Smartphones can basically do anything nowadays, but did you know it can diagnose car troubles as well? That's what Actron is offering in its latest product line. Known best for its OBD autoscanners and multitesters, Actron has now unveiled its latest product, the U-Scan mobile diagnostics scan tool adapter. Once plugged in to the OBD port into your dashboard, the Actron scan tool adapter transfers diagnostic data wirelessly to a configured smartphone, allowing users to diagnose a check engine light, read code definitions, and other tasks you've come to expect from a typical diagnostic scanner. We managed to get a kit from Actron and tested it out in our vehicles.
- Wirelessly connects to iPhone, iPod and Android smartphones via Bluetooth
- Reads and erases codes and turns off the check engine light
- Gets summaries of vehicle emissions, DTCs and code definitions
- Checks history of vehicle tests and procedures
- Manages vehicle profiles for easy access
- Supports as many as 2,000 vehicle makes and models
- Guaranteed to link to all 1996 and newer vehicles
- For use with U-Scan app
- Limited Actron warranty
- Connects to any iOS or Android smartphone. The adapter supports all of the latest models of smartphones that have the iOS or Android platform. So whether you use the latest iPad or an entry-level Android phone, this device will connect.
- Provides accurate readings... most of the time. Seven out of ten times the adapter provided accurate readings. While statistically adequate, we were still a bit disappointed considering Actron's reputation for its pinpoint precision scanners.
- Recognizes a wide array of vehicles. Basically, if the adapter connects with the car's OBD port on the dashboard, it's highly likely to work.
- You will need to download the U-Scan app first on your mobile phone in order to use the adapter. While the app is free and is readily available on the App Store and Google Play, it can be a bit of a hassle compared to a standard scan tool which works straight out of the box.
- Additional features have to be unlocked for a fee. This is probably the biggest flaw of this device. While the basic code reading functions are free, you will need to pay for unlocking the adapter's additional features. If you own multiple vehicles, this device will burn a hole in your pocket.
The bottom line
The Actron U-Scan scan tool adapter gives you the novelty and convenience of performing diagnostic tasks on your car using your smartphone, but it pales in comparison to the performance and function of a standard scan tool. It's best that you keep this device as a backup tool instead, and rely more on Actron's autoscanner.