ABS scanner tool

Tiny
JASONPYZO
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 DODGE DAKOTA
  • 4.7L
  • V8
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 48,000 MILES
Hey fellows, I was wondering what is a good all around scanner tool for the ABS systems for trouble shooting and performing service to the system like cycling the solenoids when pressure bleeding after brake service? Also, maybe one that is not just for that truck but other vehicles also. Thanks
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Monday, March 13th, 2017 AT 2:48 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I have a Chrysler DRB3 for all of my vehicles. Nothing does more than that one, but 2004 was the first year Chrysler started using the "CAN BUSS" system. They only used it that year on Dakotas and Durangos, so the DRB3 will not work. You can get extra plug-in cards that allow it to work on all Chrysler products back to 1983, and one of those cards lets it do emissions-related stuff on any brand of car sold in the U.S. After 1996. A lot of independent shops bought them for that reason. I bought mine through the dealership I used to work for. Those needed to be updated too periodically, but the dealer did that for free for me and for any shop that bought those scanners through them. The last models they worked on were a few 2007's or 2008's, Jeeps, as I recall.

One of the most popular scanners is the Snap-on Solus Edge. They will do more than most other aftermarket scanners, but Snap-on is like GM, VW, BMW, and Audi in that they have very customer-unfriendly business practices. I recently looked into buying one of these for my 2014 Ram truck, but changed my mind when I saw the cost of updating it. My friend has one, and I am just going to use his when I need it. You can find these quite reasonably on eBay, but Snap-on is not satisfied with charging almost $4,000.00 for a new scanner. You have to pay extra for most of the connectors and cables, and they really get you when it comes to the annual updates. Those are around $1,000.00 per year, and you cannot skip any years. These scanners lose their value very quickly when they are a year or two out-of-date. You can find them for less than $1,000.00 if they are only updated to 2012, for example. If you want to update it 2017, you have to buy the updates for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. You cannot just buy the latest update. If I could update once every five years or so, with just the current version, I would have bought one. Also, notice how many of these are listed for sale with problems or "for parts". Replacement battery packs cost about three times the typical cost for a laptop battery. Basically you can expect to pay double for anything that says "Snap-on" on it. Repair costs are also unreasonably high. The salesmen use that as leverage to get you to buy a new scanner.

Another customer-unfriendly business practice is they offer diagnostic tips online, but you can only access that if you have the latest update. Just like those car companies, they are more interested in quick profits at the expense of customer loyalty or satisfaction. My community college will not buy Snap-on products for their Automotive program for these reasons. Repair parts are also unreasonably expensive.

You might talk with the guys who drive the tool trucks around. They typically show up at most repair shops once a week. Any mechanic can tell you when they will be at certain places. Be aware the employees usually are only allowed on those trucks during mid-day breaks or lunch breaks, so you might have to wait until they finish their business. Ask the drivers what they have in their "used drawers" or what kind of trade-ins they have at home. Sometimes they have a sale pending for a new scanner, and will complete the sale when they find a buyer for their customer's old unit. These used scanners allow you to try them before you choose which one to buy.

If you are on a friendly basis with the people at some local shops, stop in and ask if they have plans to upgrade to new equipment. Often they are on the fence, and finally decide to make a purchase if they can sell some older stuff. In the case of my 2014 truck, I will probably buy a used scanner a few years from now when the price is low, but it will have everything I need, so I will never update it. I keep my vehicles until they rust away, so I will probably never own a newer vehicle.

You might also search eBay for Genysis, MAC, Matco, and Monitor products. The Genysis products used to be real popular, and I think the MAC scanners are a version of them. Pay attention to what they charge for updates, what is involved in doing them, and if you can skip some years. I suspect those companies are going to have the same customer-friendly business practices as Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler. My first scanner was a Monitor 4000, which was cutting edge when I bought it in the early 1990's. It was almost identical to the older Chrysler DRB2, and was built by the same manufacturer, OTC, (Owatonna Tool Company). Those use a plug-in cartridge, and you update it by buying the latest cartridge. My latest only goes to 1994, but it works on my 1994 and 1995 Grand Caravans. I have an ABS cartridge for it, but I never tried using it since I have the DRB3. I do not know how new that cartridge goes to, but the scanner does not work on the 1996 and newer vehicles with the OBD2 emissions system.

There are other units on eBay that claim to be for Engines, ABS, and Air Bag systems, but I would be careful with unreasonable expectations. I have never used any of those, so I do not know what their capabilities are.
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Monday, March 13th, 2017 AT 4:37 PM
Tiny
JASONPYZO
  • MEMBER
Hey bud, I really appreciate all that information. Man I did not know it was going to be that extensive and I am really grateful for the time you took explaining this to me and a direction to go. Thanks again my friend. :)
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Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 AT 1:31 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Surely. If you find a scanner you like, post a reply with what you found and why you like it.
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Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 AT 3:43 PM

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