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Discussion Starter #1
Looking to purchase my first OBD2 reader. I don’t want to buy a basic one that just reads codes. Looking for something close to what a dealer would use. I’ve seen some higher end Bluetooth models that seem interesting. Bluedriver and OBDLINK MX+. Compact and easily upgradable for software. i like the idea of using the computing power and larger display I already have. An iPad and iPhone.
so I’m wondering what others are using and whats recommenced. Also let me know if you think I’m better off going with a dedicated unit.
 

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I have a Bluedriver and am very happy with it
 

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....Looking for something close to what a dealer would use.....
That will cost thousands, perhaps the cheapest and most effective might be the Launch X431 PRO MINI, you could get if for a little less than a $1k if you shop around....
I have AutoEnginuity, it runs on a laptop, so it only costs $500 to get the extended features for Chrysler/FCA vehicles. It can do a lot more than scanners, but it fall short of many things I would like to do. Its only a little more capable than FCADiag/AlfaOBD that are 1/10th its price. (FCADiag and AlfaOBD weren't available when I bought it) It's not very intuitive and poor interface and documentation, you really have tough time figuring out what your doing and you have to constantly restart. If I had to do all over again, I'd would have spent a few hundred more for the Launch X431, that looks like it can do a lot more than the AutoEnginuity....

Beware the guys that don't know what they're talking about, they'll swear a $30 ELM327 port interpreter can do everything. It can't and they don't know what they are talking about, not even realizing people want to read manufacturer extended codes, maintenance procedures, calibration, configuration, enabling replacement modules or accessories, write data to modules, program the vehicle to new keys, etc... ....they'll reply, I can read data feeds of sensors, what else would you need? :rolleyes: I don't know everything about these tools, but I know enough not to insist a ELM327 for $25 can do everything you could possibly ever need.......

A good place to start might be AlfaOBD or FCADiag, for $50 for the software and another $25 for a 3rd party OBD Port Interface you get a lot of features along the line you're asking about. From there you can learn more and then perhaps move on to a $1k X431....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
That will cost thousands, perhaps the cheapest and most effective might be the Launch X431 PRO MINI, you could get if for a little less than a $1k if you shop around....
I have AutoEnginuity, it runs on a laptop, so it only costs $500 to get the extended features for Chrysler/FCA vehicles. It can do a lot more than scanners, but it fall short of many things I would like to do. Its only a little more capable than FCADiag/AlfaOBD that are 1/10th its price. (FCADiag and AlfaOBD weren't available when I bought it) It's not very intuitive and poor interface and documentation, you really have tough time figuring out what your doing and you have to constantly restart. If I had to do all over again, I'd would have spent a few hundred more for the Launch X431, that looks like it can do a lot more than the AutoEnginuity....

Beware the guys that don't know what they're talking about, they'll swear a $30 ELM327 port interpreter can do everything. It can't and they don't know what they are talking about, not even realizing people want to read manufacturer extended codes, maintenance procedures, calibration, configuration, enabling replacement modules or accessories, write data to modules, program the vehicle to new keys, etc... ....they'll reply, I can read data feeds of sensors, what else would you need? :rolleyes: I don't know everything about these tools, but I know enough not to insist a ELM327 for $25 can do everything you could possibly ever need.......

A good place to start might be AlfaOBD or FCADiag, for $50 for the software and another $25 for a 3rd party OBD Port Interface you get a lot of features along the line you're asking about. From there you can learn more and then perhaps move on to a $1k X431....
AlfaObd and FCADIAG seem interesting but they are both Android or windows compatible. I don’t have either. Only iOS/Mac devices.
 

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AlfaObd and FCADIAG seem interesting but they are both Android or windows compatible. I don’t have either. Only iOS/Mac devices.
Well then you need to spend nearly a grand for a stand alone device to get something more than a scanner, look into the X431, but I'm far from an expert so do more research than just taking my word for it.
Nothing comes to mind for iOS/Mac that is anymore capable than your basic scanners that just read OBDII codes and some data feeds..... ....but again, I'm not an expert.....

What's the difference between AlfaObd and FCADIAG? Is one better than the other?
There are several threads on it, search and read them. "Seems" the consensus is AlfaOBD is more capable than FCADiag, having more features and extra screens..... ....I have FCADiag, but only used it a little bit, some of the stuff I see people posting they are doing with AlfaOBD, I didn't see when I used FCADiag, but again, I've only started using it....

My worry, Fiat and Chrysler brands still have some separation in their technology, although that gap is closing..... ....that AlfaOBD might not service or interface as well with some of the Jeep brands, especially the WK2 that is designed before Fiat took over, might not interface with everything or as well as FCADiag for Jeep and Chrysler brands.... ....That is only a guess/fear, because I haven't seen anything posted supporting that....
 

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Well then you need to spend nearly a grand for a stand alone device to get something more than a scanner, look into the X431, but I'm far from an expert so do more research than just taking my word for it.
Nothing comes to mind for iOS/Mac that is anymore capable than your basic scanners that just read OBDII codes and some data feeds..... ....but again, I'm not an expert.....


There are several threads on it, search and read them. "Seems" the consensus is AlfaOBD is more capable than FCADiag, having more features and extra screens..... ....I have FCADiag, but only used it a little bit, some of the stuff I see people posting they are doing with AlfaOBD, I didn't see when I used FCADiag, but again, I've only started using it....
Thanks for the advice Mongo.
I may wait til I get some more cash to buy a better dedicated professional type unit. Or possible buy a used windows laptop just to use for those Alfa or FCA programs.
I might just do a Bluetooth version for now. At least I can keep it in the vehicle just in case, as it is very small and I always have the phone handy.
Would you recommend one over another?
Either the BlueDriver, OBDlink Mx+, or the Thinkcar unit?
 

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Check to see if they'll run on a Chrome Tablet, a lot of those are pretty cheap..... ...My understanding is that the Chrome/Android Tablets are just larger but simpler Android Phones.....

The 3rd Party OBDII interface is pretty generic, they all likely work equally well. I don't even remember the one I got, it was one of the recommended ones from the FCADiag webpage where you buy it. I got a bluetooth one and my laptop doesn't have built in bluetooth, so I use a USB BT Dongle, and I do sometimes have trouble connecting to it....
 

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If you are looking a cheap method to read and clear codes, there is NO reason to continue reading this post. If you want to spend some money, keep reading. :)

For more commercial grade diag tablets, along side of the Launch tablets, Autel tablets are pretty solid as well. Just DO NOT LEAVE THEM PLUGGED IN FOR MORE THAN A FEW HOURS AFTER CHARGING THE BATTERY! I personally use an Autel MS906TS on a daily basis. Here is one (MK808TS) a few steps down from mine and alot cheaper. To the normal user it is a bit of overkill being it is preloaded with the capability to scan and trigger TPMS sensors, but for the money, it's damn impressive will access pretty much every interface module on Jeeps. It's Android based as well. For updates, it will come with the current year specs loaded for pretty much EVERY manfacturer domestic, import, and overseas. You won't have up update it after your "free year" of almost daily updates. However, you will need to purchase a software update ($700ish) f you work on anything newer than the year of your installed software. If you dig around on the web, you can find them cheaper than Amazon obviously.

Manufacturer link: Autel MK808TS
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If you are looking a cheap method to read and clear codes, there is NO reason to continue reading this post. If you want to spend some money, keep reading. :)

For more commercial grade diag tablets, along side of the Launch tablets, Autel tablets are pretty solid as well. Just DO NOT LEAVE THEM PLUGGED IN FOR MORE THAN A FEW HOURS AFTER CHARGING THE BATTERY! I personally use an Autel MS906TS on a daily basis. Here is one (MK808TS) a few steps down from mine and alot cheaper. To the normal user it is a bit of overkill being it is preloaded with the capability to scan and trigger TPMS sensors, but for the money, it's damn impressive will access pretty much every interface module on Jeeps. It's Android based as well. For updates, it will come with the current year specs loaded for pretty much EVERY manfacturer domestic, import, and overseas. You won't have up update it after your "free year" of almost daily updates. However, you will need to purchase a software update ($700ish) f you work on anything newer than the year of your installed software. If you dig around on the web, you can find them cheaper than Amazon obviously.

Manufacturer link: Autel MK808TS
That Autel seems very nice.
like I mentioned above, I might just get a cheap reader to keep in the vehicle. But still look into a full tablet type for the big repairs at home. Definatley one that can access the brake pump for doing brake bleeding and possible a bi-directional unit.
I’ve noticed all these high end tablet readers are basically just Android tablets with a nice heavy duty case and really good software downloaded on all them. I’m wondering why I just can’t download the same type of software for my iPad to use?
 

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I wish I had a better answer for loading the software on a Mac, but unfortunately I don't. I'm guessing it's the same reasons Mac/iOS doesn't allow certain types of network analytic software on their devices, but the same apps are available on Android. Security holes, port issues, etc...

The cheap readers are nice to have in the event you get a MIL commanded on. I keep one in the console just incase I ever need it. I'm currently using a "Tazer" on my Jeep which gives the ability to view/clear powertrain codes. Will display the codes right to the instrument cluster. NOTE: it will not allow bi directional control of modules. Not all OBD2 readers are the same as mentioned above. If you plan to use with an iPhone, make certain it supports the connectivity protocol.
 

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....I personally use an Autel MS906TS on a daily basis. Here is one (MK808TS) a few steps down from mine and alot cheaper. ....However, you will need to purchase a software update ($700ish) f you work on anything newer than the year of your installed software....
Just to confirm, since the title of the tool has TPMS scanner, this is a full OBDII and Manufacturer Extended Protocols tool, not just TPMS?

What caught my eye about the Launch X431, you can program new keys to the vehicles yourself, if you have the vehicles PIN (heck, some will even pull up the pin for you from the module).

Can the Autel MK808TS or the MS906TS program new keys to the vehicle? As well as do things like activate ABS Pump, enable/disable features in the TIPM/BCM, set Tire Diameter (in vehicles that is possible), etc..?

....like I mentioned above, I might just get a cheap reader to keep in the vehicle.....
If you want a cheap reader to carry in the car, two options....
  • A cheap OBDII basic Reader from Walmart or online for like $30
  • A cheap Bluetooth OBDII interpretor and an App for your iPhone
But they will only give you OBDII codes, no manufacturer extended codes, functions or operations.....

Next step up would be the FCADiag/AlfaOBD, but you'd have to invest in a windows/android device to host the software.....

A cheap reader will just give you the OBDII Codes. OBDII is the Federally Mandated Emissions Protocol, so all OBDII give you is codes for the Federally Mandated Protocol that involve emissions. But, anything that effects the engine and few for the Transmission will affect emissions. So the majority of the codes, including the ones that are urgent and can leave you stuck, i.e. you're engine and some of your transmission, will be part of OBDII and can be read with a cheap scanner.....

The Manufacturers extended the technology to all the systems on their vehicle, but it wasn't federally mandated and thus no requirement to stick to the Gov Protocol. These are Manufacturer's Extended Codes, and these codes or operations to do additional maintenance items that require the dealers tools, can only be found in the more expensive tools. And very few have all of them, except for the Dealer tools, which is extraordinarily expensive..... ....so the more expensive tools, you have to expect you won't get everything, and will get more with the more you spend.....

I have to recommend against AutoEnginuity, which is what I have now.... ....Other company's have outpaced them, there tool is hosted on your own laptop and its horribly documented and poor user interface, I have no real guides and when I'm using it, I'm literally guessing at what I'm doing..... ....nearly 10 years ago, that was the only thing affordable to do the things you're talking about..... ....since then, many of the better tools that are even more capable have come down in price to be only a hundred or few hundred more than the AutoEnginuity, from what I've seen they are far better choice and well worth the extra money, than AutoEnginuity.....
 

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Mongo, yes, the Autel is a full blown scanner with the addition of TPMS features. The TS at the end of the model just indicates the unit comes with an integrated TPMS radio. The Autel MS906TS can learn some keys and fob transmitters. It can trigger pretty much any actuator and control many BUS items on most vehicles as well as edit tire diameters. Other deep programming features (enable fogs, nav in motion etc) will require an additional interface module to do that via the Autel scantool....which is NOT cheap and a manufacturer subscription will also be needed.
 

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If you are looking a cheap method to read and clear codes, there is NO reason to continue reading this post. If you want to spend some money, keep reading. :)

For more commercial grade diag tablets, along side of the Launch tablets, Autel tablets are pretty solid as well. Just DO NOT LEAVE THEM PLUGGED IN FOR MORE THAN A FEW HOURS AFTER CHARGING THE BATTERY! I personally use an Autel MS906TS on a daily basis. Here is one (MK808TS) a few steps down from mine and alot cheaper. To the normal user it is a bit of overkill being it is preloaded with the capability to scan and trigger TPMS sensors, but for the money, it's damn impressive will access pretty much every interface module on Jeeps. It's Android based as well. For updates, it will come with the current year specs loaded for pretty much EVERY manfacturer domestic, import, and overseas. You won't have up update it after your "free year" of almost daily updates. However, you will need to purchase a software update ($700ish) f you work on anything newer than the year of your installed software. If you dig around on the web, you can find them cheaper than Amazon obviously.

Manufacturer link: Autel MK808TS
Are you aware that in the case of some Jeep models, (like my 2005 GC), you can read the diagnostic codes, right on the speedometer LCD? This negates the need for buying a cheap code reader to keep in the car. Simply turn the key on and off three times quickly, (never hitting the starter), and the third turn leave on the codes will display. You will see "DTC" report and any codes will scroll across the LCD and you can write these down. You can look up the codes on the internet from there. This is certainly not the going to get you the capability of a high-end diagnostic tool or even the ability to reset codes. But if you are on the road and want to check for codes it works well. P.S. I say some jeeps because I am not sure what model years or powertrains this works on but it clearly works on the WK2 GC's 2005-2010. Give it a try first before you spend your money, what could it hurt?
 

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Are you aware that in the case of some Jeep models, (like my 2005 GC), you can read the diagnostic codes, right on the speedometer LCD? This negates the need for buying a cheap code reader to keep in the car. Simply turn the key on and off three times quickly, (never hitting the starter), and the third turn leave on the codes will display. You will see "DTC" report and any codes will scroll across the LCD and you can write these down. You can look up the codes on the internet from there. This is certainly not the going to get you the capability of a high-end diagnostic tool or even the ability to reset codes. But if you are on the road and want to check for codes it works well. P.S. I say some jeeps because I am not sure what model years or powertrains this works on but it clearly works on the WK2 GC's 2005-2010. Give it a try first before you spend your money, what could it hurt?
This is the WK2 forum, that is 2011-current Jeep Grand Cherokee's..... ....the WK2 has a pushbutton start, so how do you do the key dance with that?
JGC's from 2005-2010 were the WK platform....
Daimler owned the company then, and they weren't keen on the DTC's read out by the Key Dance... ....I had a 2010 XK (the Commander, which is a mechanical twin of the WK), and quite frankly I forgot if I could get it to read out codes with the key dance, I'm pretty sure I was able to do it....

DTC's read out with the key dance (the nickname for the key on-off 3 times) is Chrysler Powertrain deal, it has been available ever since Chrysler's first ECU.... ....before digital odometers to read out the codes, they had the CEL flash out the codes, they were always in sets of two, so you count the flashes, stop when it pauses and start counting again, write them down in sets of two and those were your codes, code 55 was "End Of Codes".

This was also back in the day when Chrysler designed there vehicles to be easily and inexpensively maintainable..... ..things could be easily reached, removed and installed, there were no special proprietary fittings, etc..... ....like GM, Ford and many of the Imports had, or had so crammed together it would takes hours of taking things apart just to get to it....

They compromised that design book a bit with the Cab Forward design changes just before Daimler bribed the company leadership into selling the company. Those things started going down hill, probably more Management changes to the Design Book, since Fiat has taken over, it seems they've thrown the design book out the window, hey a Ferrari takes 8 hours and $800 to change a engine mount, so why do you need to make it any different for a Jeep?

When Chrysler took over AMC, really just Jeep/Eagle, and only Eagle cause they had one model that "might" sell, but it actually didn't, so Eagle was gone in a year or two, which was the only thing Chrysler was after, Jeep.... .....but they don't Chrysler-ize the Jeeps overnight, they continue the designs as they are making refreshes as time goes on, when the designs come up for a new generation, then Chrysler redesigned them as their own. Keep in mind, Chrysler brought over most of the Jeep engineers and really tried to keep Jeeps, as Jeeps. So those Jeeps in the first years after Chrysler took over, still had RENIX/Renualt ECU's and fuel injection systems, and they didn't flash out DTC's with key dances... ....after a couple of years and they had adapted Chrysler technology and most Jeeps did have the DTC's read out from the Key Dance....

Back to WK2, Fiat is against the vehicle reading out their own DTC's they've changed that, as well as firewall access through the OBD port to the control modules, etc..... ...there is a cross-over point, since the WK2 was already at the end of design and about to enter into production when Fiat took over.... ....it was still the Chrysler under Daimler/Cerberus design... ...but it had the pushbutton start, so how do you do the key dance with a pushbutton?.... ....in 2014, the JGC got a major refresh, but not a new generation, the electronics were overhauled and Fiat Design spec got put in, so I doubt a 2014 and on WK2 can get anything from doing a key dance, even if it was possible with the 2014 pushbutton start that is different from the 2011-2013.

One things about the 2011-2013 WK2 pushbutton start, you have the option to remove the pushbutton in the pushbutton starter, under it will be a key slot for the fobik, you can insert the forbik and turn it like an old fashioned key.... (this is for the FOBIK battery going dead, you can still start the car by inserting the block in the end and it works like the old RFID RF energizing chips keys of earlier. I haven't tried it, but I wouldn't be surprised if you removed the pushbutton and inserted the FOBIK and do the key dance, it will get the DTC to read out in the odometer....

This can't be done in the 2014 and later, it has a whole new pushbutton start system, the button is not removable, if the FOBIK battery goes dead, you're suppose to push the butt of the FOBIK up against the pushbutton and that will put the RFID chips close enough to the antenna to get the necessary flux to energize the chips and start the vehicle.
 

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Are you aware that in the case of some Jeep models, (like my 2005 GC), you can read the diagnostic codes, right on the speedometer LCD? This negates the need for buying a cheap code reader to keep in the car. Simply turn the key on and off three times quickly, (never hitting the starter), and the third turn leave on the codes will display. You will see "DTC" report and any codes will scroll across the LCD and you can write these down. You can look up the codes on the internet from there. This is certainly not the going to get you the capability of a high-end diagnostic tool or even the ability to reset codes. But if you are on the road and want to check for codes it works well. P.S. I say some jeeps because I am not sure what model years or powertrains this works on but it clearly works on the WK2 GC's 2005-2010. Give it a try first before you spend your money, what could it hurt?
Tis good advice, but that feature was deleted years ago as mentioned above. Most would only show PCM codes though. Unfortunately, being the environment I'm in, higher end tools are a must.
 

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This is the WK2 forum, that is 2011-current Jeep Grand Cherokee's..... ....the WK2 has a pushbutton start, so how do you do the key dance with that?
JGC's from 2005-2010 were the WK platform....
Daimler owned the company then, and they weren't keen on the DTC's read out by the Key Dance... ....I had a 2010 XK (the Commander, which is a mechanical twin of the WK), and quite frankly I forgot if I could get it to read out codes with the key dance, I'm pretty sure I was able to do it....

DTC's read out with the key dance (the nickname for the key on-off 3 times) is Chrysler Powertrain deal, it has been available ever since Chrysler's first ECU.... ....before digital odometers to read out the codes, they had the CEL flash out the codes, they were always in sets of two, so you count the flashes, stop when it pauses and start counting again, write them down in sets of two and those were your codes, code 55 was "End Of Codes".

This was also back in the day when Chrysler designed there vehicles to be easily and inexpensively maintainable..... ..things could be easily reached, removed and installed, there were no special proprietary fittings, etc..... ....like GM, Ford and many of the Imports had, or had so crammed together it would takes hours of taking things apart just to get to it....

They compromised that design book a bit with the Cab Forward design changes just before Daimler bribed the company leadership into selling the company. Those things started going down hill, probably more Management changes to the Design Book, since Fiat has taken over, it seems they've thrown the design book out the window, hey a Ferrari takes 8 hours and $800 to change a engine mount, so why do you need to make it any different for a Jeep?

When Chrysler took over AMC, really just Jeep/Eagle, and only Eagle cause they had one model that "might" sell, but it actually didn't, so Eagle was gone in a year or two, which was the only thing Chrysler was after, Jeep.... .....but they don't Chrysler-ize the Jeeps overnight, they continue the designs as they are making refreshes as time goes on, when the designs come up for a new generation, then Chrysler redesigned them as their own. Keep in mind, Chrysler brought over most of the Jeep engineers and really tried to keep Jeeps, as Jeeps. So those Jeeps in the first years after Chrysler took over, still had RENIX/Renualt ECU's and fuel injection systems, and they didn't flash out DTC's with key dances... ....after a couple of years and they had adapted Chrysler technology and most Jeeps did have the DTC's read out from the Key Dance....

Back to WK2, Fiat is against the vehicle reading out their own DTC's they've changed that, as well as firewall access through the OBD port to the control modules, etc..... ...there is a cross-over point, since the WK2 was already at the end of design and about to enter into production when Fiat took over.... ....it was still the Chrysler under Daimler/Cerberus design... ...but it had the pushbutton start, so how do you do the key dance with a pushbutton?.... ....in 2014, the JGC got a major refresh, but not a new generation, the electronics were overhauled and Fiat Design spec got put in, so I doubt a 2014 and on WK2 can get anything from doing a key dance, even if it was possible with the 2014 pushbutton start that is different from the 2011-2013.

One things about the 2011-2013 WK2 pushbutton start, you have the option to remove the pushbutton in the pushbutton starter, under it will be a key slot for the fobik, you can insert the forbik and turn it like an old fashioned key.... (this is for the FOBIK battery going dead, you can still start the car by inserting the block in the end and it works like the old RFID RF energizing chips keys of earlier. I haven't tried it, but I wouldn't be surprised if you removed the pushbutton and inserted the FOBIK and do the key dance, it will get the DTC to read out in the odometer....

This can't be done in the 2014 and later, it has a whole new pushbutton start system, the button is not removable, if the FOBIK battery goes dead, you're suppose to push the butt of the FOBIK up against the pushbutton and that will put the RFID chips close enough to the antenna to get the necessary flux to energize the chips and start the vehicle.
My mistake on the WK2 I meant type just WK, 2005-2010, as I referenced above (My Bad). WK is a keyed ignition no push button, and the code read function does work. It is unfortunate it was done away with. But good info above.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I finally decided on the Autel Ap200. $50-$60. It’s small, cheap, easy to use, shows more data and has more functions than scanners that cost several hundred dollars more. Does pretty everything the $500 highly rated Autel mx808/mk808 can do. Only drawback is that it does full diagnostics for free on one chosen vehicle brand. Which is fine for me because at home we own two jeeps. Any other additional vehicles cost between $16-$21 dollars a year.
BUT, basic code reading can be done on any made vehicle for free.
This unit will get me by until I someday get a Autel bi-directional obd tablet.
 
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