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On-Board Diagnostic Hand-Held Scan Tool Technology

July 19th, 2010 · No Comments

In order to address concerns about On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) equipment capability and
the interaction of service technicians with OBD equipped vehicles, EPA evaluated current OBD
hand-held scan tool technology. A variety of OBD hand-held scan tools were acquired from
aftermarket scan tool and original equipment manufacturers (OEM), and evaluated against the SAE
requirements for OBD hand-held scan tools. Also, in response to the public, EPA collected and is
providing additional information on additional features and characteristic information about each
OBD hand-held scan tool used in this evaluation. This report summarizes this information and
provides a brief overview of OBD hand-held scan tool requirements and features.
In summary, all of the scan tools evaluated in this study meet the basic requirements of a
service technician, a state Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) Program, and a public consumer
considering an OBD hand-held scan tool. The results of this evaluation demonstrate that the OBD
hand-held scan tools examined adhere to the SAE requirements for an OBD hand-held scan tool and
also provide many additional features. One scan tool in its original configuration does not support
SAE J1979 Modes 6, the latest test results for non-continuous monitors, but this function is available
via free software upgrade from the manufacturer.
As a whole, the OBD hand-held scan tools are inconsistent with respect to readiness status
nomenclature (see Appendix III: “Readiness Status Chart” for more detail) which can cause
confusion in I/M lanes or first-time users. Efforts should be made to standardize the readiness status
nomenclature on OBD hand-held scan tools.
Also, when comparing the engine parameters displayed on an aftermarket scan tool to an
OEM scan tool, we found that the aftermarket scan tools and the OEM scan tools had comparable
numbers of engine parameters listed in both generic and enhanced (i.e., manufacturer-specific) mode
(see Appendix II: “Engine Parameters” for more detail).


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