Scanner tool recommendations

I am looking for recommendations for a scan tool. I want diagnostics, not just a code reader. I have done a search here for previous posts on the subject as well as some Googling. Even though there were some recommendations, it looks like time for an update.

I have a code reader but that is not enough for the current problem. My daughters Corolla has a P0420 code and has had it for several months. I have searched this site for this problem and it seems that most of the people that have had it, never got it resolved, even after spending thousands of $ throwing parts at it.

I borrowed a high end Actron scanner and looked at the freeze frame data, no hints. Tried running the program that monitors the engine data, but the frames are about 4 seconds apart so I can’t tell if the O2 sensors are sweeping at the correct rates. We erased the code before starting the second test. Did not see anything conclusive.

I should add, that every time I erase the code, it takes a couple of weeks to come back. It will sometimes go for two weeks not showing it as a pending code.

I wanted to run the O2 sensor test with the scanner but the owner didn’t know how to perform that test and the instruction book wasn’t very helpful.

First I would like recommendations for a scanner that will give me real time data on the O2 sensors so that I can see if they are sweeping properly or are “lazy”. Going this far, I’d like to be able to do just about any other diagnostics possible with these tool and be able to get updates. CAN compliance is also a requirement as I support some cars that are already CAN and I want to support any future purchases.

Last is price and I do mean last. I don’t want to spend $6000 for a scanner if an under $400 will do just about the same thing (like 95% of the high end scanners features), Graphing is not an absolute requirement but would be nice if you all thing it is worthy.

I have looked at PC based adapters and they look pretty good, except that I only have Mac’s. I do have an old laptop, win98, and I don’t think those work either with the PC adapters.

Is your end goal to be cost effective or just to stay away from a pro? Cost effective is finding a mechanic famaliar with HIS scanner and OBD2 diagnostics.

I can’t see how setting up your home shop to do all levels of OBD2 repairs could be cost effective, a good hobby yes.

Some type of O’scope function will be required for comprehensive OBD2 diagnosis.

I like using a laptop based scanner called AutoEnginuity. You can get into it for $250 plus the cost of an old pc laptop. The system requirements are very low so something for $50 off craigslist will work fine. This thing can do anything a $10000 scanner can do for a tiny fraction of the cost and it is easily and economically upgradable. Geez, I should work for these guys…

This is this software/hardware package that I use for real-time diagnostics This product is compatible with WINDOWS 98 OS. However, it will come with a USB serial connector. So you’ll need to obtain a USB to RS232 serial adapter for it to work with the WINDOWS 98 OS. When I first purchased this product it was for WINDOWS 98 OS so it had a RS232 serial connector. Then I upgraded to a WINDOWS XP computer which only has USB serial ports. So I had to obtain a RS232 to USB serial adapter. Also, the software updates are free.

Something to consider.


Here is a tester which claims to be able to do the oxygen sensor testing which you want. For others, just google: oxygen sensor testers

I have Diablosport Predator hand held tuner for my Mustang, It doubles a diagnostic tool as well. It can stream and/or log data in real time from any sensor(s) in the engine/transmission. It costs about $380-$400. They also have a new version out that does even more.

Considering a diagnostics fee can be $100, and I don’t mean just a code reader but a full diagnostics, with a couple of uses a good scanner with diagnostics should pay for itself. I maintain quite a few cars for the family so this could be a good investment.

I went to the website, looks like it could be what I need. I do have an old laptop, win 98 but it does have USB, but the battery is NG. I wonder if I could remove the LI batteries and replace them with alkalines. No recharge capability but if it works, it might be the solution.

I see there are add ons for enhanced codes, none for my vehicles. But I see one for “reader to diagnostics”, is this necessary? What is it? I didn’t understand this products function. There are some other software packages too like the 4 in 1, will I need that too?

They provide a lot of good free information on their website for troubleshooting but not enough on their products. Thanks for the tip though, I will consider it.