Q: Can you share some of the differences between an aftermarket and OEM scan tool?
A: I’m often asked this question. Aftermarket top tier scan tools are now competitive with OEM dealer scan tools; however, they are not exactly the same. I’m not an advocate of one over the other. It’s necessary to understand their capabilities and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
There is no one aftermarket or OEM scan tool that can do everything on all vehicles. The key is in the mix of vehicles that you are repairing or servicing. You’ll want to look at the brands your shop specializes in, if any, and then use the correct tool or service for the job at hand. There are certain functions, procedures and OEM certification requirements that will dictate when OEM scan tool applications are your only option.
The one caveat is to make sure you know what your tools can and cannot do. In certain instances, some functionality may have to be given up in order to achieve a lower price point or you’ll need to access the dealer tool. Be honest with yourself about what your shop cannot do and be prepared to sublet or decline the job if it’s the best option. Remember that honesty still resonates as a reason your customers do business with you.
Q: What needs to be analyzed when you are going through a strategy-based diagnostics process?
A: First, it’s important to visually inspect the car and determine what is broken, damaged, leaking, etc. Next, look at the symptoms of what is not working properly, such as the malfunction indicator lamps or system functional checks. The third step is to reference the service information. This includes the inspection requirements, repair procedures, testing procedures, option content and calibration requirements. Finally, it’s time to check the electronic data from the vehicle. This includes using a capable scan tool to determine the DTCs, live data stream values and calibration verification.