April 21, 2007
Diagnostic Equipment Roundup
By Seyfert, Karl
To keep pace with evolving vehicle technology, a shop must periodically evaluate its diagnostic equipment, then update or replace as needed. This report provides information on recent tool manufacturer and supplier offerings.
With the increasing complexity of today's automotive systems, technicians must make a conscious effort to stay ahead of the game. You must rely on your ability to manage and make the most of what you have. This includes your shop's diagnostic tools and equipment. It's important to understand the capabilities of the tools you already own, your diagnostic style and the kinds of vehicles you work on. You also need to know what new technology is coming up- both short term and long term-then decide whether it suits your needs.
What follows is an overview of recent offerings in underhood diagnostic equipment. This report emphasizes the key features of more than two dozen pieces of equipment. For more detailed information and to gain a complete understanding of specific tools, contact the manufacturers or suppliers (we've included their contact information). We also extend our thanks to those companies for their cooperation in gathering this information.
The AutoEnginuity ProLine bundle is a professional Windows PC and Pocket PC-based diagnostics scan tool offering both OBD II-generic and manufacturer-specific coverage for BMW, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Land Rover, Hyundai, Kia and Mazda vehicles. It includes access to ABS, air bag, instrument cluster, transmission and other controllers on all supported makes. Key features include fully translated Mode 6 data, bidirectional controls that can be operated from any window, live data in graph, grid and meter formats, and color-coded results for quicker data interpretation.
The hardware is a Plug-n-Play USB 2.0 device for backwards compatibility and faster throughput. It requires no device drivers or complex installation process. The software interface includes VIN decoding to help you retrieve the proper vehicle model information, perform network tests to verify system availability before a selected system is accessed, and the ability to retrieve/clear DTCs from all systems with a single request. Live data screens can be printed to create extensive trouble code and emissions reports for customers. The software is updated as often as four times a year, with free updates to the enhanced interfaces for the first year.
Tools available from Autoland Scientech range from OBD II- generic and oil reset scan tools to dealer-level diagnostics. The company stresses its ability to provide the aftermarket with such dealer-specific applications as coding and programming. Scan tools offered include the VeDiS, iScan (CS2000), VScan and D21. Most recently, the company has added coding for European models, as well as OEM-specific functionality for drive-by-wire systems, steering angle sensors, throttle body relearn procedures, tire pressure monitors, seat sensor calibration, key programming, brake bleeding and deactivation of Sensotronic brake control and more.
The Autologic Diagnostic System is designed to replicate the functionality of OEM tools used by dealer techs. The system is designed to run on the same platform as Autologic for BMW, and adds dealer-level software for Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo vehicles. Autologic provides datastream, reading and clearing of diagnostic trouble codes and component activation. The system also provides access to immobilizer key coding, module replacement (including coding and programming) and performance tuning.
A built-in data logger records software data transfer and unidentified ECUs and e-mails the details to the Autologic technical support center. Utilizing Internet communication with the Autologic system, a fix file is created and e-mailed back to the user, usually within 24 hours. Subsequently, a new software version is then created and posted for all users to download.
All Autologic software revisions and upgrade modules are available free during the warranty period, via the website. Technical support/updates for the Autologic tool are available to customers within the U.S., and factory-trained, master technicians are available to answer vehicle-specific questions and/or concerns.
Automotive Electronics Services (AES) has introduced the LineSpi, an OBD II DLC breakout box. The LineSpi includes LEDs to monitor power, grounds and OBD II data lines. The tool includes two modes of operation-diagnostic mode and activity mode.
In diagnostic mode, the tool decouples the OBD II line LEDs from the data line's so they don't interfere with any diagnostics-such as looking for an open or short. In activity mode, the dataline LEDs are active, allowing you to monitor scan tool/data line activity.
The tool's ground LEDs (pins 4 and 5) allow yon to quickly determine if there's a current flow problem. The power LED (pin 16) allows yon to quickly determine if there's a power source problem, such as a blown fuse. If there's a blown fuse to pin 16, you can jumper power into the breakout box to power up your scan tool. All data lines can be monitored with a lab scope while a scan tool is connected. Use the breakout box any time you need to jumper pins at the DLC without having to crawl under the dash or risk shorting the wrong pins together.
Automotive Test Solutions (ATS) has introduced several new pieces of equipment. The first is the EScan with Sharpshooter technology. This scan tool has the ability to convey critical information on the fuel injection system to the technician. It accomplishes this through alert lights and special testing features such as: decrypted Mode 6 data, load charts for fuel trim, vacuum, volumetric efficiency, catalytic converter and temperature, and the soon-to-be- enabled automated troubleshooting capability. This tool will connect to all bus types from 1996 to 2007.
The second new tool is a Pressure Transducer Kit. These pressure transducers open up a variety of new diagnostic possibilities. By placing a transducer in the spark plug hole, the valve timing can be viewed. Another transducer is a new style exhaust pressure transducer designed specifically to dampen the exhaust fluctuation and amplify the misfiring cylinder. When connected to a vacuum source on the intakt' manifold, these pressure transducers can determine if the engine hits valve deposits or intake guide problems. They'll also indicate which cylinder has a blown head gasket. In the case where the pressure transducer is connected to the dipstick hose, a piston blowby problem can quickly be evaluated. There are many other uses for these devices.
The third tool is the EScope Limited, a four-channel, dual-time- base, 14-bit PC-based oscilloscope. The tool has the ability to power, ground and read the signals of up to four pressure transducers at one time. The software is automated, so choosing the transducer to be used will automatically convert the voltage to the correct pressure readings. The software also allows special grids to be placed over the transducer waveform, to help when checking camshaft timing or misfiring cylinders.
AutoEnginuity ProLine Package
Finally, there's the EScope Pro, an eight-channel, dual-time- base, 16-bit PC-based oscilloscope with bidirectional control of electrical devices. The PC notebook is mounted directly to the scope case for complete mobility. Wireless connections can be made to the EScan tool and Emission analyzer, allowing the technician to view live waveforms, control electrical functions and view scan tool and exhaust gas data all on one screen at the same time. This platform also will simultaneously power up to eight pressure transducers.
Because this device is PC-based, it also can be networked to the shop's database or Web-based information systems. This allows the technician to view manufacturer-specific wiring diagrams or information on the Internet and access live information from the vehicle without leaving the vehicle's side. The company can also remotely control the technician's tools and view live waveforms via the Internet.
Autoland Scientech VeDIs Base Unit
ATS Pressure Transducer Kit
Baum Tools Bluetooth Communication Module
Baum Tools has introduced a CANcompatible adapter and Bluetooth transmitter for remote operation of the IScan/CS2000 family of scanners. CANenabled software and PC software for capturing diagnostic sessions has also been introduced for the same range of equipment. These new product enhancements allow the IScan/CS2000 scanner to be used on 2005 and newer Volkswagen and Audi models, as well as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Mini CAN systems. Model coverage in most cases is through 2007 models. The company also has introduced the GS300 and GS500 hand-held OBD II scanners and the Terminator frequency probe, which is well-suited for CAN bus diagnostic tracing.
Delphi Integrated Service Solutions offers its Universal ECM Reflash Tool, which can be used for on-board or off-board programming of ECM/PCMs for GM, Ford and Chrysler applications. A unique wizard feature simplifies the flash process and provides important relearn capabilities, virtually eliminating the need for a bidirectional scan tool to complete the reflash/relearn procedure. The system also is capable of accomplishing on-vehicle engine control mod\ule programming for Toyota and Lexus applications. With the addition of the optional scan tool software module, the Universal ECM Reflash Tool can be used as a fully bidirectional enhanced scan tool. A wireless-to-the-PC option enables the equipment to be used with any shop or office PC.
Electronic Specialties has introduced the Model 550 Insulation Tester, which is designed to test hybrid electrical systems for voltage leaks to ground. Voltage leak tests are performed by connecting the tester between the highvoltage wire and ground. The best way to check for any high-voltage leak is with a high-voltage test source. The Model 550 can supply 250-, 500- and 1000-volt test voltages into a circuit that may be leaking to ground. The following hybrid components can leak high voltage to ground: battery pack, power inverter, DC-DC converter, high-voltage a/c compressor, power steering pump, highvoltage cables and connectors.
Delphi Universal EGM Reflash Tool
Electronic Specialties Insulation Tester
Injectronic CJ4 Scantool
The 5.50 is rated at CAT III 1000 Volt level for overvoltage protection. A CAT III rating is an OEM requirement. The tool also serves as a capable volt/ohmmeter with backlit LCD display.
The Hickok New Generation Star tester with WebFlash (NGS 8008FXLC) offers complete access to all Ford and Lincoln/Mercury vehicle on-board diagnostic functions. Unique functions of the on- board diagnostic system accessed by the NGS include: programmable module installation, module configuration, flash reprogramming, power balance, active commands and bidirectional controls, proprietary PID data and fault codes and PATS Key programming.
Hickok New Generation Star Tester Kit
SenX Technology Engine Diagnostic Sensor
The unit also provides access to CAN and non-CAN module reprogramming functions. The NGS WebFlash cable provided with the unit is fully compatible with the Motorcraft service website for the download and pass-thru of calibration files. It provides the capability used for configuring replacement body control modules, PCM flash reprogramming, PATS Key programming and an assortment of other diagnostic functions.
Injectronic has introduced the CJ4 Scantool with integrated two- channel oscilloscope. The scan tool application allows the CJ4 to communicate with the vehicles control units to retrieve such diagnostic information as trouble axles, freeze frame data, live data and more. Once data is retrieved, the oscilloscope application allows the technician to verify the failure, "viewing" the waveforms present on the inputs and outputs of sensors, actuators and electronic circuits. A pass-thru function allows the CJ4 to act as an interface between the vehicle and a laptop/desktop computer for real-time monitoring.
The CJ4 features a 128xl28-pixel illuminated screen that displays numeric data and graphs of live data retrieved from OBD II and C AN- compliant vehicles and doubles as an oscilloscope wave viewer. When you need to test a particular sensor, actuator or voltage to a circuit that has set a code, the oscilloscope is readily available in the same tool.
The tool can be flash-updated using die included USB cable and is compatible with the company's Model 4514 Battery Tester. Software updates are provided free.
The X-431 Infinite scan tool from Launch offers dealer-level coverage for 25 domestic, Asian and European vehicle manufacturers. For example, 148 Mercedes-Benz systems are covered, and the tool can be upgraded anywhere in the world via the Internet. The scanner has a color touch screen, built-in printer and 10-hour rechargeable battery and is compatible with CAN busequipped vehicles, including Volvo. Wireless connection and data exchange are accomplished via Bluetooth technology, and a compact flash card stores diagnostic results. Sensors can be simulated and tested with the optional Sensorbox and battery condition can be tested and analyzed with the optional Batterybox. The optional X-431PCLINK offers an interface between the X-431 Infinite and a PC to store vehicles' service records. The X-431 has a built-in printer.
Launch X-431 Top
By the time you read this report, the X-431 Top also will be available. This automotive diagnostic workstation is an upgrade to the X-431 diagnostic scanner. Features include a dealer-level scan tool, four-channel oscilloscope, ignition analysis, sensor signal simulator and technical repair information. Diagnostic-capabilities are included for 25 domestic, Asian and European manufacturers. The tool includes a CAN bus II connector and will interface with most CAN bus vehicles. Bluetooth wireless communication offers users a 300-ft. range of operation. New software releases are offered frequently and can be downloaded via the Internet.
The Taskmaster 2007 (Model ET3007) from Mac Took includes the following features: a 320x240 monochrome graphic display; data graphing; OBD I and OBD II enhanced domestic coverage (1984 through 2006); global OBD II Asian and European coverage (1996 through 2006); OBD II enhanced data and DTCs for engine, transmission, ABS and air bags; CAN-enabled OBD II Mixle 6 capability; repair information; a record/playback function; and ScanMate Late PC software.
The following vehicle protocols are supported: CAN, J1850 VPN, J1850, PWM, ISO 9142, Keyword 2000, UART, SCP, SCI, CCD and more. Domestic vehicle coverage includes GM 1984-2006, Ford 1984-2006, Chrysler 1986-2006, Jeep 1991-2006 and Saturn 1991-2006. U.S.- market Asian and European vehicles are covered from 1996-2006 (Global OBD II).
The 2007 Mac Mentor Deluxe Kit (Model ET5007) includes AST-the Automated System Test. This one-button test performs a system check of all available vehicle controllers. Any trouble codes found are reported, along with other vital scan data. Repair-Trac pattern failures and available repair information are linked to trouble codes. The kit includes the following vehicle coverage: Domestic '06, Asian '06, ABS/air hag '05, Infotech '06 and a coupon for a free '07 Domestic update.
Pico Technology Diagnostic Software
Ross Tech VAG-COM Pro-Kit Software
Thompson Automotive Labs ACE Detective Pro Diagnostic Software
Mac Tools ET5007 Mentor
In the last year, Pico Technology has released three new companion products to complement its PC Oscilloscope diagnostics kits: the Mixmaster 12-channeI ignition signal mixer, SixWay Universal Breakout Leads and Pico Diagnostics software.
Mixmaster expands a standard Pico two-channel or four-channel scope into a 12-channel ignition analyzer, with additional features to make working on wasted-spark ignition systems easier. The Six- Way Universal Breakout Leads can replace a large collection of vehicle-specific breakout leads, and are available in three blade sizes to fit almost any connector and engine. The Pico Diagnostics software, now in a beta version that all Pico Automotive scope owners can download from the Web free of charge, can analyze engine performance using a simple connection to the battery terminals. The program can indicate battery condition, cylinder balance and relative compression, and can detect misfires. A printed chart of the results can be shared with a customer.
The VAG-COM Pro-Kit from Ross Tech is fully compatible with die latest Volkswagen and Audi models, which require a direct CAN connection for diagnostics. The tool has a database of more than 8900 fault-codes and measuring-block texts and can use the new seven- digit PIN/SKC codes to match new keys in all immobilizer-equipped VW/ Audi models.
The Pro-Kit allows you to view, log and graph three groups of Measuring Blocks simultaneously. The tool can access all control modules that require proprietary VAG modes running the new KWP-2000 protocols (2001 and later Teves Mk.60 ABS and numerous 2002 and later modules).
The VAG-COM Pro-Kit contains a HEX-COM+CAN Intelligent Interface to connect the PC's serial port with die diagnostic port in the vehicle or a HEX-USB+CAN Intelligent Interface to connect the PC's USB port with the diagnostic port in the vehicle. Also included are VAG-COM diagnostic software and common diagnostic information on CD, a printed user's manual, a 2x2 adapter for older vehicles (many 1990- 95 VW/Audi vehicles), a 25-ft. serial extension cable or 15-ft. active USB extension cable and a carrying case.
The FirstLook Pulse Sensor from SenX Technology is designed to look at variations in pressure and ignore the average, or static, pressure in any given environment. In other words, it sees only the changes in pressure from the recent average pressure measurements.
SPX/OTC Service Solutions Genisys Automated System Test
The FirstLook ES-100 Sensor can he used in the tailpipe, intake manifold and vacuum pressure regulator to monitor engine condition and perform diagnostics. The sensor can also monitor engine condition on a cylinder-by-cylinder basis, allowing on-the-run diagnosis of core engine issues in both diesel and gasoline engines.
The Genisys Productivity Package from SPX/OTC Service Solutions includes updated Global Vehicle Software Coverage, the new Smart Cable and the Automated System Test. The Genisys OBD II Smart Cable represents the next generation of controller pin communication and can be used with the Genisys Automated System Test, which allows technicians to save valuable time in performing even the most complex diagnostic testing.
The Genisys European 2005 Software release also is now available. It boasts expanded coverage for older vehicles (1992), expanded coverage to 2005 and exclusive BMW OEM data not found in any other aftennarket scan tool. The Genisys Asian Import 2006 Software release offers expanded diagnostics coverage with access to RepairTrac tech-tips (all years available), Fast Fixes (all years available), engine and transmission coverage, as well as updates to air bag and ABS codes for Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Toyota and other major manufacturers.
Thompson Automotive Labs recently in\troduced the ACE Detective Pro Diagnostic Unit, which includes a Windows-based PC, printer and LCD monitor mounted in an industrial cabinet, along with cables and sensors to perform all tests. The Pro software includes the ACE Misfire Detective software and a Combustion Efficiency Analyzer to detennine the need for fuel injector and induction cleaning services, as well as an automated Mechanical Integrity Test. The focus on fuel system cleaning includes analysis after cleaning to report efficiency changes in combustion over previous samples.
The software can detennine the need for fuel injection service in 30 seconds, according to the maker. It also analyzes and reports in bar graph form changes in combustion efficiency over the previous sample. An automated Mechanical Integrity (Relative Compression) Test can quickly rule out (or identify) compression problems, and the Misfire Analysis function quickly identifies the misfiring cylinder as well as the root cause on any make or model vehicle. Printed reports with graphic charts can be shared with customers and actual analysis files can be saved and replayed.
Vetronix/Bosch Group MTS 3100 Mastertech
The Vetronix/Bosch Group MTS 3100 Mastertech has migrated to a database-driven design, which provides a more uniform user interface among vehicle brands. In addition to releasing software coverage for 2005 vehicles, coverage for a large list of previously unsupported body ECUs from the 2000 model year forward has been added. The following ECUs are supported by the 6.1 release:
General Motors: BCM, CCP, DIM, HVAC, IPC, IPM, RIM, VTD
Ford: ACM, DDM, EATC/DATC, GEM/FEM, ICM/HEC/VIC, LCM, LPSDM, LTM, MCM/OTC, PAM, PATS, RAP, RCM/ECS/IABM, REM
DaimlerChrysler: AMP, ARKEM, CCN, DDM, MIC/EMIC, EOM, FCM, HFM, HSM, HVAC, MSMD, OCM, ORC, PDM, RADIO, SOAR, SKIM, SKREEM, VES, WCM
In addition to new ECU support, the following vehicle networks can be accessed using the latest Module Status function:
General Motors: Class 2, HSCAN (GMLAN), SW CAN
Ford: SCP (J1850PWM), ISO 9141-2, HSCAN, MSCAN, UBP
The Tech 2 is identical to the tool used in GM franchised dealerships worldwide. The company will be offering Internet access for both tool updates and SPS reprogramming. This will allow aftermarket shops to have access to data and diagnostics on-demand just like a dealer. Saab software and service information will also be available through this portal.
The European diagnostics KTS 550 was superseded last fall by the KTS 570, and includes Bluetooth wireless capability as well as improved DSO hardware to accommodate high-speed vehicle sensor diagnosis.
As the SAE J2534 flash reprogramming standard practice has become more widely adopted, updated firmware for the company's J2534 Flasher allows on-board programming of GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota vehicles. The J2534 Flasher is fully compliant with J2534-1, and includes the hardware to accommodate the J2534-2 requirements, specifically GM UART and SW CAN.
Visit www.motor.com to download a free copy of this article.
Where to Get 'Em
Automotive Electronics Services (AES)
Automotive Test Solutions (ATS)
Delphi Integrated Service Solutions
800-247-1099 ext. 4
Electronic Specialties, Inc.
SPX/OTC Service Solutions
Thompson Automotive Labs
800-321-4889 ext. 4
Copyright Hearst Business Publishing Apr 2007
(c) 2007 Motor. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.