What’s so special about dealer level / original equipment (OE) diagnostics?

You may have come across the terms but what do they mean exactly and what’s their significance when deciding to buy a car diagnostics tool or scanner? Dealer level / OE diagnostics refer to hardware and software developed by the manufacturer of the vehicle. For example, all VAG (VW, Audi, SEAT, Skoda) group dealerships utilise the ODIS (Offboard Diagnostic Information System software) software for diagnostics. ODIS complies with the SAE J2534 diagnostic interface, allowing you to diagnose all Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Bentley and Lamborghini vehicles.

In order to diagnose a vehicle, the software requires a VCI (Vehicle Communication Interface) to be connected to the vehicle’s OBD2 port. Officially, VAG has produced VCIs such as the VAS 6154 and VAS 6154A, although ODIS supports other SAE J2534 compliant diagnostic interfaces. Independent garages can buy ODIS and the VAG diagnostic interface but a genuine scanner will leave you out of pocket by thousands of pounds.

A genuine VAS VCI used by dealership workshops and officially sold by VOLKSWAGEN AG

Cloned and illegal vci hardware and software

There are cloned and illegal versions of the VAS VCI being sold by unscrupulous sellers. These should not be used under any circumstances. You risk damaging the ECU and potentially endangering the driver and passengers of the vehicle. It’s unlikely these tools have been through any quality assurance process and therefore could potentially misdiagnose a vehicle. We’ll explore the dangers of using cloned VCIs and cracked software in another blog post.

So what’s the alternative for people who don’t want to forK out £££S ON DIAGNOSTICS?

There are two classes of diagnostic scanners on the market. One class can only diagnose engine and emissions-related faults using the standard OBD2II interface. These are very basic scanners which don’t have support for manufacturer-specific fault codes and often are unhelpful when diagnosing anything beyond engine-related issues. The other class of scanners can provide the same diagnostics as the original dealer diagnostics tools, providing the hardware and software can support the relevant diagnostic interface e.g. SAE J2534 and the manufacturer-specific protocols.

Tools and scanners utilising proprietary manufacturer protocols can provide “all systems” diagnostics rather than just engine and emissions related fault codes. Such tools are able to communicate with all the ECUs on board the vehicle such as the ABS system, airbag, transmission, electronics and much more. In addition to providing diagnostics, they can provide “special functions” such as electronic parking brake retraction, oil reset, airbag reset, DPF regeneration and much more.

When looking to buy a diagnostics scanner or tool and you want comprehensive full systems diagnostics, ensure that it supports the manufacturer’s proprietary protocols. Examples of such tools are the XOBD2 All Scanner and the VAG Scan tool. We only stock CE approved tools and scanners from manufacturers with a strict quality assurance process. Certification can be provided on request.

More advanced tools give you the ability to do “coding”. The ECU can be reprogrammed, for example, to change the speedometer from KPH to MPH or vice versa. With coding, factory set features can be changed. For example, the dashboard can be coded to show the speed digitally or the automatic start-stop system can be disabled. Our VAG Scan tool is capable of coding.