What Is A Scan Tool?

What Is A Scan Tool

A scan tool is an electronic tool that interfaces, diagnoses and reprograms vehicles’ control modules. Fuel, mechanical problems, and ignition may lead to the disappearance of data or trouble codes on a scanning device. Notably, a scan tool detects the problem in your vehicle and portrays it in the form of a trouble code.

If you understand the code, you may interpret the problem’s seriousness and whether it needs immediate attention.

Additionally, it saves time and the cost of taking your car to the mechanic to diagnose it every time the engine light comes on. Taking your time to understand what a scanning device is and how helpful it is will only leave you eager to acquire one for your car.

Uses of a scan tool

Collection of codes

A scan machine retrieves diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). The interpretation of the codes determines the problem in a particular area but not a particular fault itself. DTC codes are a starting point to help the user know what the problem is.

You then look to know the problem’s cause and how to solve it. As you look for a tool, check the types of codes it displays to provide you with all the generic data you require.

Displaying serial data

Problems in the system do not display themselves as difficult codes. A scanning device in such a case comes in handy and displays the serial parameter or data Identification information.

The vehicle, for example, may have a problem with driveability with no set code. It may, however, cause unmistakable performance problems.

Looking at the Powertrain Control Module’s soul and heart lets you know whether the sensors and operating ranges are within the right values. The serial data gives you some information about the problem, just like the codes.

Monitoring test results

An emerging diagnostic mechanism constructed in a scan tool known as Mode Six carries out onboard monitoring results for systems not continuously monitored. The live data reveals much current information on systems like fuel control. Therefore, mode 6 reveals information even before the tool sets the DTC.

However, it is not present in all scan devices, so you should confirm with your tool representative whether the scan machine you need taps into Model Six.

Performing actuator tests

Scan machines perform actuator examinations on some vehicles. It gives the PCM command to order the relay actuator to ensure it is performing its activity. Actuator testing of a scan tool depends on whether the vehicle manufacturer enables the testing in the vehicle’s system.

Chrysler, for example, is strong in using ATMs to check the operation of components. You only have to identify whether the tool you want can command usability. ATM is worth it because you will see if a particular component performs well.

Performs Bi-directional communication

Scan tools perform bidirectional communication where the tool talks forth and back with specific onboard systems. Examples are body computers, information and entertainment systems, transmission, and fuel control systems.

Substituting signals

A scan machine can replace values to see the response of the P.C.M. For example, the Video Speed Sensor may affect systems like transmission and speedometer. After value substitution, you can emulate various speed conditions quickly, which is helpful for diagnosis.

Offers onboard service information

Onboard service data is a real-time saver checking if an issue directly relates to the service bulletin. It can also acquire detailed information from a schematic.

Saves on money

Diagnostics cost money, and taking a vehicle to the mechanic when the light engine comes on is costly. A scanning device helps you do your diagnostics without going to the mechanic.

You must locate the tool under the dash on the driver’s slide. After you locate the connector, plug it in and follow the instructions in the scanner’s manual to see the codes triggering the light on your car.

Checks for serious problems

The check engine light warns you of a severe problem that you should not drive anymore before you repair it. A scan tool detects even a small problem, including when a sensor is out, not a problem that needs immediate attention. Notably, if you can read the codes, you know how severe the problem is.

It is compatible

A scan tool fits into different vehicles. Therefore, one is enough to use in different vehicles you purchase, saving on expenditure.

It is portable

Scan tools are small and take up little space. Therefore, users can carry around the tool when going for a ride. If your engine light comes on, you do not have to look for a mechanic to carry out the diagnostics because the tool does it best and gives you peace of mind.

How to use a scan tool

You must first check whether the tool has multiple connector options and identify the right connector to attach to it. Additionally, plug the connector of the scan tool into the OBD-1 or OBD-2 port of the car.

Furthermore, put the key into the ignition and then turn the ignition to the accessory position. If the scan tool does not automatically turn on, check the user’s manual to see how to turn it on. If necessary, enter the vehicle’s VIN into the scan tool.

How to Use an OBD-II Scanner

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an automotive scan tool used for?

An automotive scan tool is used to diagnose issues with a vehicle by accessing the onboard computers. It can read and clear fault codes, view live data streams, perform calibrations, and run tests.

What are the differences between OBD1 and OBD2 scan tools?

OBD1 tools are for older vehicles that use the first-generation OBD1 protocol. OBD2 scan tools are for 1996+ vehicles that use the newer OBD2 protocols – most modern scan tools support OBD2.

What Scan tool features should I look for?

Look for features like read/clear codes, live data, freeze frame data, vehicle-specific OEM functions, battery voltage display, monitor status, print capability, and easy-to-read colour display.

Can scan tools turn off the check engine light?

Yes, most scan tools allow you to clear or reset engine and emissions fault codes, which will turn off the check engine light. The codes return if the issue causing them is not addressed.

What are bi-directional controls in a scan tool?

This allows you to do active tests by sending commands to vehicle systems. To check their operation, you can activate tests and components like switches, solenoids, and actuators.

Do I need a wireless or Bluetooth scan tool?

A wireless scan tool is not required but provides greater convenience over corded options. This allows you to scan OBD2 codes without accessing the port. They cost a little more.

Will a scan tool damage my vehicle?

When used properly, a quality scan tool will not damage vehicle systems. Avoid cheap tools that could send incorrect signals. Never change settings you don’t understand.

Can scan tools turn off Anti-theft systems?

High-end professional scan tools may allow disabling anti-theft like GM Passlock, but most consumer tools cannot affect complex anti-theft systems.

What are the top OBD2 scan tool brands?

Innova, Actron, Autel, Launch, Bosch, and Foxwell are reputable scan tool companies known for reliable diagnostics and intuitive interfaces. Avoid cheap generic brands.

Final Thought

A scan tool is an important device that saves you time and money. Going to a mechanic for diagnosis with a scan tool when the engine light comes on is unnecessary since you may fix the arising problem, saving on cost. When you understand the tool’s code, you will know how serious the problem is.

Therefore, you take caution to avoid further damages that may lead to high and unplanned expenditures. If handled properly, scan devices can provide the appropriate information according to the user’s expectations. Visiting our Websites provides more information on what is a scan tool and how it works.