One of the tools we think pretty much every motorist should have on hand is an OBD2 scanner. If your car is fairly modern and has an issue, an OBD2 scanner can help you determine what is causing the problem. This can save you money and time at mechanics, and they are also incredibly useful when inspecting and purchasing used car.
OBD2 scanners come in a number of different flavours and types. In this article we are going to be looking at the Autophix 3210. We will be putting it through its paces and we will also see how it stacks up against a couple of other OBD2 scanners we have tested before, including the BlueDriver Pro and the FIXD OBD2 scanner.
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How Much Does the Autophix 3210 Cost to Buy?
At around $31 (at the time of writing), the Autophix 3210 is in the middle range when it comes to pricing, and is similar in cost to the FIXD scanner, but significantly cheaper than the much more expensive BlueDriver Pro.
While the price of the Autophix 3210 is similar to that of the FIXD tool, there is a big difference. The app for the Autophix is completely free. It doesn’t have a subscription service and it doesn’t seem to have any hidden costs (like a lot of these apps seem to have). The FIXD app on the other hand has a “Premium” subscription option that is incredibly expensive and frankly not worth it. FIXD does offer a free version of the app that has a similar level of features to the Autophix one, but you are constantly bombarded with ads to upgrade and we even got some messages from users that FIXD actually incorrectly charged them.
With the above being the case, we think that the Autophix is a better priced option than the FIXD scanner, but how does it actually perform?
What Cars will the BlueDriver Pro OBDII Scanner Work On?
Before we dive into actually using the Autophix scanner and our experiences with it, let’s talk about what sort of cars it will work on.
The Autophix sensor will work on pretty much any vehicle with an OBD2 port. OBD2 is a standardised system (a bit like USB for computers) that ensures there is one universal connector that all vehicles can use. Basically, any car built in the last 20 years will almost certainly have OBD2 functionality. If you are dealing with an older vehicle the Autophix 3210 scanner will probably not work (especially if it was produced before the nineties). You can search something like “vehicle name” with “does it have an OBD2 port” to see what comes up (we also suggest that you look around and under the dash, and in the engine bay as these places are usually where the OBD2 port is located.
OBD2 was made a requirement for all cars manufactured in the USA in 1996. It was then mandated by the European Union in 2001 (2004 for diesel vehicles) and 2006 for Australia/New Zealand. In Japan OBD2 was mandated from 2008, but some manufacturers introduced it earlier (see below for more):
- Honda from 2001
- Mazda from 2001
- Mitsubishi from 2006
- Nissan from 2007
- Subaru from 2003 (engine codes only – full OBD2 from 2008)
- Suzuki from 2006
- Toyota from 2006
- Toyota Diesel from 2008
First Impressions and What’s in the Box
The Autophix 3210 comes in fairly simple packaging, so there isn’t much to talk about here. We do like that there are QR codes for both the iOS and Android apps on the outside of the box. This is a handy thing to include as sometimes it can be difficult to work out what exactly is the correct manufacturer’s app.
Apart from the 3210 scanner itself, you also get an instruction manual that covers setup and usage in a number of different languages including English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. We didn’t need the manual as the setup process of the Autophix 3210 is dead simple.
The scanner itself feels much like the other Bluetooth OBD2 tools we have tested. It feels a bit better than the FIXD one and I suppose you could say that the slightly grippy sides are a plus, but its only minor and we have never had any issues with handling any other OBD2 scanners.
We like the small size, and it will easily fit in your pocket and won’t take up much space in your glovebox. However, this isn’t a major selling point as most other Bluetooth OBD2 scanners are around the same size except for a few we have tested.
Setting up the Software & Using the Autophix 3210 OBD2 Scanner
As we wrote above, the setup process is dead simple. In fact, the Autophix is the simplest Bluetooth OBD2 scanner we have ever had to setup. We simply installed the app, plugged in the scanner and it connected right away. No having to find and enter your vehicle’s VIN, no annoying pop-ups asking you to upgrade to a paid version of the app, it just works straight out of the box.
In our BlueDriver review we said that their scanner had the easiest setup process, but we now take that back and say that the Autophix app is the simplest one we have setup. The process of actually using the app (scanning codes, etc.) is fairly equal in terms of simplicity between the BlueDriver and Autophix, so keep that in mind.
Another thing that the BlueDriver and Autophix apps have in common is the price, there isn’t one. They are both completely free and there are no annoying banners or pop ups asking you to subscribe to unlike more features. This is contrary to how the FIXD app works, which gives you some features for free, but then asks you to upgrade to “FIXD Premium” to unlock the full capabilities of the app. In truth, the FIXD app does give you a similar range of features for free as the Autophix, but the constant bombardment of ads is a major turn off and makes us want to avoid using it.
Hitting the “Diagnostics” tab in the app will take you to where you can do all the tests. The option labelled “Vehicle Self-Check” will run through all of the tests and checks such as reading the Trouble Codes, checking the 02 Sensors, etc. If you don’t want to go through all of the tests, you can just select one if you want (they are the other options under “Vehicle Self-Check”.
The scanning/testing process was quick and easy. It is important to note that the Autophix 3210 only does engine fault codes like most other scanners in its class. It will not read other code types like ones to do with the ABS system for example. This catches quite a few people out when they buy an OBD2 scanner as they believe it will scan all fault codes on their vehicle.
The BlueDriver offers more functionality than the Autophix 3210 here. On some models and makes it can read fault codes that relate to things like the ABS system, airbags, climate control, etc. However, it is important to keep in mind that it does not work on all cars (BlueDriver has a list of supported vehicles on their website and you can view a list in our review as well).
If you just need to scan and clear engine fault codes, the Autophix 3210 scanner and app performs just as well as the BlueDriver and better than FIXD’s offering. This makes the Autophix the best option of the three for engine fault codes as it is significantly cheaper than the BlueDriver.
If you do a scan and an engine fault is found, the app will tell you what the code is and will try and explain what the is causing it. The explanation feature is a bit hit or miss, so we suggest that you do a Google search yourself to determine what exactly the fault indicates. You can enter codes manually into the apps “Trouble Code Dictionary” to see what comes up, but once again a Google search is probably going to give you more information here.
Like most other OBD2 apps, you can create a report following a scan. However, this is fairly limited in functionality on the Autophix app, so if you want more comprehensive reporting functionality we would go with the BlueDriver.
Like the BlueDriver and FIXD apps, Autophix’s one offers some other features as well. The most notable is the ability to capture live data such as engine speed, vehicle speed, throttle position, temperature, etc. You can even capture vehicle speed, temperature, travel distance, etc. about a particular trip, which can be quite handy if you want to compare how your car performs on the same trip, but at different times.
The “Freeze Frame” feature takes a snapshot of the vehicle’s current status and gives you a bit more data than the live reporting options. The BlueDriver app has a similar feature, but on that one we found there were a few cars which it didn’t record the data on, whereas the Autophix app did record the data (although it is a bit more limited than what BlueDriver’s software can give you).
You can also see information and do tests about the battery, EVAP System, and more. Overall, the extra features of the Autophix app are more limited than the BlueDriver one, but more than the free version of FIXD’s app.
Using the Autophix 3210 with Third Party Apps
Like the BlueDriver Pro, the Autophix 3210 doesn’t seem compatible with third-party apps such as ELM OBD2. We couldn’t get the 3210 to connect at all and this is a major downside of the product as ELM OBD2 and some other third-party apps provide more functionality than the Autophix’s app. This is where the FIXD OBD2 scanner is better. While the FIXD app is pretty terrible, you can simply switch to a third-party app, which makes it quite good value.
Conclusion – Is the Autophix 3210 OBD2 Scanner Worth a Buy?
If you just want to scan engine fault codes and record a bit of live data (engine speed, vehicle speed, temperature, etc.) with the original app, the Autophix 3210 is the best Bluetooth OBD2 scanner we have tested so far. The BlueDriver is significantly more expensive, and while the FIXD scanner is the same price, the app and its constant push to get you to upgrade to “Premium” is a no go for us.
Where things get more complicated is if you want more features or if you want to use third-party apps. The BlueDriver app is without a doubt the best of the three stock apps we have tested so far, especially if you live in North America and have a car from one of the supported manufacturers with expanded functionality. The ability to read ABS codes, air bag codes, etc. is a really great feature and is definitely worth the extra money. However, if you can’t take advantage of the extra features, the Autophix 3210 is just as good.
The FIXD scanner is the best and only real option out of the three if you want to use a third-party app. In fact, the FIXD scanner plus the ELM OBD2 app is probably a better option than the Autophix 3210 at the same price. However, if you just want an easy to setup experience and don’t want to play around with finding a third-party app you like the Autophix 3210 is still the best option at the $30 price point.
We still think the BlueDriver is going to be our daily driver, but if we didn’t have it already we would be perfectly content with the Autophix 3210.