Diagnostic tools compatible with EOBD 2001 onwards Cars.
I received an e-mail from George a fellow owner who informed that the 'Memoscan' diagnostics tool(Can OBD2 U581) he had just purchased worked well with His 'A' Class, and in the same e-mail download was another owner who had problems with his car for which he needed a diagnostics tool to delete the error on his car caused by simply changing an instrument cluster bulb.
For those of you that are technically minded and are looking for real-time readouts from the various sensors on your car, performance etc, please use this link before reading further, this may well be more to your liking and be the sort of performance readouts you are looking for. Having read the page it is certainly the sort of display I can be seen made available in vehicles in the longer term. Please address any question you have on this site/page direct to 'Sirpic'.
Over recent years I have been in contact with dozens of readers who have to drive off to the garage to get their cars checked when engine management lights etc appear caused mainly by replacing the battery following re-charge. So to hear from George that this tool works well got me thinking and so I'm about to try and explain the benefits of owning such a devise/diagnostic tool As result I have contacted one of the main British suppliers and have arranged for those members interested in purchasing such the tool to get a 10% discount on their purchase. The details of how to obtain your tool and get the discount will be posted on this page very soon.
I have deliberately contacted a British supplier so that you can easily resolve any problems you might encounter, from my previous experience its cheaper than trying to contact the supplier in China firstly of course having to learn the language! Yes you will see them advertised cheaper but you will not get back-up if you have problems, and it is doubtful if you will even know where it is actually came from.
Many an owner has been caught out by Engine management lights coming on after such simple tasks as replacing the battery after charging or even changing a light bulb as happened only this week 1/11/08. The owner obviously not being to impressed when having asked me the question 'What did he have to do to extinguish the light', I advised him that he could try disconnecting the battery for 30mins, which of course would then involve resetting the windows and the ESP/ABS to avoid yet more lights showing on the instrument cluster or put up with partially inoperative windows. Or of course he could make an appointment with a Mercedes Garage for them to use their 'Star' Diagnostics equipment to turn of the light i.e. delete the error from the ECU, or he could purchase a diagnostics tool of his own.
The MEMOSCAN U581 would allow him to delete the fault himself, as well as check the car for other faults.
It appears that non of my answers I gave appealed to him, he stating the the light would have to stay lit, he wasn't paying £60 to extinguish the light. Well I wonder is that a wise move?
Well there is a little more to this than meets the eye, modern cars are fitted with computers for very good reason, to reduce the contamination that poorly maintained and defective engines are pumping into the atmosphere, as a result and in an attempt to clean up the combustion engine, electronic ignition systems along with complex fuel induction equipment mass air flow sensors along with more sensors than I can name have been introduced over recent years, every new car apparently having more than it is predecessor, even down to tyre pressure sensors.
In my case when My Mass Air Flow Sensor went defective, the first thing that happened was the car stalled and the engine management light lit, so if the engine management light is already lit from an induced error as a permanent feature, how are you or another driver in case mentioned going to know when you have got a genuine or serious problem? The short answer is you wont!
It is very apparent from the numbers of readers of such sites as mine some 152000 + in 4years 9months 3/11/08 that more and more owners are turning to DIY maintenance, and with the downturn in the World financial markets this number can only grow , or cars will simply go un-serviced! Owners simply cannot afford to pay £100 plus for a set of plugs to be changed, £100 per hour for such items as brake pads to be replaced, an easy task for even the most inexperienced of DIY'ers
Now undertaking these tasks is fine all the time every thing goes well, and at this point the diagnostics tool is not a vital piece of equipment, but just when you think it is more economical to change for instance a head light bulb or even a instrument cluster bulb, up pops a light on the instrument cluster as soon as the ignition is turned on, which wasn't there before. this light is telling you their is a problem and it should not be ignored.
This is where you do need either the help of the garage, in our case Mercedes-Benz or a garage with access to Diagnostics equipment to interrogate your ECU to ascertain the cause of the fault/error or an OBD2 diagnostics tool of your own or even a family member, with the capability of reading and pointing to problems on the various systems of the car, as well as cancelling the warning lights/faults when the fault has been corrected/cleared.
All petrol fuelled cars produced in, and for the European market since 2001 onwards have been required to be fitted with an OBD2 compliant,(On board diagnostics connection facility) I.e. ( a standard electronic connection into which a diagnostics tool can be connected )Diesel fuelled vehicles after 2004 a socket into which the diagnostics tool connector can be connected without the need for multiple connectors of different types as was the case only a few years ago. In the case of the A Class this situated very near the bonnet release lever an is covered by a sprung loaded flap.
Although we in the UK and Europe like to think of the United States of America as being the bad boy when it comes to the environment, in this instance they are years ahead of us. Their gas guzzling cars were required to be fitted with this facility as far back as 1996, and to a large degree have been responsible for cleaning up the emissions from the combustion engine. I'm not sure if that applies to all states in the US at the same time.
This photo shows the plug attached to the diagnostics tool.
In the case of EOBD on the vehicle only pins/connectors 2,4,5,6,7,plus 10,14,15,16, are used, MB 'star' pre March 2001 would almost certainly use different pin/connector positions. If you examine the photo of the socket carefully you will see there are eleven (11) socket connectors wired, these would in my opinion be used by 'Star' Mercedes-Benz diagnostic tools for pre March 2001 Petrol. 2004 Diesel vehicles.
It may well also be the case that the more sophisticated the diagnostic tool the more pin/connectors are used , my tool for instance3 will not delete SAS codes this may wall require a further pin connector to be used.
I pleased to say having found the time that my car readings came up with NO trouble codes , even though I was reasonable sure the car was OK you cannot tell if the car is in fact running rich etc without such a diagnostics tool.
So the modern mechanic and the DIY enthusiast not only wants a comprehensive set of tools and working knowledge but also needs access to, or own a OBD2 compliant diagnostic fault finding scanner which is capable of reading the codes produced by the on board computer on his car.
The alternative does of course still exist! Simply pay your garage top rates to do jobs that you know full well you could do yourself. But at some point you will have to make a decision, Drive your car not knowing if you are doing more damage because warning lights are lit all the time, delete the engine management light which has lit by default and you haven't got you own tool have the cost of and inconvenience of taking the car to the garage to clear the faults.
Incidentally if your car is due for MOT it is highly likely that it will fail if such lights as ECM, abs/esp lights are showing all the time.
Even a few years the cost of such diagnostics equipment was beyond the average mechanics/owners pocket, today things are different and moving fast, because of the vast numbers of cars on the road a large number of which have OBD2 connections these tools are now priced within the range of owners,
Where service costs on the 'A' Class exceed £400.00 + for a basic service, no frills like brake pads or even replacing a bulb, then spending £65.00 on a diagnostics tool doesn't sound so bad, especially when the software operating the tool can be updated when /if you change your car, and where it can be used on more than one car in the household if OBD2 compliant.
There is no doubt this is now the way to go, a small diagnostic test to delete an engine management light which has lit by default following the simple operation of charging the battery and replacing can cost upwards of £50.00 + VAT and if the garage decide there are other faults on the car you would be hard pressed to tell them you did not want them looked into, nor can you tell if what they are telling you is correct?
Own you own diagnostics tool and you can delete the light that you know has lit by default, it the same way you can scan you car's ECU for other faults, run the engine with the diagnostics tool connected and you can satisfy yourself by the read outs that your car is not causing an environmental problem, and has no faults. So now your car goes for the specialised service at Mercedes-Benz or another garage of your choice, you are now in the driving seat, apart from the items that you are aware are replaced as part of the service no other work should be required. If your garage now claim other work is required you are in a position to question their findings and in my case I would certainly ask to see a print out of their diagnostic tools findings, it being connected to a computer their 'Star' Diagnostics tool can produce a print-out and I for one would want to see that before agreeing to extra work at of course extra cost.
Well it happened?
Following a battery problem outlined on page 14 my engine management light lit which meant I would have had to go to a garage to get it deleted, no other option but I have invested in my own diagnostics tool and was aware as to why the lamp had lit I was able to delete the light in minutes, so the money spent on this diagnostics tool was recouped as a result of one code deletion.
The action was simple:-
1.Simply connect the tool to the diagnostics socket 2. turn on the ignition
3. turn on the diagnostics tool.
4. Allow the tool to connect with the electronics of the car.
5. Check for the trouble codes
P600 code is indicated, along with the findings.( Generic Serial Comm. link malfunction )obviously caused by the lack of power in the battery. Sounds serious in fact it is nothing more the a fault caused by trying to start the car with a defective/discharged battery. Note that it is this code that will show if the battery is re-connected without turning the light switch to at least side lights to reduce the spike of power hitting the ECU.
6. You will now be asked by the tool if you wish to delete the trouble code, having selected 'yes' the 'enter' the trouble code will be deleted and the Engine management light will be turned off when the engine is running. it is interesting to note that you cannot test the diagnostics tool until you have a defect but having now used it I can see the immediate benefits to owning such a tool, and remember it can be used on any car that is EOBD or OBD2 compliant. Job done.