Purchasing a car scanner is very easy but it takes some research to know which one is best for you. If you are professional, you need a tool that will work on vehicles that you normally service and is also easy to use. Unfortunately, it’s quite challenging to get everything that you want in one single tool since some tools come with more features than others. Also, while some have limited functions, others can perform a wide range of activities. Since there are many different types in the market, finding the right one can be quite challenging.
Why you need a scan tool
When it comes to diagnostics of modern vehicles, having a scan tool is very important. You need one for diagnosing the engines, emissions, transmissions problems and to troubleshoot any system that deals with electric controls. You will also use one for reading sensor PIDs, trouble codes, capturing information, accessing pending codes among others. Above all, you need a good tool that that comes with a lot of built in versatility and utility.
Since purchasing one is a huge investment, it’s very important to buy one that gives you value for your money. Although, you may acquire more than one for the vehicle makes that you normally work on you will still need some general scan tool that can help you take care of a wide range of cars. In the recent years, there is an increasing trend towards scan tools that can diagnose any type of car.
Which scan tool platform should you choose
Recently, a number of vendors have created apps and softwares that can allow your laptop, smartphone or PC to work as a wireless scan toll. Just like its usefulness, the sophistication of this software also varies a great deal. The cheapest software allows you to use your mobile device or a computer to communicate and link with the OBD diagnostic. Good packages come with enhanced codes for particular vehicle applications that may also include the ability to display sensor voltages, switch status among others.
Some also need a cable connection to connect your car to the device. In some instances, you may only need to buy the cable and get the software free of charge. In fact, without the cable the software is useless hence cannot help you much. One of the best things about the laptop, smartphone, or a PC software car scanner is that they have larger screens. They can also be updated by downloading and installing the latest softwares and transfer the information to the tool.
Why you need more than one tool
Since it’s true that one tool cannot do much, many technicians normally buy more than one car scanner and apply different tools for different vehicles. For some scanning jobs, you require a tool that can display or graph waveforms. This means that if you do not purchase a high-end scanner you will have to buy a tool with digital storage. Most scan tools show data stream values. This means that if the PCM is not reading the sensor well or is transferring bad information, it will be hard to know without testing the circuit or the component that you are dealing with. This is where you find that having a scope is very interesting.
Common buying mistakes
One of the biggest problems in getting a scan is not buying the real thing. Counter felt and copycat scanners are nowadays being manufactured that appear to be original. Unfortunately, they are always unauthorized copies of the original and may not work well as they claim. This is why when you need to upgrade the software you might find that the proper codes for authorization are lacking. Many of these tools are being distributed by fly by night distributors or online merchants who lack contact information and permanent addresses.
When any aftermarket scan tools offer in-depth coverage some have only limited capabilities for common car makes. The challenge is that it is hard to know what the problem is until you start using the tool. It’s after using it that you realize that the tool cannot access the subsystem that you are dealing with or give you the definition of a code. It may be the best tool but fail in other cars. When it comes to buying a scanner you need to do your homework well before settling on a particular tool so that you are sure of the kind of tool that you are buying. Buy reviewing the manufacturer’s information you will know that the scanner covers the makes that often service. If you are not sure, talk with other professionals who use the same so that you learn about their experience.
For your scanner to work well you must ensure that it’s updated. Using software that is not updated may not be able to diagnose the codes, onboard self-tests, and PID lists. More so, when software is out of date it may have misleading or incorrect results
You also need to know that a scan tool cannot repair anything. It, therefore, takes an expertise to use and operate the information generated by the tool. This means you need to understand the workings of the system of the vehicle. If you are not sure how the system works or about a particular sensor it can be very hard to fix the car.
You also cannot use the codes alone to identify the problems since many problems are not encrypted in the codes. Because of the combination of circumstances, some codes can mislead you. Other codes may also be wrong making them difficult to eliminate by normal fixing procedures. The best thing to do is t always look for TBSs. This will help you a lot.
The more research and time that you put into choosing the scanner the better satisfied you will get. You can always check the internet for the best sources, feature, and prices before settling on the best. Once you do your home you will find the best tool.