Automotive diagnostic tools are now as essential as a good socket wrench when it comes to car maintenance and repair. Ever since General Motors installed the first onboard diagnostic computer in their pioneering model in the 1980’s, the need for automotive diagnostic software and devices has steadily increased. With the advent of the universal installation of onboard diagnostic computers in all cars made from 1996 onwards, the need for diagnostic scanners has exponentially increased. Now that cars are becoming more and more complex, their dependence on computers to modify and adjust on the fly to keep the whole system functioning at maximum potential has made the car of today vastly superior to those made only a few years before. However, along with all the improvements that computers bring into the automotive industry, it also adds more complexity and host of new problems that require more than just a wrench and screwdriver to fix. This is where vehicle diagnostics comes in. It is the new staple tool to have in the garage. Using these diagnostic scanners, anyone from a professional auto mechanic to an amateur do-it-yourselfer can do faster and more efficient work on any car.
There are various forms of automotive diagnostic tools. The most common and practical is the hand held diagnostic scanners, such as the Actron Global Scanner and the Code Scout AX2500. These hand held devices offer convenience and ease of use when it comes to automotive diagnostic devices. They do not require any bulky equipment nor do they need many peripheral attachments. With the use of OBD II computers in cars, these hand held devices can even obtain power directly from the cars battery, eliminating the need for an outside power source or a bulky battery. Most of the hand held diagnostic scanners offer only code reading and code resetting features. This is mainly for use of the common car owner. They generally do not offer additional diagnostic options but are usually enough so that the car owner can direct the mechanic to the problem area and stay informed about the repair process. There are, however, hand held devices that offer more advanced automotive diagnostics. These rival even the computer software diagnostics in features and options but are more expensive.
Another type of automotive diagnostic tool is the automotive diagnostic software for computers. This is used with a computer interfacing with the car’s OBD II computer via the OBD port. These diagnostic software programs offer more in terms of diagnostics and data recording due to their advantage in power and storage space. These are generally used to run advanced diagnostics. Some even offer features that help more hands-on owners through the process of fixing the problem themselves. Others also offer more advanced aid in the form of online support. However, these types of automotive diagnostic tools also have their down side. While they offer more in terms of diagnostics and storage, they are also bulkier and more complex. Due to this complexity, they are also generally more expensive than their hand held counterparts. The use of either automotive diagnostic tool depends highly on the user’s preference and circumstance.