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Carly vs. OBD Eleven – Which diagnostic device is better?

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If you have already decided in principle to purchase an OBD2 diagnostic device in order to be able to detect possible errors and problems of your vehicle yourself at an early stage in the future, you may now be faced with the question of which of the numerous devices available on the market could be the right one for you. To make this decision a little easier for you, we have compared two powerful models – one is the Carly OBD2 scanner and the other is the OBD Eleven diagnostic device – in various relevant categories. You can find the results of this comparison in the following article.

So, which of these two devices is the better one now? In summary, after looking at the individual comparison categories, it can be said that both devices completely fulfill their purpose, although there are of course both advantages and disadvantages on both sides. However, since the advantages of Carly are somewhat clearer than those of the OBD Eleven comparison device – especially the emissions test and the variety of supported car brands – this model is the better diagnostic device overall.

But which functions are offered by which device? Are there different versions and how do the supported car brands differ? We clarify these and other questions in the following sections.

Brief presentation of both systems

However, before we present you the advantages and disadvantages of both systems in the different categories, you should first get to know the models under consideration in principle. Both systems are diagnostic devices that consist of an adapter that is connected to the corresponding interface of your vehicle and the associated software that you can install on your smartphone in the form of an app. Both adapters can be quickly and easily connected to your phone via Bluetooth, so you usually do not need any additional accessories or cables.

carly vs obd eleven

Furthermore, both systems have in common that both a basic version, consisting of the adapter itself and a free app installation, and an extended version are available. The so-called PRO version also includes the adapter and the associated software, but for an annual subscription fee you can use additional features that are not included in the free version. The prices for the different versions are listed in detail in a separate section of this product comparison.

Are there differences in the core troubleshooting function?

Since most of you probably bought the car scanner primarily for regular checking of the fault memory of your vehicle, we will also start with this point in the comparison of both devices.

Once you’ve properly connected the adapter to your vehicle’s OBD2 port and installed and opened the associated app, you’re just a few clicks away from analyzing your fault memory with both the Carly app and OBD Eleven. Both systems have a very simple design and the user-friendly interface makes them easy to operate even for a layman.

When using the Carly app, you can have all engine-related errors and problems displayed directly on your cell phone screen and also delete them immediately if necessary. Easy-to-understand color coding also shows you how serious the detected error actually is and whether you need to take immediate action.

However, if you want to display the stored messages of the other ECUs installed in your vehicle in addition to the error codes that only affect the engine, you will need the PRO version for this so-called “scan at manufacturer level”. This test also covers systems outside the engine, but you should find out in advance which ECUs are tested on your vehicle model, as this can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, you can find the relevant info quickly and easily on the Carly website.

The most significant difference in the use of OBD Eleven compared to the Carly system is that here all ECUs installed in a vehicle are automatically addressed and their stored fault codes are read out without the need to use the PRO version. If errors are present, the corresponding codes can be deleted directly by holding the selected error code on the display for a longer time or you can display further information about the stored message. In most cases, of course, you should choose the latter option first. If you were able to fix the problem or at least rule out a serious defect and therefore want to delete the message at a later time, you can simply click on the error code and then remove it. You can then retest the affected control unit by selecting it with a single click and starting the troubleshooting process.

What additional functions are available?

As you have probably already guessed, both devices described here provide you with numerous other functions besides troubleshooting, which you can use to a greater or lesser extent depending on your interests and previous knowledge. In any case, before buying a diagnostic device, it makes sense to find out which functions are supported by the chosen system and which you really need at all.

An important additional function, which is supported by the Carly app even in the free version, is the emission check, which is also available for all car brands. This checks the amount of pollutants escaping from your vehicle’s exhaust, from which any defects in the exhaust-related components can be deduced. Although a regular emissions test for your car is required by law anyway, you can identify possible defects by carrying out a test yourself beforehand and have them repaired before the official test. Unfortunately, the emission test is not offered with the OBD Eleven system, which earns it a significant minus point.

But the Carly app has even more to offer – even in its free form. For example, you can even access current vehicle data, the so-called live data, while driving and have the oil temperature, turbo boost pressure or other values relevant to you displayed in real time. If you have just bought a used car or are about to buy one, the PRO version of the Carly app might be worth checking out, as it offers a used car check that helps you check your new car for possible speedometer tampering and thus possibly achieve a significant reduction in the purchase price. The step-by-step instructions also available in the PRO version for performing simple services on your vehicle yourself, such as the reset function after a battery change, will save you a visit to the workshop in some cases and thus also the costs incurred there. Furthermore, you can receive both diagnostic and repair reports of your vehicle via the app as PDF documents and thus create a complete vehicle documentation, which in turn may earn you a higher sales price in the event of a possible sale.

Last but not least, we would like to introduce you to a relatively new additional feature of the Carly app – the Smart Mechanic function. With the help of detailed error descriptions from experienced car mechanics, this offers you the possibility of repairing many errors yourself and thus saving workshop costs. In addition, you get direct access to original plans for various components, as they are also used in the workshop. However, this function is not included in the PRO version, but requires a separate activation.

And what about OBD Eleven? Are there other functions there as well? The answer is a resounding “yes”, because this system also offers a wide range of additional applications. The PRO version also provides the live data mentioned above as well as various self-help instructions. You can also have the logs of the vehicle diagnostics and documentation of adjustments or repairs made sent to you, and this function is even included in the normal version. Since a detailed description of all additional functions of the OBD Eleven would be too far in the context of this article, you should inform yourself about them before buying such a device.

Vehicle coding – an option even for laymen?

For the more technically savvy vehicle owners among you, the question of possible coding with the help of the selected system probably also arises before the purchase of a diagnostic device. Do the Carly app and OBD Eleven also offer this option? Basically, it can be stated that both models support vehicle coding, but also in both cases only in the PRO version.

When using the Carly app, a total of hundreds of functions are customizable in your vehicle, allowing you to personalize many basic settings chosen by the manufacturer. These include, for example, the adjustment of the automatic start-stop system or various lighting settings. However, you should again find out beforehand exactly which functional adjustments are supported by the Carly app on your vehicle, as these can differ depending on the vehicle model.

If you want to code your vehicle with the help of OBD Eleven, you can even choose between three different options, of which the so-called “One Click Coding” is also suitable for laymen in this field or was developed specifically for them. As the name suggests, the various functions can be adjusted here with just one click in an uncomplicated and easily understandable way thanks to the well-designed user interface. A total of over 500 settings are customizable, including, for example, the door locking system, the optical parking system or various vehicle lights. As practical as the One Click coding is, it does have one drawback – credits are required for each changed setting, which have to be purchased online in the corresponding store beforehand. It doesn’t matter that you have already purchased the PRO version of the app itself, the credits are still required in addition.

Besides the One Click coding, it is also possible to use either the short or the long coding, but for both variants you need previous knowledge in the field of coding, because special coding values have to be entered. The short encoding uses decimal numbers, which are entered by the user into the corresponding fields, for the long encoding bits and bytes are used. Credits are not required in either case, and even if you should have made a mistake during the input, the original states can be easily restored.

What about the compatibility of the two systems?

The basic prerequisite for using a car scanner is the presence of an OBD2 interface on your vehicle. However, this connection was mandatory for all vehicles built after 2001 (gasoline) or 2004 (diesel), so there is no problem in this respect for the current models. But can all car brands also be served by the two devices under consideration?

A major advantage of the Carly app is precisely this point, as the basic functions, such as fault analysis and emissions testing in particular, can be performed for almost all car brands worldwide. On the other hand, when it comes to the extended options, it depends on the manufacturer and model which features are available and which may not be supported. Basically, however, it can be said that a variety of additional functions are available for the brands BMW, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Volkswagen and Mercedes, as well as likewise for models from the manufacturers Renault, Porsche, Toyota and Lexus. Detailed information can be found on the Carly App homepage. The app required in addition to the diagnostic adapter can be installed on both Android and iOS devices.

is the carly app good

The situation is different with OBD Eleven, as this system can only be used for VAG makes and models, such as Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and Seat. The app was also limited to smartphones with the Android operating system until recently, but can also be installed for iOS systems since the “Next generation” (Nextgen adapter). However, not all functions are fully available there yet, although work is already underway on a corresponding adaptation, so that these problems are also expected to be solved soon and the app can be used in full.

The question of cost still remains

Now that we have taken a closer look at the various technical possibilities of both devices and their compatibility with various car brands and smartphone operating systems, you will of course want to know what the purchase costs will be. And of course, we won’t leave you in the dark on this issue either, but will compile the costs you can expect in the next sections.

Let’s start with the Carly app. Here, the cost of the basic equipment, consisting of the Bluetooth adapter and the free software for your smartphone, amounts to 59.90 €. As described in the previous sections, this equipment includes basic diagnostics of your engine, emissions testing, and real-time data output while driving. You also get a warranty on the adapter as well as the possibility to use the customer support for free, which promises to answer all your questions within 72 hours.

All other functions and usage options require the purchase of an additional license for the PRO version. This license is billed as an annual subscription, with prices varying somewhat depending on the make of car. However, you should expect costs of at least 20.00 € per year. However, it must be remembered that such a license is initially fundamentally tied to a specific vehicle brand and only the available functions are enabled for this manufacturer. If you don’t want to commit, but buy a license for all brands, it will cost you about 60,00 € per year. And the newest feature of the Carly app, Smart Mechanic, comes with another cost of €35.99. In summary, this results in total costs of between €59.90 for the basic version and just under €136.00 for the PRO version for all brands including the additional Smart Mechanic feature, with annual costs of €76.00 included here.

OBD Eleven already offers two different adapters, the older of which can only be used with Android devices and is therefore comparatively cheap at €44.99. The Nextgen device, on the other hand, which is also compatible with iOS systems, already costs €59.99. Included here is also a warranty valid for two years after purchase, as well as the use of customer service, for example, in the form of a live chat on the provider’s website. Similar to Carly, the basic version of the required app is initially free of charge. However, if you want to use the PRO version, you will need an additional activation code, which is valid for one year and costs 24.99 €. On top of that, if needed, you can purchase the credits required for One Click coding at prices ranging from €19.99 for 100 credits to €25.99 for 200 credit points and €40.99 for 500 points. Since the purchase of the Nextgen adapter makes sense in principle and credits are also required for the full usability of the functions, you should expect a total cost of about 110.00 €. However, before buying, it is worth checking the offers available in the corresponding store at that time, as there are often complete packages with PRO license and credits in different numbers available at special prices, with which you can save some money again.

Is there a winner of the comparison?

Taking into account all the points considered, we can first of all state that both the Carly app and OBD Eleven are reliable and well-built diagnostic tools that offer all the functions important for troubleshooting in a user-friendly way and understandable even for laymen, and also have many additional application options that can certainly serve you well. In principle, you cannot go wrong with any of these devices and we can recommend them to you with a clear conscience.

Nevertheless, for us the Carly app is a bit ahead, since its basic functions can be used for almost all car brands and is also fully compatible with any operating system of your smartphone, while the OBD Eleven only supports VAG models. Furthermore, with Carly you can also perform the emission test, which is not offered with OBD Eleven. In addition, with the PRO license you get the full scope of all additional functions without limitation, which in turn is not given with the OBD Eleven by using the credit points for the One Click coding. In our eyes, the Carly model is therefore the better diagnostic device by a narrow margin.

Keep in mind, that every car has different software and modules built-in. Therefore specific features will vary with every model.


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