A typical generic auto scantool is used to diagnose and detect variety of internal problems or malfunctions inside hundreds of vehicle components.
This is possible because each component is monitored by sensors, which give out DTC’s (Diagnostic fault codes).
These codes give you insights as to what is incorrect with the car and where the problem is located.
There are three different types of auto scan tools…
- The first is your basic code reader; this model is good for reading and clearing codes.
- The second is a more advanced auto scantool that can view live and recorded data, provide access to bi-directional tests and controls, access extensive knowledge bases, and other more advanced functions.
- Lastly, OEM (Original Equipment manufacturer) scan tools which are made specifically for the car manufacturer – and covers all their systems (including ABS, Airbag, BCM, DTC, etc).
Your basic code reader will normally only have a couple buttons and cost you anywhere between $50-$100. It will be fine for reading standard diagnostic trouble codes and clearing them, but will not have vehicle specific or enhanced codes that a more advanced scan tool would have.
A more Advance Scantool can run you anywhere from $1,000-$12,000 depending on the features, adapters and cables that may be bundled with it; but it’s functionality is far superior to your basic scan tool.
There are also factory specific scantools available that get up there is cost but may be worth it, depending on what you or your shop deals with on a daily basis.
Picking the Correct Automotive Scantool for Your Car
As with cars, there are many different options and tiers available when choosing a scantool.
You need to consider the ability to work on pre OBD–II vehicles, screen size and resolution, bundling options, Bluetooth capabilities, platform needed, onboard memory, as well as, battery life and power source.
For example, if you work on classic or antique cars you will want the ability to work on pre OBD-II vehicles.
If you want to fine-tune your cars performance you’ll need a more advanced scan tool.
It all depends on what you intend on using it for. The next time you are in the market for scan tool check out Total Car Diagnostics for a wide variety of options and factory specific models.