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Questions and Answers

Which Scan Tool To Buy???

Q. Hello Vincent Ciulla: I just bought a used 1997 BMW 540, and I wanted to buy a diagnostic tool, but there are so much of them out there. Here are two that I saw on the net:

AutoEnginuity OBD-II Scan Tool 2.2.1

Digimoto 3.7

Which Scan Tool To Buy???

What do you think about the above tools or can you tell me of a diagnostic tool that is good?

Thanks in advance,

A. There are so many variables to consider when buying a scan tool. Price is, naturally, the first consideration. We all want one that is as inexpensive as possible.

But the most important thing is to figure out what you need, or want, your scan tool to do. This takes a lot of research. What I do before I buy any large ticket electronic items is to read reviews of the item I want.

This will give you an idea of what to look for in a scan tool. The next thing to decide is this going to be for this one car, or do you want something more generic that will do many different vehicles. Do you want it to be a stand alone unit, or one to use with a notebook computer? The notebook scan tools have the advantage of doing more and being able to store a large amount of data.

Another consideration is how detailed to you want your information. Do you just want to pull DTCs or do you want to know exactly what each sensor is doing. You should also see which and how many sensors the tool can read.

By the way, do not buy any scan tool that does not support the CAN protocols. CAN is used in 2004 Ford, Mazda, BMW, Mercedes, and Jaguar, and is the required electrical interface for passenger vehicles starting in the 2008 model year.

Another important thing to look for is upgradeability. You don't want to buy a scan tool today and then find out in a couple of years it is obsolete. Once you know what you want in a scan tool, shopping for one will be a bit easier.

The Digimoto and AutoEnginuity are both good scan tools. But you may want to check out the OTC and Tradervar scan tools as well. ScanTool.net has scan tool kits if you are handy with building electronic projects. This will save you a lot of money and may allow you to buy "more" scan tool that a ready built model. They also have some good information on what to look for in a scan tool.

I did product reviews on three different scan tools you may be interested in reading.

Guide Rating and Review: AutoXray

Guide Rating and Review: Equus Products, Inc

Guide Rating and Review: Winsted Group Inc. OBD-II Interface

Additional Information provided courtesy of AllDATA

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