Choosing the right diagnostic tool

June 12, 2017
There are lots of options when it comes to diagnostic tools but selecting the wrong one(s) can be a costly mistake.

There are lots of options when it comes to diagnostic tools but selecting the wrong one(s) can be a costly mistake.

When evaluating a tool you need to consider the following factors:

  • Initial cost
  • On-going costs
  • Coverage
  • Available training
  • Technical support
  • What it reads

Every tool has good and bad points so the one(s) you select should mesh with your needs as closely as possible.

One key question to ask is whether the device reads true flash codes or raw J1708/J1939 codes. Another is to find out which manufacturer’s codes the device can read. Make sure there are no gaps in the type of coverage you need for the types of vehicles you work on.

Given the pace at which truck technology changes, you should also determine how frequently updates are available for the device and the associated costs. Some device manufacturers charge an annual fee in addition to the purchase price of the device. Initial purchase prices can range from $450 to $31,00 with annual fees from $300 to $2200.

Basing your selection solely on price is not necessarily the best course of action. You need to balance cost and available features to get the best value for your specific operation.

Some devices also come with repair information, but not all. Decide if you need the repair information as part of the device, or not.

Another key factor to consider is the amount of training your technicians will receive from the device manufacturer. It’s one thing to have a tool capable of reading diagnostic fault codes but it’s of no value if employees in your operation don’t know the proper way to use it. Also ask about on-going customer and technical support in the event you have a problem with the device or need additional training.

You can’t maintain and repair today’s trucks without the proper diagnostic tools. Make sure you do your homework prior to making an investment to ensure you get the diagnostic tools that will most effectively help you keep your trucks on the road.

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