Carly vs OBDeleven — Which Is Better?

Welcome to yet another shootout of consumer-grade OBD scanning solutions. With hundreds of options available out there, the choice can be daunting for most users, unless they are reasonably knowledgeable on automobiles, as well as OBD2, and what it can be used for. Even so, they’d need to do a mountain of research to pick something that best fits their requirement. That’s why we write these comparisons, taking the most popular options out there, and objectively comparing them. You’ll find that instead of picking a clear winner in most of our comparisons, we identify which option is better for which type of car owner and user. For example, in this shootout, we are taking Carly and OBDEleven for an in-depth comparison. At the end, there will be some users who will set their sights on Carly, some who will choose OBDEleven, and others who may desire something else. That’s where you can check out some of our other comparisons of popular consumer-grade OBD scanning solutions.

What Is OBD?

The 20th century saw the widespread introduction of the automobile, granting personal mobility to millions, and now, billions of people. However, by the Seventies, many cities, not just in North America but around the world were experiencing a nasty side effect of internal combustion engines, and that is their emissions. Air quality significantly deteriorated, and the public’s health began to suffer. In North America, several states, led by California started tightening things up, with Clean Air acts and laws. One of the stipulations was that vehicles should be able to constantly monitor their emissions, and immediately report any inconsistencies or abnormalities to the driver via a warning lamp. Hence, OBD (On Board Diagnostics) was born in the Eighties, and manufacturers soon realized that it was a useful overall vehicle diagnostic standard. They started developing their own iterations.

This led to fragmentation and caused issues for workshops, who had to purchase a separate device for each manufacturer, often costing thousands of dollars apiece. Calls for unification ensued, and by 1996, OBD2 had hit the market. OBD2 is a unified standard with a standardized port, and a set of standard protocols, as well as bandwidth for manufacturer-specific protocols as well. Any new car from a major manufacturer made within the last twenty years will have an OBD2 port on board. OBD3 is currently in development and focuses on new features to cater to the EV revolution.

From around 2015, consumer-grade OBD2 scanning solutions began to emerge, opening up regular car owners and drivers to access a wealth of data about their car that was previously only accessible to workshops. Carly and OBDEleven are two of hundreds of solutions out there, and you can check out some of our previous comparisons of consumer-grade solutions as well.

Why Should I Get an OBD Scanner?

The most common use of a consumer-grade OBD scanner is to allow you to quickly check your car for any errors that could cause a major issue now, or down the line. This is because your Check Engine lamp may not illuminate for all errors, and you could be blissfully unaware of an impending issue. Having one of these in your car at all times is a surefire way to be ahead of any impending issues. Modern consumer-grade OBD scanning solutions use a wireless adapter or dongle to communicate with an accompanying app on your smartphone, eliminating the need for specialized equipment or cables snaking all over the cabin.

Other things that consumer-grade OBD scanning solutions can do including customizing aspects of your car, known as coding, performing maintenance reminder and resets, conducting advanced scans, monitoring data parameters in real-time, creating, storing and retrieving reports, and verifications of certain aspects on used cars. Previously the preserve of bulky and expensive equipment, these features are now available in the palm of your hand.

Where’s the OBD2 Port in My Car?

The OBD2 port is typically located within the cabin, inside a few feet radius of the steering wheel. The most common places include inside the glove box or console box, beneath the steering wheel, on the underside of the steering column, in the driver’s footwell, or behind a trim piece lower down the dash. Your car’s owner’s manual will reveal the location of the OBD2 port, as will a quick Google search. Once you’ve located the port, you may need to remove a trim piece covering it, which you can carefully do with a small flat-bladed screwdriver. Once you’ve removed it, simply plug in your purchased OBD2 scanner or adapter, and switch on your car. Follow the pairing process as described by the manufacturer of the scanning solution, and you’ll be up and running in a very short time.

Carly Vs. OBDEleven — Quick Comparison

Carly and OBDEleven are both very powerful and versatile solutions, with a wide array of features on offer. For those of you who are looking for a quick rundown on what they offer, we’ve created a helpful comparison table right here. Feel free to peruse it for an overall idea, and we’ve rated certain aspects on a scale of 1 to 5 for your convenience. We’d recommend that you read through our article for a more detailed explanation and comparison on each one, though.

Mobile Operating Systems SupportedAndroid and iOSAndroid and iOS
System DiagnosticsAll SystemsAll Systems
OBD2 Functions and Enhanced Code ReadingFullFull
Customizations / Coding Features3.5/54/5
Advanced Service Functions4/54.5/5
Typical Vehicle Brands SupportedAlmost all vehicles made since 1996, mainly European brands, but some American and Japanese too.All Volkswagen Group vehicles, including Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen, etc…

Carly Vs. OBDEleven — Pricing and Solutions

Carly and OBDEleven both have their own OBD2 adapter, or scanner, which is designed to work best with the accompanying mobile app. This means that you can have peace of mind, and do not need to worry about selecting the best OBD2 scanner for each solution. Of course, this is reflected in the pricing as well. Let’s look at how they stack up, as we’ve presented the multiple options that each offer.

You can purchase the Carly Universal OBD Scanner and pair it with the free, limited functionality Carly lite app to evaluate the feature set available for your car. If you don’t like what’s on offer, you can return the scanner within 14 days for a full refund (as long as it’s in good condition, of course), and if you like what Carly offers, you can pay and subscribe to the full version of the Carly app, which you pay for a license for one brand. You can also purchase multiple licenses for other brands if you have more than one brand and model of car in your garage. Furthermore, you can also select Scanner+ to unlock extra features if your car supports them. Carly will advise you of this accordingly.

OBDEleven has a Credits system which you can use to purchase One-Click apps. You can also earn credits by watching ads within the app. You can check which version of OBDEleven is ideal for your car via their website. Note that the Standard version, as well as their older OBD scanner device is Android-only, so if you’re using an Apple device, ensure that you purchase one of the versions that support iOS, as well as the variant of OBDEleven that supports it. Our table below can help you choose.

Carly Universal OBD Scanner – $79OBDEleven Standard (Android only) – $64.99
Carly Universal OBD Scanner+ – $80 – $119OBDEleven Nexgen (Android/iOS) – $94.99
 OBDEleven Starter (Android/iOS, 100 credits) – $109.99
 OBDEleven Pro (Android/iOS, 200 credits) – $149.99
 OBDEleven Ultimate (Android/iOS, 500 credits) – $259.99


Carly OBD
Carly OBD

Carly is a German-developed consumer-grade OBD scanning solution that comprises the Carly app, and the Carly Universal OBD Scanner as the adaptor. Plugging into your car’s OBD2 port, the Carly Universal OBD Scanner utilizes Bluetooth to communicate with your smartphone or tab. The Carly lite app is the free version that allows you to evaluate the exact feature set of Carly available for your specific make and model of car, before purchasing the full Carly app, which is on annual subscription basis. The app is available for Android and iOS, on the official app stores.

Initially developed for BMW and other German brands, Carly is constantly under development and improvement. As a result, Carly now offers moderate support for all European car manufacturers and has been expanding its support base to include the most popular North American, Japanese, and Korean brands as well. While it may not offer the full feature set that more manufacturer-dedicated solutions can offer, Carly is more than enough for novice to intermediate users, and even some advanced users find Carly is enough for their requirements.

Carly’s powerful OBD2 diagnostics scans are able to scan all OBD2 protocols and detect faults in your car’s on board computer systems. However, Carly goes a step further from other apps in user interface and data presentation. What’s known as the ‘traffic light’ system is used, where the app uses three colors to categorize detected errors, and their severity. Critical errors that need immediate attention are flagged Red, those that are important but can be delayed for a while fall in the Amber category, and those that are trivial and can safely be ignored fall in the Green category.

Some of Carly’s other features include:

  • Clearing of detected error codes after you have rectified the issues causing the errors.
  • Detected fault codes are interpreted in the app, as well as online for maximum accuracy.
  • Viewing live data parameters on the go, including freeze-frame.
  • Data storage and retrieval, including past history and report function.
  • Accessing all relevant vehicle information and specifications available.
  • Moderate coding functions, allowing you to customize certain aspects of your car to your liking. This is dependent on car make and model, and Carly will advise you of what’s possible.
  • Easy coding system with clear user menus and categorization, allowing novices to code basic aspects of their car.
  • Ability to revert coding changes, as well as create and restore backups, in case the user wishes to revert to the previous settings.
  • Maintenance minders and service resets such as transmission reset, Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) regeneration, battery registration, service interval reset, Check Engine Light (CEL) reset, NOx reset, and EBP reset.
  • Carly’s Used Car Check allows you to evaluate a used car for mileage tampering and detect such fraudulent activities. Carly’s checks multiple control units across the car to detect discrepancies in mileage, and can warn you if a car has encountered mileage tampering.
  • Carly’s customer support is widely said to be great in terms of responsiveness and assistance.

However, Carly is not without its shortcomings, and for an objective comparison, we have presented them below for you to take into account.

  • Coding across Carly is much less powerful than on OBDEleven, and only basic to intermediate features can be coded with Carly.
  • Some advanced users have found Carly’s interface to be too simplistic and restrictive for those desiring to delve deeper into their car’s systems and functionality.
  • Carly is less well integrated with Volkswagen Group vehicles than OBDEleven, so the latter will offer better functionality, as well as more advanced coding across these brands, including Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen, etc…
  • Carly’s subscription fees are recurring on an annual basis, and your cost over time can exceed that of OBDEleven as a result.
  • If you own cars of more than one brand, you will need to purchase additional licenses for those brands, further increasing the cost of using Carly.



OBDEleven is another consumer-grade OBD scanning solution that’s been developed primarily to work with Volkswagen Group vehicles. These include brands such as Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen, among others. Initially available for Android only, the makers of OBDEleven are constantly developing and upgrading it, and iOS support has been added too. OBDEleven has its own wireless OBD2 scanner to plug into your vehicle’s OBD2 port, and like Carly, it uses Bluetooth to communicate with the accompanying app installed on your smartphone or tab.

If you’ve read our Pricing and Solutions section, you’d see that they offer a variant for Android users only, so you will need to avoid that if you’re using Apple devices. The Pro and Ultimate variants offer the most comprehensive feature sets for Volkswagen Group vehicles, surpassing Carly by a significant margin.

OBDEleven also offers comprehensive diagnostics and reading of error codes from all computerized control units on your car. The user interface may not be as simplistic as Carly, but is more comprehensive and aimed at intermediate to advanced users. Manufacturer-level diagnostic codes are supported as well.

In addition to comprehensive diagnostics and error reporting, OBDEleven also offers the following:

  • Comprehensive monitoring of real-time data parameters with freeze-frame function.
  • Detected fault codes are interpreted in the app, as well as online for maximum accuracy.
  • Error codes can be cleared after the problems causing them have been rectified on your car.
  • Data storage and retrieval function, including viewing of historical data, creation of reports and accessing these at a later date.
  • Accessing all relevant vehicle information and specifications available.
  • Comprehensive suite of maintenance and service reset functions, including CEL reset, control unit reset, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) reset, service interval resets, battery registration, brake pad replacement interval reset, oil change reset, power steering activation, and more. There are more reset functions for Volkswagen Group vehicles that will vary depending on your car’s exact make and model.
  • Powerful suite of coding functions, including Long Coding to manually specify parameters within the car’s Engine Control Unit (ECU), as well as ECU programming and adaptation functions.

We must also mention OBDEleven’s shortcomings, and these include:

  • Less overall support than Carly. There is online support, but no proper user manuals, and very little information supplied with the packaging.
  • Some advanced functions and menus can be confusing to understand.
  • The coding function should be approached with care if you are a novice user, as it’s possible to create changes that cause undesirable effects.
  • Some features aren’t available for iOS users, and are only available on the Android version of the app, so you should check before buying.
  • If you have several cars, and not all of them are Volkswagen Group vehicles, OBDEleven may not work with them, and you will need to purchase a second consumer-grade diagnostic solution for them.

Which Is Better?

Based on our lengthy analysis of Carly and OBDEleven, if you’re looking for a decent solution for novice and intermediate users, aren’t too interested in extensive or long coding, and prefer ease of use, Carly is a great choice to consider. The Carly Used Car Check is a fantastic ally when checking out a used car as well, and the simple user interface quickly tells you not only what’s wrong with your car, but whether it needs immediate attention or can be postponed for a while. Carly’s customer service is lauded by users too. If you own vehicles that aren’t Volkswagen Group brands, Carly is your best bet, although it offers a solid feature set for Volkswagen Group brands as well, albeit nowhere as near as powerful as OBDEleven. That’s a positive point for Carly, as if you have a Volkswagen Group vehicle as well as one from another brand, Carly can help you manage both. However, you will need to purchase additional licenses for each brand, increasing your cost, and you will need to account for Carly’s annual subscription cost as well.

However, if you are a more knowledgeable user, own a Volkswagen Group vehicle, and are looking for in-depth diagnostics, deeper coding functionality, and more advanced analytical functions, it’s hard to knock OBDEleven as it’s been developed to a very high standard to work excellently with the Volkswagen Group brands such as Audi, Bentley, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen and the rest from the group. Offering five options at varying price points, you can pick and choose which one suits you best, although you need to be aware that certain options and features are Android-only as of now.

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Congratulations to Carly OBD

The Unrivaled Champion of Our OBD Device Showdown!

Breaking through the competition with stellar performance, unmatched diagnostics, and exceptional user experience, Carly OBD is our ‘Best OBD Device of 2023′! 

Excellence you can trust, the power of diagnostics in your hand – that’s Carly OBD.

Experience the Carly Difference today – the ultimate partner for your vehicle’s health and performance!

Congratulations to Carly OBD

The Unrivaled Champion of Our OBD Device Showdown!

Breaking through the competition with stellar performance, unmatched diagnostics, and exceptional user experience, Carly OBD is our ‘Best OBD Device of 2023′! 

Excellence you can trust, the power of diagnostics in your hand – that’s Carly OBD.

Experience the Carly Difference today – the ultimate partner for your vehicle’s health and performance!