Scanning automotive codes on a laptop has advantages over many handheld scan tools.
Handheld tools are great and work for the most part but can sometimes fall short.
For example recently I was trying to diagnose a ABS light on a friends 2004 F150 with my cheap scan tool and it couldn’t find anything.
I then took it to a local part store and they couldn’t find the problem either.
Not wanting to admit defeat I began reading online and found the 425801 OBDLink scan tool for a PC. After looking at comparable options I thought I would try it out.
Short Video Review
It came with a OBD2 adapter that plugs into a USB port on a laptop, and software to diagnosis codes called OBDwiz.
It found the bad code on the F150 which was the rear speed sensor.
Keep in mind there are other scan tool options, such as using a smartphone or buying a good handheld tool.
If you dont want to lug around a laptop, smartphone Bluetooth OBD2 adapters can also be a cheap option.
One of the reasons a PC based solution can be better is the software and the ease of reading the interface.
There are many free and paid for OBD2 diagnostic software that is constantly being updated.
Also is it easy to simply try new software interfaces to see which one fits you. You can check out a list of PC based OBD2 software here http://elmelectronics.com/obdsoftware.html#Windows
The larger screen on a laptop is in my opinon much better than any scan tool or smartphone not only for ease of reading but research.
There is many good programs that can be used on a PC.
After a code is found with a scan tool and it gives you an OBD2 code number, looking for information online is the next step.
Looking information up quickly online with a laptop is much easier at least for me. Reading through forums and watching YouTube videos is just easier on the eyes when doing research.
Of course this is a personal option and using a smartphone scan tool is just as cheap as a laptop scan tool.
What works for me may not work for someone else so be sure to read other reviews for the best fit for you.
*This post contains affiliate links which helps to support this site.
Read More About the 425801 Here on Amazon
ScanTool 425801 OBDLink SX USB: OBD Adapter/Diagnostic Scanner for Windows
The OBDLink SX scan tool comes with a USB OBD2 adapter and software to install on a laptop to give you the codes and other information.