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Expensive OBD2 diagnostic tools and cheap OBD diagnostic tools, how should I choose?

Jun 6, 2024

OBD2 diagnostic tools are an important part of automobile maintenance diagnostic equipment. The difference in price and function often determines the user's diagnostic experience and repair results. In the market, an expensive OBD2 diagnostic tool and a cheap OBD diagnostic tool may seem to be just a difference in price, but in fact there are differences in value, manufacturing cost, functionality and user experience. Whether it is for each car owner or a multi-brand workshop, their vehicles have different systems, so it will be very difficult to choose the appropriate diagnostic equipment. This article will go through various scanning and diagnostic devices to help you understand their differences, advantages, and disadvantages.


Types of diagnostic tools


Car diagnostic tool is a device used to detect vehicle faults and problems. By connecting to the vehicle's diagnostic interface, it reads the vehicle's electronic control system data and analyzes fault codes and real-time parameters, thereby helping users locate the cause of the vehicle's fault and Provide fix suggestions. These tools can help car mechanics diagnose and repair vehicles quickly and accurately, improving repair efficiency and accuracy. Its types can be roughly divided into five categories, including OBD2 scanners, on-board diagnostics, automotive fault diagnostics, automotive detectors and multifunctional automotive diagnostics, which are respectively suitable for rapid fault location, use by professional maintenance technicians, in-depth system diagnosis, Comprehensive testing and comprehensive diagnosis of multi-brand vehicles to meet the needs of different users.


OBD2 scanner: 

Used to read car fault codes and basic data. It can be connected to the OBDII interface of the vehicle and analyze fault codes and data through mobile phone or computer software. Generally suitable for use by ordinary car owners and general car mechanics.

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On-board diagnostic instrument:

A device used for fault diagnosis and data reading on the vehicle. It is more powerful and can provide more data reading and diagnostic functions, including reading real-time data, erasing fault codes, and resetting Maintenance lights and more for more in-depth vehicle troubleshooting and repair. It is more suitable for professional car mechanics.


Automobile fault diagnosis instrument:

A professional-level fault diagnosis equipment with further improved functions and performance. Computer software can be used to diagnose vehicles and perform in-depth diagnosis of various systems of the vehicle, including the engine, gearbox, braking system, etc., thereby providing more accurate fault diagnosis results and more for complex vehicle fault repairs.

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Car tester: 

It is a more comprehensive testing tool that can conduct a comprehensive inspection of various systems and components of the vehicle, including the engine, braking system, suspension system, etc., helping users find potential problems and faults, and providing comprehensive testing results. Maintain vehicle safety and reliability.


Multifunctional automotive diagnostic instrument:


It integrates various functions and can be used for operations such as reading fault codes, detecting data, resetting parameters, etc. It is more versatile and can be applied to a variety of vehicles of different brands and models to meet the needs of different users and has a wide range of application scenarios.

Cheap OBD2 Diagnostic Tools VS Expensive OBD2 Diagnostic Tools

Functional scope

Expensive OBD2 diagnostic tools often have advanced diagnostic features and capabilities. If you're a professional repairman or someone who needs in-depth diagnostics, it's worth investing in high-end diagnostic equipment. Inexpensive diagnostic tools may provide basic code reading and cleaning capabilities, but they may lack advanced features such as real-time data streaming, graphics, and detailed system analysis.


In addition to the ability to read and reset OBD2 codes and provide real-time data from sensors, expensive diagnostic tools also include the ability to interface with specific manufacturer systems. This allows high-priced diagnostic tools to perform specific service and diagnostic procedures such as brake system and exhaust system repairs and battery replacements. It can provide maintenance personnel with more accurate and in-depth vehicle diagnostic information, thereby helping to improve maintenance efficiency and quality.


Vehicle Coverage (Compatibility)

High-priced diagnostic tools are more compatible and can cover both old and new models. If you want to test a variety of models and makes, it's well worth investing in a more expensive diagnostic tool.


User experience

Expensive OBD2 diagnostic tools usually have a more user-friendly interface and more intuitive operation methods, making it easier for users to perform diagnostic operations. Cheap OBD diagnostic tools may have a simple interface and may not be smooth enough to operate.


Suppose the user used a common OBD2 scanner to troubleshoot his BMW and the result showed an error code "P1554 - Exhaust Camshaft Sensor". Based on this information, he purchased a new camshaft sensor and replaced it, but the problem was not resolved. Subsequently, he used a scanner specifically for BMW models to diagnose again, and this time the result showed an error code "2A87 - Exhaust VANOS solenoid valve". He immediately purchased a new VANOS solenoid valve and installed it on the exhaust side of the engine, which finally successfully solved the problem.


Quality and longevity

Expensive diagnostic tools typically cost more to manufacture with better build quality, durable materials, and sturdier construction, ensuring the stability and reliability of the product. Cheap OBD diagnostic tools may use cheap materials and simple processes, have basic functions and have a short service life.


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Additional services

Users who purchase high-priced OBD2 diagnostic tools usually receive faster and more professional after-sales technical support, which may provide you with educational diagnostic technology, online technical support, remote operation, training courses, free software updates, etc. to help users make better use of the tools. Get vehicle repairs done with a longer product warranty.


Take the commonly used Mercedes-Benz diagnostic tool MB STAR C6 as an example. It is small and compact. Connect it to the Mercedes-Benz OBD interface, connect it to the computer, and open the XENTRY diagnostic software on the computer. It becomes a perfect diagnostic tool. You can clear fault codes with the Mb Star C6, but it does much more than that. It offers advanced diagnostics, allowing you to scan all vehicle systems - from the engine and transmission to airbags, ABS, air conditioning and more.


MB STAR C6 support Functions


1.Malfunction diagnosis (read fault codes, delete fault codes, view data flow, action test,fault guidance)

2.Programming & coding (supports offline programming of engineer version,variation coding, modification and installation, power upgrade, modification of the maximum speed limit, etc.)

3.Support simulation program, learn How to use (xentry, DTS,)

4.Maintenance data query, maintenance disassembly video (WIS, StarFinder,SDMedia)

5.Parts inquiry (EPC)


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If you're looking for a high-quality Mercedes-Benz diagnostic tool that can diagnose your vehicle without taking it to a car repair shop, the Mb Star C6 is well worth a try.


In summary, the decision to invest in expensive OBD2 diagnostic tools depends on your specific requirements and budget. If you only need basic code reading and cleaning, a less expensive scanner may be enough. However, if you need advanced diagnostics and features to handle a variety of vehicles professionally, an expensive diagnostic tool may be a worthwhile investment. Alicar offers a range of advanced diagnostic tools and scanning equipment to suit any workshop and individual needs. For more information, visit

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