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So, my last basic scan tool is long gone now, and I've procrastinated replacing it. Like most things, I've started doing some research... but in this case, no clear winners have been emerging. In fact, it seems to be one of those areas where there's a lot of mushy information that's not really easy to quantify.

However, in the short time I've been investigating, it looks like there are a few vendors bubbling to the top - one of which, Autel, appears to bridge the gap between lower end consumer devices all the way up through multi-thousand dollar professional devices that I've seen professional mechanics reviewing. However, on the consumer side, there also appears to some interesting choices, with companies like BlueDriver offering a mobile app w/ dongle (not necessarily new) but setting themselves apart with deep reporting that appears to be almost like a crowd-sourced database of possible fixes. The professional counterparts, however, offer integration with services like IntelliFix, but I expect the subscriptions are beyond anything I'd care to pay as an enthusiast versus mechanic.

Nonetheless, as I've been researching, I've been intrigued by the capabilities of the higher-end tools. Most of them come in tablet form - usually running Android or Windows operating systems - and they have some fancy capabilities:

- Multi Vehicle Support - most of them will support nearly any vehicle brand (within reason), including auto VIN detection, mapping appropriate control modules, etc.

- Deeper Diagnosis - instead of simple codes and two word descriptions, the fancier tools also appear to get into lengthier descriptions of the problem, also linking into their propriety databases as well as third parties.

- Real Time Data - most of them appear to offer some kind of real-time data analysis from any of the car's sensors (e.g. oil temp, RPMs, oxygen sensors, individual cylinders misfires, etc.) and then offer graphing and charting of the data.

- Service Capabilities - most of them appear to offer service capabilities like resetting service reminders, SRS/airbag systems, brake bleeding, TPMS, etc.

- Bi-directional Communications - the fanciest among them also seem to be fully bidirection, able to send control signals to different modules (e.g. telling the oil pump to prime), etc, as a means of testing various systems.

On the downside, these fancier tools are significantly more expensive (ranging from $500 to many thousands for all of the bells and whistles), and the updates to stay current can be expensive annual subscriptions. That said, as a techie, I'm intrigued, and they actually look to be able to provide real insight and diagnosis versus a lot of the small scan tools that only give cryptic codes. I particularly like the service and bidirectional communication capabilities, which seem invaluable if you're trying to really diagnose a problem.

In any case, I'd love to hear some feedback from the board here - what scan tools are you guys using, and in particular, does anyone have any experience with some of these fancier tablet-form units that are primarily targeted at the pros?
 

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I'm using the Ross-Tech Hex-V2 which allows up to 10 Vins Ez, it's far cleverer than I am LoL, but it is well supported and upgrades for the software/firmware are free. I think I paid just over $200 for it.
 

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ooohh, I await with baited breath myself on the replies, as I'm a long time multiple-Ross-Tech dongle owner and typically big supporter of Ross-Tech hardware and software... They have never let me down from just looking and playing with codes on my B8 S5 to changing code maps in adaptions for my euro-sweeping LEDs on my R8, and with the newer max-factor platform channels of the newer cars as well...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm using the Ross-Tech Hex-V2 which allows up to 10 Vins Ez, it's far cleverer than I am LoL, but it is well supported and upgrades for the software/firmware are free. I think I paid just over $200 for it.
ooohh, I await with baited breath myself on the replies, as I'm a long time multiple-Ross-Tech dongle owner and typically big supporter of Ross-Tech hardware and software... They have never let me down from just looking and playing with codes on my B8 S5 to changing code maps in adaptions for my euro-sweeping LEDs on my R8, and with the newer max-factor platform channels of the newer cars as well...
Thanks guys! I figured Ross-Tech's VAG-COM would be on the list. :)
 

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I just got my Ross-Tech tool yesterday. My shop uses it to work on Audi's and VW's. At least here, it seems to be widely used and pretty well documented. The 75 page manual goes deeper than I intend to, but I finally broke down and got it after working with my shop on sorting out the ceramic brake upgrade issues that I had. For the price, you can't go wrong.
 

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I have a VAG-COM in addition to a generic wifi OBDII dongle in conjunction with OBD Fusion app on my phone which is easier for checking and clearing codes and does a good job of real time graphing of PIDs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So, I've been looking at something like the Autel 808, which is about an entry level tablet style tool that appears to provide many of the features I've mentioned above, including many of the "service" features (reprogramming keys, power balance / analysis, SRS, ABS, oil service indicators, etc.). Although, those features can differ make to make, but the unit appears to support a ton of different brands - versus the VAG-COM's specific focus on just VW Group vehicles.

That said, I'm trying to understand if there's stuff VAG-COM can see that even these higher end tools, which appear to have brand specific modules too, wouldn't be able to do? The material on their websites don't get specific. I don't think I'd be diving into it often, but I do like that it's accessible.

Maybe, like Czar, it pays to have both a good scan tool and VAG-COM together? I do like the idea of a dedicated tool in some cases, while the laptop/dongle may be more ideal in other cases.
 

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i got a foxwell under $400, which has touchscreen, live data, diagnostic function, bidirectional input and mostly importantly, support all of my cars and has free updates for 3 years. Comes in a big box with all kinds of communication adapters for all 54 manufacturers prior to obdii. But the thing is my limited knowledge cant put it to better use lol, all i am doing is reading off codes, and probably resetting service lights and updating battery info when i get to that.
From my research most of them are made in china: Launch, Autel, Foxwell are some of the ones I looked into
 

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OBDEleven can literally do almost everything VAGCOM does and its only $80. When you do a search, they talk about quick applications(paid) with it, but you can do it all manually for free with the pro version. It has long coding, diagnostics, adaptation, etc.. I cannot recommend enough. Also works with unlimited vins.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
i got a foxwell under $400, which has touchscreen, live data, diagnostic function, bidirectional input and mostly importantly, support all of my cars and has free updates for 3 years. Comes in a big box with all kinds of communication adapters for all 54 manufacturers prior to obdii. But the thing is my limited knowledge cant put it to better use lol, all i am doing is reading off codes, and probably resetting service lights and updating battery info when i get to that.
From my research most of them are made in china: Launch, Autel, Foxwell are some of the ones I looked into
Thanks Kiryu - I've seen a lot of the same, as well. Any reason you went with Foxwell over others?

OBDEleven can literally do almost everything VAGCOM does and its only $80. When you do a search, they talk about quick applications(paid) with it, but you can do it all manually for free with the pro version. It has long coding, diagnostics, adaptation, etc.. I cannot recommend enough. Also works with unlimited vins.
OBDEleven gets my vote. It does everything VCDS does. They recently released an IOS version which I will be getting soon.
I hadn't looked at OBDEleven, but I'll look into it.

To be honest, as great as VCDS/Ross-Tech has been in reputation, it turns me off a bit that their website appears REALLY out-dated - both in design and coding used to create it AND physical age (literally pages that are copyrighted 2016 and older). I know it may be a bit silly, but it feels a bit abandoned and old-tech to me when I look at the website.
 

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Another vote for VAG-COM. I have 2 Audis and one VW. System works great on all, but it is VW, Audi, Porsche (maybe Lambo, Bentley, Bugatti) specific.

Pretty sure it won't work on BMW or others.
 

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Thanks Kiryu - I've seen a lot of the same, as well. Any reason you went with Foxwell over others?
quite simple, it's the only one in the price range that supports ferraris. Launch and Autel you need to be in the $600-1000 range for something that supports f cars AND VW family with the same functions. I think it's great for the value but then again these things get outdated and updated so fast (electronics, duh what do i expect lol). The free 3 year update is nice and supports many new cars with the particulate filters. My boxster recently had ignition coil failure causing bunch of CELs and this reader told me where it is, I did a 30 min $50 swap and it already paid for itself. Also helped a fellow r8 driver replaced his battery and use this to update the battery info
 

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Discussion Starter #14
quite simple, it's the only one in the price range that supports ferraris. Launch and Autel you need to be in the $600-1000 range for something that supports f cars AND VW family with the same functions. I think it's great for the value but then again these things get outdated and updated so fast (electronics, duh what do i expect lol). The free 3 year update is nice and supports many new cars with the particulate filters. My boxster recently had ignition coil failure causing bunch of CELs and this reader told me where it is, I did a 30 min $50 swap and it already paid for itself. Also helped a fellow r8 driver replaced his battery and use this to update the battery info
Awesome, thank you for the feedback!

I have a feeling I'll probably end up getting a mid-range reader that will work across vehicle brands. It's nice knowing that it'll work on various brands as the garage changes. I may end up getting the VAG-COM in addition just for the R8... but perhaps only after getting the universal tool and seeing how that works out.
 
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