Handheld tools are great and work for the most part but can sometimes fall short.
For example, I was trying to diagnose an ABS light on a 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 Scan Tool 425801 for a PC. After looking at comparable options I gave it a try.
It came with an OBD2 adapter that plugs into a USB port on a laptop, and software to diagnose 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 don’t want to lug around a laptop, smartphone Bluetooth OBD2 adapters can also be a low-cost option.
One of the reasons a PC based solution can be better, in my opinion, 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 try new software interfaces to see which one fits the scenario. You can check out a list of PC based OBD2 software here. https://www.elmelectronics.com/help/obd/software/
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.
Read More About the 425801 Here on Amazon
ScanTool OBDLink SX USB: Professional Grade OBD-II Automotive Scan Tool for Windows – DIY Car and Truck Data and Diagnostics
As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, forums, or elsewhere to be sure any unit is a good fit for you.
Other Windows PC Based OBDII Scan Tools
- OBDMONSTER ELM327 USB
OBDMONSTER ELM327 USB FORScan OBD2 Adapter for Ford Car and Light Truck, ELMconfig Scanner with MS CAN/HS CAN Switch, Diagnosis on Windows with V1.5 PIC18F25K80 Chip
The OBDMONSTER ELM327 is a USB Ford OBDII scan tool that works with Windows based PCs and Laptops.
It is compatible with Ford based cars and trucks.
It uses the PIC18F25K80 Chip along with ForScan software to communicate with a vehicles onboard computer and modules.
FORScan OBD2 Adapter, VINT-TT55502 ELMconfig ELM327 modified For all Windows compatible with Ford Cars F150 F250 and Light Pickup Truck Scan Tool, Code Reader MS-CAN HS-CAN Switch
The VINTscan is a Windows based OBDII scan tool for Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Mazda cars and trucks.
It plugs into a USB port and along with the ForScan software able to read and clear codes.