2nd hand cars

Top 5 Must-Know Secrets: Choose the Perfect Car Scanner for Auction-Savvy Dealers

As a car dealer attending auctions, you must have the right tools to assess the vehicles you want to bid on and avoid buying cars with issues. A reliable diagnostic scanner is one of the most critical tools in your arsenal. With so many options available, finding the perfect one can be overwhelming. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top features to look for in a diagnostic scanner to help you make an informed decision and improve your auction experience.

Whether you are looking at an Autel, Ancel, TopDon, ThinkCar, Launch, SnapOn, iCarsoft, or YOUCANIC scanner, here are the five main features I find useful when checking out cars at the Manheim, Adesa, and Public auctions.

All Make Compatibility


Choosing a diagnostic scanner to diagnose all vehicle makes is vital to maximize the number of cars you can assess. This feature ensures you won’t miss potential opportunities due to compatibility issues. Look for a scanner that supports various protocols and is compatible with domestic and imported vehicles. A good OBD2 scanner will save you time and money, as you won’t need to purchase multiple devices for different car brands.

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To avoid buying a lemon at the auction, avoid the basic OBD2 scanners many dealers use, which can only scan codes from the Engine Control Unit. You need a good scanner that can diagnose all vehicle systems. Most cars running through the lanes have between 30 and 50 control units, and only full-system scanners can read codes from all systems.

Onboard Software & Offline Functionality


You might not always have access to a stable internet connection when attending car auctions. To avoid disruptions to your workflow, choose a scanner with pre-installed software that doesn’t require an internet connection. This feature allows you to access diagnostic information and perform tests without delays or interruptions. Additionally, offline functionality ensures that your scanner is always ready to use, even in remote locations.

Sure, you can buy a Bluetooth version that uses your phone, but the problem with those units is that they often need the internet to download the software for the make you are trying to diagnose. You may have to wait 10 or 15 minutes for the software to be downloaded on the phone before you can scan a car. You don’t have the time to wait for those when scanners already have all makes downloaded on the device.

Comprehensive System Coverage


You need a full system scanner, period. A professional diagnostic scanner should be able to read codes from all vehicle systems, including engine, airbag, ABS, transmission, and more. This comprehensive coverage allows you to quickly and accurately assess the condition of a vehicle, preventing any unpleasant surprises down the road. A scanner with this capability will provide detailed information on each system, making it easier to identify potential issues and make informed decisions at the auction.

A professional diagnostic scanner can read current and history/stored fault codes in a vehicle’s onboard computer system. Here’s a brief explanation of the two types of fault codes:

  • Current Fault Codes: These are known as “active” or “live” codes. They indicate issues that are currently present in the vehicle’s systems. When a sensor or component detects a problem in real-time, it sends a signal to the vehicle’s Engine Control Module (ECM) or other control modules, triggering a current fault code. These codes typically represent ongoing issues that need immediate attention, as they may affect the vehicle’s performance, safety, or emissions.
  • History/Stored Fault Codes: History or stored fault codes are records of past issues detected by the vehicle’s systems but not currently active. These codes can be useful for diagnosing intermittent problems or understanding the history of issues with a vehicle. Stored fault codes may be cleared from the system once the issue is resolved or remain in the memory until a certain number of driving cycles have passed without the issue reoccurring.

A professional diagnostic scanner allows car dealers, technicians, and vehicle owners to access current and history/stored fault codes, enabling them to diagnose and repair issues more effectively. It is crucial to address current fault codes as soon as possible, while stored fault codes can help identify patterns or recurring issues that may warrant further investigation. Stored or History codes should not be ignored either, as they may point to serious engine or transmission problems, the seller is trying to cover up.

Report Storage & Sharing Capabilities


Being able to store diagnostic reports on your scanner or send them via email is a valuable feature. This functionality lets you review the information later, compare reports from different vehicles, and share the data with colleagues or clients. Look for a scanner with ample storage capacity and the ability to export reports in common formats, such as PDF or CSV, for easy sharing and analysis.

Fast & Efficient Scanning

Time is of the essence at car auctions, and a quick, efficient diagnostic scanner is crucial. Choose a scanner that automatically detects a vehicle’s VIN, make, and model and has a QuickScan feature. This functionality lets you see all fault codes across all systems simultaneously, streamlining your diagnostic process and helping you make quick, informed decisions about which cars to bid on.



In conclusion, selecting the ideal OBD2 scanner for car auctions is essential for dealers to make informed decisions and ensure smooth transactions. When choosing an OBD2 scanner you want to take to the auction, make sure that you select a scanner that works on all makes, can read manufacturer fault codes, and doesn’t need to be connected to the internet to function. With those criteria in mind, we have identified the top 3 scanners for car dealers to bring to auctions:

  1. YOUCANIC UCAN-II Full System Scanner -Offering comprehensive vehicle coverage and advanced diagnostics in a user-friendly interface, this scanner is perfect for dealers seeking a reliable and efficient solution.
  2. Autel MaxiPRO MP808S – This portable scanner delivers essential diagnostics while being easy on the pocket, making it a great choice for budget-conscious dealers.
  3. Launch X431 PRO V+ Elite – Boasting cutting-edge technology and lightning-fast scanning speeds, this scanner is the go-to choice for dealers prioritizing efficiency and precision.

Selecting the best diagnostic scanner for car auctions is a crucial decision for any dealer. By prioritizing universal compatibility, onboard software with offline functionality, comprehensive system coverage, report storage, sharing capabilities, and fast scanning, you’ll be better equipped to assess vehicles quickly and accurately, ensuring a successful auction experience. Invest in a high-quality diagnostic scanner, and you’ll see the benefits of increased efficiency, better decision-making, and, ultimately, more profitable purchases.


  • Rushit Hila • ASE Certified

    Rushit Hila, an ASE-certified engineer (G1 Automotive Maintenance and Repair), brings over two decades of hands-on experience in the automotive world to his writing. With a strong educational background, including a Master of Science in Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, he has honed his skills and expertise through years of practical work. As a respected authority in the field, Mr. Hila is dedicated to offering insightful and valuable content that resonates with both vehicle owners and mechanics.

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