View Full Version : OBD II Scan Tools

01-03-2008, 06:43 AM
What scan tool gives the best bang for the buck? Is Live data needed? What about air bags and anti lock ?

01-05-2008, 08:23 AM
I'll bump this one as I am curious also :-)

01-06-2008, 03:56 PM
If your going to work with anything OBD-II you need a fairly full function scanner.
And it should also be CAN (Controller Area Network) capable.
If you skimp you get so little and have spent the cash unwisely.
Snap-on has a slightly lower end unit which is less than my Solus here is the link and for $1000 or less(as you may be able to pick up one as a repo or used or even refurbished) its the bang for the buck : http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item.asp?P65=&tool=diagnostics&item_ID=80499&group_ID=20604&store=snapon-store&dir=catalog .
For the cash this one is the best bang for the buck from snapon.
Now Mac has this one: http://www.mactools.com/Mac/Mac+Products/Catalog/Electronics/Scan+Tools/ET3006
And its pretty close to the same price.
AutoXray has one but it doesnt give graphing of the live sensor data(well as live as you can actually see) you may never catch a glitch or sensor falling out.
There are several that you use and hook up with a laptop but honestly the Snap-On setup is the the best bang for the buck.
Now I have a Snap-On Solus (which has been upgraded in catalog as a Solus plus but I dont have any link to and my Solus will cost me something like $5k plus and I just updated it and that cost $995.00 so I am well equipt.
I also just bought a Mac Wave enhanced (Basicly a 2 channel lab scope built for MAC by OTC) to replace my aging Snap-On Vantage(now replaced by the Vantage Pro)
To really get good looks at what sensors are doing and how a computer is running the engine you have to have higher end equipment and the ability to up grade software.
I alos have an older MAC Tool Enhanced Monitor(no longer supported, and is same as OTC Monitor 4000E) but it is now residing in pawn shop prison as I needed to get a loan against it.
It will work on pretty much anything OBD I and II and older stuf and I have soft ware for it up to 98, past that I had to run it as OBD II generic.
Heck I tried to sell the Montior for $400 last year and never got a bite.
Also look on Ebay for different units.
OTC,Matco and Mac sell the basic Genisys scanner but not off the cataloges. Just remember do your homework on cause a lot of updates if your unit hasnt been updated recently it costs more as a lot of the units the software has to be updated in steps.
Good luck and ask me any questions you want. As a diag tech I am trying to stay up to date on a lot of stuff and its hard and expensive.

02-22-2008, 05:34 PM
all "scanners" are junk. priced through the roof and not upgradeable at all.

laptop based scanning software is the ONLY WAY TO GO. PERIOD.

the auto industry is always a good 5 years behind the heavy truck/fleet industry. pc based scanning has been the norm for several years now.

google obd II scanners and see what you get.

ALSO consider your desired use. if you just need to scan codes for a ton of different cars, get a generic scan tool or software package.

if you have one or two vehicles you are wanting to scan/tune, a vehicle specific software like HP Tuners et.al. is worth the cost

02-23-2008, 02:58 AM
If you watch ebay you can usually pick up a nearly new mac taskmaster for $400-500 just make sure it has all the parts with the scanmaster cd or you could get something like this new and it is similiar to the matco scanner below it.



02-23-2008, 04:18 PM
laptop based scanning software is the ONLY WAY TO GO. PERIOD.

definately. you can also get an ocilliscope for the laptor that is 10 times better than the piece of crap one in the snap-on modis. and you can store the data for later comparison, and you only pay for what you need, when you need it.

02-24-2008, 08:37 AM
How about control with the pc based systems? For example, forcing the system into open loop, controlling torque converter lock-up, AC clutch etc... Are those features available?

02-24-2008, 09:28 AM
everything you can do with a regular scanner you can do with a laptop. it's all about software. hell the snap-on modis runs off of windows.

Skip Fix
02-28-2008, 01:23 PM
The new LM2 is supposed to log OBDIIs and give you wide band.

02-28-2008, 03:15 PM
So there's no interface box between the laptop and ecm?

02-28-2008, 05:05 PM
if you get the right software, you hook one end of a cable into the laptop and the other end into the OBD2 connector. that's it. plus you can easily download and update the software when you need to. you can also get reflashes for your stock engine. and if you don't need toyota capability, you don't buy it. with snap-on you're stuck with what they give you. even for full capability you pay one hell of a lot less than with snap-on. and trust me, your laptop is a lot faster than the Modis is.

02-28-2008, 05:13 PM
Well as a certified Master Tech with advanced level training who uses a scanner every day I can tell you your full of it. bought 2 such setups and I can guarantee you they were supposed to be the topof the line full featured setups, guess what after 3 computer upgrades and a lot of work on my part(and i do work on computers also) I found PC based units limited and not nearly as useful as you would think.
I personally have a Snap On Solus and love it, and to up grade I simply pull out the compact flash card out and have snapon update it and it is CAN ready (thats controler area network). Snap-On also has a lesser model called Ethos that is also is updateable and CAN ready.
Dont get me wrong its not cheap but the Ethos can be had for $1000 or less and after you figure a laptop for $500-$1000 then the PC version of scanner software and hardware then you have almost as much as I have.
If you are only trying to pull codes you yes you can use that kind of stuff but for me I can hang the scanner from the steering wheel and catch snapshots or movies when the car does something wrong.
Yes Modis/solus/Ethos works off windows CE BUT that is the operating system not the scanning software.
Computer based units are very limited unless you just want to hit the main module and do simple look and see. The 2 top systems out there didnt give me any bi-directional controls. Oh and heavy trucks still have to have a special tool to hook the computer too, we have one in the shop where I work.
Trust this from a seriously equiped tech, I wouldnt waste my time on them,,,yet. in the future maybe after they get all the licenses and such figured out.

02-28-2008, 06:00 PM
i am not a seriously equipped tech, but i have used the snap-on modis (supposedly one of the more capable scanners) extensively and it sucks. slow, bug ridden, constant "updates" to fix it, and tons of non-functioning features. did i mention slow?
i have also taken courses on scan tools from top of the line techs (including a guy with doctorates in EE and AE who contracts with OEM's to figure out problems and troubleshooting methods on new models) and know a few personally who use laptops exclusively. (well now they do) you can record on multiple channels for PID's and the o-scope for a full hour or more (and you can save everything by car for later comparison). you can replay them overlayed or stacked so you can see what caused what and when, down to the millisecond. you don't have to try and watch the (slow) data stream while driving. you can also hook up a spark analyzer. and yes they do CAN and BI-directional control.
from what you said (about having to work on the computer) your problem was the hardware, not the software. either that or you did it over 10 years ago.

02-29-2008, 11:21 AM
I already have a laptop so $400 up for a full feature scanner is a bit hard to justify versus less for software. I've used the OTC tools and know that I want more than a parts store scanner so I want to look into software.

So megaladon, what software do you recommend and which one do you have the most experience with?

02-29-2008, 02:57 PM
you will have to do some research on it but the ones that the guys i know like are ross-tech for VW(it's so good that VW dealer mechanics use it instead of the factory tool.), Auto-enginuity is a very good company for most/all makes especially BMW, EASE is another good one but i believe thay may still use an interface box.
unfortunately i only have a little experience with laptops, (my apologies if i implied that i did. i only got to play with them a little at the classes.) but they were a lot easier to navigate then the shops modis and one hell of a lot faster. one of our techs got a laptop to compare with his OTC (dominator?) and even with the basic software, he loved it.

03-02-2008, 04:17 PM
Well at work we just sent back the third such(pc ) scanner and after serious looks at the price of everything(laptop was $850 nad scanner rogram was $995 base, and took 4 full up dates to get it to work on simple cars(ie one control unit) we sent them back. AS for what you saw if it was Modis with the first couple generations of software it had its teething pains but the lates 7.2/7.4 version is very workable nd I have yet to find a single glitch in my Solus.
as for the OTC Genisys/Determinator thee fact that it can be a graphing multimeter ,scanner,gas module makes it ever so much more useable(this waas one I trained on at the driveability class I went to.
I have a Pico set up coming for a full scale test.
And as for truck service being so far ahead of automotive,,, thats BS.
We have to have a scanner and a pc to use what we have for trucks now and as for trying to find wiring diagrams, repair info, tsbs,recalls info,,, Heavy trucks SUCK when you have to find info.
Ifact I believe Auto Ingenuity(I may be wrong but it was auto -something) was last one we sent back, it wouldnt comunicate with anything reasonable. As for PC ased ossiliscopes we are hopng he Pico works out. but i have an older vantage nd want avantage pro but I have neveerhad y issues with Modis multimeter yet an dhave actually used it with get success.
If you think any of the pc based units are great so be it but I make a living with mine and so far the OTC and snap on bassed units are working perfectly, nad besides I can hang my solus off the steering wheel and watch for glitches and hit the save button, run movies activated by the ccodes/problems setting. If I had to drag alaptop around all the time it would destroy it with the abuse(re accidental dropping of it) my solus has taken.
If you have issues with Modis I bet it was still using older software as the new stuff(for modis and solus) are awesome.

03-03-2008, 02:20 PM
one thing to check with the PC scanners if you can't communicatre is if the firewalls and the like are running or programs like AOL. if they are, it ain't gonna work.
you are definately right about the laptops taking abuse. i'm sure they're still expensive but they have come out with "shock proof" laptops.
the modis did get the 7.2 upgrade and a bunch of others before and after it. that's when the problems REALLY started. plus the snap-on guy was updating the damn thing every month.
the OTC's are pretty good though.