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Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 review

One of the most innovative Bluetooth OBD-II scanners

Innova CarScan Mobile 1000
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Innova)

Tom's Guide Verdict

One of the most innovative Bluetooth-based OBD-II automotive diagnostic scanners, the Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 is the easiest OBD tool to install and use. And for a near-unbeatable price.

Pros

  • +

    Easiest Bluetooth setup

  • +

    Tiny transmitter

  • +

    Excellent phone/tablet apps

  • +

    Offers preventative maintenance and repair suggestions

  • +

    Can be used as automotive gauges

Cons

  • -

    Two apps are separate

  • -

    App has ads

Innova CarScan Mobile: Specs

Size: 2.0x 1.5 x 1.0 inches
Weight: 0.9 ounces
Live data: Yes         
Display: None
Number of keys: None
Bluetooth: Yes
Handheld: No
Warranty: 1 year

The Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 is, by far, the easiest OBD scanner to set up and use. It is also the most useful, with the ability to perform a wide variety of automotive tasks. It is, without a doubt, one of the best OBD-II scanners.

In addition to the expected diagnostic duties, the included RepairSolutions2 app is able to describe necessary repairs and parts alongside service bulletins, preventive maintenance and even a prediction of what might break over the coming year. On top of that, the Innova Gauged app can turn a phone or tablet into a set of attractive automotive gauges in a variety of presentation formats.  

It’s our choice as the best Bluetooth-based OBD scanner.

Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 review: Pricing and availability

The $100 Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 is one of the most capable Bluetooth-based OBD scanners, while also being one of the most moderately priced. It manages to undercut the price of the BlueDriver Pro Scan Tool, our previous Bluetooth favorite, by $20. 

On the other hand, there’re dozens of budget scanners that sell for as little as $10. So it's far from the cheapest option on the market, if you're on a particularly strict budget.

Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 review: Design

The CarScan Mobile 1000 is among the smallest and lightest Bluetooth-based OBD scanners available. The module itself is just 2.0 x 1.5 x 1.0 inches and weighs 0.9 ounces – about half the size and weight of the BlueDriver Pro Scan Tool. Its ribbed sides make it easy to grasp, ensuring you can insert and remove it from the OBD port with ease. 

There's a single LED light to show the device’s status, and behind the scenes Low Energy Bluetooth (BLE) moves data from the car to the pair of mobile apps. 

Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 in use

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The included apps really do break new ground. To start, RepairSolutions2 does the basics well, with support for Android, iPhone, iPad and Windows. It's capable of checking on, recording and clearing fault codes, with the added benefit of turning off the pesky Check Engine light. 

Additionally, RepairSolutions2 offers repair help, predictive failure analysis and a parts finder. However the real eye opener is the unique five-year estimated vehicle operating costs, which includes things like maintenance, fuel repairs, insurance and depreciation. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The CarScan Mobile 1000 isn't perfect, though. The unit lacks an I/M pre-inspection test routine to see if the car will pass or fail the emissions testing. Plus, RepairSolutions2 has annoying ads for buying a CarChex extended warranty or a subscription to Blink Roadside assistance. Thankfully they are easy to ignore.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A big bonus is the inclusion of the Gauged app, which can turn a mobile phone or tablet into an attractive and functional set of automotive gauges. They can show the car’s current data in three different presentation formats. 

Innova CarScan 1000 review: Performance

A moment after starting up my 2014 Audi A4 AllRoad, the CarScan Mobile 1000 started sending data to my Samsung Galaxy S20. The app’s main screen has horizontal bars that cover the gamut of the app’s functions. 

From live data and diagnostic codes to vehicle history and predicted repairs. It’s the rare OBD app that can show what maintenance is required, as well as any recent manufacturer service bulletins or vehicle recalls. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A full scan took 10 minutes to complete, and while tedious it was thorough. If something is amiss, the scanner’s RepairSolutions2 app can display estimated repair costs, the parts that would do the trick and how much they will set you back. There’s even a link to purchase them or setting up a local mechanic to do the work in the RepairPal feature. 

Finally, it has an incredible predictive failure mode that looks a year into the future to show the probability of which (if any) major components will fail. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

After I disconnected the oil-temperature sensor, the scanner found my introduced fault right away. After reconnecting it, the CarScan Mobile 1000 let me turn off the Check Engine light.

Innova CarScan Mobile review: Setup

Small and easy to grasp, installing the Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 is quick. It disappeared under the car’s dashboard with only a small part sticking out, making removal just as simple. 

Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 in use

(Image credit: Innova)

The LED status light blinked green as it automatically connected to the my phone via Bluetooth, and once online it stopped blinking. The unit itself has a 30-foot range, which is perfect for working in the engine bay or trying to find the right car parts on the phone.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The CarScan Mobile 1000’s fold-open Quick Start Guide lacked explanatory text, and like IKEA instructions relies on illustrations. A more complete manual would have been a welcome addition, but the 6-minute YouTube video produced by Innova is the next best thing. 

Innova has included a 1-year warranty but stops short of 24/7 support. Innova’s technicians are on call from 6AM to 6PM (Pacific time), Monday through Saturday.  

Innova CarScan Mobile review: Verdict

Innova’s ScarScan Mobile automotive diagnostic system is nothing short of fantastic. This is what all OBD scanners should aspire to be be: easy to set up and use, while still offering insight into the car’s condition and future. 

The RepairSolutions2 app not only provides more data in a better interface, but goes beyond providing just fault codes with repair suggestions and predictive failure warnings. The bonus is the Gauged app that can turn a phone into a set of auxiliary automotive gauges. 

With its ability to look inside your vehicle’s inner workings and innovative apps, the Innova CarScan Mobile 1000 is, by far, the best $100 you can spend on a car.

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.