Mar 28, 2023

7 Must-Have Features for Heavy-Duty Truck Scanners

7 Must-Have Features for Heavy-Duty Truck Scanners

What if you had to choose between two types of ice cream—a single scoop of plain vanilla ice cream and a hot fudge sundae with Oreos and sprinkles?

To some degree, these options are “the same” since they both fall into the category of ice cream. But the sundae definitely sounds more appealing.

The same principle applies when you’re weighing your heavy-duty truck scanner options. No matter what code reader you pick, you’ll get a basic sense of what’s going on with the trucks visiting your shop for a check-up. But more elaborate scanners allow you to go a step farther to measure a truck’s performance, diagnose systems other than its engine, and perform other vital tasks.

One of the most effective ways to compare different code readers is by analyzing the features these truck diagnostic tools offer. Here, you’ll find Fullbay’s list of features that your heavy-duty truck scanner needs to bring to the table.

Look For These Seven Features in Your Truck Scanner

1. Code Reading

At a bare minimum, your code reader should be capable of reading both active and inactive fault codes from a truck. Otherwise, it’s not really a “code reader” at all, is it?

Still, some truck scanners are more adept at reading codes than others. Numbers you might need to check to provide a diagnosis include OEMs, SAs, SPNs, and FMIs. Your code reader should be able to deal with all of these for you.

2. Code History

While knowing what’s wrong with a truck right now is crucial, it’s also helpful to know what it’s been through up until now. Full-featured scanners allow you to keep track of a vehicle’s fault code history. It gives you a helpful and reliable source of information about a given truck’s past from the same device you’d use to read its current fault codes.

3. System Performance Measurement

Some code readers are capable of showing live data from the truck you’re working on—your technicians can see exactly what’s happening in a vehicle’s engine modules and sensors as it happens. Meanwhile, active testing features let techs test mechanical engine components like solenoids and valves at the touch of a button.

4. Diagnostics from Multiple Systems

Even the most basic code readers on the market are capable of engine diagnostics. But they probably won’t be much help when it’s time to work on other vehicular systems, like the transmission and suspension systems. For that, you’ll need a scanner with multi-system or all-system diagnosis capabilities.

5. Technician Assistance Features

An ideal code reader can provide detailed information on fault codes, which you can use to better understand what’s wrong with the vehicles you’re working on. Depending on your code reader of choice, this information could include everything from symptom descriptions to step-by-step troubleshooting guidelines.

6. Vehicle Coverage

Knowing that your scanner of choice will actually work with the vehicles and equipment you service is imperative.

To determine what type of scanner you’ll need for a job, you should understand the eight truck weight classes. Most trucks in Classes 1-3 use the OBD2 diagnostic system—the same system passenger vehicles use. A standard OBD2 scanner should be enough to provide diagnostics for trucks in these weight classes.

However, trucks weighing in excess of 14,000 pounds fall into Classes 4-8. These vehicles use a wide variety of diagnostic systems, such as J1708, J1939, and J1587. Their diagnostic ports might also include different pin formats.

It’s a lot to take in, so reread that if you need to. Pinpoint which truck classes your shop does (or doesn’t) service, then get a heavy-duty truck scanner that has the capabilities you need.

7. Regular Updates

While the ability to receive software updates may not be as obviously flashy as some of the features mentioned here, it’s among the most critical capabilities a scanner can have. If it can get software updates, your scanner will be able to diagnose new truck models. Updates will also protect you from glitches or vulnerabilities found in these devices after they hit the market.

Don’t Forget The Cherry on Top

Whether you’re getting ready to buy your first heavy-duty truck scanner or you haven’t purchased one of these products for a while, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of options. But don’t just settle for vanilla because it looks nice and simple. Look for your hot fudge sundae with Oreos and sprinkles—that is, a code reader that fits your shop’s specific needs.

Of course, even the best scanner can only help you diagnose and test vehicular issues. To actually resolve problems with these trucks, techs need to get in there. Fullbay can step in to make the process smooth, efficient, and profitable.

We can help with all sorts of things, from enhancing your workflow to effortlessly communicating with customers. You’ll also benefit from our integrated accounting, reporting, and inventory management capabilities, among other perks. Make Fullbay the cherry on top of your delicious heavy-duty truck scanner sundae by setting up a demo today!

Emilie Vecera