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Best handheld semi truck diagnostic tool

Keeping a semi truck running properly requires diligent maintenance and the ability to quickly diagnose issues. A handheld diagnostic tool allows truckers and mechanics to access a truck’s computer to check error codes, view sensor data, and more.

Below we’ve reviewed some of the top truck diagnostic tool options on the market today. Keep reading to find the most reliable and cost-effective devices for getting big rigs back on the road quickly.

Quicklook: Top handheld semi truck diagnostic tools

5 best handheld semi truck diagnostic tool

Diesel Laptops Diesel Handheld Pro

The Diesel Laptops Diesel Handheld Pro is ideal for any maintenance shop or heavy-duty owner-operator. This diagnostic tool for trucks is an excellent handheld heavy duty truck diagnostic software, designed specifically for heavy duty trucks.

Its robust heavy duty truck diagnostic tools and advanced features make it a versatile tool for owner operators, fleet mechanics, and independent heavy duty shops troubleshooting all commercial truck makes and classes.

Best for: Overall heavy duty truck features and capabilities


  • 4″ LCD screen that works in 14-122 °F temperatures
  • 6- and 9-inch pin cables
  • OBDII cable
  • Cat 9 pin cable
  • USB cable


  • Comes with a durable carry case
  • Portable and high-performance
  • Can read and clear DTCs
  • Ability to read live data
  • Can perform DPF regens on most makes and models
  • Initiates emission and maintenance resets
  • Provides professional grade, portable diagnostic capability without needing a laptop

Disadvantages: Does not support truck software reprogramming

Price: $1,295

Diesel Laptops Handheld Heavy-Duty Scan Tool with Regen

The Diesel Handheld scanner is very simple to use. This handheld is specifically designed for the heavy-duty market. It allows reading and clearing of DTCs, live data reading, and even DPF regens on most makes and models. This tool comes in a nice carry case and includes an OBDII cable as well as the 6-pin, 9-pin, and CAT 9-pin cables. Regens are simple and are accessed from the main menu by choosing ‘DPF Regen’ and choosing your manufacturer from the list. 

Best for: Universal diesel truck diagnostic tool


  • 4″ LCD screen that works in 14-122 °F temperatures
  • 6- and 9-inch pin cables
  • OBDII cable
  • Cat 9 pin cable
  • USB cable


  • Supports multiple protocols and languages
  • Forces regens on Cummins, Detroit, Isuzu, Mack, International Maxxforce, Volvo, Caterpillar, Hino, and Paccar engines
  • Read/clear codes
  • View freeze frame and live data
  • Includes lifetime updates

Disadvantages: Does not support truck software reprogramming

Price: $749.95

Dearborn Group DPA XL

Designed by seasoned diesel technicians specifically for heavy duty operation, the Dearborn Group (DG) DPA XL is an advanced handheld truck diagnostic scanner packed with professional features for in-depth commercial vehicle troubleshooting. This semi truck diagnostic computer is considered among the best handheld diagnostic scanners thanks to DG’s extensive OEM-level capabilities and intuitive software.

It is the leading tool of choice for diagnostics and reprogramming of heavy-duty, medium-duty and some light-duty vehicles and covers over-the-road, bus, construction, agricultural, military, industrial stationary equipment and fleet vehicle segments.

Best for: Professional use for mechanics and dealerships


  • Industry standard (SAE, TMC, ISO), J1939, J2534, J1708, CAN,
    CAN FD, K-Line, ISO 9141, ISO15765 and more
  • Industry first technologies
  • 4 independent channel communication capability
  • 2 channel CAN FD communication capability
  • Protected by CyberGuard
  • Embedded hardware security module 
  • Rugged enclosure for any environment
  • USB powered for updates
  • Patented secure USB connector
  • DG Diagnostics software included
  • Bluetooth wireless
  • RP1227 for mobile apps
  • Includes RP1210 and J2534 VDA validation tools


  • Large 12.1″ HD touchscreen for easy navigation and data viewing
  • Rugged rubber armoring to withstand shop abuse
  • Tests all commercial truck makes including Detroit, Cummins, PACCAR, Mack
  • Wireless VCI connects quickly to vehicle for scanning
  • Reads and erases engine and component fault codes
  • Accesses ECM information to view sensor parameters
  • Features bi-directional testing for valve/relay activation
  • Graphing of live sensor data during diagnostics
  • Emergency DPF manual regeneration capability
  • Optional advanced testing bundle available

Disadvantages: Does not currently support the ability to reprogram engine and component software or perform recalibrations

Price: $820

OTC Encore

OTC Encore

The OTC Encore is a robust wireless diagnostic system built for heavy duty trucks in a tablet-based mobile platform. As an integrated solution for commercial vehicle troubleshooting, many technicians turn to this mobile truck diagnostics tool for portable diagnostic insight into semi truck issues.

The OTC Encore provides heavy duty technicians with an all-in-one shop solution for complete commercial truck diagnostics in a highly portable handheld enclosure. It’s built to withstand the demands of everyday use for troubleshooting even the most complex semi truck issues.

Best for: Mobility


  • 10.1″ HD touchscreen tablet interface
  • Wireless vehicle connectivity to truck’s systems
  • Reads and clears diagnostic trouble codes
  • Live graphing of multiple sensor inputs
  • Tests component actuation using bi-directional controls
  • Views ABS brake data and subsystem information
  • Performs engine ECM adaptations and parameter resets
  • HD scope capability to visually inspect sensor data
  • Resets engine and ABS lights after repairs
  • Rugged enclosure and integrated battery for shop mobility
  • Optional add-ons include 1-year, 3-year and 5-year software update subscriptions


  • Portable and wireless allowing for quick connectivity to trucks from any shop bay
  • HD color display on a vibrant 10 inch screen that clearly shows scan data
  • Truckline J2500 compatibility that uses trusted commercial vehicle test software
  • Bidirectional controls that actuates components like a dealership scan tool
  • Intuitive touchscreen interface offering simplified navigation via tabs and menus
  • Battery power that lasts through full shift without being plugged in
  • Rugged construction offering hardened case and components that withstand shop conditions
  • System relearn procedures that reset adaptations and performs calibrations
  • Data logging capability that records sensor parameters during road tests

Disadvantages: Can only connect to one vehicle at a time

Price: $6,500-$7,500

Noregon JPRO

Noregon Systems is known for its top-rated JPRO software utilized daily by heavy-duty service professionals across North America. As the only diagnostic solution with native support for all major commercial vehicle manufacturers, JPRO sets the benchmark for HD coverage, advanced capabilities, OE reprogramming, and maximizing uptime across trucks, buses, agriculture equipment, and construction machinery.

Technicians use Noregon JPRO more than any other solution for OEM-level scanning while also leveraging its unrivaled reprogramming abilities across all commercial vehicle makes. This helps maximize uptime through fast accurate diagnostics and servicing.

Best for: OEM-level scanning


  • Reads and clears diagnostic trouble codes from all truck modules
  • Live data graphing from engine, transmission and other component sensors
  • Bidirectional diagnostic tests to verify electronic component actuation
  • Diesel particulate filter regeneration initiation and routines
  • ECM and component software reflashing, recalibration and parameter reset procedures
  • Key fob programming and anti-theft system configurations
  • Guided diagnostics with step-by-step troubleshooting instructions
  • Detailed wiring diagrams integrated into test screens for advanced diagnostics


  • Extensive OEM coverage that supports class 4-8 trucks, off-highway, bus, agriculture, and construction vehicles across 38+ manufacturers
  • Simplified navigation and menus via touchscreen operation
  • Built-in remote diagnostic assistance capabilities
  • Open platform allows integration with other industry leading providers
  • Unrivaled support for engine ECM reflashing, key & immobilizer tools, and TCM retrofits
  • Streamlines DPF and retrofit component installation and calibration
  • Client-server architecture grows to support multi-user fleet and OEM dealer shops
  • Expert customer support with over 95% customer satisfaction ratings for technical assistance response teams

Price: Starts around $4,000

What to look for in the best handheld semi truck diagnostic tool

When choosing the best handheld diagnostic tool for semi trucks, here are key features to look for:

  • Heavy duty specific: Ensure the scanner is designed for class 4-class 8 commercial trucks specifically, not just standard OBD. Needs more advanced capabilities.
  • Wireless connectivity: Look for wireless vehicle interface communication to the truck for quicker setup and mobility.
  • Full OEM truck coverage: Broad coverage testing across brands like International, Mack, Volvo, Cummins, etc. is a must.
  • Rugged construction: Handheld durability measured by drop testing, and an ergonomic grip for constant daily use.
  • Advanced scan tool capabilities:
    • Read and clear diagnostic trouble codes
    • Graph live sensor data parameters
    • Perform sub-system bi-directional tests
    • DPF regen and special procedures unlocked
  • Information lookup and resources: Access OEM repair data, step-by-step guidance to assist diagnosis.

Matching those criteria will ensure you get professional grade scanning ability with robust truck-specific resets, tests, and capabilities in a purpose-built handheld unit.

Find a handheld semi truck diagnostic tool to match your needs

The right handheld truck diagnostic tool is critical for maximum uptime and efficient repairs. Unlike standard code readers, commercial vehicles require specific scanners to access specialized heavy duty truck diagnostics.

Make sure you invest in professional, OEM-level heavy duty truck diagnostic equipment so you can reliably diagnose even the most complex diesel failures. You can’t go wrong with any of the best diesel truck diagnostic scanners on our list.


Do diesel trucks have OBD2?

Modern diesel trucks do include an OBD2 compliant onboard diagnostic system. They use robust aftermarket scan tools with heavy truck diagnostic software for comprehensive fault troubleshooting. 

Will OBD2 scanner work on diesel?

For very basic fault code checks or identifying that an emissions related CEL is triggered on a diesel vehicle, a standard OBD2 scanner could provide some high level information. However, for in-depth commercial vehicle repair and diagnostics, an advanced diagnostic scanner for diesel trucks is needed.

What are the two major types of diagnostic tools?

Code readers and diagnostic scan tools. The main difference is code readers just identify issues via trouble codes. Diagnostic scan tools actually allow testing and interacting with vehicle systems in detail. Technicians rely on diagnostic scanners for their robust testing abilities versus simple personal code readers commonly sold to consumers. 

What is the most basic diagnostic tool technicians use?

Code readers. While more advanced scan tools provide detailed live data, bidirectional testing and repair capabilities, even professional technicians still rely on inexpensive OBD2 code readers for basic day-to-day DTC diagnosis and to clear lights after repairs. 

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