Every BMW owner needs to own a diagnostic scan tool or two. Even the most basic setup, including a cheap OBD-II scanner like this one and a cheap airbag tool will save you hundreds if not thousands over the years of your Bavarian ownership. There’s really nothing more satisfying than scanning a car for friends and family when they’re in trouble, and saving them from paying a $100 diagnostic fee to some repair shop.
I keep mine in the driver side map pocket of my BMW. Always ready for action, which–let’s be honest– is pretty often. I also can’t say enough about how helpful it is to have these scan tools with you when looking at a used BMW to buy. The service engine soon light is often illuminated on that hot Craigslist or eBay find, and you’ll need to have your scanner ready so you know just exactly what you’re about to get yourself into.
Some of the higher end car code readers such as the Autel MaxiLink combine everything into one tool, usually selling for around $100. These are the best ones to own, but if you already have a diagnostic tool and just need SRS ability, the B800 is a great deal for under $30.
It has some quirks, such as the fact that you always need to hit the clear button twice in order to erase a stored SRS fault code (it never clears after the first try…ever). It may not be the most technically capable, or have the best user manual, but with patience it will get those codes read and erased. To check out the B800 scan tool, click here.
Finally, if you are feeling spendy, there’s the classic Peake Research SRS tool for BMW. It’s around $130 and does exactly the same work as the B800. Sure, it’s $100 more, but it is manufactured by a small independent company in California. The Peake tool is pictured below.
Personally I went with the affordable option, and the B800 is holding up well. It’s been with me for a few years and used on 4 different BMW models of mine without any issue. Here’s a quick video I made showing how to use it: