The Best OBD2 Software in 2021: 3 Programs Reviewed

Top 7 OBD2 Softwares to Buy

The point of this article is to help you pick the best OBD2 software that suits your needs. Today more than ever before, the marketplace has been overcrowded with less than stellar products that over promise and under deliver. I know that because I’ve wasted money before.

If your car was built after 1996, you have the ability to scan the car, check for problems and ultimately, address it once and for all.

One of the BEST things about OBD2 softwares (VS free apps or cheap handheld tools) is that you’ll be able to get a MUCH better look at your vehicle’s healthy, dig deeper into codes that many “affordable” scanning options just won’t be able to reach.

Do you want to MONITOR your vehicle as it drives and check things like:

  • Horsepower and Torque
  • Sudden fault codes
  • Electrical system voltage
  • and so much more!

Would you rather pay a once time “diagnostics” fee at a dealership, or would you rather take this matter into your OWN hands, and save not only money, but time as well!

I THOROUGHLY researched your options and found a few OBD2 software programs to be available. Whether you have a Windows or a Mac personal computer, there’s something here for you.

Top 3 OBD2 Software/ELM327 Software LIST:

Authors Pick: Software: Operating System: Overall Rating:

BEST Overall

Winows

9.8/10

RUNNER Up

Windows, Mac, Linux

9.0/10

PREMIUM Price

Windows

8.5/10

What Exactly is OBD2 Software?

obd2 software plugged into vehicle

Just a quick recap, if you weren’t aware of what OBD2 stands for, it simply means: On-Board Diagnostics, version 2. There’s OBD1, but that is on vehicles made prior to 1996.

OBD2 software is similar to what you’d find in handheld OBD2 scanners, however, these softwares take it a STEP further.

You can download all of these programs to your Linux, Mac OS, or Windows computer. By running a long cable from your computer directly to the vehicle you are working on, you’ll have direct access to the car’s BRAIN. To see which one to get, I did a few OBD2 software reviews below to break down each of their pro’s and con’s.

#1. TOAD PRO - Professional Auto Diagnostics Software

One of the best OBD2 automotive softwares that I came across was Toad PRO. Toad stands for “Total OBD & ECU Automotive Diagnostics“, an odd-sounding software that actually stands exactly for what it’s meant to be used for.

This software is not for beginners, and it does much more than your free smart phone OBD2 scanner apps like Torque, DashCommand, ScanMaster etc). The MAIN reason this software is #1 on my list is because it can compete with OBD2 scanner that cost upwards of $3,000. The entire package comes with not just the software but an OBD2 connector that go directly into your Windows PC.

The amount of things Toad PRO can do for you is very impressive, especially considering it costs 1/20th of what a $3,000 scanner would. Some of the things this software can do is: Check your engine light, dig deeper into the ROOT cause of the problem, track your vehicle stats while moving OR stationary (you pick), ECU tuning, and remapping, perform emission readouts, analyze horsepower/torque figures (on the road or DYNO), and more.

While the software and OBD2 combo costs almost $400 (usually), they recently dropped the price to $117. That’s a pretty big drop!

If YOU want to take your car’s health into your own hands, Toad PRO is worth looking into.

Benefits of Toad PRO

Drawbacks to Toad PRO

#2. OBD Auto Doctor OBD2/ELM327 Software

OBD Auto Doctor is yet another software that can easily be downloaded to your MAC, Windows, or Linux computer. While not quite as popular as Toad PRO, this software gives you the option to choose whether you want the free version, the monthly version, or the one-time payment version.

I DO NOT recommend getting the free version because it has far too few usable features to make it worthwhile. You can of course upgrade to their $5/month plan, and get instant access to everything, but there’s a better option. A one-time payment of $119 will give you lifetime access to all the software’s features and capabilities. What are they you may ask?

Connect your car directly to your computer and check for fault codes, clear them out, track LIVE data as you move (or don’t move), track fuel emission and consumption, calibrate and remap ECU’s, and more.

This is one of the BEST OBD2 softwares for Mac OS on the market. It’s not for the faint of heart, because there are a LOT of features that require an understanding of how to operate. It’s a highly technical software, but if you are comfortable with it, it will serve you well. This software made it to #2 (just barely) due to it being a bit more sophisticated to use, but just like Toad PRO, its a great alternative to expensive scan tools.

Keep in mind that you need to buy a separate OBD2 adapter to connect the software to your car. Below is a link of an adapter I recommend.

Benefits of OBD Auto Doctor

Drawbacks to OBD Auto Doctor

#3. AutoEnginuity's Giotto ScanTool & Software

AutoGenuity makes to #3 on my list as a worthy OBD diagnostic software to buy. Like OBD Automotive Doctor above, it’s a highly in-depth tool that lets you zoom closer at a vehicle’s problem.

AutoGenuity comes as a complete package including both the software (compatible with Windows only) and their own scan tool. They cover at the moment approximately 58 car makers with vehicles that are made after 1996.

Unlike with some softwares that require additional installations and software updates to get their programs to work properly, AutoGenuity is as plug-and-play as a program gets. You don’t need to install any drivers and in most cases, you can plug IN and move on to the next step.

Their software works on all makes and models, whether they are gas, diesel, hybrid, or electric, they store over 50,000 manufacturer specific codes.

Where this software and scan tool lack is in terms of price. There are cheaper options out there that can do a similar or identical job as this one can. It seems like this company is catering towards small to medium-sized shops that service at least a few dozen cars per month. Their ability to scan, reset, track live data, test emissions, remap, or tweak the ECU and more, is in my opinion WORTH the price. If at the very least you are a car enthusiast, consider this program.

Benefits of OBD Auto Doctor

Drawbacks to OBD Auto Doctor

#4. OBDwiz Diagnostic Software

Last but certainly not least on this list is the OBDwiz diagnostic software. Created specifically for Windows computers, they are priced the least aggressive at only $25. While you will have to purchase a separate Windows compatible OBD2 USB cable, if you play with the software a bit, you’ll learn a few things.

The most obvious thing is that it’s EASY to use. Like many programs that look like they were built back in the early 2000’s, if you get past that, you’ll see that it can check your vehicle’s fuel consumption (real-time), record, and playback any recorded data, LOG data into a csv format, display battery voltage, read freeze-frame data, and more.

The list is really extensive.

While this software is NOT compatible with Mac OS (like most aren’t), many Windows operating versions should work with TouchScan without any issues (as long as you have a compatible USB/OBD2 cable that works with Windows).

If you have a Windows desktop or laptop and you want to easily diagnose your car’s problems, see the exact codes, clear them or track LIVE data, OBDwiz is priced low enough to be a great value.

Benefits of OBD Auto Doctor

Drawbacks to OBD Auto Doctor

#5. TouchScan OBD Diagnostic Software

ForScan is yet another OBD software that can give you access to your car’s vital information. While I strongly recommend the Toad PRO software for everything related to automobiles, if you want to dip your toes in the water with diagnostic software, ForScan is a low-cost option that could be a great option for some.

ForScan does not seem like a huge company and their product line-up is limited. What they DO offer is software for most Windows operating systems, and even an app for both iOS and Android platforms.

This program can detect on-board faults, read specific codes, modulate and configure stats, and more. They do have a better-looking user interface than many other programs and softwares. However, where they seem to lack is in their variety of vehicles they are compatible with. Ford, Mazda, Lincoln, and Mercury automobiles are where they shine the most. If you want to get additional upgrades to other manufacturers like Nissan, it will cost a bit more (as an upgrade).

If you have any of the above-mentioned vehicles, the low cost of entry is great. If you want this program for OTHER car manufacturers, you can either upgrade or look elsewhere (which if thats going to be the case, I’d recommend it).

Benefits of OBD Auto Doctor

Drawbacks to OBD Auto Doctor

What is OBD Diagnostic Software?

OBD diagnostic software is a downloadable car repair/diagnosis program that goes into your computer, tablet, or other mobile device. Unlike with so many OBD2 scan tools out there that are flooding the market with cheap Chinese variants, when it comes to software, the competition is limited.

With these programs, you’ll be able to:

  • Check vehicle emissions
  • Check engine fault codes, as well as OTHER fault codes
  • Give you access to codes that are not just from the engine, but transmission, ABS, and SRS.
  • Display LIVE data while you are stationary AND while you are moving
  • Can display the status of on-board tests
  • Map and Re-map ECU’s for improved performance
  • and so much more!

How do you install and use the software?

No software is the same, with some catering towards every-day car guys, while others cater towards technicians and mechanics. Using the software will solely depend on which software you buy.

In a nutshell, the process is straight forward. What you need to keep in mind is your operating system matches the requirements from the OBD diagnostics program. While many say they work with Windows, what kind of version though?

The latest version of Windows is the best version, however there are people who still run Windows Vista or even XP that might not have a compatible version to run a diagnostic program.

Assuming you have the correct version, either insert the disk and follow prompted instructions or click on the link provided to you and download the program that way. Installation should not take too long.

After you installed the program and you adjusted all parameters (if there are any), you can now begin by plugging in your car into your computer. I recommend you use a laptop for this due to the manuverability advantages.

Most programs will work with USB-powered OBD2 cords. Connect the cord to your computer and run the other end directly into your OBD2 port. If you aren’t sure of where to find the OBD2 port, read below.

Where is the OBD2 port located?

where to find the OBD2 port?

Locating the OBD2 port may sound simple (most of the time it is), but there are manufacturers that make it a little tricky, or almost impossible to locate.

The most common place you can find the OBD2 port located is below your steering wheel, to the left of where you brake pedal is. In many cases, it’s wide open with no covers. I recommend you use a flashlight to identify its location.

The other places where the OBD2 port can also be found, while not commonly would be more to the right of where the first location I talked about, behind the car radio (requiring removal of the head unit), next to the transmission shifter, in the arm-rest compartment and inside the glove box.

BEST Features of OBD diagnostic softwares

This depends on which program you end up going with. What CAN be said about the best features of OBD software is that they all do many similar things. To me, the following clearly stand out.

  • Check LIVE vehicle data whether you are moving or are stationary
  • Scan for error codes, identify them, and clear them when necessary
  • Check a car’s fuel economy and emissions + whether the vehicle is putting out excess pollutants
  • By scanning your vehicle for codes, some can be very simple and fixable, saving you hundreds and even thousands down the road

Which would I (author) pick?

If you didn’t see the #1 pick above, its the Toad PRO diagnostics program. I chose to go with them because the amount of FEATURES they have for the PRICE is unmatched. They aren’t too expensive either.

While they don’t work with Mac OS (the only drawback I can think of), for any Windows users this program is a great tool to have if you want to monitor or even diagnose/repair your vehicle.