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Scan Tools vs Code Readers pt 3

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Scan Tools vs Code Readers pt 3

JD Durham (SubmitYOURArticle.com)
May 16, 2011


Copyright (c) 2011 JD Durham

In part 2 of this series we discussed several of the OEM scan tool offerings and the most popular 3 aftermarket choices. We discussed the costs, features, warranties, customer support, and construction.

In this third part we will start examining some of the single vehicle Enhanced Data Scan Tools capabilities, warranties, construction, cost to purchase, cost to upgrade, and more. Most enhanced data scan tools can communicate with other brands in generic mode.

Most of these single vehicle scan tools are available for the laptop which reduces the possibility of contaminating a vehicle with a virus. These tools offer the bidirectional control and have a similar learning curve to the particular vehicle manufacturers' tool. The software is upgradeable to add new function as needed usually as a free download.

In this article we will cover the Ford, Toyota and VW & Audi tool packages. There are enhanced scan tool single brand packages available for Honda, Volvo, and others.

The VW & Audi scan tool has the same function that many VW & Audi dealers use in their stores. The software supplied with this tool must be used as any other software can damage the tool. The tool is quick to connect to the vehicle, reads all the codes from every module including the ODX UDS modules for 2011. It uses the same terminology (eg: measuring blocks) and has more than 14,000 current version, additional texts in the fields of-Measuring-values. It supports 64 bit operating systems. It has a moderate learning curve. This software requires the user to either be familiar with the dealer software or to keep a copy of the manual provided close by as a reference until proficiency is obtained.

If you perform an off car throttle body cleaning you will need this tool to rest the throttle body to PCM communications and reference points. It has the capability of resetting the throttle assembly rather quickly which many dealers charge 1 hr or more labor for. This scan tool package costs around $150.

The Ford scan tool (F Super) is a really well constructed tool that is user friendly. It communicates with all Ford products (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury) from 1996 to current in enhanced mode and is fully FORD compliant PC-based scan tool designed to use through USB port connection. Display all the manufacturer specific sensor data in real-time. Read and clear manufacturer specific trouble codes.Modules access: PCM, TCM, ABS, Airbag, Cluster Protocols: FORD (SCP), FORD (ISO9141).

It has a similar learning curve as the factory Ford tool. The tool is constructed very user friendly. It uses a very similar software package to the original Ford package. Prices start at under $100.

The Toyota tool communicates with all the Toyota and Lexus models in enhanced data mode. The tool comes with the Toyota Techstream TIS diagnostic software. It supports the following protocols; K-Line ISO 9141, KWP 2000 ISO 14230-4, SAE J1850 PWM, SAE J1850 VPW, CAN 2.0B ISO 11898 and CAN ISO 15765-4. It has the same learning curve as the Toyota software. Prices start under $150

If you own a European vehicle you can now use your generic or enhanced data scan tool to connect with the OEM data port on Mercedes (38 pin) and BMW (20 pin) with the new adapter cables. Just plug the cable into your tool and insert it into the factory data access port under the hood and access the data.

If you have been with me this far, you can clearly see that the world of scan tools has changed mostly to help the mechanic and you have some choices to make. The choice of which one is best comes down to function, what you need to do the job, and how much you are willing to spend.

In the area of multi brand vehicle enhanced data tools for laptops, the question becomes why spend the same money for a generic data tool at Auto Enginuity that you can buy a multi brand vehicle enhanced data scan tool from Alex Pepper at Car Code?

What I would suggest is that you consider a generic data scan tool with a professional quality software package as your primary diagnostic tool. Then add the OBD II Vehicle Explorer and Car Code scan tool for those times you need enhanced data. This will keep your learning curve low with only 2 scan tools. As your needs and capabilities grow you may need to add a single brand enhanced data scan tool to your tool box. This approach has many benefits as it allows you to become accustomed to a single software and tool platform to repair those 80% vehicles and when you need it pull out the enhanced tool. This has the added benefit of getting you into diagnostics at a lower cost. Both of these scan tools are available at many online locations.

In the next part of this series, Scan Tool Software:Free Versions, we will review many generic data scan tool software programs in depth and decide which are best for the casual user or professionals. After we review the free programs, we will review the paid software programs. If there is a software program that you wish us to review just drop a note through our contact page.

JD Durham is a World Class Technician, an Automotive Hall of Fame honoree with 45 years experience in the automotive service and repair industry. He is a staff writer at http://straighttalkautomotive.com where you can find other articles tools and information to help you with maintaining your vehicle.

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