I wouldn't get the DRB3 because you want to be able to do more than emissions-related stuff. It depends too on how much you're going to use it. If it's just once per year, you might want to see if you can rent or borrow one from an auto parts store that borrows tools. I have the DRB3 because all of my cars are Chrysler products, and with a different plug-in card it will work on all of them back to '83 models. I actually use it most often for my relatives' Ford products which have the Check Engine light turning on three or four times per year!
I also have a Monitor 4000 for older cars. That one needs cartridges. One cartridge covers Fords, GMs, and Chryslers but it only works on cars up to 1995. It looks just like the Chrysler DRB2 because it was built by the same manufacturer.
The GM dealers used to use a Tech2 but I don't know much about them. EBay is a good place to look for all of these. Look at those the sellers list which cars and years apply. I'd avoid those who don't know or list any details. Some people just buy them from dealership auctions then resell them right away, and they don't know anything about them or if everything works.
At the school I used to work at we had a couple of Genysis scanners that the other instructor seemed to like. The last I remember hearing is you want the third version but there have surely been more updates in recent years.
If you plan on using this on newer vehicles, you'll have to consider the cost of updates. This equipment and the updates are some very high expenses repair shops have to deal with every year. If you buy a new scanner you may get free updates for a few years. When I worked for a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership, we had the owners' approval to update any scanner anyone bought through us for free. I still get my DRB3 updated there.
Watch out for Snapon scanners if cost is a concern. They make some fine equipment but they're extremely proud of them, and charge accordingly. I have a friend who has one and he pays a couple of thousand dollars every year to keep it up-to-date. Snapon is like GM dealers; they don't do anything for free.
Another place to look is on the tool trucks. Those guys visit most shops every week at the same time. I like Mac Tools, but Matco is good too. Any mechanic at any shop can tell you on which days the guys show up, but a better alternative is to get a business card or phone number from one of them. Good mechanics invest a lot in high-end tools so the tool truck guys are always busy. They may appreciate getting a call from you first, then they'll tell you when it's a good time to stop in. Ask first to see "what's in the used drawer"? They're always trading in tools and equipment. Most mechanics don't buy their own scanners, but sometimes they'll get a trade-in from a shop owner, and sometimes they have repossessed items, especially expensive stuff. It appears to me if you see a scanner that has the Mac or Matco name on it, it's actually built by someone else and is available under that name. If you buy the Mac and Matco-branded product, you may be paying extra for the name, but you also might talk the guys into some free updates or extras.
My DRB3 has graphing, scope, pressure-sensing, and voltmeter capabilities too, but that requires buying a kit with all the leads and sensors. I don't use that stuff. I actually understand the scope more from 35 years as a tv repairman, but for anything I would do on a car, other than for demonstration and training purposes, there are usually easier ways to approach the problem. I wouldn't buy one scanner over another just because one gives you these capabilities unless you know how to make use of them.
Keep in mind too that repair shops are always having to update their equipment to stay current and sometimes they have older stuff they don't know what to do with. You might ask around if a shop has an older scanner you can take off their hands for a few bucks, or you might rent it for a while, then if you like what it can do, offer to buy it.
For my final suggestion, you might search for public auction sites. I get daily e-mails from one called "Public Surplus", or something like that. I know there's others out there. These are sites where government agencies list excess inventory for sale. I see scanners on there all the time from other technical colleges in my state, (WI). Many of them are angry after they get forced into buying from the lowest bid price, usually Snapon, then they get surprised later by the high cost of updates. It's less expensive for taxpayers to have them dump the equipment and buy a different brand than to keep paying outrageous prices for those updates. If you never plan on buying a vehicle newer than what the scanner is updated to, these might be some good choices, but be aware, again like GM, they have a lot of tricks built in to separate you from your money. In this case, suppose your scanner is only updated to 2010 and you buy a 2015 car. To get their scanners updated to 2015, they force you to buy the updates for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014! They won't let you skip a year. Their excuse is each update builds on something from the previous year's update. A few people have told me that is a lie perpetuated by the salesmen and if you're on friendly terms with one, they won't make you pay for all those "in-between" updates. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's sufficient reason I won't own one.
Sunday, April 26th, 2015 AT 12:15 AM