The Best OBD2 Bluetooth Adapters (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Know your car inside and out with these Bluetooth OBD2 adapters
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BY Brian Smyth / LAST UPDATED ON February 19, 2021
We all hate that feeling of dread when the "Check Engine" light illuminates the dashboard. Is it just a loose fuel cap, or could it be something worse? You’d prefer not to think about it, but you don’t want to lose another arm or leg to the mechanic so that he can diagnose a problem with a super simple fix. An OBD2 Bluetooth adapter can save you time and money by analyzing sensor readings, parameters of the engine, and various other car functions that will help monitor your car’s health.
However, choosing the right OBD2 Bluetooth adapter can be a little overwhelming given the number of options on the market today. No worries, we’ve got you covered. We put together this guide of the best OBD2 Bluetooth adapters you can stop panicking and get your car back on the road again with less stress and more cash tucked safely away in your wallet.
The VeePeak OBDCheck BLE features the best of both Android and iOS devices. It is compatible with an almost endless list of third-party apps and is attractively priced.
- Compatible with both Android and iOS
- Compatible with a wide array of popular third-party apps
- Not compatible with Windows PC
The Mestart OBD2 Bluetooth adapter is an excellent budget option for Android and PC users. It has a low-profile design and is compatible with many popular scanner apps.
- Small footprint
- Compatible with Android, Windows PC, and even old Symbian-based mobile devices
- Supports a number of popular third-party apps
- Not compatible with iOS devices
The OBDLink MX+ is one of the best Bluetooth adapters on the market, thanks to versatile OS and app compatibility, enhanced OEM support, and numerous safety and power-saving features.
- Compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, and Kindle Fire
- Works with dozens of third-party apps
- Safe to leave plugged in
- Relatively expensive
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Benefits of OBD2 Bluetooth Adapters
- Better car care. OBD2 data allows you to know your car far better than you could without that data. By monitoring fault codes and making repairs on your own, you will have a much better sense of your vehicle’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to take better care of it with customized care and better preventative maintenance.
- Save money. When paired with a competent app, a Bluetooth OBD2 adapter can save you boatloads of money by allowing you to quickly and efficiently diagnose a vehicle fault code. This will enable you to either make a simple repair yourself or give your mechanic a solid starting point when you take the car in for the repair.
- Improve driving performance. Most OBD2 adapters and apps allow you to monitor your vehicle’s driving performance, such as its fuel economy, operating temperature, and more. This information can be invaluable when tuning your car, and some apps even allow you to make the computer adjustments yourself (assuming you are qualified to do so).
Types of OBD2 Bluetooth Adapters
The vast majority of OBD2 Bluetooth adapters are designed to pair with multiple operating systems, a feature designed to improve user flexibility. Many people find themselves owning both Apple and Android mobile devices at some point in time—even simultaneously—and countless people own a Windows PC. Most adapters will combine Android and iOS or Android and PC compatibility into a single device, but iOS and PC combos are virtually non-existent. Of course, the holy grail is a device that communicates with all three operating systems, an uncommon and often expensive find.
Adapter With App
Most OBD2 Bluetooth adapters are designed to work with the seemingly countless third-party mobile scan tool apps available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. However, some devices were designed to work with a purpose-built app from the adapter’s manufacturer. Many of these devices will still work with the third-party apps, but buyers may run into an adapter that only works with the proprietary app on rare occasions.
In 2006, Maurice Tuff launched BlueDriver as a way to provide car owners with the extra know-how to tackle today’s complex car repairs. Today, the company specializes in automotive diagnostics, thanks to tools like the BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro and the revolutionary BlueDriver mobile app.
OBDLink was launched by a group of American engineers with a passion for providing car owners with top-notch tools for their own four-wheeled passions. With products like the OBDLink MX+, the company provides drivers with an indispensable car care tool.
VeePeak owes its existence to a group of American entrepreneurs dedicated to giving drivers the tools they need to achieve and maintain peak performance from their cars. Whether at home or on the road, products like the VeePeak OBDCheck BLE exist to keep drivers cruising and cars out of the shop.
OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter Pricing
- Under $25: Adapters in this price range are usually Android/PC or Android-only options. Compatibility with iOS is uncommon in this bracket.
- $25 to $50: These options tend to include iOS-compatible adapters, although some might still be Android/PC-only. The Android/iOS/PC adapter may make an occasional appearance, as will proprietary apps.
- $50 and up: This price range usually includes Android/iOS/PC combinations, and these adapters often include proprietary software as well.
To avoid turning that new OBD2 Bluetooth adapter into a little plastic brick, be sure to pick one up that will communicate with your smartphone or tablet of choice. Virtually every adapter on the market will be compatible with Android devices. However, iOS users will need to search a little longer to find a compatible adapter.
While a few OBD2 Bluetooth adapters provide access to a proprietary scan tool app, the vast majority of these devices are designed to work with the most common (and much less common) third-party apps available on Google Play or in the App Store. While most adapters will work with most apps, it pays to make sure the adapter and intended app are compatible.
- Windows PC Compatibility. While most OBD2 Bluetooth adapters are intended for mobile devices, some will work with Windows PC operating systems, too. This feature will never be used for most users, but for professionals and serious DIYers wanting something extra, this feature is worth the extra pennies. Those willing to pay more will find themselves in possession of the rare adapter that works with Android, iOS, and Windows, which is a big plus.
Best OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Before purchasing an OBD2 adapter, know which app(s) you plan to pair with the adapter. Some adapters only support one mobile OS rather than both.
- Always plug in your OBD2 adapter BEFORE starting your vehicle (unless the adapter manufacturer indicates otherwise). This prevents the device’s software from being corrupted when being plugged into a live system.
- Unplug your OBD2 adapter when not in use to prevent an unnecessary power drain on the car’s battery.
- If you do not understand a vehicle code, do not clear it. Consult your mechanic instead.
Q: Is it OK to leave an OBD2 Bluetooth adapter plugged in?
After shutting down your vehicle, make sure to unplug your OBD2 adapter to prevent the device from draining the battery on your car.
Q: What's the difference between OBD and OBD2?
OBD is a diagnostics system found on some vehicles manufactured in the 1980s up until 1995. This system uses make-specific codes, scanners, and connection points. OBD2 is a universal diagnostic system found on cars made in 1996 or later designed to comply with California emissions requirements.
Q: How do I use an OBD2 Bluetooth adapter?
Follow the instructions that come with your adapter and the app you will pair with it. Usually, you will plug in the adapter, start the car, pair the devices, then run a scan. Once finished, turn the car off and remove the adapter.
The VeePeak OBDCheck BLE is the perfect balance between compatibility and affordability. It works with virtually every Android and iOS device and accommodates almost countless scanner apps. The Launchh Mestart OBDII Bluetooth Car Diagnostic Scan Tool is a great budget option for those using Android devices and PC-based scanners.