Are you a BMW owner looking for ways to get more out of your driving experience? Installing an OBD2 scanner is a great way to do this.
BMW cars have become increasingly sophisticated over the years; they are now some of the most advanced vehicles on the market. To make sure that you can use all the features of your vehicle, having access to diagnostic technology is paramount.
For those looking for a tool that can help read, analyze, and clear diagnostic error codes, investing in a high-quality OBD scanner is a good idea. By adding this to your kit, you make sure that you don’t always have to head out to the automotive shop to fix problems with your vehicle.
This article will discuss what an OBD2 scanner is and why it’s important for any BMW owner. We will also look at some of the best OBD2 scanner for BMW models and provide guidelines on how to choose one that fits your needs.
What Is an OBD2 Scanner?
OBD scanners are portable, pocked sized devices that can provide important information about vehicle systems in real-time. They scan for issues and diagnose engine problems with a simple connection to the vehicle’s computer. This allows mechanics to quickly identify what needs repair as well as determine the root problem from the data gathered from the scan. With OBD scanners, drivers can save time, money, and effort when attending to any maintenance or repairs needed for their car.
Onboard Diagnostics is the second generation of these systems – OBD2 was designed to address flaws in the first-generation system and give customers an understanding of their car’s performance and condition. OBD2 can do this through advanced diagnostics like data logging, processing control functions, code reading, and testing functions. This allows owners to prevent expensive repairs or unexpected breakdown situations on the road.
OBD-II Scanner – How Does It Work?
An OBD-II Scanner is a diagnostic tool for diagnosing and repairing a vehicle’s mechanical and electrical systems. It connects to the Onboard Diagnostics (OBD) port of a car, truck, or SUV.
The OBD-II scanner collects data from the vehicle’s engine control module (ECM) and sends its readings to a laptop or smartphone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. The data collected can be diagnosed and logged by the ECM in order to help solve problems with the vehicle’s performance and functionality. The OBD-II scanner works by connecting it to the vehicle’s OBD port, which is under the steering wheel or below the dash panel.
After you have connected the code reader to your vehicle, you will be able to see fault codes that the electronic system within the car has recorded. The OBD2 scanner will display these engine codes, and some of these scanners will have a description of them within the system itself. Or you can simply Google it and find the code explanation so that you can solve the problem.
Types of OBD Scanners
OBD scanners come in a variety of types. Depending on your needs, any of these types of scanners can help diagnose issues with your vehicle’s onboard systems.
- Code readers are OBD2 scanners that are primarily designed to read and delete diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). These scanners are cost-efficient and provide simple troubleshooting for vehicle owners who want to perform DIY diagnostics.
- Full scanners have a wide range of functions, such as displaying live data and graphing sensor readings. They are appropriate for home mechanics who want to identify and remediate complicated issues.
- Professional scanners are advanced tools designed for professional mechanics and technicians. These scanners can perform various diagnostics through engine code readers and have additional features.
- Wireless and Bluetooth OBD2 scanners allow for wireless data transfer and display real-time data on a mobile device. They are convenient and portable, making them ideal for on-the-go diagnostics.
- Handheld Scanners are OBD2 scanners with a screen that is suitable for displaying live data, as well as DTCs. These scanners are compatible with mobile mechanics who require a diagnostic tool to use away from the workshop.
- PC-based scanners are OBD2 scanners that connect to a computer or laptop and display live data and graph sensor readings. They are suitable for professional mechanics who require extensive diagnostic capabilities with their system.
When selecting an OBD scanner, it is important to be aware that not all scanners are suitable for newer vehicles. The OBD2 scanner handles a wide range of models, but for specific types of cars like BMWs, specific scan tools are crafted specifically for that type of vehicle.
Who Needs an OBD2 Scanner Tool?
This powerful tool is essential for mechanics and car owners alike – access data from your vehicle’s onboard computer, diagnose any engine issues, and unlock the secrets of your vehicle. Mechanics can identify problems easily, while car owners unlock hidden possibilities.
Using a scanner tool’s basic function and diagnostic features with compatible vehicle models to diagnose and service them can be incredibly beneficial. Scanner tools help pinpoint problems quickly, allowing technicians to get right to work. They provide detailed information about the system, how it works, what is wrong, what needs to be done, and more. Additionally, they offer features like checking engine codes and data logging that are otherwise not easily available.
So, if your BMW has started showing warning lights or even a few of the BMW proprietary codes, you may be searching for an OBD2 scanner. To help you, we have constructed a comprehensive list of some of the best OBD2 scanners for BMW vehicles today.
Review of OBD2 Scanner for BMW
Before choosing any OBD2 scanner, it is important to remember that some models cover a certain range of vehicles. There is no rule of thumb to go by, it takes some light reading of the basic features to determine which one will work best with your vehicle.
Using a scanning tool that supports the broadest range of vehicle types can sometimes have limited functionality. Also, to be 100% sure that the adapter you are interested in covers your car model, make sure to check the coverage comparison chart or do a quick scan of the terms of vehicle coverage in the product description or manual.
- Multiple languages with real-time engine data
- Compliant with EBD regulations.
- Comes with a lifetime warranty of software updates.
- Some users have found the graph visual quite complex
- Have to pay for advanced diagnostics on non-BMW model support
The Foxwell NT510 Elite OBD2 system scanner offers cost-efficient and time-saving scan functions and additional features that add value to the tool. This can be an affordable pick for any BMW owner who wants to regularly maintain their vehicle.
This is one of the scan tools that work on BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce from 1987 to 2022. The FOXWELL NT510 Elite Code Reader is compatible with global OBD1 /OBD2/EOBD as well as 10 OBD test modes; with these features, it can be said that it is the best OBD scanner for BMW as it offers a range of OBD generations and a range of vehicles. When it comes to the advanced functions of the tool, it can read, clear, and turn off codes, as well as record live sensor data. It can also do active tests on components and specific systems.
The FOXWELL NT510 Elite is a handheld unit designed in a compact frame for improved portability. Its inclusion of older models back to 1987 makes it versatile, but on top of that, it has a paid patch that you can purchase to create even more versatility as it allows access to a wider range of manufacturers.
The overall diagnostic functionality of the Foxwell NT510 Elite Scanner is quite impressive as well. It has attractive features, as it covers both the standard and advanced that make it stand out. These include things like BMW-specific codes, battery registration, brake deactivation, and several service reset functions.
Terms of Vehicle Coverage
When purchasing a scanner, it is important to verify compatibility. To do so, make sure to supply details such as the model and year of your BMW car, vehicle identification number, and other key information. This will guarantee that you obtain an appropriate system reader for your automobile.
This diagnostic tool scanner comes with more than 31 special service functions. These special service functions will help you navigate your car with little stress as the machine helps in day-to-day vehicle maintenance. Besides the special functions, the scanner comes with an auto-VIN which helps you know the important information about your car. From its model to the year of manufacture, you will be able to match the right software for your car.
Not a Perfect Pick
When it comes to the FOXWELL OBD2 scanners, the FOXWELL NT510 Elite Full Systems Scanner is not perfect, though. In fact, the FOXWELL NT510 Elite Code Reader may cost a bit more on the back end, especially if you’re looking for it to be able to be used on the broadest range of models from other manufacturers. Along with this, the FOXWELL NT510 Elite Professional Automotive scan tool also has a fairly intricate graphing system that some find difficult to decode.
There are a lot of amazing features that the NT510 comes with, including:
- Reading/clearing trouble codes of all major systems
- Reset features for a wide range of systems
- Bi-directional control ability
- Advanced features, security access, and coding
- Freeze-frame capability
- Ability to playback live sensor data
- EPB caliper diagnosis capability
- Transmission code retrieval
- Can perform ECU resets.
- Easy to use
- Not capable of bi-directional control ability.
- The unit is not compatible with Mac software.
Most of us freak out when the check engine light goes on, and a great way to combat such anxiety is to start looking for a nice tool that can help some advanced home mechanics. But when you have a luxury vehicle like a BMW, that can be challenging. So, the AUTOPHIX 7910 is a handheld diagnostic tool that is functional and easy to use.
The unit is designed with a silicone keyboard and a color LCD. The Autophix 7910 is equipped with programming software covering six different test modes. It also has a range of features, like the ability to adjust the steering angle sensor and battery management. Along with this, the Autophix 7910 can handle the standard diagnostic trouble codes and BMC-specific ones.
The Autophix 7910 is designed to read and clear codes for all the major systems, including the brake, engine, and exhaust systems. This affordable tool includes the most common reset and repair functions and an easily updated file system.
Good Return Policy
The Autophix 7910 scanner may experience operational issues, which can be returned for free within 60 days of purchase for a refund or an exchange. Additionally, this scanner includes a two-year warranty as a guarantee of quality.
Professional mechanics suggest performing a full diagnosis of your BMW with an OBD 2 scanner in order to detect any car emissions problems, check the engine, and ensure optimal functionality.
Limited Compatability Tool
The best thing is that it is a versatile option that gives you extra options for analyzing fault codes in models from 1998 forward. Although there are a lot of great qualities when it comes to this OBD2 scanner, a few issues need to be addressed.
One of the biggest disappointments about this model is that it lacks bi-directional control ability and active test operation. This will limit the versatility of the unit. Regarding versatility, the unit software is not updatable for Mac or compatible with Mac devices.
- SRS EPB SAS TPS Active Test OIl Reset Battery Registration
- EVAP Test
- Reset Tool
- CBS correct
- DME/DDE Engine special functions
- Good balance of price, value, and versatility.
- Design simplicity and quality features like the LCD screen.
- Sporadic update issues.
- Issues with resetting generic error codes.
Car owners may be concerned when faced with engine trouble codes. However, this OBD2 scanner can provide peace of mind.
The screen size of this model is slightly smaller than other models, but it is still equipped with sufficient data to fix problems. The button interface might pose a challenge for some users, but they are arranged logically and feel nice to the touch.
The Creator diagnostic software includes special service functions, such as engine oil reset, throttle and maintenance, and battery registration. It can also provide detailed BMW diagnostics after reviewing the engine’s performance based on data gathered during the day.
This scanner uses cables, which decreases mobility but offers a more stable power supply. It is tailored for BMW cars and can read basic codes.
This unit is known for its versatility due to the different models and generic codes it can reset. Setup and use of the unit are straightforward, even for those who are not familiar with automotive tools. Additionally, a well-crafted LCD color screen is included, making this product a reasonable buy for the price.
Low Diagnostic Features
That being said, a few issues must be addressed before making a final decision. Many have found that the updates for the software can be quite challenging and slightly problematic. Along with this, the engine trouble codes have been known to provide issues when trying to reset them.
- Compatible with BMW models between 2001 and 2017 without an adaptor
- SRS/engine/transmission diagnoses scanner
- Read airbag fault codes and ABS problems
- Ability to check stability controls
- Comes with a carry pouch for easy storing ability.
- Steering angle sensor calibration feature.
- Superior vehicle system coverage.
- Multiple languages.
- Offers live data, including graphing.
- No print option is available.
- Lifetime updates are available on Windows.
- Updates are not compatible with Mac.
This next BMW Scanner is crafted with an ergonomic design. This updated version of the previous model has additional advanced functions available so that you will be able to maintain your car’s performance more thoroughly. The unit comes with a cable, carrying case, and manual.
This tool is the best OBD2 scanner for BMW in terms of vehicle coverage for BMW models from 1996 to 2017. Not only can it read and clear all trouble codes, but it is equipped with 10 different mode operations and a wealth of special service functions. Designed to be used in multiple languages, the unit is built to perform dynamic tests, including the ability to read pending DTCs.
The use of this scanner can help reduce the cost of repairs when it comes to your BMW. That’s why the designers decided to add a special range of features like throttle body adjustment and O2 sensor testing. But just because it has all these amazing special functions doesn’t mean there aren’t a few issues that need to be addressed.
Diagnostic Functionality- Both Good and Bad
The OBD2 scanner is an expert model with features such as steering angle sensor calibration and the ability to view data in multiple languages. In addition, it comes with a carrying pouch and the ability to be easily stored, making it a worthwhile investment.
This BMW diagnostic tool is equipped with fifteen dealership diagnostic features and offers services such as data collection review, oil service reset, battery management, and more.
Unfortunately, with just as many wonderful advantages as you can benefit from, there are a few issues. The unit itself is not designed to allow you to print out the codes. So this could be annoying if you’re trying to take down the codes for someone else to handle. Also, though it does come with updates, these updates are only for Windows, which means those with a Mac lose out.
- Electronic Parking Brake advanced functionality
- 10 modes of operation
- Read live data
- ECU diagnosis
- Dynamic test capabilities
- Battery registration
- Throttle body adjustment
- DPF regeneration
- O2 sensor test
- Evap system test
- Tablet-style diagnostic device with responsive system.
- Intuitive range of features, like Autobleed tests.
- Maximized speed due to a good processor.
- Supported by online manual links for repairs.
- Limited diagnostic functionality
- Some users have problems with the keys.
The Autel scanner is a prime example of a handheld scanner. Designed to be similar to a tablet and features touchscreen capabilities for navigation through the device and its functions. It has groups on either side of the scanner to improve comfortability with use.
This Autel Scanner has an Android OS, making it a user-friendly option. It is cord-operated and includes a built-in battery; thus, it must be plugged in while reading the BMW diagnostics. After finishing the scan, it can be disconnected. Furthermore, a Wi-Fi connection is available for downloading updates and searching repair links as needed.
BMW engines are equipped with diagnostic capabilities that allow you to input codes and receive potential solutions. Users can also use the system to reset the oil change date and have access to unlimited diagnostic tools and resources.
An Affordable Pick With Enhanced Codes
The OBD2 scanner system is great for vehicle maintenance. It is a tablet-based device with responsive and interval systems and online manuals for fixes. It also features advanced construction components for fast diagnosis results. Comfortable design and feel complete the package.
The Autel Scanner is cost-effective, offering injector coding, battery management, registration, and an anti-theft system.
Don’t worry about the Autel scanner; it works fine with BMWs—just update the software.
Professional Functions With a Limit
This model is generally a good option to invest money in. Still, some maintenance issues may not be detected, and there have been reports of problems with keys being unresponsive or difficult to reset.
- 28+ maintenance service professional functions
- Broad terms of vehicle coverage
- Bi-directional control ability
- Full system diagnostic functionality on OE-level
- Auto VIN & Auto Scan, inspection endoscope supported
How to Choose an OBD2 Scanner for BMW
When it comes to BMW vehicles, selecting the right OBD2 scanner can be a challenge. Whether you are an advanced home mechanic or a professional technician, it is important to understand your vehicle type and what specific functions your OBD2 scanner should include.
The perfect choice lies in the balance of price and diagnostics functionality. You might not need some professional functions, and even though they might seem like attractive features, your car might not need them. Make sure that your model is aligned with the OBD2 protocols because you want to get a reliable scan every time. Consider how easy it is to use the scanner and check online reviews to spot any potential issues with the device before making a purchase. These are important aspects when looking for a cost-effective diagnostic tool for your vehicle.
But how do you know which BMW scanner is the best onboard diagnostic tool for you? In order to do this, you have to understand what you’re looking for, and we have put together a quick buyer’s guide to help you do just that.
One of the most important aspects to really pay attention to is the advanced features that the unit is outfitted with. OBD2 readers will help you identify the standard codes as well as the proprietary BMW-specific fault codes.
But along with these, there will be additional advanced functions that could help you identify the problem in a timelier fashion.
Standard features might include:
- Check engine light reset
- Freeze frame data
- Live readings
- Data export
Advanced functions that could be available in the scanner are:
- SRS EPB SAS TPS Active test oil reset battery registration
- Bi-directional /active test operation
- Idle up manual control test
- Actuator tests
- Other advanced options
Connectivity and a smartphone android application are also something to look into. There are two different options when it comes to these diagnostic tools: you have a wire version vs. a wireless version.
Of course, a wired version may be more cost-effective and has some benefits, but most look to invest in one that offers Bluetooth connectivity and supports other devices. The best OBD2 Bluetooth scanner for BMW offers more benefits. Having the ability to utilize your smart devices to monitor and use your scanner can be quite helpful. This is why a lot of OBD2 scanners come with a third-party app that does just that.
Like anything else, you may be looking for something that fits your budget, so you’re probably looking for their portable option that gives you extra features for increased value.
The more advanced features the unit has and the more capabilities that are built into the design will inevitably lead to a higher price point. In the end, only you can decide what this scanner is worth to you.
How to choose the best BMW scan tool?
When it comes to choosing the best scan tools for your BMW, you want to pay attention to the special functions. The truth is you’re looking for a tool that will help you reduce your need to visit the auto repair shop, and that means doing a lot of good research.
Why do you need a BMW scanner?
Investing in a BMW scanner will allow you to take control of your maintenance and upkeep. By allowing you to analyze your engine trouble codes, you’ll be able to come up with a solution to your problem with relative ease.
Where do you plug in a scan/diagnostic tool on a BMW?
The port is found under the dashboard on the driver’s side when it comes to BMW vehicles. When looking there, you should see a port just above the hood release handle.
So, What Is the Best OBD2 Scanner for BMW?
Finding the best BMW scan tool largely depends on a combination of factors, including your mechanical knowledge, programming functions (and other features), and affordability. Any of the OBD2 scanners on this list are fantastic choices and will be reliable and suit your needs. The Foxwell NT510 Elite Full systems scanner is probably the best for BMWs or other Rolls-Royce models.
If you’re dealing with a tight budget, the Creator C310 has all the functionality of many other options but with a smaller price tag. In the end, the decision is up to you, but we certainly hope that this quick guide to the best OBD2 scanners for your BMW has helped you with your decision-making process.