Review Snapshot

The product has an outstanding reputation in the marketplace. It offers up easy to read performance reports with diagnostics that the average person can understand. It helps empower car owners to do some things for themselves.


Some say that having to download updates to the software is a pain. I say it is normal procedure for any software driven product. Some cars are not supported.


This product is excellent for pros and starter mechanics alike. Regardless of your knowledge level, you can diagnose your car's errors and lights with precision.

Reviewed by:
Rodney Southern : I am a long time writer and have been writing full time online for over seven ye...Member Reputation 22 • 39 active Krits
ScanTool ElmScan 5 USB OBD II from ScanTool
ScanTool ElmScan 5 USB OBD II Review
Rodney Southern rates this 4/5
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ScanTool ElmScan 5 USB OBD II detailed information
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REVIEW: ElmScan 5 OBD-II (by ScanTool)

From the earliest days of my childhood, I knew that I would not be a mechanic. I simply did not have the ability to think in a mechanical way. Things were way too complicated to me and I would feel overwhelmed by information that I did not know. Because of this, I ended up not learning much about cars and how they operate. Now, this might make me a mechanics best friend as an adult, but I eventually got wise to that scam. I learned enough to at least get me through the most obvious problems without getting taken. (I also learned to get a good mechanic that I could trust.) Regardless, I knew that I could learn to do more and always secretly wished that I had the knowledge.

The ElmScan 5 Compact USB OBD-II is a product that is seemingly made for me. It is described as an entry level scan tool for the budget minded do-it-yourself mechanic. I definitely hesitate to call myself a mechanic, but I certainly am entry level. As such, I figured I would check out this product online and see what people had to say. Could it really make me appear to know what is wrong with my car and tell me what to fix?

ElmScan 5 is popular without my knowing it

The first thing I noticed about this product is that it is popular. Asking around with some of my friends, I discovered that two of them actually already owned this product. That made it easy to get some feedback and learn what is good and bad about it. I also learned that this is one in a line of scanners of this type that allows you to learn about your car and find out what needs fixing. It happens to be the best one for the money according to the reviews and conversations I had with others.

So how does it check out my car?

The first thing you do is go online and download the latest software update to your computer. One of the only complaints I found about this product was that you have to do this, but it seems kind of silly to complain about that. If a product has a software package attached, then updates to that software is a good thing. Whatever the case may be, forget using the CD that comes with the package and simply go to the website and download the newest version. It is free, so you are losing nothing here and gaining the most accurate information for your vehicles.

Once you download the software, you plug the item in and hook it up to your computer via USB. From there the software does all the work and takes your car through a complete diagnostic. You get information that will literally make sense of those error codes that you get as well as the check engine lights. From this, you can actually get suggestions for what to do to fix them and even to turn them off. My wife freaks every time a light is on the dashboard, so I need this product for my sanity if nothing else. The software really does do the trick and it works quite well.

How accurate is the product?

The ElmScan 5 Compact is extremely accurate and fully compliant with OBD-2. It works with any Windows based PC that has a USB port, and nothing is necessary to add to make the product work correctly. It comes with everything you need to accurately get readings and get to work under the hood.

It is accurate at many functions including:

  • Cutting off the Check Engine Light 
  • Erasing Stored Diagnostics
  • Checking Emissions
  • Displays Over 60 Real-Time Parameters
  • Erasing Trouble Codes

Final Analysis

The ElmScan 5 Compact is about as good as it gets for a mechanic like me. I need something that is dummy proof and can lead me in the right direction in spite of myself under the hood. It does just that, and it is among the more popular tools in the world at doing so. Many people online seem to agree that the ElmScan 5 is a fantastic item for pro and newbie alike.

I give it a solid buy rating and it can be had right here cheaply and easily.
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2012, 10:17 am
Reviewed by Rodney Southern
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