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Mike Anderson

mike anderson autobody newsMike Anderson is the president and owner of Collision Advice, a consulting company for the auto body/collision repair industry. For nearly 25 years, he was the owner of Wagonwork Collision Center, an OEM-certified, full-service auto body repair facility in Alexandria, VA.

 
Monday, 02 November 2020 18:23

From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Hands-On Testing Shows Limitations of Relying Solely on DTCs or Aftermarket Scan Tools

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On a Sentra, for example, the aftermarket tool we used picked up three control modules. The Nissan scan tool picked up 22. You read that right: 22. The aftermarket tool didn’t get past the gateway to be able to pick up anything more than data from the emissions-related controllers.

 

There’s also another key distinction. Scanning tools aren’t just about reading a module to determine if there are DTCs. It’s about bidirectional control. Can that tool not just read the data, but can it “talk back” to the vehicle? Can it send that vehicle a command that it reacts to?

 

“When you do ADAS calibrations, that’s all you’re doing,” Jake said of bidirectional control. “You’re telling the camera, ‘Hey, I’m going to calibrate you, and so I want you to look for a particular pattern.'”

 

It’s a similar process If you’re doing a radar calibration. You’re using the scan tool to send the module a command to activate the radar. Because otherwise that radar doesn’t even activate until the wheels are turning.

 

Makers of aftermarket scan tools talk about having “coverage” for a wide swath of vehicles. But does that mean full coverage? Can that tool not just read codes but clear codes? Can it reach all the modules on board?

 

So while some people don’t like that I point out key differences between factory scan tools and aftermarket, I will challenge them to prove me wrong. I’ll meet you wherever you like with a brand new Nissan and the factory scan tool. You bring whatever aftermarket scan tool you like, and together we’ll do a side-by-side comparison.

 

That’s not to say there isn’t a place for aftermarket scan tools. It’s just important to recognize the key limitations, and as with any tool, not to presume it can do things that it cannot.

 

And when it comes to scanning and ADAS calibrations, any such limitations can have serious consequences for the driver and passengers in that vehicle post-repairs.


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