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Ancel BD310 OBD-II scanner review

Tiny, attractive and versatile, the Ancel BD310 OBD-II is one diagnostic scanner you'll want to show off

Ancel BD310 on interior dash
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Our Verdict

Small, attractive, easy to hold and moderately priced, Ancel's BD310 OBD-II scanner operates both as a handheld unit or via Bluetooth and can act as an extra dashboard display.

For

  • Tiny handheld scanner
  • Can work on its own or with a phone or tablet
  • Works as supplemental dashboard display
  • Elegant design

Against

  • Small screen
  • Minimalist interface
Ancel BD310: Specs

Size: 5.1 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 5.4 ounces
Live data: Yes
Display: Color, 2.0 inches
Number of keys: 4
Bluetooth: Yes
Handheld: Yes
Warranty: 3 years

One of the smallest OBD-II automotive diagnostic scanners around, the Ancel BD310 does double duty as a wired device or as one that connects through Bluetooth for greater flexibility. A bargain at $60, the BD310 can act as a supplemental gauge inside the car to monitor parameters like engine speed or battery voltage.

Read on for the rest of our Ancel BD310 review.

Ancel BD310: Pricing and availability

The Ancel BD310 sells for $60. But it is a handheld OBD-II scanner like no other because it can be used in three different ways: as a handheld wired to the car's OBD-II port, while connected wirelessly to a phone or tablet, or as a supplemental dashboard display.

Ancel also sells OBD-II extension cords and cases, as well as diagnostic scanners than range from rudimentary models that cost as little as $25 to the $1,350 DS700 professional diagnostic tool.

Ancel BD310: Design

The black-and-chrome Ancel BD310 is among the smallest and lightest handheld OBD-II scanners available, and it fits comfortably in the hand. At 5.4 ounces and with dimensions of just 5.1 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches, it's half the size and half the weight of the typical scanner and won't fill up your car's center console or glovebox.

(Image credit: Ancel)

Because it is so small, the Ancel BD310 gets by with a 2-inch color display. That's about half the size of most other OBD-II scanners' screens, and the small size takes a little getting used to. For instance, instead of six or eight icons on its main screen, the BD310 has only four: OBD-II (diagnostics), Meter (live data), I/M (pre-inspection test) and Settings (system configuration).

(Image credit: Ancel)

In addition to traditional OBD-II work, the Ancel BD310 can operate as a supplementary dashboard display to show you anything from engine timing and speed to oil temperature and voltage. It comes with a heater-vent mounting kit and has a magnetic back plate.

The Ancel BD310 can also send its diagnostic data to a phone or tablet via a Bluetooth link. There are dedicated apps for Android as well as iPhones and iPads, making the scanner a versatile tool. Only a few other scanners, such as the Innova CarScan Inspector 5310, can operate in handheld mode as well as communicate via Bluetooth.

Despite its complexity, the Ancel BD310 gets by with a basic four-key interface and navigation scheme. The interface can feel limiting and some tasks require an extra keystroke. The scanner also has a mini-USB port and a button for toggling between handheld and Bluetooth mode.

Ancel BD310: Performance

The Ancel BD310 connected with both of my car's computers in less than 15 seconds. It made the vehicle identification number (VIN) available, but that required a little digging. The scanner caught the fault that I introduced into the system (a manually disconnected oil-temperature sensor) and was able to turn off the dashboard's Check Engine light.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Indicative of its role as a basic scanner, the Ancel BD310 lacks a charging system, starter tests or the ability to turn off the oil-monitor light. Nor does it provide repair information or access to the needed parts. More expensive scanners may include all these functions.

Once I got out on the road, the BD310 did well, especially with a trip-analysis mode that summarized my high and low speeds and rapid-braking events. The scanner's ability to display a variety of live data makes it ideal as a supplemental running gauge, showing air temperature or the status of the oxygen sensor.

Ancel BD310: Setup

Unlike most handheld diagnostic scanners, the BD310 has a permanently attached flat cable. The cable is easy to snake underneath the dashboard if the scanner is used as an extra performance display; it has a flat OBD-II plug that won't get in the way. At 58 inches, the cord is long enough to reach the OBD-II port near the front seat from the engine bay.

In addition to the scanner, the kit includes a USB cable, a vent-mounting kit and a short booklet that covers the basics but is far from a detailed manual. The scanner's three-year warranty leaves many competitors with shorter warranty periods in the dust.

Ancel BD310 review: Bottom line

Able to work as a handheld scanner, attached to the dashboard or wirelessly connected with a phone or tablet, the Ancel BD310 OBD-II scanner covers all the automotive bases. 

The scanner itself is fairly basic, but it's so small and attractive that it would be a shame to hide it in the glove box. This is an OBD-II scanner that you'll want to show off and use as an extra display inside the car.

Brian Nadel

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.