Car Diagnostic scanners - anybody use them?

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Smithy

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I had a problem with my abs light on Peugeot 206. Changed all sensors with no luck. Bought a cheap OBD scanner which showed nothing. In the end the local garage sorted it for me. It was a dirty plug. I have since learnt that for Peugoet and Citroën you need a Peugeot Planet or something that can interact with it.
 

Dibs-h

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I had a problem with my abs light on Peugeot 206. Changed all sensors with no luck. Bought a cheap OBD scanner which showed nothing. In the end the local garage sorted it for me. It was a dirty plug. I have since learnt that for Peugoet and Citroën you need a Peugeot Planet or something that can interact with it.
I've got the same at the moment with an old A4 - ABS light stays on for days and then won't see it for months. Bit like some demented bus schedule.

It's the plug behind the rear seat corner - just when I feel like dealing with it, the light goes away and stays away for months. LOL
 

Spectric

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Makes me think back to when I was working through my C&G's in automotive engineering, we were shown how to remove and rebuild differentials and more importantly how to use engineers blue to setup the correct meshing of the teeth, there were more RWD cars around than FWD and axle problems were not uncommon. It was the French who started the FWD invasion because there logic was a horse pulls a cart, it does not push it, at the time the most common FWD car was the real mini and now with the diff being part of the gearbox assembly it is a replacement part. So much of what I have learnt over the years will become obsolete as we move onto EV's but luckily I am semi retired and got out of working on cars many many years ago in favour of electrical/electronic systems. Another important skill for the garage was welding, many cars would need welding for the MOT and replacing outer sills and suspension top plates was common, don't hear of that much welding going on these days and how often does your car fail MOT's needing welding.
 

Terry - Somerset

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That cars have changed radically since I started driving and fixing them 50 years ago is no surprise.

A 1970s car would often need a service every 3-5k, a decoke every 10-30k, replacement engine by 50-80k, etc. Suspension and steering replacement was commonplace on cars over 5 years old, as was welding on cars more than 6-8 years old.

For motoring to be affordable to a teenager they needed to be capable of diagnosis and repair - often using components from a breakers yard.

Cars now are far more reliable, far better equipped, much faster, more economical etc etc. They have morphed into white goods and consumer durables with wheels.

The completely unacceptable bit is that code readers are still required. It is entirely feasible to hold all fault codes, manuals, part numbers, repair/replacement instructions etc on an embedded chip, displayed on a laptop/tablet via blue tooth, USB cable or on the screen already installed in the vehicle.
 

Spectric

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The completely unacceptable bit is that code readers are still required. It is entirely feasible to hold all fault codes, manuals, part numbers, repair/replacement instructions etc on an embedded chip, displayed on a laptop/tablet via blue tooth, USB cable or on the screen already installed in the vehicle.
Yes this is very feasable and would not be difficult to do for an OEM, the problem is that it would take work away from the main dealers and this side of their business is very profitable, essentially the OEM has to keep the dealer sweet because they are trying to sell their cars. Also there is a lot of money to be made in diagnostic equipment and preventing people from repairing their own cars, better to force them into garages and the main dealers.

Tractors and agricultural vehicles do use their screens to display diagnostic's and I believe now that the dealer can access data via GSM so that they can bring relevant parts out to fix the vehicle. Cars are luxury items that are seen as a money making industry and car owners do get the shieety end of the stick, all the data required to help diagnose a problem is already within the modules, all they need to do is put a user interface on the system and owners now have access but I cannot see that happening. One story that has been used is in preventing interference with security systems and theft of component parts but just an excuse, there is no reason not to provide the owner with diagnostic data and maybe the question that should be asked is who owns this data, it is your car and therefore should you not also own the data needed to look after your asset?
 

artie

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I had a severe case of heartburn with a BMW X3 a few years ago which finally developed a fault that no one could fix so had to be dumped.

One thing I found out during that sage, was, that the gadget may show 82 faults, but if you mechanic is savvy enough to fix the right one first the rest go away.
 

Fergie 307

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Main dealers cannot afford to spend time rebuilding engines for customers, just not profitable work and they tend to see the vehicles in their younger days and in warranty. Going back engine rebuilds were common, most garages would have an engine laid out needing rebore or a cylinder head off for a decoke and was something that was normal. There was many places that would undertake crank regrinding, head skimming and cylinder reboring, the one I used was Star engineering in Chelmsford who did work for me on vehicles like Hillman Imps, Vauxhall Magnums & Ventoras as well as motorcycles like Ariel square fours.
In the 50's your car would need a decoke maybe every 20k miles, now really not an issue. Much better fuel and oil quality, much better fuel metering with injection. Back in the 70's if you bought a new Ford Escort, Morris Marina or whatever you knew full well that the engine would be knackered by the time it had done 70-80k miles. So there were loads of engine rebuilders. Not so anymore. Most modern cars will easily do well over twice that, down to better manufacturing quality, better lubricants and so forth. What will probably eventually kill most modern cars is an electronic fault which either cannot be repaired, often because the parts are completely sealed and cannot be dismantled, or because the manufacturer no longer supplies spares and second-hand units are no longer about either. I am absolutely in agreement with you that we need to get out of this habit of always wanting new stuff with more and more gadgets, many of which serve little real purpose, and are just more things to go wrong. Already you see many perfectly serviceable cars going for dismantling because of some really stupid electrical issue that costs more that the value of the car to repair. This is only going to get worse.
 

Fergie 307

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I had a problem with my abs light on Peugeot 206. Changed all sensors with no luck. Bought a cheap OBD scanner which showed nothing. In the end the local garage sorted it for me. It was a dirty plug. I have since learnt that for Peugoet and Citroën you need a Peugeot Planet or something that can interact with it.
I used to live French cars, still do the old ones. Best thing to do with a modern one is sell it before it goes wrong, the electronics on them are dreadful.
 

croft36

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Here is an excellent example, I had a polo in the other day with a MAP sensor fault, the little old ladies local garage had replaced the MAP sensor and it still had a fault, brought it in to us (main dealer) within 5 mins I had diagnosed a wiring fault and an hour later had found the broken wire and fixed the fault. The first garage charged £150 inc diag for their "repair", we charged £100 and we fixed it first time with no parts needed. The garage it had been to had a £6000 snap on scanner that gave him all the same information I had except I used my training and knowledge to make an accurate diagnosis. If you google the code it came up with internal MAP sensor faults and a replacement fixes the fault, but not in this case. My point is accurate diagnosis is nearly always cheaper than guessing which is ultimately what googling the fault code is.
With respect you had the advantage of knowing that it had already been established that it wasn’t the MAP sensor at fault. A lot of main dealers would no doubt have also initially replaced the MAP sensor!?
 

Dibs-h

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The completely unacceptable bit is that code readers are still required. It is entirely feasible to hold all fault codes, manuals, part numbers, repair/replacement instructions etc on an embedded chip, displayed on a laptop/tablet via blue tooth, USB cable or on the screen already installed in the vehicle.
You should see the Mercedes system - it needs a shoebox sized item in between the laptop and the car (a multiplexer they call it) and not cheap even for the Chinese clones.

I like the VAG system. ODIS (the diagnostic interface\system) when used with ELSA (the repair system) is impressive. You click on a fault code and ELSA opens up, giving instructions (diagrams\text\locations) on what to check, bolt\screw locations, torque settings, voltages, wiring, etc.)

Even ELSA with VCDS is good too.

In all fairness the MB Star system does too, but it ain't cheap.
 

Dibs-h

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In the 50's your car would need a decoke maybe every 20k miles, now really not an issue. Much better fuel and oil quality, much better fuel metering with injection. Back in the 70's if you bought a new Ford Escort, Morris Marina or whatever you knew full well that the engine would be knackered by the time it had done 70-80k miles. So there were loads of engine rebuilders. Not so anymore. Most modern cars will easily do well over twice that, down to better manufacturing quality, better lubricants and so forth. What will probably eventually kill most modern cars is an electronic fault which either cannot be repaired, often because the parts are completely sealed and cannot be dismantled, or because the manufacturer no longer supplies spares and second-hand units are no longer about either. I am absolutely in agreement with you that we need to get out of this habit of always wanting new stuff with more and more gadgets, many of which serve little real purpose, and are just more things to go wrong. Already you see many perfectly serviceable cars going for dismantling because of some really stupid electrical issue that costs more that the value of the car to repair. This is only going to get worse.

You just reminded me of my 1st car - a Mk1 Golf (non-GTI). Of using a dwell meter to set the points. :)
 

guineafowl21

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ICarsoft LR2.0 - very useful gadget, but died after two years and perhaps 15 uses. Inside was a decent ARM processor, all power rails working, but otherwise absolutely dead.

Hoping this was just unlucky, I just bought a 3.0 version, which was faulty out of the box.

Hence I wouldn’t recommend an iCarsoft product. I’ve gone for a Foxwell this time.
 

Spectric

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What really makes all this so obnoxious is the fact that it is so obvious that it is all aimed at milking the customer, nothing other than a money making exercise for which there are better engineering solutions. I would also go as far to say that a lot of this complexity is for no other reason than to prevent the owner undertaking even basic repairs, does a Peugeot 308 really need more fuses than a Leyland National bus!
 

Dibs-h

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What really makes all this so obnoxious is the fact that it is so obvious that it is all aimed at milking the customer, nothing other than a money making exercise for which there are better engineering solutions. I would also go as far to say that a lot of this complexity is for no other reason than to prevent the owner undertaking even basic repairs, does a Peugeot 308 really need more fuses than a Leyland National bus!
Don't get me started - it's like the fiasco with BMW putting engine timing chains at the back of the block between the engine and the gearbox - just so they can "improve the aero-dynamics" by having space to slope the bonnet further.

"Sealed for life chains?" - my backside. You'd be lucky to get change out of 3.5K for a timing chain change, assuming it didn't go bang first.
 

Spectric

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it's like the fiasco with BMW putting engine timing chains at the back of the block between the engine and the gearbox
That sounds really stupid, I suppose some engineer wanted to be different and came up with that. I suppose we do get strange designs now and then, the French used to put the engine / gearbox in backwards in some models so the gearbox was at the front near the radiator. Timing chains were once bombproof, just look at the Jaguar XK straight six and what a classic engine. Why would the BMW chains need to be sealed for life, don't they run within the engine casings in oil like chains once used to? Saying that it used to be belt failures that were a problem but now you do hear more chain / tensioner failures and why, even many of the old push rod engines used a chain to drive the block mounted camshaft. This has to be a sign of either deliberate cost cutting or engineering incompetance, what has happened to experience and durability testing before product launch.
 

Terry - Somerset

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The public - you and I generally - are complicit in the exploitative strategies used by car companies.

They have sold us the idea of, and mostly we have willingly bought, complex gizmos which do close to nothing to improve the functionality of motor vehicles.

These include generally unusable performance, sport modes, racetrack modes, economy modes, power seats, internal ambient lighting, auto wipers, auto lights, integrated media systems, etc. None of this is critical in transporting homo-sapiens from A to B efficiently in reasonable comfort.

We have only ourselves to blame. We should have bought the base model. Instead we chose the one equipped with configurable steering wheels, optional altitude sensors, leather upholstery crafted from the skin of dolphins, ecologically sound wood trim, and additive free air suspension.

They then tell us we need £000s of sophisticated technical kit to tell use what is wrong with our sophisticated complex car. We are idiots and deserve to be exploited!
 

Spectric

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Just watched a video on changing the chains on an N47 BMW engine, what a complete design failure from start to finish. Remove engine, remove flywheel and sump then a casing just to access these chains and some nasty plastic guides. Running in oil so why do they fail, could it be that it is just a single little chain and not a duplex that was once so common! BMW, VW and Mercedes engineering has gone down hill big time, have they sacrificed their once proud names for the sake of survival amongst the competition.
 

Keith 66

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Car companies build cars to make money, they are in the business of shifting products, lots of them, the customers convenience in fixing it when it goes wrong is barely a consideration, any way to make the product faster & cheaper to build will be used. The white goods analogy is perfect, they build washing machines to wear out so they can sell you new ones, Cars are the same.
 

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