What’s the best GM scan tool for 2020? That’s an excellent question.
With so many OBD scanners available, it might be overwhelming to choose one for your GM car or shop. Ideally, you want a tool that was designed specifically for GM. Which means it should support GM protocols in addition to all the generic ones. That’s one of the things that we considered when putting together this review of the best GM scanners. Every scanner on the list will give you excellent access to your car’s on-board computer. So, without further ado, let’s look at the 5 best GM scan tools for 2020
- 1 Editor’s Top 3 Best GM Scan Tools Comparison Chart
- 2 Best GM Scan Tools Review
- 3 The Final Thoughts
Editor’s Top 3 Best GM Scan Tools Comparison Chart
The FOXWELL NT510 Elite, iCarsoft i900 and INNOVA 3123 are clearly the pack leaders of GM scan tools. While the NT510 boasts some pretty advanced features, the i900 can diagnose all the available systems.
Innova’s 3123 is the undoubted champ when it comes to OBD1 diagnostics. But how do these three measure up against each other?
|Editor’s Pick||Best Budget||Also Great|
FOXWELL NT510 Elite
|Product Dimensions||7.9 x 1.5 x 3.9 inches||24 x 14.2 x 6 inches||10 x 2 x 6 inches|
|Item Weight||1.45 pounds||9.6 ounces||11.2 ounces
|Vehicle Compatibility||OBD1 and OBD2||OBD1 and OBD2||OBDII Functions|
|Read & Clear Codes||✔||✔||✔|
|Freeze Frame Data||✔||✔||--|
|O2 sensor Test||✔||✔||--|
|EVAP System Test||✔||✔||--|
|Turn Off Check Engine Light||✔||✔||✔|
|Read live PCM Data Stream||✔||✔||--|
|System Diagnosis Engine||✔||✔||✔|
|Suspension and Steering Systems||✔||✔||--|
|Battery Maintenance (BMS)||✔||--||--|
|Electronic Throttle Position Reset||✔||--||--|
|Fuel Injector Coding||✔||--||--|
Best GM Scan Tools Review
1. FOXWELL NT510 Elite GM Tech2 Obd2
The Foxwell NT510 Elite is an upgraded version of the original Foxwell NT510. It’s just as good as the NT530, at least according to Foxwell. But is it really? Here’s everything that you need to know about this GM scan tool.
The first thing you want to do when you get this scanner is to update its software. And there’s some good news here. All software upgrades are completely free.
The only issue is that you can’t use a Mac computer to update the NT510 Elite. It’s only compatible with Windows. So get a PC, visit the Foxwell website or run FoxAssit, register the scanner and then upgrade the firmware.
By default, it comes with software for diagnosing GM cars and light trucks. That includes Cadillac, GMC, Chevy, Alpheon, Buick, Silverdo etc. If the car is a GM, the NT510 Elite will diagnose it.
We’re talking about OBD2 (1996 and newer) and OBD1 (1995 and older) models as well. Once you hook it up, the NT510 Elite should use its auto-VIN to identify your car automatically. But that doesn’t always work, in which case you’ll have to enter your car model and year manually.
It is possible to extend coverage to other car makes like Benz, BMW, Toyota etc. All you have to do is add software for that car make. That will cost you 60 bucks (for each additional car brand).
One of the greatest features of this GM scan tool is that it allows you to diagnose all the systems in the powertrain, body and chassis. They include engine, chassis, transmission, ABS, SRS, parking brake, steering angle sensor, suspensions, electronics and many more.
In each case you can view information (like CVN), pull codes, clear codes and stream live data. So besides checking for faults, the NT510 also helps you keep track of the health of various systems.
Full OBD2 Functions
I’ve already mentioned codes and live data. Those are only two of the many OBD functions that the NT510 Elite supports.
Others include freeze frame data, I/M readiness, O2 sensor test, component test, EVAP system test and turning off the Check Engine Light. If you’re not sure about a code, you can look it up in the built-in code library.
Service Functions And Bidirectional Tests
This is where the Foxwell NT510 Elite gets the edge over most other scanners, including the NT510. It supports a ton of service functions, including ABS bleeding, DPF regeneration, battery service, throttle body relearn and oil service.
Besides, you can use this GM scanner to reset ABS, EPB, TPMS, oil, SAS and other warning lights. And it supports bidirectional tests as well. You can do active tests, adaptations, coding, and programming. If the car is not a GM, there’s every possibility that coding and programming won’t work
- Free lifetime software updates
- Free lifetime software updates
- One year full warranty (return and get a refund)
- Compatible with OBD1 and OBD2 GM cars
- Software can be expanded to support other car makes
- Supports basic and advanced diagnostics
- Excellent value for money
- Auto-VIN doesn’t work on all cars
- User interface tends to freeze temporarily when reading multiple data
It’s not perfect, but the outstanding functionality of the Foxwell NT510 Elite makes it a great GM scan tool. It has a rugged body and ergonomic design, which makes it ideal for tree shade mechanics. You will love its intuitive menu and 2.8-inch color screen.
2. iCarsoft i900 General Motors GM Obd2
The iCarsoft i900 was designed for GM cars and light trucks that are OBD2-compliant. However, it does have a few compatibility issues with models that were made before 2005 or after 2014.
If your car falls in that category, you may want to contact iCarsoft so that they confirm if the scanner is compatible. Other than that, it’s a great GM scan tool. Here’s why:
Like any other good GM scanner, the iCarsoft i900 has auto-VIN for identifying your car. It will display the model and year of your vehicle alongside other important information like VIN and CVN.
For compatible GM vehicles, this OBD2 scan tool allows users to scan and diagnose all the available systems. It gives you access to the engine, ABS, SRS, HVAC, TPMS, IMMO, SAS etc.
Turn Off Check Engine Light (CEL)
One of the things that you can do with the iCarsoft i900 is to read and erase trouble codes. For example, the GM scan tool clears engine codes thereby turning off the malfunction indicator lamp (MIL).
Similarly, you can use it for ABS, SRS, EVAP and TPMS code just to name a few. In each case, the scanner allows you to erase available codes. The effect is that you can switch off any warning light on the dashboard.
In addition to codes, this GM scan tool supports I/M readiness, viewing of live data, freeze frame data, EVAP system test, O2 sensor test and on-board monitoring.
- Comes with lifetime free software updates
- Updates easily via PC
- Built-in library provides comprehensive help for codes
- Can plot multiple PIDs of live data
- Rugged construction with silicon keys
- Some compatibility issues. E.g. doesn’t support airbag diagnosis for 2008 Uplander
- Doesn’t support special functions
The biggest concern with this GM scan tool is if it will work on your car. It’s 100% compatible with 2006 to 2014 cars and light trucks. Outside of that, you may have to inquire from iCarsoft.
Otherwise it’s a solid OBD2 tool for ordinary car owners. It provides full access to all available systems and supports all OBD2 functions.
3. INNOVA 3123 GM OBD1 Code Reader
If your GM vehicle was made between 1982 and 1995, then this is the best scanner for you. An OBD1 GM scan tool, the Innova 3123 comes with instructions in English, French and Spanish. Below are some reasons why it makes the list:
The Innova 3123 is primarily a GM code reader. It pulls engine, transmission and ABS codes from OBD1-compliant cars and light trucks.
Therefore, you can know exactly what’s the problem with your car, if there’s any. And there’s a code library to help you understand the issue properly and possibly fix it.
Reset Check Engine Light
One handy feature of this GM OBD1 scanner is that it can help you turn off the check engine light. It’s not the same as OBD2 though.
In this case, the scan tool will tell you why the light is on. From there, you’ll fix the issue and then the light will go off. Simple!
Safe For DIY
One challenge with OBD1 scanners is that they have the potential to damage a car’s on-board computer. Well, you don’t have to worry about that when you’re using the Innova 3123. It’s completely safe for GM cars and light trucks.
- Easy to use
- Compatible with all OBD1 GM cars made since 1982
- Comes with detailed explanations of codes
- Multilingual instructions
- Very affordable
- Safe to use on your OBD1 GM car
- Has a cheap feel to it construction-wise
- Requires understanding of old OBD system where lights flash to indicate a code
The Innova 3123 is one of the few reliable OBD1 code readers still on the market today. It’s perfect for car owners with old GM models (1982 to 1995). With it, you can always check the engine, ABS and transmission.
4. VXDIAG VCX Nano GDS2 And Tech2Win Diagnostic Tool Compatible For GM/OPEL
There are times when a handheld scanner just doesn’t cut it. Like if you want to use a computer to perform diagnostics. Such times call for an adapter.
And since we are talking about GM scan tools, no other OBD-to-PC adapter is as suitable as the VXDIAG VCX Nano. Here’s why:
Designed Specifically For GM
Everything about the VCX Nano is geared towards GM diagnostics. First of all, it supports the protocols used by GM, including SAE-J2534-1, SAE-J2534-2, CAN, KW2000, UART, Class2 and GM LAN.
Secondly, the adapter uses GM’s Global Diagnosis System 2 (GDS2). This windows-based software was designed specifically for GM diagnostics.
There’s also Tech2Win and Service Programming System (SPS) which provide J2534 pass thru programming. In other words, they make it possible for you to perform programming functions on GM cars.
Before you start any programming, this GM scan tool will automatically identify the VIN, ECU numbers and software numbers of the vehicle. You need that info when buying or selling a car or just replacing essential components.
Codes And Data
The VCX Nano reads and clears codes in all available systems. Which means that you can use it to turn off the check engine light and other warning lights.
Besides, the adapter can pull and save freeze frame data. You need it to know the exact time when a code was registered. Alongside that data you’ll also get a history of all the past diagnostic sessions. This may come in handy if you’re not the one who performed those diagnostics.
There are two main functions here. First you can control and also monitor output control functions. For example, you can use this GM scan tool to activate a component; say roll the windows up/down.
Secondly, you can configure and reset functions. This basically involves relearning and programming. For example, you can relearn new TPMS sensors after replacement so that the ECU recognizes them.
- Compatible with ALL GM cars that are OBD2-compliant
- Supports basic and special functions
- Small and compact. You can leave the adapter plugged in
- Easy to set up. You’ll be good to go once you install GDS2 and Tech2Win
- Use with PC gives you a bigger screen to work with
- Only compatible with Windows. You can’t use Mac
- GDS2 and Tech2Win are not the easiest diagnostic software
The VCX Nano is perfect for GM enthusiasts who have some experience with technical software like GDS2 and Tech2Win. It provides unparalleled access to on-board systems, making it possible to do basic diagnostics and programming.
5. Actron CP9001 GM Code Scanner
The Actron CP9001 is yet another GM scan tool for OBD1 vehicles. It’s a simple, straightforward scanner, just like the Innova 3123. Below are the key features that it brings to the table:
Compatible With 1982 To 1993 GM Vehicles
This GM scan tool is guaranteed to work on any GM car or light truck that was made between 1982 and 1993. It may also work on 1994 and 1995 models, but you’ll need to check with Actron first.
That’s because GM used different types of on-board computers in that period. And (at times) that tends to cause some compatibility issues.
If your car is compatible, the Actron CP9001 will be able to retrieve engine and ABS codes. It comes with a user manual for describing what each code means. That should be a handy addition if you would rather fix the issue the DIY way.
Check Engine Light
Once you fix the problem causing the code(s), the check engine light will turn off. I have to mention (again) that OBD1 scanners don’t actually reset the light. It simply goes away after you fix the issue causing it.
- Detects check engine light-related problems
- Rugged, sturdy construction
- Comes with user manual that has code descriptions
- Compatible with Saturn vehicles as well
- Affordable GM scan tool
- Package doesn’t include scanner software and PC cable
- Requires some understanding of OBD1 code system
If your GM car is OBD1, it makes a lot of sense to consider buying this scanner. It’s not only affordable, but also compatible with all GM vehicles that were made before 1993. It also works on a majority of the 1994 and 1995 models.
The Final Thoughts
FOXWELL’s NT510 Elite is, without a doubt, the best GM scan tool. It can do it all, from reading codes to programming and everything in-between.
But if you want something that offers just enough for a car owner, the iCarsoft i900 will do the trick. It’s not overly complicated, yet it provides access to all systems and OBD2 functions.
On its part, the Innova 3123 – just like Actron’s CP9001 – is perfect for OBD1 diagnostics. And if you want an adapter to use with your PC, then you’ll probably like the VXDIAG VCX Nano. This goes to show that there’s a GM scan tool for everyone.
Read more: 9 Best BMW Scan Tools Review For 2020