We put an OBDII scanner from Ancel through the paces.
Automotive dashboard lights serve as the car’s way of communicating crucial information to the driver. These indicator lights can represent a range of issues, from low fuel and tire pressure warnings to more critical alerts like engine malfunction or airbag failure. While some dashboard lights are self-explanatory, others can be vague and require further investigation to understand the underlying issue. This is where a diagnostic scan tool becomes invaluable. By connecting the tool to your vehicle’s onboard computer, you can easily identify and sometimes even clear the trouble codes, allowing you to understand the problem and take appropriate action. With the right tool in hand, interpreting your car’s “language” becomes a straightforward task, empowering you to maintain your vehicle in optimal condition. This review covers one such product, specifically the Ancel BD310 OBDII Scanner.
Product Name: Ancel BD310 OBDII Scanner
The BD310 is a cutting-edge diagnostic scan tool with dual-display capabilities; it can either show data directly on its built-in screen or wirelessly transmit information to an Android or iOS device through Bluetooth connectivity.
We’ve tested similar tools previously and were offered the chance to review a new handheld model from Ancel. Like similar tools, this one connects to the OBD-11 port in your vehicle, typically found underneath the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel. This product supplies a readout via the screen or through your smartphone.
The Ancel BD310 is presented in a thoughtfully designed display box, safely housed within a robust plastic enclosure. This protective shell not only holds the primary scanning unit but also includes space for the connection port, a USB cord, and a magnet that can be attached to your vehicle’s vent for on-the-go monitoring. Designed for user convenience, the package features a top-opening design that provides hassle-free access to all included items. Ancel’s packaging approach guarantees both easy access to your new diagnostic tool and robust protection during shipping.
You can interact with the product through two main avenues: the device’s own built-in interface or a dedicated smartphone app. This dual-accessibility offers users flexibility in how they wish to engage with the product. To help you get acquainted with its features and functionalities, the package includes a 30-page User’s Manual. While the manual is useful for understanding the product’s features, it lacks a table of contents or an index, which might make it challenging to quickly locate specific information. However, this shortcoming is somewhat mitigated by the manual’s straightforward layout and informative content, making it relatively easy to flip through and absorb the information you need.
Before diving into the product’s usage, it’s advisable to remove it from its protective casing and take a moment to familiarize yourself with its design. The front of the device features up, down, enter, and exit buttons, which simplify menu navigation. The menu itself is prominently displayed on the upper half of the product. On its left edge, you’ll find the wireless Bluetooth terminal, a button to switch between the handheld device mode and Bluetooth, and another to activate the Bluetooth connection.
How it Works
Here’s how the Ancel BD310 OBDII Scanner works:
Connect the scanner to the OBD-II port in your vehicle.
Turn on the vehicle or place it in a mode where the onboard computer is active. The scanner will initialize a connection at this point.
Navigate the scanner’s menu to select the “Read Codes” option. The scanner will then communicate with the vehicle’s computer to pull any diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). These codes will help identify any issues or malfunctions within the vehicle.
The scanner will display the codes along with a basic description. You will also find features like real-time data monitoring, code clearing, and advanced diagnostics to review.
Based on the codes and their meanings, you take appropriate actions to fix the issues. This could range from simple fixes, like tightening a loose gas cap, to more complex issues requiring professional mechanic services.
After the issue has been addressed, the scanner has an option to clear the codes, effectively turning off the warning lights on your dashboard, assuming the issue has been adequately resolved.
Certainly, this product offers more than meets the eye. Not only does the device provide in-depth trip analytics, but it also alerts you if the driver shows signs of fatigue or if you’re exceeding the speed limit. In addition, the BD310 offers performance assessments, delivers diagnostic summaries, and pulls up essential vehicle data. Keep in mind that the smartphone app unlocks even more features than the scanner alone, so installing and using the app is crucial for maximizing the device’s full potential.
If you’re looking to gain a comprehensive understanding of your vehicle’s condition, this product—or something similar—is an excellent choice. We discovered that being able to access diagnostic codes, research their meanings, and then either erase them or plan for repairs is highly advantageous. Unlike some auto shops that may charge for a diagnostic service, this tool from Ancel empowers consumers by pinpointing the issue, enabling them to make well-informed decisions.
While the ability to clear codes is undeniably useful, it comes with a specific caveat. Namely, if you have an annual vehicle inspection scheduled shortly after clearing the codes, the OBD system may not have had enough time to reset. We learned this the hard way when our vehicle inspection was deemed incomplete. A simple solution is to erase the codes and then drive a minimum of 60 miles to allow the system to fully update, thereby ensuring a smooth experience during your inspection visit.
The Bottom Line
The Ancel OBD-II Scanner stands out for its ease of use and versatility. Unlike previous models we tested, which solely depended on a smartphone app for code management, this unit allows for direct interaction through its handheld interface. This enables more immediate control over diagnostic codes without the need for an additional device.
Using the included guide, we effortlessly located the information we needed, made the required changes, and proceeded without any hitches. Although the device may not see frequent use—especially if you own just one vehicle—we recommend storing it in an easily accessible location for quick and convenient retrieval when needed.
Value for Money
Available for $77.99 on Amazon, we consider this price point to be quite fair, given the comprehensive set of features included with the device. Over the past ten years, prices for such tools have become more stable and even decreased, thanks to increasing competition and consumer demand. The Ancel BD310 OBD-II Scanner undeniably presents a valuable offering for consumers. One final note: the company makes a variety of electronic products. Besides scanners, these include a battery analyzer, programming tool, a heavy duty truck scanner, and professional scanners.
It’s worth emphasizing again the value of having an OBD-II scanner readily available. The insights it provides can be indispensable, potentially saving you unnecessary visits to the auto shop. Additionally, such devices can flag more serious vehicle issues early on, enabling you to take swift measures to prevent a breakdown and potentially costly repairs.
See Also — Making Sense of Dashboard Warning Lights
Photos acquired from Anceltech, Adobe Stock, and in-house.