What Type of Scanner Should I Buy?

A big part of landing well-paying automotive technician jobs is mastery over the essential tools of your trade. One of the most heavily relied upon tools, an OBD scanner, has been around for decades and, fortunately, most mechanics find them very easy to use. These great tools take most of the guesswork out of the all-important diagnosis. Of course, you still need to decide which scanner you’re going to use.

Live data scanners

Live data scanners are extremely popular and the benefit of using them is probably obvious right in the name. Being able to read live data – as opposed to just downloading the codes – will help make your diagnoses more accurate wherever and whenever you take them.

Another thing to like about using live data scanners is that these tend to be the more advanced models too. That is, if you have a scanner that can give live data, it’s probably going to have other great features too like bright, color displays, charts and graphs.

Mode 08-capable scanners

Speaking of advanced tech, a lot of mechanics prefer that they have a scanner with Mode 08 capability. This means it can carry out bidirectional commands. Any scanner can take a reading from a vehicle, but these tools can actually send commands back to the automobile as well. The advantage is that you can carry out a diagnosis and test other potential problems without constantly having to return to the vehicle to give inputs. This is almost a mandatory option if you often handle the diagnosis process on your own.

Heavy-duty scanners

Finally, if you’re working on heavy-duty vehicles, then you don’t have many options where OBD scanners are concerned. You’ll have to choose the heavy-duty versions meant for these types of vehicles. Amongst other things, heavy-duty trucks have more components that you can take readings from. These are the:

  • Engine
  • Chassis
  • Brake System
  • Transmission

On top of that, these vehicles basically speak a whole different language than conventional automobiles so you can’t simply use one scanner for both types.

Other considerations

Where things get confusing is with medium-duty vehicles. They may be made with both OBD-II protocols as well as those of heavy-duty vehicles too, so you’ll need two different scanners to get readings.

Another factor to consider is where your vehicle was made. Some European and Asian manufacturers design their automobiles to work with different types of scanners, so you may end up needing quite the collection depending on the vehicles you regularly service.

Making a good auto mechanic salary is impossible if you don’t know which tools are right for the job and understand how to use them. While graduating from an impressive auto mechanic school never hurts, make sure you know which type of scanner you’ll need on the job and then put in the time to master it. Depending on the automobiles your business specializes in, you may actually need a number of scanners throughout the day.

If you’re a certified technician and interested in working with YourMechanic, apply online today to be a mobile mechanic.


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