Which auto scanner to purchase

  • 2006 SATURN ION
  • 2.2L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • 166,000 MILES
I found a Actron Cp9185 on Amazon for $64.99 is this the one you recommended
me to purchase to read codes and live data on my car?
Do you
have the same problem?
Saturday, November 5th, 2016 AT 8:40 PM

1 Reply

We do not normally make recommendations for test equipment because limitations that I find frustrating or unacceptable, you might easily put up with, especially if you have never had the luxury of using a full scanner.

I read some of the reviews for this model, and everyone seems to be satisfied with its performance. One of the limitations I am referring to has to do with how quickly the display updates. I bought a $45.00 code reader for a friend, and found the display only updates about once every three or four seconds. That makes it totally worthless if yo are looking for a momentary glitch when you wiggle a wire or corroded connector. I have a Chrysler DRB3 scanner that, with an additional plug-in card, works on all Chrysler products back to 1983 and up to a few 2007 models. A lot of independent repair shops bought them because with one of those extra cards, it will do emissions-related stuff on any brand of car sold in the U.S, 1996 to mid 2000's. (You might find a local shop with one they could be talked into selling so they can buy newer equipment). Be warned though, with all the available accessories, they could cost over $6,000.00 in the late 1990's.

The unit you are looking at is listed as being able to be updated over the internet. That alone suggests it is much more than just a simple code reader. You might investigate whether there is online help for diagnostic steps and procedures once the scanner has given you a fault code. After all, fault codes only tell you which circuit needs to be diagnosed, or the unacceptable operating condition. If they give you a solution, that is only what someone typed in from previous case histories. No scanner will ever figure out for you how to solve a problem.

The other limitation to consider is almost all inexpensive code readers only read codes in the Engine Computer. The next step up is advanced code readers that display live sensor data, such as this one, but keep in mind that slow display updating. Expensive scanners update their displays multiple times per second.

You might also look for the current version of a "Monitor 4000". I have one of those, along with its twin, Chrysler's DRB2. Those use different plug-in cartridges depending on the year and car model, but they are "bidirectional", meaning it not only talks to you; you can talk to it. You can use it, for example, to command the radiator fan relay to turn on so you can do live testing in that circuit. You can turn on other relays and circuits, but usually only those that are controlled by the Engine Computer.

You will need to get more sophisticated if you want to read codes and data in the other many computers. There is anti-lock brakes, air bags, Body Computer, Tire Pressure Monitor, Transmission, Instrument Custer, etc. It all depends on how often you will use this tool and how much it might save on repair costs.
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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 AT 6:17 PM

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