tools or selecting an all make compatible diagnostic tool such as the CG SULIT GC680 or Autel MK808S.


We also highly recommend the Topdon Artidiag800BT and the Topdon Artidiag900BT. See the differences below:

ArtiDiag800 BT ArtiDiag900 BT
Display 6 Inch 7 Inch
Ram 2G 2G
Rom 16/32G 32G
Battery 3100mAh 6300mAh
Full System
Read DTCs
Clear DTCs
Data Stream
Read ECU Information
Bi-Directional Control X
Special Function X
ECU Coding X
Vehicle Coverage 110+ 130+
Auto VIN
Software Languages 17 18


For those seeking a cost-effective solution to work with their OBD1 vehicle, the CGSULIT CG580 stands out as the most budget-friendly option. With the capability to program up to 5 vehicle makes and offering a vast array of functions, including ECU programming, it provides exceptional value for money. Alternatively, single-brand scan tools are an excellent choice if you only require the tool for a specific car or brand. Despite being highly advanced, they remain affordable, making them a practical option for those with singular automotive needs.

4. My Car is OBD2 compliant:

If your car is OBD2 compliant, you have a plethora of options to choose from. It largely depends on whether you prefer a handheld unit or something that integrates with your smartphone.

Handheld Units

These are standalone units powered directly by the car battery, making them convenient to use – just plug in and start scanning. If you're simply looking for a scanner to read and clear engine fault codes, the ANCEL AS100 offers a basic and cost-effective solution.

For those desiring deeper diagnostics capabilities, including reading live data from engine sensors, generating diagnostic reports, and testing O2 and emissions systems, the Topdon AL300 is a solid choice.

If you want a basic scanner that will read your Australian built Holden or Ford we recommend the Topdon AL200 or the Topdon AL300.


IPhone, Ipad and Android Units

The most user friendly plug in device is the NEXPEAK. It works off ELM327 interface. Apple products do not work with cheaper Bluetooth units so this wifi unit has been built to work with apple devices as well as android. It will provide both live data and engine code reading and clearing.

If you are wanting a Bluetooth plug in device that goes more in depth and allows you to monitor exactly what's going on with your vehicle the Thinkdiag Mini is very popular offering great value for money and allows you to access every available module in the vehicle from your mobile phone. The Thinkdiag mini comes with one brand of software for free.

If you want a bluetooth option to cover multiple brands the XTool A30M is a popular option as you are not limited to only one brand and they have free lifetime updates.

The Bluedriver LSB2 is another popular option for a plug in device that works through your mobile phone however the Thinkdiag mini does offer you more in depth information and functionality.


If you have any questions please reach out to us at sales@premiumdiagnostics.com.au

6 Responses



December 07, 2020




December 07, 2020




December 07, 2020




December 07, 2020




December 07, 2020


Geoffrey Hall

Geoffrey Hall

September 22, 2020

What option do you have for obd1 cars

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