We have a saying here at the BMW Repair Guide when we are utterly perplexed by a situation; “I’m as confused as a baby raccoon.” The recent proliferation of online BMW forums, blogs and reviews often leave home mechanics frustrated as they search for answers to questions like…”Which BMW scan tool is the best and most professional automotive scanner for the least amount of money?”. Googling that question may leave you rolled up in the fetal position with gray fur and a little bandit mask on your face.
But today is your lucky day. Instead of making you suffer through a long winded comparison blog or mired in a 300 post forum thread, we are going to come right out and tell you what diagnostic scanner we use at the BMW Repair Guide.
At the BMW Repair Guide we use the Schwaben Elite BMW/MINI Diagnostic Scanner. We just think it’s a darn good diagnostic scanner for the price (about $179 as of the date of this article), that has the ability to do just about everything a high priced unit can without the bells and whistles.
One thing we are not going to do in this article is review or compare other BMW diagnostic equipment to the Schwaben Elite; if you are the type of person that likes to mash up products in a spreadsheet and compare them on a line item basis…then…now may be the time to Google a new article. But what we will tell you is that after burning through over $2000 worth of diagnostic scanners over the past few years we have determined the following: there are a lot of more expensive units on the market that do EXACTLY what this unit does…and there are a lot of cheaper scanners on the market that don’t. We know…quite the prolific statement. But simply put, the Schwaben Elite is the perfect balance of price and functionality, which is the holy grail of every DIY mechanic on a budget.
The Schwaben Elite is fast, efficient, easy to operate, and allows you to perform all of the basic BMW code diagnostics as well as several advanced functions like battery registration, adaptations and condition based service (CBS) schedule resets. It has an auto detect function that automatically pulls your bimmer’s VIN number during start up, so there is no need to manually enter which model you are diagnosing. And it gives you access to all of the BMW specific codes that help unlock those diagnostic doors that can’t be opened with cheaper generic scanners.
The Schwaben Elite comes programmed and ready to use right out of the box for BMW, MINI and Rolls Royce. The unit comes wrapped in a very robust, shock proof plastic case to help protect it from the rigors of heavy garage use.
Another great feature of the Schwaben Elite is it’s small and compact. Trust us on this one…we have sat in many BMWs with a laptop on our knees running dealer level software to diagnose an issue. Nine times out of ten we can get the same answers with the Schwaben Elite unit without fumbling around with a bulky computer resting on our thighs.
There is no greater feeling of accomplishment than diagnosing an issue on your BMW and successfully fixing it yourself. But one thing that many BMW DIY mechanics overlook is that not all fault codes and dashboard error lights disappear after a successful repair; you still need to use your diagnostic scanner to manually clear them out. You could use a $30 scanner from Harbor Freight to achieve this…but what happens when you want to register a new battery a few months later? You are now stuck with a $30 paperweight that you can’t even dump on Facebook Marketplace.
If you are a BMW enthusiast and want an affordable diagnostic scanner that will get the job done, we highly recommend the the Schwaben Elite. Like we say over and over again…purchase a good scanner. It will pay for itself after your first repair.