Updated: May 27, 2015

Best Actron Code Scanners and OBD II Code Readers

Do you tend to panic when you see that check engine light? It can be a bit alarming when you are driving along and that mysterious light pops up. I know that on more than one occasion, seeing that scary light almost caused me to veer out of my lane and right into an unsuspecting car! The good news is that today's autoscanners, code scanners and diagnostic tools allow regular people to gain some insight into what is going wrong with their car. The check engine light is connected to what's called the On Board Diagnostic system, or OBD for short. Since car engines have become more and more computerized, this system was set up in the 1980s, first as OBD I and then as OBD II in the mid 1990s. All vehicles built since then can be hooked up to a computer to get a reading of any problems the on board diagnostic system finds. Actron's tools are readily available to the consumer and give people some degree of control over their own car's diagnosis. Actron was founded in 1964, and they are now one of the biggest manufacturers of diagnostic equipment for cars. In fact, they are #1 for readers for do-it-yourselfers (often called DIYers.) Other competing brands include Equus and Sunpro. Actron's equipment runs from scan tools and readers, to auto diagnostic equipment to gauges. We'll take a look at some of the best-selling Actron code scanners in this guide.
actron code scanner

Information about Actron Diagnostic Equipment

Actron introduced the first retail market code reader in 1991. Before that time, this information was only available to technicians. Next, the first Scan tool was made available to the public in 1996. It allowed people to get trouble codes, fix a problem and clear the check engine reading, according to the OBD II specs. If you want more information about how these tools work, the Actron site also has a book you can order called 'How to Use Automotive Diagnostic Scanners.' This book focuses on how to understand OBD-1 and OBD II systems. You can check out the entire line of Actron products here. These Actron code scanners receive consistently great ratings.

Actron Code Readers

What is a code reader? This device reads and erases diagnostic trouble codes. Some of the newest offerings include the ABS Brakescan CP9449 for $229.95. This reader works for brake repairs and is used both by DIYers as well as professionals. So if you are primarily concerned about your car's brakes, this tool could be the appropriate choice. It does have easy to use functionality and the price is low compared to some other readers. The Actron ABS Brakescan CP9449 shows why the brake warning sign is on, diagnoses system problems, and displays ABS trouble codes. Another code reader is the Actron Pocketscan Plus CP9410 - it's a small handheld unit that weighs less than a pound. With just 3 buttons (on/off, read, erase), this is a basic, easy to use code reader. This tool gives an immediate recommendation and tells the user how urgent the check engine problem is -- an indicator warns if the problem is a green, yellow, or red alert (which means urgent repair). It also gives web support information and suggests the common causes of the trouble codes. A tool like the Pocketscan Plus CP9410 can definitely save time and money. This tool received extremely positive recommendations on Amazon, and for $45 it is a bit of a no-brainer. Users loved the fact that they felt they could rely on this tool to decide if they could keep driving or if they needed to fix a car immediately. Many users commented on how happy they felt when they went to see a technician and had some solid knowledge already about what was going wrong with the car. The only real complaint about this tool was functionality of the cable and disconnecting the sensor from the car. Overall, people say it is convenient easy to read, and a "must have" item. Obviously, you could save the $45 on a car repair bill or a check up very quickly. For the price of a couple of oil changes, it certainly could not hurt to keep The Pocketscan Plus CP9410 stored in your car in case of emergency.

Actron Scan Tools - Elite AutoScanner Pro CP9190

These days there are a variety of ways to diagnose your car with Actron tools. The first choice is an Actron scan tool, which reads and erases codes and performs tests allowed by the maker of the car. This tool takes care of LIVE diagnostic data. Unlike some other company's tools, Actron scan tools cover cars all the way back to 1982 (when OBD I originated). The newest Scan tools include the Elite AutoScanner Pro CP9190. It features ODB II enhanced codes, can be updated via the Internet, has a graphic LCD display, and more. This model also displays trouble codes and definitions, displays MIL status, reads displays and erases DTCs, resets check engine light, etc. The Actron Elite AutoScanner sells for $275 on Amazon.com. The Elite AutoScanner Pro CP9190 has many professional features that allow users to freeze-frame and pinpoint a problem easier. This model is loaded compared to some of the other Actron scan tools (the chart on this page compares the features of all the other Actron scanners - CP9125, CP9410, CP9175, CP9180, CP9185, CP9190) . Other scan tools include the Super Autoscanner Kit CP9150 for $349.99 which has an "extremely user friendly menu." The menu on this particular option may make this a more attractive option for beginners. Now if you are just beginning with diagnostic tools for your car and just want to dip your toe, you may be able to opt for an Actron Code reader or Actron Code Scanner instead. However, the Scan tools mentioned above are just a few of the company's excellent options available. The ideal customers for these tools are people who want to feel fully prepared and also be sure to have all the bells and whistles.