Today’s vehicles and those manufactured over the last two decades contain a wealth of electronic information that can help shops effectively and efficiently perform a proper repair, according to Chuck Olsen, executive director of AirPro Diagnostics.
“If we don’t look for all of the clues there are within the system, it will make the job much more difficult than it has to be,” he said.
As a result, Olsen said, a capable scan tool is a critical component of strategy-based diagnostics.
“They give order and method on how we diagnose, service and reprogram vehicle control modules on these increasingly complex inter-related systems to restore vehicles to sound operation condition,” he explained.
With more than 40 years of experience in the automotive repair and technology industry, Olsen recently shared insights on interpreting and documenting scan data, trouble codes and calibrations during a CIECAst webinar.
The following is a summary from the presentation:
Q: What is essential to know about scan tools today?
A: For many in the industry, there’s a certain mystique in relation to using a scan tool and what they can do. Scan tools are engineered and designed to be directly connected to the vehicle utilizing the most current diagnostic software available. Depending on the tool, it might only read out diagnostic trouble codes (DLCs) or can have additional capabilities such as calibrating or programming modules. Most scan tools require a pass-through device with a subscription to an OEM provider to fully reprogram the modules.
Scan tools have many functions and ways they can be used, but the most common is doing a pre-scan, post-scan or what is known as a health check of a car. This is always the starting point.
By no means are scan tools and scan tool data definitive or infallible. Understanding and being able to fully employ the functionality available to us with modern and emerging scan tools are acquired skills. It’s important that our knowledge and skills keep pace with technology changes and the associated scan tool functionality.