By guest writer Tim Miller
There are many OBDII car scan tools in the market, so you may find it challenging to make a choice. However, what if you narrowed down your options to just two brands—BlueDriver and OBDLink?
Not to worry, those two brands have been adequately compared in this guide. You’ll be able to make an informed choice just by taking a few minutes of your time to read the descriptions.
Continue scrolling down to find out which is the best of them all!
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING AN OBDII SCAN TOOL?
OBD is an acronym for on-board diagnostics. OBD in cars refers to the system that observes the vehicle’s status and gives reports. It is a non-standardized system that requires you to purchase specific tools for scanning certain vehicles while OBD-II systems are the standardized versions.
So, what is an OBDII scan tool? It’s a device utilized in scanning the error data and memory of your car’s systems. The primary function of an OBDII scan tool is diagnosis.
Below are things you should consider before buying an OBDII scan tool:
All you need to do is to ascertain the compatibility of your vehicle with the scanner. It’s also important to learn about the options that each model offers. Some OBDII scan tools can utilize your device’s Bluetooth connection, while others can link to your PC.
Going for an OBDII scanning tool brand that offers excellent customer support is essential to avoid regrets. You may need solutions to technical issues during activation, connections, or as you perform diagnostics. Some codes and scanning tools may be hard to understand, so you might need to make inquiries.
Choose an OBDII scanner that is updated and gets regular software updates. Periodic updates mean that you’ll be getting the appropriate scan results and that the product can be used for a long time. Outdated scanners can lead to inaccurate scan results where data will be given for a different car model instead of yours.
BLUEDRIVER VS. OBDLINK: OVERVIEW
So what can our two chosen products do? You’re about to find out.
BlueDriver Diagnostic Tools
With BlueDriver, buyers will be getting full expert verified solutions as a special feature that makes it stand out from other scanners. This is made possible with access to a database of millions of repairs!
Your car type and trouble code will be linked to a matching fix easily. No need to waste time on Google—browsing through several sites and blogs for repair tips that might lead to regrets.
You’ll be able to read EVERY code. This means that it can read and clear codes that other scanners can handle and the ones they can’t.
BlueDriver is a closed-source tool in the sense that it can only function with the manufacturer’s app. It doesn’t partner with third-party apps. Other amazing specs include Enhanced Diagnostics, freeze frame data capturing, real-time data capturing and sharing, smog/emissions readiness check, etc.
OBDLink Diagnostic Tools
Let’s whet your appetite to learn more about OBDLink with the fact that it has the quickest Bluetooth OBD-II adapter worldwide! A major spec that you’ll love is its complete vehicle coverage. However, those are just two out of its many great features.
Users will have regular software updates for a lifetime at no cost. There’ll also be free limitless data add-ons from the OEM (original equipment manufacturer). What else is free? The Android, iOS, and Windows apps!
This scanning tool works with SW-CAN protocols (GM’s proprietary CAN network) and MS-CAN protocols (Ford’s proprietary CAN network). It features the reading and clearing of “check engine” light and trouble codes (general and OEM-specific).
Note: SW-CAN means Single Wire CAN, while MS-CAN is an acronym for Medium Speed CAN.
OBDLink runs on an open framework that lets you link it to other apps freely. It works with third-party apps. Other notable specs include hack-proof security, automatic battery saving mode, compact size, and so on.
BLUEDRIVER VS. OBDLINK: WHAT ARE THE SIMILARITIES?
Of course, there are similarities between the two brands. After all, they’re both OBDII scanning tools. Check out our observations below.
Both tools have wireless functionalities that DIY mechanics will find useful. Wireless connectivity provides convenience, especially in busy garages with many mechanics working on different vehicles.
Android and IOS Compatibility
This is good news for users of Android devices: they can use both tools. It’s a fact that the most used mobile operating system globally is the Android OS, with about 73 percent of the market share (according to a June 2021 update). The two products can also work with iOS devices.
The following tasks are performed by the two tools:
- ABS/Airbag diagnostics
- Freeze frame data
- Read and erase check engine
- VIN retrieval
Nevertheless, there are still functions that the two brands aren’t offering buyers such as oil reset.
Both products are compatible with a wide range of cars from the US, Asia, and Europe. This means that they’re both able to read error codes on a great number of car types.
Both brands can work with every OBDII protocol and provide live data feeds that let users view their cars’ performance statuses. The reports shown by the two scanners are very comprehensive.
Apart from the above similarities, the two products can also be updated. This implies that they can be used for a long period. Let’s not forget that both scanners feature DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes) under enhanced OEM diagnostics.
You may be wondering if it’s possible to use both tools at the same time. Well, it’s possible. The condition is that your vehicle needs to have more than one OBD port. Check your car for such a feature. If it has multiple ports, then you’re in luck. Simply download the two necessary apps for the scanners and activate them to get all the results you need.
BLUEDRIVER VS. OBDLINK: WHAT ARE THE KEY DIFFERENCES?
Want to know the features that show the distinction between the two tools? Well, we’ve presented them in detail as below:
Main differences between BlueDriver and OBDLink scanners
BlueDriver offers shoppers a 1-year warranty with a 180-day risk-free return policy, while OBDLink has an amazing 3-year warranty with a 180-day money-back guarantee. These are for cases where issues may be experienced when utilizing the products.
Car repair reports show data and information about what could be wrong (faults) with the vehicle, including the factors that may be responsible. Recommended solutions may also be given in the report depending on the scanning tool used. Let’s see what the two brands have in store for shoppers.
BlueDriver offers free comprehensive Identifix repair reports that show the possible origin and verified reported fix for what’s wrong with your car (for every DTC). BlueDriver’s repair reports usually include the following information:
- Code definition of the problem
- Possible causes
- Top reported fix
- Frequently reported fixes
- Other reported fixes
For OBDLink users they’ll have to make do with basic reports which have to be paid for. The repair reports reveal manufacturer codes related to maintenance issues, but it does so without recommending solutions. The only way to get the extensive reports from OBDLink is by pairing it with a compatible third-party app.
BlueDriver’s scanning quality is high with emissions readiness functionality and few bug issues. On the other hand, OBDLink’s scanning quality is basic, with no emissions readiness feature and many bug issues. Emissions tests are performed on cars to ascertain whether they’re ready for smog checks.
OBDLink can conduct battery/alternator testing to uncover issues in the car’s charging system. However, BlueDriver can’t do this. What the former can’t do that the latter can is advanced Mode 6 diagnosis for detecting engine problems.
OBDLink supports Android, iOS, and Windows devices. However, it doesn’t support many cars in the area of airbag/ABS/SRS scanning.
For BlueDriver, only Android and iOS devices are supported. It can also work with most cars as well as run airbag/ABS/SRS for a wide range of them.
Note: ABS and SRS are acronyms for the anti-lock braking system and Supplemental Restraint System, respectively.
Owners of vehicles from the following brands may be able to use BlueDriver depending on their make and model: BMW, Chrysler, GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen.
On the other hand, drivers of cars made in the US from 1996 till date may be able to use OBDLink depending on the make and model. Even those from Europe and Asia. You could verify its compatibility with your vehicle from the brand’s site.
The price of OBDLink is on the fair side ($99.95 on Amazon), while that of BlueDriver ($119.95 on Amazon) is on the higher side. It’s a considerable $20 difference that might make you prefer the former.
Now let’s discuss additional costs for more (advanced) features. You don’t need to pay for extra functionality when using BlueDriver. However, OBDLink requires that users make payments. Bummer. Check out the advanced features under the criterion below.
The following are sophisticated functionalities that OBDII scan tools may have. We described how they’re featured in both OBDLink and BlueDriver:
Enhanced OEM Diagnostics
Enhanced OEM diagnostics entails certain detailed information about vehicle performance which are provided by scan tools. It is categorized into two—Enhanced Parameters and Enhanced Trouble Codes. The former comprises wheel speed, tire pressure, and so on. On the flip side, the latter consists of HVAC, airbag controls, etc.
OBDLink has a broader scope of Enhanced OEM Diagnostics support, while BlueDriver functions as a general scanner as it can read a very small number of the OEM codes.
The proprietary networks of Ford and GM (MS-CAN and SW-CAN) are accessible to OBDLink users. They’ll also benefit from DTCs and a great number of OEM parameters. Contrastingly, Ford and GM proprietary networks can’t be accessed by BlueDriver users. Also, they can only work with DTCs—no OEM parameters. This drawback is due to the lack of hardware pins (11, 3, and 1) required.
OBD App Support
You can only work with one app when using BlueDriver. However, the case is different with OBDLink, which supports several apps, including notable ones like DashCommand, obdCANeX, Torque, etc.
The sampling rate for BlueDriver can reach up to 10 samples per second, while OBDLink can hit an amazing rate of 100 samples per second.
Battery Drain Protection
If you’re worried about battery life when scanning, then you should know this: OBDLink has superb battery-saving functionality, while BlueDriver doesn’t. The latter doesn’t save power in sleep mode efficiently.
Still, on power issues, BlueDriver lacks overvoltage protection. It will get fried up (or its capacitor will explode) and stop working permanently when there’s a spike in voltage. OBDLink, on the other hand, can handle continual 90 volts without getting damaged.
Adapters need to be able to bear your car’s unpredictable electrical system. For example, the occurrence of massive spikes in voltage can damage external devices plugged into your vehicle. This may occasionally happen, so you would need a strong OBD scanner for your vehicle.
PROS AND CONS OF BLUEDRIVER AND OBDLINK
Knowing the pros and cons of the two tools will aid our comparison. Check them out below.
- Precise scanning.
- Multi-device compatibility.
- It lets users export PDF files.
- It can work with a wide range of vehicles.
- Wireless functionality.
- Software updates are offered free of charge.
- The app may not function properly if a new update isn’t installed.
- No third-party app compatibility.
- It can’t work with Windows devices.
- Shorter warranty period compared to other brands (12 months).
- It can work with almost all 1996 and recent 0BDII cars.
- Software updates are issued consistently.
- It’s compatible with many third-party apps.
- Wireless functionality.
- Tight anti-hacker wireless security.
- Limited warranty of 3 years.
- Many bug issues.
- Possible instances of freezing during scanning.
- Older versions aren’t compatible with iOS devices.
WHICH SHOULD YOU BUY?
BlueDriver and OBDLink are both great brands that would suit different priorities. However, BlueDriver is favored over the other due to the reasons below.
– It has a wider range of functionalities that DIY mechanics would love.
– Software updates are provided at no cost.
– Users can work with it in simple language.
The drawback is that it isn’t compatible with third-party apps and Windows devices. Those are the most significant disadvantages of BlueDriver.
You may prefer OBDLink due to its lower price and remarkable specs (e.g., extensive scan results). It’s great for DIY scanning, especially for vehicle owners doing it for the first time. Nevertheless, it isn’t compatible with electric and hybrid cars.
Knowing which is suitable for you should be based on your requirements, preferences, and budget. Take your time to weigh your options carefully.
We hope that this guide was informative enough to help you make the right choice of scanning tools based on your vehicular needs. Purchase your scanner from a reputable store—or even better—directly from the manufacturer’s site.
Tim Miller is a mechanic and car blogger from Denver, Colorado. He’s the Editor-in-Chief of obdadvisor.com, an automotive blog. He has had over 10 years of experience in car repair and maintenance field. He has been writing articles to share his experiences and expertise. Some of his review articles about car parts and tools can be found on his website. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter.