When we first began to use scan tools for diagnostics, they stood alone as an interface between the technician and the vehicle computer. The information we extracted was in the form of codes or data, and we then utilized factory service information to analyze it and develop a diagnostic approach.
On today’s vehicles, that’s not enough. In addition to service information, we rely on a growing number of resources, from exact diagnostic procedures to community groups, remote support, technical bulletins and more. The relevancy of these resources as it applies to what we do is not that they are available, it’s that we need them, and we need to utilize them on every repair in order to get an efficient and accurate diagnosis.
Today, with a greater emphasis on diagnostics, we need our scan tool to be more than a scan tool. Modern powertrain and vehicle management systems, while all conforming to industry protocol for communication and code standards, can differ considerably in operating logic, as well as manufacturer-specific codes. So, to begin with, we still need our scan tool to communicate with the makes and models we service, but we also need it to be the link to all the resources at our fingertips.
When we begin our diagnostic approach on any vehicle, the first step is researching the trouble codes and stored data from the control module. We depend on our scan tool to offer an initial assessment of the data in the form of links to OEM technical service bulletins and community documented repairs. Many scan tool manufacturers utilize existing organized repair resources and communities, an important aspect which allows them to connect technicians to a comprehensive source of information.
Continuously facing unusual diagnostic challenges, a scan tool that offers diagnostic assistance to guide technicians through the most logical diagnostic path becomes not only an invaluable resource, but a learning tool as well. These types of features benefit experienced technicians, as well as entry level technicians still developing their diagnostic skills.
Even the most experienced technicians rely on tools that aid in diagnosis. Just the thought of trying to know it all or remember specific details about every vehicle can become overwhelming, and the sign of a seasoned technician is not one who brags about knowledge, but one who knows how to utilize the equipment and information that’s available.
An effective scan tool brings service information to the technician so they can not only read and study it in a manner with which they have been accustomed to for years, but it’s available without stepping away from the vehicle. Walking away to utilize a different resource or look something up can cause you to lose concentration, and before you know it, you’re involved in something else.
Utilizing wiring diagrams is much more common with today’s diagnostics, and this is yet another aspect of a scan tool that keeps you efficiently on the task at hand. Integrated and interactive wiring diagrams save time and supplies and allow you to focus directly on the diagnostic procedure without getting sidetracked or pulled in a different direction.
When shopping for a scan tool, make sure it has an advanced graphic interface. Make sure it has a comprehensive database of vehicle information and specifications. Make sure it provides all the resources you need. Make sure it’s more than a scan tool. When it is, you’ve got the right one. TS