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Which DIagnostic Tool Do I Need?

There are so many diagnostic websites and diagnostic tools available on the market it's hard to know where to even start when deciding which tool to buy. This set of information should help break it all down into the different type of tools available and finally make a decision.

When looking for a diagnostic tool it is important to ensure that it covers the module you are looking to diagnose or fix. A diagnostic module is essentially a section of the vehicle, for example the airbag system is known as the airbag module, and the ABS system is knows as the ABS module, and so on for engine & transmission - these are the main four systes. So READ the item description very carefully and make sure that it covers the module you need.

First of all you may notice there are two main kinds of diagnostic tools, there are laptop based kits and handheld kits so lets look at the laptop kits first.

Laptop Diagnostic Tools

Within the laptop based diagnostic kits there are two main types available on the market - aftermarket & dealership diagnostic kit. 

The dealership diagnostic tools are generally more expensive but still reasonable, depending on your vehicle you can pick up a dealer diagnostic tool from £50 to £300. These tools will do everything that the dealership tools can do such as picking up all faults relating to ABS, airbag, engine or transmission systems, aswell as changing interior options such as needle sweep, lighting etc. Generally because these kits are used within the dealerships they will cover older vehicles aswell.

The aftermarket kits generally tend to be the cheaper option as they are not made by a big franchise such as Mercedes Benz or BMW. You can pick up aftermarket laptop based kits for around £30 to £100. Just because they are aftermarket does not mean they are less likely to do the job, in fact some of these kits are so advanced they can just about duplicate the functions which are available on the dealer diagnostic tools. Generally these kits will only cover petrol vehicles from 2001 & diesel vehicles from 2004 but some tools do cover earlier models so please check the item description.

Here are some popular laptop based diagnostic tools & kits.

Handheld Diagnostic Tools

There are so many handheld diagnostic tools on the market it hard to choose one that will cover your vehicle, and then cover the module you need it to within your vehicle. Generally speaking the handheld diagnostic tools will only cover petrol vehicles from 2001 onwards, and diesel vehicles from 2004 onwards, OBD2 was introduced from these dates for petrol/diesel vehicles. There are some exceptions though, some handheld diagnostic tools have been designed to work with older cars aswell, so make sure it mentions this within the listing.

If you have an airbag light or an ABS light showing on your dash, you'll need to buy a code reader which covers this module, so also make sure the description mentiones these modules - BE CAREFUL though, some code readers say they will cover the ABS/airbag system but they will only access those modules on certian vehicles so you might want to send an email to the seller before you buy.

Here are a few popuar handheld diagnostic tools available through this site.
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