Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Bluetooth OBD II Reader / Scanner Tools

Bluetooth OBD II Reader / Scanner Tools

Bluetooth OBD II readers are a great way to get diagnostic information from your vehicle’s computer without spending a small fortune on a scan tool. But don’t rush into this without understanding a bit about OBD II and dongles

How to choose an OBD II dongle?

The OBD II dongle is the electronic device interface that plugs into your vehicle’s OBD II port. The dongle can communicate data to a phone, tablet or laptop via Bluetooth or WiFi, depending on which dongle you choose.

Step 1: The OBD II dongle must have the right protocol

OBD II vehicles can use up to 5 different communication protocols. The protocol is built into the dongle and the app software that installs onto your phone or tablet. For a description of the different protocols, see this post. The dongle must be compatible with the protocol used by the carmaker.

Check the device manufacturer’s website to make sure it will work with your vehicle.

Step 2: The OBD II dongle must be compatible with your phone or tablet

Before you buy a Bluetooth dongle, make sure it’s compatible with your device. Some Bluetooth OBD II readers will only work with Android, while others work with both Android and iOS. In addition to making sure the dongle supports your platform, you must also make sure it’s compatible with your operating system version.

Many WiFi dongles work with both Android and iOS devices.

Step 3: The OBD II dongle must fit onto the OBD port without interfering with the driver

Most OBD ports are located on the driver’s side of the vehicle under the dash. Some dongles are larger than others, so inspect the area around the port. If your OBD port points toward the driver’s seat or straight down, it may contact your ankle or foot while driving.

Step 4: Understand what determines how much live data you get

The amount of live data you can receive on your phone is determined by the carmaker and how they designed the ECM and software for each particular year, make, and model. It can vary from model to model even within the same model year. And, the amount of live date you can obtain also depends on the software APP you choose, not the dongle.

Step 5: Understand what codes you can read

The types of codes you can read with your OBDII dongle are determined by the app you choose, not the dongle. Remember, the dongle is just the hardware interface; it’s the software that queries the ECM.

Carmakers are required to provide generic powertrain “P” codes for free. Generic trouble codes are limited to engine and transmission codes  that relate to emissions.

Enhanced trouble codes, (see this post on the difference between generic and enhanced trouble code) on the other hand, pertain to non-emissions related features such as ABS brakes, crash avoidance systems, HVAC and airbags. Carmakers charge scan tool manufacturers and app companies for this information. If you want this information from your OBD II and APP, you’ll have to pay for a more feature enabled app.

In addition to powertrain “P” codes, carmakers can also use body “B” codes, chassis “C” codes and network communication “U” codes.

Step 6: Most dongles app are NOT bi-directional

Bi-directional scan tools allow you to trigger solenoids and vehicle features using software. That kind of functionality is expensive and most apps don’t provide it

Bottom line when shopping for an OBD II dongle

It’s the combination of the right dongle AND app that gives you the most information.

BAFX Products Bluetooth OBD II Reader/Scanner for Android and BAFX Products WiFi OBD II Reader/Scanner for iOS

BAFXPro OBDII code readers

The Bluetooth version only works with Android devices. For iOS, purchase the WiFi version. You can use the WiFi version with Android, but the Bluetooth version actually works better with Android devices.

Works with these car brands


OBD II Protocol Compatibility

Works with ALL OBDII protocols including J1850 protocol  and CAN systems used by many Ford & GM vehicles as well as the ISO9141.

Works on all vehicles sold in the US 1996 and newer. Also compatible with many Euro vehicles (starting with different model years).

OBD II Reader/Scanner Features

• Read trouble codes (does not read ABS/SRS codes), clear trouble codes and turn off your Check Engine Light. Does not reset Oil Change or General Maintenance lights (those features depend on the APP you use, not the dongle interface).

• Check emissions readiness monitors to see if they’re in the “Ready” state

• See live data while your vehicle is running. Use Freeze Frame to capture data during the event. Read O2 sensors, fuel rail pressure, air fuel ratios, air temp, boost, engine load, fuel flow & more (sensors data available depends on vehicle manufacturer for that year, model, engine combination)

• Map based sensor readings. Take a drive and view sensor readings against a map of your driving route to know how when a particular reading happened

• Graph sensor readings – Use the app to lay out all your sensor readings in easy to evaluate graph form!

• Faster Read Speeds — Uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology (backwards compatible with Bluetooth 4.2 and older devices) so it reads data faster than other OBD II Bluetooth devices using older Bluetooth technology. Less lag time reading live data. Actual read time is limited by the baud rate of the vehicle you’re testing.

• US based support staff

• 2-year no hassle warranty

OBD II Recommended apps to use with BAFXPro Bluetooth or WiFi Dongle

BAFX recommends the Torque Pro app (Requires nominal fee)

Piston – Free; Torque Pro, OBD Fusion, DashCommand also recommended

• ELM327 COMPLIANT – The BAFXPRO is ELM327 compliant. If the app you choose requires an ELM327 compatible dongle, the BAFXPRO will work with the app.
3rd Party paid or free app required to use device

OBDeleven Advanced BluetoothOBDeleven nextgen OBDII Car Diagnostic Scanner

OBDeleven Bluetooth OBD II

OBDeleven supports these vehicles: Audi, VW, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini, Bentley
Click on this link to confirm model compatibility

Blue driver Bluetooth OBD II Reader Scanner

bluedriver OBD II reader

The BlueDriver Professional OBD2 Scan Tool is one of the best Bluetooth OBD II reader scanner tools for diagnostic work.

The BlueDriver software is free and can be used on Android and iOS products.

BlueDriver OBD II reader scanner features

• Live Data — see the live data as you drive or idle. The amount of live data available is determined by the carmaker’s design, not the reader.
• Freeze Frame capability — Capture all the data that’s occurring when the problem occurs.
• Readiness Monitors — Tells you if the drive cycles have complete and if the vehicle is read for a smog Check
• Reads and clears codes
• Reads enhanced diagnostics like: ABS, Airbag, Climate Control, etc. The enhanced features are limited by the year, make, model of the vehicle you’re diagnosing.
• Repair Reports — Matches your vehicle and trouble code to a database of millions of repairs, so you get the fixes that are most likely to succeed for your problem.
• Mode 6 Capable — The Mode 6 capability allows you to peek behind the curtain to see actual data before that data reaches the threshold of setting a check engine light. For example, use Mode 6 to see exactly how many misfires an individual cylinder has racked up before it reaches the threshold.

BlueDriver works with these vehicles:

GM Including Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, Buick, Saturn, Pontiac, etc.
Ford Including Ford, Lincoln, & Mercury
Chrysler Including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, & Plymouth
Toyota Including Toyota, Lexus, & Scion
Nissan Including Nissan, Infiniti, & Renault
Mazda All
Subaru (sold in the US)
Mitsubishi (2008 models & newer)
Hyundai Including Hyundai & Kia (2011 models & newer)
Mercedes Including Mercedes & Smart (2005 models & newer)
BMW (sold in North America) including BMW & Mini (2005 models & newer)
Honda (sold in North America) including Honda & Acura (2003 models & newer)
Volkswagen (sold in North America) including VW, Audi, Lamborghini & Bentley

To check compatibility for your vehicle, confirm using this link




Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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