Nowadays, a car is nothing more than a mobile computer on wheels. All systems are electronically controlled. The ECU also stores all data and error codes of the current operation. In the past, you had to go to a workshop to read out these error codes and get an extensive diagnosis of the vehicle’s condition – today you download a corresponding app for your smartphone, buy an OBD adapter and check for yourself.

But how do you know which car diagnostic app is good? Today we show you the best apps and introduce you to the top 10 brands at a glance. We’ve tested, checked, checked and sweated for you and hope you like our list.

Inhalt

Below you will find an overview of the top brands from the field of auto-diagnosis apps. We’ll give you an insight into the functionalities and have put together a TOP 10 for you.

External diagnostic device or app?

There are two different options in the automotive diagnostics market. You can buy a diagnostic device. These are available from very inexpensive (basically absolute scrap) to several thousand euros expensive devices, which can be used for all vehicle types and are updateable. These own diagnostic devices are more likely to be attributed to the professional sector.

If you have a used car trade, for example, you could think about it. On the other hand, the diagnostic apps for your own smartphone are an ideal alternative and also quite suitable for professionals. The big advantage is that you already have a computer with your smartphone. He just has to learn to make the diagnosis … and there are the apps for that. With an external diagnostic device, you have to buy and pay for the computer together with the device.

Why do you always need an OBD adapter if you want to use an app for diagnostics?

The OBD-2 access (on-board diagnostics) gives you the connection between the vehicle and your mobile phone. Every modern vehicle (approx. from 2001 onwards) has such a module. The OBD monitors all systems of the car and records error codes. If you now connect a corresponding adapter to the OBD output, it can be exchanged with your mobile phone via Bluetooth or WLAN … in both directions. You can read data as well as encode new ones.

What can OBD 2 do in connection with an app?

With the corresponding diagnostic app, it is possible to read out an almost unlimited amount of data via the OBD2 interface and sometimes also send it back (recode certain functions). On your mobile phone, you can view and, above all, further evaluate fuel consumption, torque, engine temperature or tyres, acceleration data and much more. Depending on the possibilities of the app, long-term graphics can be created and routes analyzed.

All apps have in common the evaluation of error codes. The control unit of the motor stores them whenever a problem occurs on the motor. By reading these codes, conclusions can be drawn about the condition of the motor. After the evaluation of the error codes, you can reset them in most cases. Often you can recognize a problem very quickly via the error codes and can possibly even solve it yourself without having to go to the workshop. This saves a lot of money over the years.

What did we do during testing?

Our team of experts from five proven experts has looked at almost 20 apps very closely and put them through their paces. The ease of use, the accuracy of the diagnosis, the general handling and the price were important to us. In the end, we list the pros and cons of each app for you.

Only ten apps have met our criteria. We would like to present these in detail to you below. To make it exciting, we start with the 10th place at the top and slowly work our way to the winner. So don’t scroll down right away and slowly let the tension rise … if you can do that?

10th place: Car Gauge Pro

Use of the app | User friendliness

On the one hand, the Car Gauge Pro app is suitable for many vehicle brands. However, the developer himself says it works best with GM, Ford, Toyota, KIA and Nissan. The optics of the program did not convince us at all. Everything seems wildly confused and very restless and confusing due to the chosen font and colors. The support is very poorly translated into German and this sometimes leads to real problems.

Note: One of the other 20 apps tested (i.e. the remaining 10) could have been standing here, as they did not convince us all equally. The Car Gauge Pro is only representative of the last 11.

Features

Error codes: As with all tested apps, the error codes can be read out and deleted.

Diagnosis in general: Data from the oxygen sensor, information on engine emissions and many other values can be displayed and diagnosed.

Special features: Only with the plugins and with some selected brands further motor values are displayed.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Preparation for the exhaust gas special examination
  • Small memory size of the app: less than 3 MB
  • Works only with the ELM327 Bluetooth adapter
  • Only 10,000 installations – few updates

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

9th place: OBD Auto Doctor

Use of the app | User friendliness

The app is also available as a free basic version. For most features, however, you have to pay a small surcharge. Synchronization between the ECU and the app is often a bit slow. The app works quite well with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Features

Error codes: The error codes of almost all manufacturers can be read out via the interface and also reset.

Fuel Consumption: Fuel consumption can be recorded and analyzed later. This helps to save fuel and drive more efficiently.

Diagnosis in general: Many diagnoses can be made via the menu and often also displayed graphically.

Special features: The diagnostic data can be sent by e-mail. Sensor data can be recorded in CSV format and the identification number of the vehicle can also be read out.

Auto code OBD2

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Real-time diagnostics
  • Almost all vehicle manufacturers are supported
  • Free version for basic diagnosis
  • Slow connection between ECU and app
  • Menu navigation is often confusing

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

8th place: Motor Data OBD Diagnostics

Use of the app | User friendliness

The app supports most popular car brands such as Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Ford, Mazda, GM, Opel, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Jeep, Jaguar, Mercedes or BMW. Especially for bug diagnoses, the app is very good. The connection to the OBD adapter and thus to the ECU works automatically and without problems.

Features

Error codes: Error codes and freeze-frame data can be read and deleted.

Scanner functions: Important values are scanned and processed in real time. These include: speed, revolutions, temperature, pressure or oxygen sensor readings.

Special features: Plugins can be used for other features for certain brands such as Nissan or Toyota.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Only 16 MB in size
  • Around 1,000,000 installations
  • Additional plugins for selected brands
  • Low range of functions
  • Problems connecting to Bluetooth
  • Despite plugin no error detection

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

7th place: Car Scanner ELM

Use of the app | User friendliness

The beautifully and clearly designed Car Scanner ELM app checks errors and reads the most important data of the engine. Authenticity verification is also possible with the app. A real highlight is the possible projection of the data onto the windshield in HUD mode. Unfortunately, however, the performance overall did not convince us completely, so in the end it was only enough for the 7th place.

Features

Error codes: Error codes are read and processed in real time. The large database helps to evaluate the codes.

Real-time parameters: A lot of important data is collected and displayed in real time.

Special features: Special features are available for certain manufacturers (such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, GM, Opel, Vauxhal, Chevrolet, Nissan, Infinity, Renault, Hyundai, Kia and Mazda). Acceleration measurement is also one of the special features.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • In the free version there are good features
  • The acceleration measurement
  • There is no annoying pop-up advertisement
  • Simple and easy to use
  • No special features
  • No extended evaluation of the data

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

6th place: InCar Doc Pro

Use of the app | User friendliness

The InCar Doc app reads error codes, monitors the most important functions of your car and records important parameters. It is recommended that you first download the free version to check compatibility with your vehicle and the OBD adapter you are using.

  Which is the best car diagnostic tool?

Features

Error codes: Error codes can be read out and maintenance lamps reset.

Real-time parameters: The most important data of the vehicle can be observed and recorded in real time.

GPS: Route and route information is recorded by GPS and can be evaluated later in peace at home.

Special features: Uploading the data to the provider’s website allows a more in-depth analysis of the data obtained. Data on fuel consumption can also be looked at in this way.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Real-time data on speed, temperature and pressure
  • Extensive graphics from real-time data
  • Warnings when problems occur
  • Upload to the provider’s website for in-depth analysis of the data from the scan
  • Few OBD adapters work with the app
  • Error codes are difficult to reset
  • Often problems with the Bluetooth connection

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

5th place: Carista

Use of the app | User friendliness

In the free basic version you can only use basic diagnostic tools such as the reset of error codes. The really interesting things cost money here as well.

Features

Error codes: The error codes can already be read out and reset in the free version. The app works best with the following models: SEAT, Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Mini, BMW, Toyota and Lexus.

Special features: Both the service reset can be made and information of the ECU can be processed. The airbags, ABS and navigation can also be adjusted.

Buy OBD2 coding device

Advantages and disadvantages

  • The menu can be customized
  • Warns against overheating of the motor
  • High update rhythm – always up-to-date
  • Over 500,000 installations on Android alone
  • Sometimes there are connection problems
  • No real-time data
  • Not exactly one of the cheapest solutions

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

Rank 4: Dash Command

Use of the app | User friendliness

While Dash Command offers a variety of diagnostics, the graphics look rather old-fashioned and cumbersome. The app works particularly well with Bluetooth and provides real-time diagnostics at a high level.

Features

Error codes: The error codes of almost all manufacturers are read out without any problems and can be reset.

Fuel Consumption: Fuel consumption can be recorded and analyzed while driving. If you want to save fuel, you will certainly find this feature very helpful.

Diagnosis in general: Sometimes the app can almost a bit too much. The menu is packed and you lose the overview.

Special features: Features such as the analysis of acceleration or the performance of the brakes are something special. Entire routes can be recorded and analyzed at the end.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Fast data transfer and processing
  • The menu can be customized
  • Needs little storage space on your phone
  • Should only be used with the latest version of the operating systems on the phones.
  • Sometimes there are connection problems
  • Doesn’t work equally well with every OBD adapter

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

3rd place: OBDLink

Use of the app | User friendliness

The OBDLink app can only be used with the appropriate OBD adapters. The user interface is fully configurable and so frequently used functions can be brought to the fore. Reading real-time data is a particular strength of the app, as is recording route information.

Features

Error codes: Error codes can be easily read and reset.

Fuel Consumption: Fuel consumption can be recorded and analyzed while driving.

Real-time data: More than 90 different values can be read and evaluated in real time. This is a peak among the apps tested.

Special features: All data can be output as CSV and/or sent by e-mail. Metric and US/GB units are read and evaluated. The app is completely ad-free.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Output of the data as CSV and/or by e-mail
  • Fast data rate and processing
  • Real-time analysis of over 90 parameters
  • On some models, the

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

2nd place: Torque Pro

Use of the app | User friendliness

Basically, the Torque app is available as Lite and as Pro version. The Pro version rated here leaves nothing to be desired with regard to the data to be evaluated and is by far the most comprehensive app in the entire tracking field. The real-time analysis is also very detailed and provides an in-depth insight into the engine data. A special feature is the upload option to the website of the provider with great analysis tools.

Features

Error codes: The database for analyzing the error codes is huge and thus allows a very close view of all errors. Alarms are also processed in real time.

Advanced analysis on the homepage of the provider: By logging in and transferring the data to the website of the provider, very detailed, further analyses can be created, which are graphically excellently processed.

Special features: Dynometer, head-up display mode, turbo-boost function for vehicles with MAP sensor, GPS/OBD speedometer incl. Tracking, CSV and Email Export

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Output of the data as CSV and/or by e-mail
  • Upload to the provider’s website for in-depth analysis of the data
  • Works with all vehicles that have an OBD II interface
  • Temperature information and alarm functions during operation
  • Over 1,000,000 installations on Android
  • Should only be used with a certified OBD adapter

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

1st place: Carly

Use of the app | User friendliness

Tadaaa … and the winner is: The Carly app. With over 1,000,000 installations, the Carly app is one of the most popular on the market. Thanks to the features of the app, users could save up to € 500.00 per year on repairs and maintenance work. We particularly liked the tidy menu structure and the appealing graphics. Nothing is overloaded, but everything is very meaningful. A free LITE version is also available.

In order to cater to the special features of the models and brands, the Carly app is also available especially for Toyota, Renault, Porsche, VAG and Mercedes. Each app is perfectly tailored to the brand and offers slightly different functionalities. This makes Carly the only app that specializes so intensively with every single manufacturer.

We particularly liked the information about the “health status” of the vehicle and the many maintenance options. Equally special is the analysis of possibly manipulated speedometers when buying a used car. Carly only works with her own fully tuned OBD adapter.

Features

Error codes: Error codes can be read out without any problems and, of course, can also be reset.

Health status: Carly uses the terms “healthy” or “sick” for various vehicle conditions. With this very pictorial language, everyone understands quite simply what their vehicle is like and whether costly “diseases” (damage) can be expected.

Real-time data: Many important values are recorded in real time and can be analyzed – this includes, for example, engine readings and also information on the airbag.

Special features: The coding of many functions works especially simply. Adjustments to the light, locking mechanisms, on-board computer, window jacks, turbo settings, etc. can be carried out without any problems.

Advantages and disadvantages

  • Recording of the state of health of the vehicle
  • Apps specifically tailored to different vehicle manufacturers
  • Over 1,000,000 installations
  • Very clear menu and graphics
  • Works only with The Carly adapter (which is included in the package)

Platforms

Playstore, App Store

Finally, a few tips

What should I pay attention to when purchasing the OBD2 adapter?

On the net you can buy an OBD2 adapter for a few euros. These are mostly low-cost Chinese products that are absolutely useless. Please leave your fingers out. You can save the money. Buy only high-quality adapters that you’ll have long fun with.

In any case, it is important that an original ELM 327 chip is installed in the adapter. This guarantees perfect communication with an app.

How much does a decent OBD2 adapter cost?

Cheap products contain imitated chips and components that do not function properly. For a proper adapter you have to put down at least 20 euros – the limits are flowing upwards – but an adapter may not cost more than 60 euros.

  How does a car diagnostic tool work?

Extra tip: What should you look out for when buying an app?

Of course, all the features, the functionality, the price and the operation are crucial for choosing the right app. However, two aspects are often overlooked, which are also very important. 1. Updates: Make sure that the app is updated regularly to keep up to date. 2. Privacy: The data is stored in the app and, if necessary, also sent to the developer of the app. Make sure that all aspects of data protection are taken into account here.