Using a laptop to scan OBDII engine codes is an easy task and even possibly one of the better options.
One of the great things about using a laptop when scanning OBDII codes, is the ability to quickly look online for answers.
As long as the laptop is online, an error code can be looked up, and the many online forums can be read through that will give an overview of what others did to solve the problem.
How Do You Use a Laptop as an OBDII Scanner?
- USB-to-OBDII Cable
- OBDII Bluetooth Dongle
- Windows OBDII Software
The laptop will need to be interfaced with the OBDII port with a compatible cable or Bluetooth dongle.
If the OBDII dongle is used, be sure the laptop or PC has Bluetooth capability.
A USB-to-OBD2 cable is the most common method and will interface from a laptop to a vehicle’s OBDII port.
There are several USB-to-OBD2 cables that can be bought and hooked up.
Software is also included that displays error codes, clear error codes, and many other features.
One such popular unit is the OBDLink SX which comes with the USB-To-OBD2 converter cable and the OBDwiz software needed to get started.
It works with almost any laptop from old Windows 7 and 10 to the new Windows 11, although the faster the laptop, the better.
After the USB-To-OBD2 device is plugged into a laptop and the OBDII port, the software is the main focus.
The software used is called OBDwiz and is a widely used program in the OBDII scan tool world.
The software is loaded with features besides diagnosing error codes, from monitoring fuel mileage to checking emissions.
OBDwiz is not the only OBD-II software for a PC, and there are many other programs that can read the codes from the USB interface and give the results.
The software ranges from free to high-end paid options. Most simply stay with OBDwiz since it comes free with the OBDLink SX package.
As most know, OBDII scan tools work on any 1996 or newer vehicle, and of course, the same applies to the OBDLink SX.
There are other options for OBD2-To-USB PC-based solutions, but the OBDLink is currently the most popular solution.
It is low-cost, comes with everything needed to get started, and simply works.
Example USB-to-OBDII Cable on Amazon
ScanTool OBDLink SX USB: Professional Grade OBD-II Automotive Scan Tool for Windows – DIY Car and Truck Data and Diagnostics
Example OBDII Bluetooth Dongle on Amazon
Mini Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner OBDATOR ELM327 Automotive OBD OBDII Code Reader Car Check Engine Light Diagnostic Scan Tool for Android PC
What is the Best OBDII Windows Software for a Laptop or PC?
|Name||Free or Paid||Windows Version|
|OBDWiz||Free||Win 7, 10, 11|
|TOAD Pro||Paid||Win 7, 10, 11|
|FORScan||Free and Paid||Win 7, 10, 11|
|Touch Scan||Paid||Win 7, 10, 11|
|OBD Auto Doctor||Paid||Win 7, 10, 11|
|LapLogger||Paid||Win 7, 10, 11|
|Engine Check LE||Free and Paid||Win 7, 10, 11|
|EOBD Facile||Free and Paid||Win 7, 10, 11|
|PCMSCAN||Paid||Win 7, 10|
|DashCommand||Paid||Win 7, 10|
The best Windows OBDII software for a laptop or PC will vary based on what is being done.
To read and clear error codes, OBDWIZ is wildly used free software that works very well.
For more advanced usage, such as programming the onboard computer (ECU), other software will likely be better.
The above list is the most popular OBDII Windows software that is currently available.
Can I Use a Laptop as an OBDII Scanner?
Yes, a laptop can be used as an OBD scanner, and with the right software, they work very well.
This includes almost any laptop with a USB port and Windows 7, 10, or 11.
How Do I Connect OBDII Port to a Laptop?
An interface cable or Bluetooth dongle is bought that converts the OBDII signals.
The USB converter cable is plugged into the laptop, and software is used to read the codes.
The software interfaces with a vehicle’s computer (PCM/ECM) to read codes and erase them if needed.
Using a PC Windows-based computer as an OBDII scanner is a good option.
Even older laptops can work and display codes, erase them, and do many other features.
The USB interface tool is low-cost and works as well as any of the expensive OBD2 scan tools I have seen.
Also, the software is always updated to new versions, which is basically like getting an entirely new tool.
Have you used a laptop to scan OBDII codes? Let us know your thoughts below.