OBD scan tools have become quite popular among technicians and consumers alike in the past decade. These tools are a great way to diagnose the diverse issues with their vehicles for consumers.
It, in turn, could save them from a rip-off at the repair shop. However, diagnosis and service are where OBD scan tools find themselves stuck.
You can read and interpret error-based information from the vehicle, but you cannot send commands to the vehicle. A bidirectional scan tool does not have these limitations, though.
As you can figure from the name, a bidirectional scan tool can receive information from your car and send commands to the controller module.
These tools perform better in real life than on paper. Just think about it: would it not be awesome if you can detect the problem with your car’s windows and fix them instantly?
The simple fact that you need not visit a repair shop can save a car owner hundreds of dollars. However, for technicians and mechanics, a bidirectional scan tool is a super-impressive time saver.
However, bidirectional scan tools do not come in cheap. You will have to invest a substantially high amount to get an adequate bidirectional scan tool for your needs.
Therefore, if you plan to get one such scan tool, you should buy the best one. We understand that the best bidirectional scan tool means different for different people.
Therefore, we have prepared a list of the five best bidirectional scan tool options from the current market.
Choosing the one that suits your specific requirements would not be a problem.
Best Bidirectional Scan Tool – Reviews & Buying guide for 2021
Best overall: Autel MaxiPRO
- Type: Bidirectional and Full System
- Compatibility: 80+ Vehicles
The Autel MaxiPRO MP808K Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool is hands down the best bidirectional scan tool you can get today.
If you are willing to shell out a considerable amount of money, this bidirectional control allows full-system access and in-depth control.
You can also rely on the fantastic set of features and support for multiple vehicles and languages. It is also the go-to option for many professional technicians and home mechanics worldwide.
The product also brings some of the best features we can expect for the price.
- You can use the Autel MaxiPRO MP808K Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool to get a comprehensive idea about the different services and functions in your vehicle. Some available options include oil reset, DPF, BMS, Throttle, Suspension, IMMO Keys, ABS Auto Bleed, Throttle Adaptation, and Turbo Calibration. If you have this scan tool, you do not need anything else.
- According to Autel, the bidirectional scan tool works fine with 80+ vehicle models in different US, Europe, and Asia markets. You can also mail the VIN to the official email ID of the company to check if your vehicle has full support. On a regular day, though, you can connect this scan tool to almost every car and get the most comprehensive results. The package comes with an all-in-one connect kit for various protocols too.
- Getting the most accurate information about your vehicle model is a piece of cake when you have this tool at your disposal. The Autel MaxiPRO MP808K Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool can collect much information about the vehicle in a single touch. You can get to know about the meter, engine, VIN, etc. Using it for your professional needs will be easy and efficient.
- On top of its unparalleled compatibility and connectivity options, this Autel scan tool comes with 12 months of free software updates as well. Therefore, you can expect the product to increase its compatibility day by day. Rest assured, you can use all the analytics/service functions even after you have used the 12 months of updates.
- You can rely on the data you see on the screen when testing the electronic systems within your car. The scan tool comes with dedicated options for PCM, EPS, PDM, BCM, ABS, SCCM on top of the standard options like SRS, transmission, brake system, and engine. The best part is that the scan tool will feature a UI that enables live data feed and test information.
- Last but not least, the Autel MaxiPRO MP808K Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool has been designed to assist you for several years. With the correct frequency of maintenance and updates, you can use this bidirectional tool to control everything about OBD and function scanning at ease. After all, you are getting a brand-new iteration.
- We could not find any significant issue with the Autel MaxiPRO MP808K Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool despite our best critical analysis. The only thing is that you should be ready to spend a little more. On the flip side, the extra couple of hundred dollars you spend will give you one of the best-in-class scan tools in the price range.
- It would be best if you also kept in mind that it is one of the newest bidirectional scan tools from the company. Therefore, if you have a vehicle with OBDI functionality, you cannot use this product to track what is the problem. On the other hand, if the car supports OBDII or later, you would not have any issue using all the features.
Runner-up: LAUNCH X431 V PRO
- Type: Bidirectional and Full System
- Compatibility: 100+ models
Are you looking for a more advanced bidirectional scan tool with expanded compatibility? In that case, you should check out the LAUNCH X431 V PRO 4.0 Bi-Directional Scan Tool, which is a go-to choice of mechanics worldwide.
Compared to the other options in the market, this bidirectional scan tool offers a better set of features and a premium experience.
It is also worth noting that the product is powered by one of the well-built Android-based systems. In the end, this model gets almost everything right.
- The LAUNCH X431 V PRO 4.0 Bi-Directional Scan Tool is the most up-to-date model from the maker. The device has become faster, more secure, and effective during the procedure. The manufacturer has added a few excellent features like AutoAuth for FCA SGW and Offline Coding. All these do magic when it comes to effective customization of your vehicle.
- In addition to improving the scanning tool system, LAUNCH has also used a superior base system. Android v9.0 powers the device, and you can install any application you want. As for connectivity, you can depend on 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Because the device ships with a 7000mAh battery, you do not have to worry about running out of juice amidst a scan session, either.
- You can rely on the efficiency of the LAUNCH X431 V PRO 4.0 Bi-Directional Scan Tool when it comes to an all-system diagnosis of your vehicle. At the same time, active tests that use bidirectional control and ECU coding options provide a comprehensive image of the vehicle. Once you have tested all the required aspects of the vehicle, you can quickly generate and share a health report.
- The health report contains almost everything you want to know about the vehicle. Some of the areas it covers include Engine, Transmission, Airbag, Instruments, Air Suspension, Body Systems, Cruise Controls, 4WD systems, intelligent Parking, Clutch Electronics, Chassis systems, and Navigation System. You can get accessories from the maker to improve the options, but they are unnecessary.
- The latest version also offers 31+ relearn functions in a vehicle. These options come in handy for all consumers and technicians. You can use the bidirectional capability of the device to reset sectors like an oil lamp, suspension, EPB, ABS, electric throttle, sunroof, gearbox, injector coding, DPF, and AFS. The company keeps adding these excellent features frequently, making the updates valuable.
- Unlike our winner pick, the LAUNCH X431 V PRO 4.0 Bi-Directional Scan Tool provides free software updates for two years. You can also avail of the manufacturer’s 5-year warranty and lifetime tech support. In real life, it means you can connect the device to vehicle models as old as 1993 and the brand-new ones from 2021.
- As you can guess, the LAUNCH X431 V PRO 4.0 Bi-Directional Scan Tool is not a cheap option. You have to spend a substantially high amount to get the product. While the overall package is quite comprehensive, we believe you may not need these many options unless you are a professional. So, it could be a doubtful investment for first-time consumers, at least from the monetary perspective.
- It would help if you also kept in mind that the bidirectional scan tool is quite bulky. It has been designed to survive challenging environments on the bright side, including drops and bumps. As a side effect, you get a substantially heavy device. We are talking about several pounds of weight, which does not make your job easy.
Alternative: Autel MaxiPRO MP808
- Type: All System Diagnostics and Bidirectional
- Compatibility: 80+
If you think our winner and runner-up picks are too bulky, you can consider an alternative like the Autel MaxiPRO MP808 Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool.
Even though the device comes with the same number of diagnostics and service features, the package is very compact and easy to use.
You may prefer this option to the first and second picks if you have just started with vehicle issue diagnostics. It is also one of the highest-rated products in the market right now.
- You can use the Autel MaxiPRO MP808 Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool for OE-level diagnostics. It means the tool will help you read and erase data and check the guided functions exclusive to some devices. For instance, you can find more options in Audi and VAG vehicles.
- The device also offers full support for more than 30 special functions. The options include SRS, EPB, SAS, DPF, TPMS, Injector Coding, and Oil Reset. Of course, you can use the AutoVIN function to get a comprehensive idea about the vehicle you are dealing with.
- Unlike some other tools, the Autel MaxiPRO MP808 Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool uses a simple User Interface. The device’s screen has a 1024 x 600, and the Android v4.4 interface looks fantastic. You can use the touch interface for maximum convenience.
- As you can guess, the manufacturer has added dedicated options for some aspects. For instance, the EPB and BMS diagnostics can help you get an idea about the vehicle. At the same time, the steering system diagnosis and ABS diagnosis options can be lifesavers at some points.
- Like our winner pick, which comes from the same manufacturer, this product also works with a wide variety of devices. You can use the Autel MaxiPRO MP808 Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool to deal with more than 80 vehicles in the US, Europe, and Asian markets.
- As we mentioned earlier, this entire package is very compact. However, it has not stopped the makers from adding some superb features to the device. For instance, the shop manager and data manager utilities on the system can help you save a lot of time.
- Despite having a feature-rich system inside, the Autel MaxiPRO MP808 Automotive Diagnostic Scan Tool does not have wireless connectivity options. So, getting regular updates from the server could be a challenging task.
- Some of you may also find that the design is too simple. Of course, the maker had to cut down the display size to accommodate all the features in a compact container. So, if you prefer working with bigger screens, this product may disappoint you.
Alternative: LAUNCH X431 Diagun
- Type: All Systems, Bidirectional
- Compatibility: 150+ makes
The LAUNCH X431 Diagun V Bidirectional Scan Tool is another viable alternative if you need a compact scan tool with bidirectional features.
Here is the crucial thing, though. You do not have to miss out on the major premium features from the manufacturer while going for this option.
One of the reasons why the product has maintained its superb ratings is the valuable features. Also, we are talking about the brand-new versions for 2021.
- Compared to the versions from previous years, the LAUNCH X431 Diagun V Bidirectional Scan Tool packs more features than ever. AutoAuth for FCA SGW is one of those many features. You can also use the offline coding options available for Benz and BMW vehicles out there.
- We must appreciate the wider compatibility of the device on any day. Given that you have a vehicle with a suitable connector, you would not have trouble setting up this bidirectional scan system. If we listen to the numbers, the maker says you can use the product with more than 150 makes.
- There are so many options for bidirectional control and active tests. Some of the major options include ECU coding, matching, data recording, data printing, remote diagnostics, diagnostic feedback, sensor data stream, data analysis, and data export options.
- We must also note that the product comes with all sorts of connectors, despite the low price. You need to know which cable to use when. Thanks to the well-designed UI and the core OS of the system, you can start testing the device in a few minutes.
- As you can expect, the LAUNCH X431 Diagun V Bidirectional Scan Tool supports more than 31 relearn services out there. The options are IMMO, EPB reset, Battery Register, Electronic Throttle Reset, SAS Reset, and ABS Bleeding.
- Thanks to the additional connectivity options, you can receive constant updates for two years. Since the device does not limit entries from an IP address, you can effortlessly use the LAUNCH X431 Diagun V Bidirectional Scan Tool to diagnose as many vehicles as you want.
- Once again, we have to notice the situation with wireless connectivity. Sure, the product comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, but they are not powerful. So, you may have to connect the scan tool to a PC for effortless updates.
- Some reviews also indicate that specific features on the LAUNCH X431 Diagun V Bidirectional Scan Tool model do not work as we expect them to. There are some hit-or-miss situations that you must stay informed about.
Alternative: Autel MaxiCheck Pro
- Type: OBD2 Diagnostics
- Compatibility: OBD2 only
The Autel MaxiCheck Pro OBD2 Scan Diagnostic Tool is different from the other bidirectional tools we have listed above. First of all, you have to pay only a fraction of what those products cost.
Second, this product does not offer all the features you would expect in a fully-fledged bidirectional control suite.
Instead, it relies on some of the core features and gives you a compact system. But you are making an excellent investment.
- The Autel MaxiCheck Pro OBD2 Scan Diagnostic Tool is a compact system. You do not have to worry about bulky packages or carrying cases while dealing with the product. Instead, you can add this tool to any of your work bags.
- Even though it does not offer full-system analysis, the ABS Brake Auto Bleed and ABS Bidirectional Control options on the device are excellent. You have to ensure that your device has the built-in feature for ABS auto-bleed. You can do this by sending in the VIN to Autel support.
- The Autel MaxiCheck Pro OBD2 Scan Diagnostic Tool offers many of them when it comes to secondary functions. You can get to know about ABS, SRS, Oil Reset, EMS, and BMS on any day. You can use the device with more than 50 vehicles in this case.
- If we keep the bidirectional control aspect aside, you can use this device for standard OBD2 diagnosis needs. If you have a device made after 1996, you would not have trouble connecting the OBD2 adapter and getting accurate error analysis.
- Because the Autel MaxiCheck Pro OBD2 Scan Diagnostic Tool uses a customized user interface, even the utmost beginners can get their jumpstart. It does not have a touchscreen interface but allows quick navigation using buttons.
- Last but not least, you can enjoy lifetime free software updates with the device. It would be best if you had a Windows-based PC to manage its software, though. Ultimately, you get some advanced data exporting options as well.
- As you may have noticed, the Autel MaxiCheck Pro OBD2 Scan Diagnostic Tool does not offer full-system bidirectional controls. Instead, they are limited to ABS bleeding options. So, it would not be as powerful as the other picks.
- You do not have wireless connectivity options with this device. So, while dealing with vehicles, you always need an adapter. Similarly, you cannot think about getting updates if you do not have a PC to connect the scan tool to.
Bidirectional Scan Tool FAQ
What Autel scanners are bidirectional?
Autel has a considerable number of bidirectional scanners in the market. We have mentioned two of them, and both offer complete system diagnosis with bidirectional controls.
However, some Autel scanners do not have full-system bidirectional controls. For instance, our third alternative offers bidirectional controls for ABS and basic needs.
Do I need a bidirectional scanner?
You need a bidirectional scanner to diagnose problems with vehicles and fix them through OBD and other commands. You can send commands to the car with a bidirectional scan tool only.
As we have said, these products are expensive and come with a powerful system inside. On the other hand, non-bidirectional scanners would also do the job if you want to know the problem.
What does bidirectional mean on a scanner?
On a scanner, bidirectional means that the device can receive and send information. The scanner will receive information from the vehicle systems, thereby allowing you to understand what causes the problem.
At the same time, you can send commands the other way — the scanner to the vehicle — to enable some options or ensure the proper function of some services.
What is bidirectional control?
Bidirectional control means controlling the electronic systems and service modules via a scanner. Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, you may have to use a variety of channels to connect to a bidirectional scan tool.
The definition of bidirectional control also depends on the scan tool you have chosen.
We believe our coverage of the best bidirectional scan tools helped you find the best option for your home mechanic shop or a professional repair solution.
We have included affordable bidirectional scan tool options if you are planning to save money.
However, we would not recommend that option since a full-system scan tool is always better than a limited bidirectional scanning tool.