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Best bang for the buck scanner?


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I know we already have a similar thread on your favorite scan tool, but this one is a tad different. I am looking for your opinion on what you think is the best ob2 scanner for the buck. Nothing very expensive, more or less something for a small shop that would do 10-15 cars a month. Maybe something ob1 and ob2, or maybe just ob2. Ideally I would like to spend less then $300. So lets hear it, shoot me some advice and let me know why you picked it.

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I have an older Snap On scanner that I really like. I went to the auto parts store and bought one for about $300 which I didn't really like. It worked well but someone decided they needed it more than me and stole it out of a car. I have been eying this one very closely. What this kit has and can do and the hard molded case makes this one a great price for what you are getting. If you have access to a snap on truck it might be an easy way to get it or just order it online.

 

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item.asp?P65=&tool=diagnostics&item_ID=80798&group_ID=16815&store=snapon-store&dir=catalog

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I know we already have a similar thread on your favorite scan tool, but this one is a tad different. I am looking for your opinion on what you think is the best ob2 scanner for the buck. Nothing very expensive, more or less something for a small shop that would do 10-15 cars a month. Maybe something ob1 and ob2, or maybe just ob2. Ideally I would like to spend less then $300. So lets hear it, shoot me some advice and let me know why you picked it.

 

I understand you are looking for a limited capability generic/universal scanner not an OE level professional tool so I will refrain from that recommendation. I am sorry to burst your bubble or pee in your wheaties but for $300.00 you will get nothing but a toy. Sure you can get a generic tool that will pull codes, sometime meaningless codes, but codes just the same. And you can get a few that will read the datastream but all of this is GENERIC! Nothing manufacturer specific and typically ONLY engine related so you will be missing a ton of information. Example, 2000 Dodge Stratus (Any FWD Chrysler really), the customer came in and asked how much for a Transmission Control Module (TCM). He had a little code reader and it said P0700 Trans Controller Fault. So it need a TCM, right? Wrong If he had been able to access the TCM he would have gotten the codes for the Output Speed Sensor and Gear Ratio Error in First. But without the capability to access the TCM he didn't know what he didn't know. Do it right the first time, because it doesn't pay for beans the second time.

 

If you want to tool up on the cheap try eBay or Craigslist and look for the newest used Snap-On scanner you can find. It isn't perfect, it really (in my opinion) isn't great but for the money for a good used scanner you can't do much better. I have a SoluPro (essentially the same coverage) for my shop and it works very well for what it does. It has a lot of holes in the coverage but for most Domestic and Japanese powertrain applications it is very good. The cheaper old red brick, (the MT/MTG2500) series is no longer supported and you can't get updates but if you find one make sure it has the BLACK cartridges. Also make sure it comes with all of the personality keys.

 

If you want to play with the big boys, you need big toys, otherwise if you just want to be a pretender or a hack, go for the Autozoner toy scanner. Knowledge is power my friend, and without a professional grade scanner you won't know (bleep). So to really be capable to fix yoru 10-15 cars a month you will need to spend probably $800-$1500 on a scanner instead.

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After my last post I was reading the February issue of TechShop (techshopmag.com) and read a "Product Previews" of the Launch CReader 6. If you are still looking to buy a cheap handicapped tool this may be an option. I have the MAC Tools ET97 (a CReader IV?) and it is nice as quick code scanner with a limited datstream. I would NEVER pretend it was a scanner and try to diagnose a car with it but it is good for what it does. It is a CODE READER that just happens to have a datastream function. Good luck and happy wrenching.

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For $800 you can get an ATS Escan that decodes mode 6, graphs , does volumetric efficiency, catalytic efficiency, etcetera.

 

Or, if you just want codes, drive to the nearest Auto Zone and the 16 year old twerp that works there can get a code for you for free.

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      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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