Maverick Diagnostics assesses the complexities and conundrums of buying diagnostic equipment in the aftermarket.
10 years ago, if you needed to change a control unit, a vehicle manufacture would supply what it would refer to as a ‘virgin’ or empty control unit. This would be supplied with the software on a CD-ROM, and you would then load it onto the control unit using an OE diagnostic tool. Many aftermarket tools could also carry out this basic programming using what we affectionately called ‘suck and blow’ – in other words, taking data off the old unit to program the virgin unit.
You connect the car to the vehicle manufacturer’s ‘web portal’ to download the software to the control unit. This enables the OEM to keep the information fully up to date and allows the manufacturers to ‘quick fix’ any software problems. The OEMs’ online cloud-based systems are highly advanced. They can recognise if a compatible device is connected, automatically recognise the vehicle’s VIN, and quickly build a picture of what control units are fitted, or any DTCs that are present, and will tell you what control unit updates are needed.
You will always have to register with the manufacturers, and they all have a different process. Some will give instant approval, others take weeks, and for security-related tasks, all will ask you to provide a VAT number and company registration details.
Once registered, you will need a compliant interface. As the VM portals have advanced, clone tools are no longer recognised on them, so that door has been firmly shut. As cloud-based software can’t be copied and it’s updated virtually every day, again the ‘laptop with an old version of the software’ is a thing of the past.
So, what’s out there?
Aftermarket Pass Thru solutions are a great stepping stone from multi-make tools, but they can’t guarantee 100% functionality. The first problem is which one to pick, as most claim that they are ‘J2534 Pass-Thru compliant’, which is correct, but compliance and approval are entirely different things. Only an approved tool is recognised on the manufacture websites these days. In most cases, Pass Thru only gives you Euro 5/6 module programming functionally, not full diagnostics.
Vehicle manufacturers’ tools, on the other hand, only cover one manufacturer’s brand, so it gets expensive if you need to cover more. However, this option guarantees you 100% coverage, which is a perfect scenario if you decide to specialise. What’s more, these tools are getting cheaper to buy and cheaper to run, as most now use tokens or hourly time credits.
How can Maverick make dealer diagnostics easy?
Most aftermarket workshops will have spent time running cars to dealerships, only to be charged up to £180 per hour for a simple programming function. If your business is at the stage where you feel an OEM tool is the way forward, but you don’t know where to start, Maverick is here to help.
Can anyone buy these tools? Yes, provided you’re a legitimate repair business. The real problem is the OEMs don’t make it easy for the aftermarket, and guidance is needed throughout the process of purchase and initial set up. Maverick doesn’t describe itself as a tool sales business, but as an automotive diagnostic support specialist. Maverick’s range covers all popular brands, and the company will guide you through from the initial registration stage right through to your first use, with ongoing tech support available. Packages can be tailored to suit the needs of all workshops and budgets.