With Apple working on wearable tech as the next big thing, one would think finding a diagnostic tool for your car that’s Apple-compatible wouldn’t be too hard, right? The answer to that question depends on how much money you want to spend and how much you want to know about your car. Most cars these days have onboard computers that diagnose problems as they occur. However, understanding what’s going on with your vehicle when all you have to go on is a check engine light, isn’t easy. That’s where OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics) devices come in handy.
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What is OBD-II?
An OBD-II unit (also known as OBD2) can reveal faulty parts you didn’t even know you had let alone were worried about failing. These small devices plug into your car and produce specific codes that will let you know if you need a mechanic or can fix a small problem yourself. There are quite a few Apple-compatible options on the market. Below are a handful to consider based on the information you’re looking for and the money you have to invest.
BlueDriver OBD2 Scan Tool
BlueDriver is one of the higher-end OBD2 tools, running around $100 on Amazon. This device is officially licensed and certified by Apple and is trusted by mechanics everywhere. It uses Bluetooth to connect to your iPhone or iPad, so you won’t have to rely on WiFi. BlueDriver reads and clears enhanced codes that other cheaper models don’t, such as ABS, airbag, transmission, misfires, and other live data.
XTOOL iOBD2 WiFi Scanner
The primary difference between the BlueDriver and XTOOL (aside from the $60 sticker price on the XTOOL vs. $100 for the BlueDriver) is the use of WiFi to transfer data to the app on your iPhone. Both BlueDriver and XTOOL allow you to view and clear trouble codes, although XTOOL is not certified by Apple. XTOOL also includes an emissions readiness test option and trip route tracking.
At the time of this article, this particular unit was Out of Stock on Amazon but similar units were available.
Vgate WiFi iCar2 OBD2 Reader
Vgate’s less expensive reader model is compatible with cars and trucks sold in the US after 1996. This unit ranges from $13 to $20, depending on the level of vehicle diagnostics you require. It offers real-time engine data and will also allow you to clear codes (such as the check engine light). Vgate relies on a WiFi connection but has a very low power consumption rate, which means leaving it plugged in all the time is a safe option.
The Bottom Line
This short list is only a drop in the bucket of the available OBD-II readers and scan tools on the market. Most units have similar basic features, but the scan tools (vs. readers) are more sophisticated and provide reliable data that would cost you more than you paid for the unit at an auto repair shop. Whether you’re a hobby mechanic or simply interested in how your vehicle functions, you don’t have to spend much to find an OBD-II unit that’s compatible with your favorite Apple device.
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Working as a motoring writer gave Jacqueline Cowell the chance to put her past experience as a mechanic to good use, once she became a mother and decided to stay at home with her two young children. She now puts together pieces for a range of different motoring websites, but in her free time restores classic vehicles with her husband.