What's a good value windows scan tool? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-10-2015, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Question What's a good value windows scan tool?

I've been watching some videos on modern auto diagnostics (vs. what I learned in the '60s) and it seems that you really need a real-time scan tool. One that will monitor readings as you make changes. For instance. If you have a MAP error code, you hook up and watch the voltage/pressure change on the MAP sensor as you accelerate and decelerate the engine. If it performs properly, changing the MAP sensor probably won't help. You need to look elsewhere.

I see a lot of automotive scan tools ranging from a $10 BlueTooth plug to some costing over $2K. I'm curious if there is a decent tool that runs on a Windows laptop, works well with MB cars and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

I just want to be able to fix the things I can before I take it to the shop.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-12-2015, 09:30 AM
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Generally speaking, any generic scanner will only monitor engine/emissions related parameters. To get down to the chassis/body electrics/electronics you are going to need an MB specific scanner. STAR, some Autel models and some Snap-Ons for example.

I would recommend a STAR clone system. C3 MUX if your laptop has a serial port. C4 MUX if it does not. The C3 is considerably easier to set up and not prone to battery problems but does require a serial port on the laptop. C4 is more problem prone but does allow connecting wirelessly or via Ethernet to laptop.

STAR runs in a WinXP environment. There is no getting around that. To run under Win7 or 8 or Vista it will have to run in a Virtual Machine "sandbox" that simulates a Win XP environment. Having said that, If/when you order a STAR machine you would normally get a HD that is already Win XP/STAR/DAS/XENTRY/WIS/EPC equipped. Just install it in your laptops HD bay and boot up.

Nothing will diagnose a MB better than MB's own software. Some of the pricier alternatives come close but fall short in some areas.

I paid well under $500 for my system by piecing it together thru DHGate.com and Ebay. There are vendors out there that will sell a complete turnkey system

This is an example ... Mercedes Benz Xentry Software 2014 07 MB Star C3 Multiplexer Dell D630 from USA | eBay
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-12-2015, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. What I had in mind was something that would be useful in my household where we have one M.B., one Volvo and one VW. I'm not trying to diagnose problems with things like the A/C, rather just get a handle on the issues that throw out "Check Engine" alerts. I've kind of sorted out that if you can look at things like the MAP sensor output in real time and the readings go up and down at the appropriate times, the problem is probably not the MAP sensor but something else causing the sensor to fault. Similarly, if it's flat-lined, you either have a bad sensor or a vacuum break.

I was looking for some sort of a scanner tool that would allow me to check the basic engine functions, in real time. Not just check which codes have been thrown. Hopefully it would be inexpensive enough that it will pay for itself, if I can avoid one trip to the shop by using it.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-12-2015, 11:13 PM
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You could purchase an ELM327 bluetooth dongle and use the Torque application (I have no personal experience). An autocom/delphi clone is popular these days too. But for any real diagnosis and repair (and retrofit tasks) I would follow the Ex-Fed path. Just make sure you get a clone that equals the genuine PartD/C3 mux.

The disadvantage with PartD tool is that it does not support the latest models on the market any more while SDconnect so far does support all MB models.
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