3 Best heavy-duty truck scanners and software 2021: What nobody told you before?

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Are you looking to buy a scan tool for a 24V heavy-duty truck or a 12V gas/diesel truck? Either you’re a truck DIYer or professional technician, I’ve got you covered.

Many people bought a truck scan tool and got disappointed because it didn’t support his vehicle or didn’t perform the functions as expected or described?

I’ve spent hundreds of hours doing research and testing tens of scan tools for (gas/diesel) light trucks and heavy-duty trucks before writing this article (to make sure they work).

In this article, I’ll show you:

I make sure that they 100% work on your truck.

Remember, don’t pay for what you don’t need. Don’t buy a $1,000 scan tool and then use a half of what it can do. That’s a waste!!

Keep reading, so you can take the right one for your needs and pocket.

Top 3 scan tools for 24V heavy trucks/equipment

Not all scan tools can run diagnostics on semi trucks and class 4 to class 8 heavy trucks (24V, diesel). These include commercial vehicles such as delivery trucks, school buses, bucket trucks, garbage trucks, long heavy trucks, construction trucks, agriculture trucks, and any other heavy duty vehicles or equipment!

Note: If you’re not sure about the class of your truck, find it here-https://www.fullbay.com/blog/truck-classification/

Below, I’ll be comparing and reviewing three of the best options for you to make an informed purchase decision.

Top 3 heavy long truck scan tools comparison chart

NexLink NL102P
NexLink NL102P - Editor's Pick
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FCAR F507
FCAR F507
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Romondes RD801
Romondes RD801
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Customer Rating
3.5
4.8
4.6
Price range$190-$200$293-$303$195-$205
System Diagnostics Functions10/10*10/1010/10
Advanced Service Functions6/105/102/10
Supposed Protocols8/108/108/10
Vehicle Type Covered (Cars, SUVs, class 1 to class 8 trucks, trailers (12V, 24V)8/108/108/10

 *Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2

Top 3 scan tools for 24V heavy trucks: NL102P vs. F501 vs. RD801

OBD diagnostics

The three scan tools here are capable of running HD OBD diagnostics on heavy trucks. They also run OBD2 diagnostics. The NexLink NL102P tops the other three when it comes to OBD diagnostics because of the wider range of heavy trucks it can run them on.

NexLink NL102P
NexLink NL102P
3.5
The NexLink NL102P does not only run basic OBD diagnostics, but also regenerates the DPF and resets the oil service light. It runs complete systems diagnostics on many 24V heavy-duty trucks and is a perfect option for any truck owner.

System diagnostics functions

The FCAR F507, NexLink NL102P and Romondes RD801 can perform full system diagnostics on most heavy trucks. The FCAR F507, however, stands out from the others in this comparison because of its ability to perform more advanced system diagnostics especially on the electrical system of heavy duty trucks.

FCAR F507 for 24V Heavy Truck/Equipment

FCAR F501

Rating

Price range: $293-$303

Advanced service functions

These scan tools all have varying degrees of advanced service functions. The NexLink NL102P lags behind here as it only does DPF regeneration and oil service light reset. The FCAR F507 is capable of more as it does ABS controller reset, SRS calibration and other special service functions on select heavy duty vehicles. Thus, this device heads this category.

FCAR F507
FCAR F507
4.6
The FCAR F507 does run typical HD-OBD and OBD2 functions and performs more resets than the others on selected truck brands. The device is a wonderful option for experienced heavy truck DIYers.

Supported protocols and vehicle coverage

All three scan tools are compatible with most OBD2 protocols and HD OBD protocols. The NexLink NL102P is compatible with the 5 OBD2 protocols and heavy-duty trucks’ protocols like J1587, J1939 and J1708. The rest have the same protocol compatibility, but the NexLink NL 102P tops the rest as it’s compatible with a wider range of vehicles.

Here’s a table showing the three devices and the vehicles they are compatible with.

NexLink NL102PFCAR F507Romondes RD801
Supported ProtocolsJ1939, J1708 and J1587 and OBD2 protocols.Complete OBD2 protocols,  J1708, and J1939.SAE J1939, SAE J1587/J1708, ISO 1576 and ISO 14230 protocols.
Vehicle Covered (12V Trucks, 24V Heavy Trucks, Trailers)Cummings, Detroit, Maxxforce, Caterpillar, Freightliner, International, KenworthMost car brands. Heavy duty trucks from Volvo, GMC truck, Mack FreightlinerSCANIA, MAN, HINO, FUSO, UD, DAF, Cummings, Detroit, Maxxforce, Caterpillar
John Deere, Peterbilt, Sterling, Mack, Paccar, Westernstar, Mercedes, Volvo, Scania, for Man, Renault, ERF, Foden, Seddon-Atkinson, Iveco, DAF, SISU, STEYR, ISUZU, etc.Mack, Peterbilt, Sterling, Western Star, Fuso, Hino, International, Isuzu, Iveco, Mercedes Truck, Man, Scania, Renault, ERF, DAF, Nissan UD, Paccar.Freightliner, International, Kenworth, John Deere, Peterbilt, Sterling, Mack, Paccar, Westernstar, ERF, Foden, Seddon-Atkinson, Iveco, SISU, STEYR, ISUZU.

Weaknesses

 The NexLink NL102P sometimes reads codes without clearing them, especially for 2019 Pete 389 with an X15, 2015 Freightliner Cascadia DD15 DT12 automatic and others. Also, the emission function of the scan tool tends to malfunction almost every time. 

The Autel Maxicheck Pro takes time to update and doesn’t offer professional functions such as transmission, ECU coding and programming. Also, it depends on the car battery power to work, and you may notice this takes a toll on your car battery.  It is not an ideal scan tool for your busy shops or professional mechanics. 

The Foxwell NT510 Elite code reader doesn’t work well with the MAC system.  Also, the code reader doesn’t have a battery, making it hard to use when the car is not running. 

This video shows you what you can do with the NexLink NL102P.

Top 3 universal heavy-duty truck scan tools

For heavy-duty gas/diesel trucks, some diagnostics tools do a better job than others, especially as they have more advanced service functions. Below I’ll review the top 3 of them. Please keep reading to know the best one for you.

Top 3 heavy-duty (12V, gas/diesel) truck scanners comparison chart

NexLink NL102
NexLink NL102 - Editor's Pick
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Autel Maxicheck Pro
Autel Maxicheck Pro
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FOXWELL NT510 Elite
FOXWELL NT510 Elite
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Customer Rating
4
4.4
4.2
Price range$145-$155$195-$205$180-$190
OBD-II Diagnostics10/10*10/1010/10
System Diagnostics Functions10/1010/1010/10
Advanced Service Functions5/105/106/10
Supposed Protocols8/107/107/10
Vehicle Type Covered8/10
Cars, SUVs, light trucks, heavy-duty trucks (12V), 24V heavy trucks.
7/10
Cars, SUVs, light trucks, heavy-duty trucks (12V).
7/10
Cars, SUVs, light trucks, heavy-duty trucks (12V).

 *Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2

Best heavy-duty 12V truck scanners: NL102 vs. Maxicheck Pro vs. NT510 Elite

OBD1 and OBD2 diagnostics

The NexLink NL102 and FOXWELL NT510 Elite are the only scan tools here that run diagnostics on vehicles made before 1996 with OBD1 protocols. These two devices read and clear OBD1 codes. For OBD2 diagnostics, the Autel Maxicheck Pro does quite a decent job. Just like the other two, the scan tool can perform all OBD2 test modes. Some of these test modes include requesting live data, requesting pending trouble codes, clearing and resetting stored emissions related data, etc. However, the NexLink NL102 leads the three here as it runs OBD1 and OBD2 diagnostics on a wider range of vehicles at an affordable price.

NexLink NL102 Heavy-Duty Truck Scanner

NexLink NL102

Rating

Price range: $149-$159

System diagnostics functions

The Autel Maxicheck Pro runs basic system diagnostics. There are advanced system diagnostics such as ABS system, and SRS system checks. The Autel Maxicheck Pro can only do these checks on a few vehicles. The FOXWELL NT510 Elite would head this category as it runs complete system diagnostics on every vehicle system, but the device’s limited to a few models. You could pay extra for this device to work on your vehicle if it’s not compatible with it. Hence, the NexLink NL102 tops the three here with excellent vehicle systems diagnostics functions.

NexLink NL102
NexLink NL102
4
The NexLink NL102 is an excellent OBD2, HDOBD and EOBD tool capable of running full system diagnostics. This device works on most 12V light trucks and 24V class-8 heavy trucks at an affordable price.

Advanced service functions

The Autel Maxicheck Pro is capable of making some typical resets on your light truck or heavy duty truck such as oil light reset, ABS light reset, etc. However, it cannot perform most of these resets even on some vehicles it’s compatible with. The NexLink NL102 resets ABS warning light, drivetrain light, cab climate light and some others. But the FOXWELL NT510 Elite tops the other two here. In addition to typical reset functions done by the other devices, it can also perform key coding.

FOXWELL NT510 Elite
FOXWELL NT510 Elite
4.2
The FOXWELL NT510 Elite is made for GM trucks and other added brands. It’s relatively more expensive but offers quality and optimal functionality for every penny. As a professional mechanic or long-time DIYer, you’ll love it.

Supported protocols and vehicle coverage

All three vehicles are compatible with the five OBD2 protocols which are the KWP2000, ISO2000, ISO9141, J1850 VPW, J1850 PWM and CAN. But the NexLink NL102 is also compatible with J1939, J1587 and J1708 that 24V class-8 heavy trucks use. This feature makes it lead the other three here.

Below is a comparison table of vehicles that these scan tools work on:

NexLink NL102Autel Maxicheck ProFOXWELL NT510 Elite
Supported ProtocolsComplete OBD2 protocols and J1587, J1939 and J1708 for heavy duty trucks.KWP2000, ISO2000, ISO9141, J1850 VPW, J1850 PWM and CAN.All OBD2 protocols.
Vehicle CoverageFreightliner, Kenworth, Mack, International, Sterling, Paccar, PeterbiltGM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, VWGMC vehicles including these brands: Alpheon, Cadillac, Chevrolet Truck
Caterpillar, Western Star, Mercedes-Benz, Man, Scania, VOLVO, Renault, Erf, Foden, Seddon-Atikinson, Daf, Sisu, Steyr, ISUZU, Hino, etc., from 1996 to date.And some other vehicles from 1996 to date.GMC Truck, Buick, Silverado and Holden from 1996 to date.
Watch how to use the NexLink NL102 here.

Read more: Autel MaxiCheck Pro: Scan Tool to Cycle The ABS Solenoids

Top 3 universal light truck scanners

Many OBD2 scan tools are designed to efficiently run diagnostics on your light truck. I have compared three of the best and varied options below and recommended the absolute best among them.

Do well to keep reading so you can make an informed purchase decision.

Top 3 light truck scanners comparison chart

FOXWELL NT301
FOXWELL NT301
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BlueDriver
BlueDriver - Editor's Pick
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Launch CRP129E
Launch CRP129E
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.5
4.7
4.4
Price range$45-$55$115-$125$255-$265
OBD-II Diagnostics10/10*10/1010/10
System Diagnostics Functions2/1010/105/10
Advanced Service Functions1/101/05/10
Supported Protocols7/107/107/10
Vehicle Type Covered
(Cars, SUVs, Light Trucks)
7/107/108/10

*Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2

Best light truck scanners: NT301 vs. BlueDriver vs. CRP129E

OBD2 diagnostic functions

These three scan tools can run full OBD2 diagnostics on most cars, SUVs, and light trucks. They include requesting live data, stored trouble codes, on-board systems test results, control of on-board systems, etc. The FOXWELL NT301, BLUEDRIVER and the LAUNCH CRP129E perform excellently here with BLUEDRIVER taking the lead.

When combined with the BLUEDRIVER app on your smartphone, you can run diagnostics on your vehicle and view results instantly.

BlueDriver Scanner for Light Trucks

BlueDriver

Rating

Price range: $115-$125

System diagnostics functions

FOXWELL NT301 can run only engine system diagnostics. This means the device only checks for faults in your engine and displays results from the analysis.

The LAUNCH CRP129E also does a rather decent job checking for faults in 4 main systems (engine, ABS, airbag, and transmission).

Once again BLUEDRIVER tops the list as it does full-system diagnostics including transmission system, electrical system, airbag system, etc. It also lets you reset every warning light.

BlueDriver
BlueDriver
4.4
BlueDriver can run full-system diagnostics, suitable for most dashboard light resets. If you need a diagnostic device you can use from your smartphone without compromising functionality, BlueDriver fits you the best.

Advanced service functions

The FOXWELL NT301 and Bluedriver have no advanced service functions, unfortunately. LAUNCH CRP129E does five resets including oil light reset, electronic parking brake reset, TPMS reset, and throttle position reset, which makes it the top here.

LAUNCH CRP129E
LAUNCH CRP129E
4.7
The LAUNCH CRP129E has a wider range of compatibility than most scan tools. If you’re looking to run the main system diagnostics and perform a number of reset functions, LAUNCH CRP129E is the best choice.

Supported protocols and vehicle coverage

The three scan tools are compatible with most OBD2 protocols and CAN network protocols. The comparison chart below shows the brands the three scan tools work on.

Please note that Bluedriver doesn’t work on Ford 7.3L Powerstroke diesel trucks.

FOXWELL NT301BlueDriverLaunch CRP129E
Supported protocolsJ1859-41.6, J1850-10.4, ISO 9141, KWP 2000 ISO 14230, and CAN ISO 11898CAN, ISO 9141-2, ISO 14230-4 (KWP2000), SAE J1850 (VPW & PWM)SAE J1850 PWM, SAE J1850 VPW, ISO 9141-2, ISO 15765 CAN, ISO 14230
Vehicle Covered (Cars, SUVs, Light Trucks)BUICK, BMW, CADILLAC, CHEVROLET, CHRYSLER Group, FORD GroupGM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, 2005+ Mercedes, 2008+ MitsubishiBUICK, BMW, CADILLAC, CHEVROLET, CHRYSLER Group, FORD Group
GM Group, HONDA, HYUNDAI, ISUZU, JAGUAR, KIA, LANDROVER, LAMBORGHINI, NISSAN, MITSUBISHI, MAZDA, MERCEDES, OPEL, PORSCHE, SAAB, SUBARU, SUZUKI, TOYOTA, VOLVO, VW, and other brands from 1996 to date.2011+ Hyundai (available worldwide), VW (available in North America), 2003+ Honda (available in North America), 2005+ BMW (available in North America), Subaru (available in the U.S.)GM Group, HONDA, HYUNDAI, ISUZU, JAGUAR, KIA, LANDROVER, LAMBORGHINI, NISSAN, MITSUBISHI, MAZDA, MERCEDES, OPEL, PORSCHE, SAAB, SUBARU, SUZUKI, TOYOTA, VOLVO, VW, and other brands from 1996 to date.

Weaknesses

As good as the Foxwell NT301 is, one of its glaring weaknesses is that it can’t read abs codes and barely functions well for service reset. 

Also, the Foxwell NT301 cannot work on problems not related to the engine, such as seat or airbag issues. Lastly, though free, the updates need windows 7 software to download, and it can’t work for Mac users.  

The Bluedriver doesn’t allow you to solve more advanced problems. Also, it doesn’t work with the camshaft timing and cannot be used for relays and switches. Furthermore, it is not ideal for diesel cars and lags in performance when connected to a laptop since it is majorly a phone product. 

As for Launch CRP129E, many people have compatibility issues as it doesn’t work with their car makes and models, making it hard to read some codes and analyze issues. The auto-scan feature is also not consistent as sometimes; users need to enter the VIN manually. 

Find out how to use the BlueDriver scan tool in this video.

Read more: Never Buy BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool Before Reading This Guide

Top 3 professional truck diagnostic tools for technicians

As a professional heavy truck technician, you must need something that offers more advanced service functions than most devices do.

Below I have compared the top 3 truck diagnostic tools for technicians in the market today.

Please keep reading to find out which one suits you more.

Top 3 professional truck diagnostic tools for technician comparison chart

Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV)
Autel Maxisys MS908CV - Editor's Pick
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LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+HDIII
LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+HDIII
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LAUNCH X431 PAD V
LAUNCH X431 PAD V
Check Price
Customer Rating
4.1
4
5
Price range$2815-$2825$2115-$2125$3495-$3505
System Diagnostics Functions10/10*10/1010/10
Advanced Service Functions9/109/1010/10
Coding/ Programming Services9/108/1010/10
Supposed Protocols9/109/1010/10
Vehicle Type Covered (Cars, SUVs, class 1 to class 8 trucks (12V, 24V)9/109/109/10

 *Notes: Excellent: 9-10; Good: 7-8; Fair: 5-6; Poor: 3-4; Very poor: 1-2

Professional heavy truck scan tools for technician: MS908CV vs. X431 PAD V vs. X431 PRO3S+HDIII

System diagnostics functions

The three scan tools in this comparison are capable of analyzing all systems on most vehicles manufactured from 1996 to date. The LAUNCH scan tools perform advanced system diagnostics including checking the tail gas after-treatment system, common rail system, etc. The LAUNCH X431 PAD V tops this section being more advanced than the rest but it’s also pricier.

LAUNCH X431 PAD V
LAUNCH X431 PAD V
5
The LAUNCH X431 PAD V is a professional truck diagnostic tool for technicians that wish to perform any advanced service functions. The scan tool works on a very wide variety of vehicles and its on-board diagnostics are top notch.

Advanced service functions

The Autel Maxisys CV MS908CV is capable of making typical resets such as oil light reset, fuel pressure adaptation reset, etc. The LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+HDIII does 31+ advanced service functions, but the LAUNCH X431 PAD V boasts of making 50+ special reset functions including Gear learning, electronic parking brake reset, electronic throttle position reset/learning. But it’s quite expensive. The Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) tops this category because it offers most reset functions you need at a more affordable price than the rest.

Autel Maxisys MS908CV
Autel Maxisys MS908CV
4.1
The Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) is a great diagnostics tool made for any heavy commercial vehicles and trucks. It offers amazing functionality at a relatively affordable price.

Coding/Programming services

The three scan tools here all do ECU programming and IMMO key programming. The LAUNCH scan tools here are quite expensive, but they offer similar coding services as the Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV). This makes the Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) the best here as it offers ECU programming and IMMO programming at a relatively affordable price.

Autel Maxisys MS908CV
Autel Maxisys MS908CV
4.1
The Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) is a great diagnostics tool made for any heavy commercial vehicles and trucks. It offers amazing functionality at a relatively affordable price.

Specialties

The LAUNCH X431 PAD V comes with a huge 15000 mAh battery capable of running diagnostics on your truck for days without charge. Also, the LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+HDIII runs on Android 9 which ensures a very smooth user experience for you. The Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) has a special Cortex A-9 quad-core processor that helps the device run quick diagnostics.

Autel Maxisys MS908CV Professional Heavy Truck Scanner

Autel Maxisys MS908CV

Rating

Price range: $2815-$2825

LAUNCH X431 PAD V Scanner for Truck Technicians

LAUNCH X431 PAD V

Rating

Price range: $3495-$3505

LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+HDIII Diagnostic Tool

LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+HDIII

Rating

Price range: $2115-$2125

Supported protocols

All three tools work with every OBD2 protocol and HD OBD protocols. The Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) runs on SAE J1939, SAEJ1708, J1708, KWP, VPW, UDS-CAN, and CDL protocols. The LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+HDIII works with all HD-OBD and OBD2 protocols. And the LAUNCH X431 PAD V tops the rest as it works with J2534, D-PDU, RP1210, all HD-OBD, and OBD2 protocols.

Vehicle coverage

These scan tools work on a variety of OBD2 vehicles and HD OBD trucks. The LAUNCH X431 PAD V and LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+ HDIII boast of working on J2534, OBD2, HD OBD and OBD1 protocols. Nevertheless, apart from the J2534 interfaces, the Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) pretty much runs on all these making it the best option here at an affordable price.

Autel Maxisys MS908CV Professional Heavy Truck Scanner

Autel Maxisys MS908CV

Rating

Price range: $2815-$2825

Weaknesses

Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) is a fantastic scan tool, but one of its most significant weaknesses is that it is too expensive compared to other models. Also, it is challenging to set up and takes too much time.  

 LAUNCH X431 PRO3S+HDIII can only work for 12V to 24V diesel trucks only.  After the first-year update, subsequent ones cost around $600, which may burden the user. Also, if you have not opened the x431 v plus account, you will find it difficult to activate, and you can’t download the diagnostic software from the manufacturer’s website.

For the LAUNCH X431 PAD V, update for the first year is free but subsequently, you need to pay $600 which can be an issue for those who don’t have plan to do that. Also, it is challenging to print the diagnostic report because the print button is made uniquely for the launch printer.  

Furthermore, the product cannot seriously analyze battery life and crank voltage and the performance decline when different PIDs are used consistently.

This video shows you how to use the Autel Maxisys CV.

Read more: Autel MaxiSYS MS908CV heavy-duty truck scan tool in-depth review

Heavy duty truck scanner software: AutoEnginuity

The AutoEnginuity is a PC-based diagnostic software developed by AutoEnginuity. The software offers top-notch functionality. Below, I have written a concise yet comprehensive review of the software so you can make a great purchase decision.

OBD-II diagnostics

The AutoEngenuity scan tool software does full OBD-II functions. On your device, it can run all 10 OBD2 test modes which are:

  • Mode 01- Request Live Data
  • Mode 02- Request Freeze Frames
  • Mode 03- Request Stored Trouble Codes
  • Mode 04- Clear and Reset Stored Emissions Related Data
  • Mode 05- Request Oxygen Sensors Test Results
  • Mode 06- Request On-Board System Tests Results
  • Mode 07- Request Pending Trouble Codes
  • Mode 08- Request Control of On-Board Systems
  • Mode 09- Request Vehicle Information
  • Mode 10- Request Permanent Trouble Codes

In addition to these, AutoEngenuity’s software is also compatible with EOBD vehicles.

Diagnostic and service functions

The AutoEngenuity scan tool is also capable of running most system diagnostics. These systems include transmission system, body system, electrical system, engine, and ABS. Moreover, it clears error codes and resets error lights displayed from faults in critical systems.

Supported protocols and vehicle coverage

This PC-based software is compatible with J1850 (PWM and VPM), ISO-9141-2, ISO-14230 [KWP2000], and CAN [11Bit and 29Bit] protocols. The software runs on most 1996 and newer vehicles. The software’s also compatible with a couple of enhanced interfaces ranging from the Enhanced Ford Family Expansion to the Enhanced Lamborghini expansion, light trucks, and 4WD heavy-duty trucks.

Weaknesses

The AutoEnginuity has many excellent features, but it has a few weaknesses like every other truck scan tool. One major drawback of the Autoenginuity is that it sometimes develops connectivity issues, making some USB ports and adapters not work well with it. Also, the product doesn’t work with 2000 M5 which is a dent when considering how flexible the product is.  

Compatible adapter

The AutoEnginuity scan tool works best with ProLine VCI Connector.

Download Link

https://www.autoenginuity.com/support/software/

Final verdict

AutoEngenuity’s scan tool software is pretty amazing as it’s not only capable of running all OBD2 test modes, but is compatible with EOBD vehicles too. It’s a great option if you wish to run basic and enhanced system diagnostics on any vehicle.

Watch this video to learn how to use the AutoEnginuity software.

Final thoughts

Finally, you have reached the end of your journey in this article. So, once again here are my top picks.

For light pickup trucks, BlueDriver pretty much tops the rest in the comparison being compatible with more protocols and offers more functionality.

For 12V heavy-duty trucks, the NexLink NL102 is the clear winner as it offers exceptional functionality at an affordable price.

When it comes to 24V semi-trucks and class 4 to 8 diesel trucks, the NexLink NL102P is your best option. It runs complete system diagnostics, a couple of special functions and covers a wide range of vehicles at an affordable price.

BlueDriver Scanner for Light Trucks

BlueDriver

Rating

Price range: $115-$125

NexLink NL102 Heavy-Duty Truck (12V) Scan Tool

NexLink NL102

Rating

Price range: $145-$155

NexLink NL102P Heavy Truck (24V) Scanner

NexLink NL102P

Rating

Price range: $190-$200

And for professional truck technicians, the Autel Maxisys CV (MS908CV) is all you need. It offers great diagnostics for all trucks you would work on. The device is relatively affordable and offers top-notch functionality.

AutoEngenuity’s software is one of the best heavy-duty truck applications available on PCs today. Offering most diagnostics, the software is excellent for every truck DIYer.

Bonus: Find your best scanner with the Quick Search Tool on https://www.obdadvisor.com/

Truck scanner/heavy-duty truck scan tools: The basics

Benefits of truck scanners

The benefits of truck scanners.
Four benefits of truck scanners.

Scanners save you money

A trip to the mechanic is going to cost you—there’s no getting around it. If you don’t own a scan tool, you have no choice but to turn to a professional when there’s a problem. With a scan tool, you can figure out what’s going on from your home garage and sometimes even fix it yourself.

You can find and fix engine issues

Drivability issues like sluggish acceleration or reduced gas mileage can be symptoms of a host of engine problems. A scan tool lets you identify the source, so you know if it’s something you need to repair right away.

Module data helps you optimize your engine

When you drive a heavy truck, small changes to your gas mileage can significantly impact your pocketbook. With a scan tool, you can read module data and identify places the system could be more efficient. Even devices that don’t have ECU programming can help you stay on top of routine maintenance and keep your engine running smoother, longer. 

They’re easy to use

Hand-held scan tools use a simple interface that you don’t need to be an expert mechanic to navigate.  

Sound like something you need in your garage? Let’s take a quick look at the best massive truck scan tool brands and the different scanners they sell.

Top brands

Nexas

Website: http://www.nexastech.com/

The main focus of Nexas is on the end-user. Their scan tools are easy to use and affordable, so it’s no surprise their diagnostic equipment is famous worldwide. A robust quality assurance department means you can count on their scan tools to work reliably for years, making Nexas diagnostic tools an excellent long-term value. 

NexLink NL102 Plus review
NexLink NL102P Heavy-Duty Truck Scan Tool
3.5
NexLink NL102P is an excellent option for diagnosing problems with your truck.

FCAR Tech

Website: http://www.fcar.com/Home.html

FCAR Tech is one of the world’s leading suppliers of aftermarket professional diagnostic equipment. Based in the US, their focus on innovation means you can count on their scan tools to use the latest technology.

FCAR F507
FCAR F507
4.6
The FCAR F507 does run typical HD-OBD and OBD2 functions and performs more resets than the others on selected truck brands. The device is a wonderful option for experienced heavy truck DIYers.

Autel

Website: https://www.autel.com/

Autel is best known as a manufacturer of professional scan tools. Their products are well-built with a reputation for accuracy and quality. While their scan tools are typically more expensive than those from other brands, Autel scanners are worth the investment if you need the best performance.

Autel Maxisys MS908CV Professional Heavy Truck Scanner

Autel Maxisys MS908CV

Rating

Price range: $2,815-$2,825

Types of truck scanners

Truck scan tools for DIYers

You can tell what code readers do from the name. This type of scanning tool is primarily focused on reading and clearing trouble codes generated by the engine. While some will also include functions like live sensor data or freeze frame data, they rarely include repair, calibration, or reset functions. 

In terms of compatibility, you’ll want to check the supported classes carefully on truck code readers. Some will work with any non-commercial truck, including large class-5 trucks like Ford F-550s or Ram 5500s. Others will only work on light or medium trucks or may have full compatibility for all truck classes. 

All heavy-duty Truck Scan Tools are designed for use with trucks in classes 4-8. They’ll often include adapters for non-OBD2 diagnostic ports and compatibility with the protocols used in commercial vehicles. 

Function-wise, heavy-duty truck scan tools are usually more comprehensive than truck code readers. They’re still primarily aimed at diagnostics but will diagnose more systems and read more modules.

highly recommended – NEXAS NL102 Plus

Nexas NL102 Plus review
Nexas NL102 Plus Heavy Duty Truck Scan Tool
3.6
Nexas NL102 Plus is an excellent option for diagnosing problems with your truck.

Professional heavy truck diagnostic tools for professionals

The most advanced heavy truck scan tools, these models include advanced features that allow you to repair and replace components or even rewrite the ECU. Scan tools at this level also usually offer broad compatibility since they’re designed for use by professional mechanics, who will need to service a wide variety of vehicles.

Highly recommended – Autel MS908CV

Autel Maxisys MS908CV review
Autel Maxisys MS908CV Heavy Duty Diagnostic Scan Tool
4.9
The Autel Maxisys MS908CV supports functions like ECU programming and bi-directional control required for advanced repairs.

Key Features

The key features of heavy-truck scan tools.
Eight key features of heavy-truck scan tools.

The functions of a scan tool are the first thing you need to consider. Not everyone needs a professional-level scan tool. For most everyday drivers, the diagnostic features are more critical than service functions like ECU programming, which is more advanced than their repair skill set. 

Here are the most common features you’re likely to see on a heavy-truck scan tool:

Reading And Clearing Codes

Even the most basic code reader will give you this function, which lets you read trouble codes activated by the engine, which are the source of maintenance warning lights illuminating your dash. 

Module And Sensor Data

Most code readers will also allow you to view readings and data from the engine’s various sensors and modules. How many and which sensors you can read will vary from one scanner to another, with the more expensive, comprehensive scan tools reading all engine modules. 

Emissions Testing

Tests often included in this function are oxygen sensor tests, EVAP system tests, and I/M readiness tests. Any scan tool that offers all ten modes of OBD2 will be able to conduct emissions tests. 

Multi-system Diagnosis

Not all scan tools can read error codes from every system. More straightforward code readers tend to focus on the engine but don’t detect systems like the suspension or transmission. Scan tools with multi-system diagnosis or all-system diagnosis fill in these coverage gaps, giving you a complete picture of your engine’s health. 

DPF Regeneration

Diesel particulate filters on diesel engines need to be cleaned and emptied periodically. Forced DPF regeneration lets you manually activate the regeneration process and reset the associated warning light. 

Calibration And Adaptation

After you replace or repair engine systems, the associated sensor and module readings often need to be adjusted or reset to match. Failing to make these adjustments can trigger false alarms from diagnostic systems or even cause incorrect readings that change how the truck handles. Calibration and adaptation functions allow you to make these adjustments at home, rather than paying a professional to do it.

Highly recommended – NEXAS NL102 Plus

Nexas NL102 Plus review
Nexas NL102 Plus Heavy Duty Truck Scan Tool
3.6
Nexas NL102 Plus is can do almost everything you need, from code reading and clearing to DPF regeneration, Sensor calibration, or oil reset, etc.

Active Testing

Also called bi-directional control, this allows you to test mechanical components in the engine on command. It helps identify failed valves and solenoids, sparing you the need to test them manually. You’ll typically only see this function on professional heavy-truck scanners. 

ECU Programming

A feature found only on the most advanced professional scan tools, ECU programming abilities, allows you to rewrite the engine’s computer, adjust parameters, or reset systems inaccessible to other scan tools. This operation helps you install aftermarket components or tune your engine, but it’s something only professional mechanics and advanced home mechanics will have the knowledge to use correctly.

Highly recommended – Autel MS908CV

Autel Maxisys MS908CV review
Autel Maxisys MS908CV Heavy Duty Diagnostic Scan Tool
4.9
The Autel Maxisys MS908CV supports functions like ECU programming and bi-directional control required for advanced repairs.

Pricing

You don’t have to spend a fortune for a code reader. That said, the adage holds: you get what you pay for. More expensive scanners offer more advanced functions, faster and more accurate diagnosis, and wider vehicle compatibility. 

While there’s always some variation between brands and models, here’s the gist of what you should expect from truck scanners in different price ranges:

$150-$300 [for DIY-ers]: Heavy truck scanners priced in this range are ideal for drivers and beginning home mechanics. They’re usually very portable hand-held devices with user-friendly interfaces designed to be accessible to non-experts. Function-wise, they’ll primarily focus on diagnostics, with few (if any) more advanced functions.

Recommended product – Nexas NL102 Plus

Nexas NL102 Plus review
Nexas NL102 Plus Heavy Duty Truck Scan Tool
3.6
Nexas NL102 Plus is an excellent option for diagnosing problems with your truck.

$2,000+ [for professionals]: At this price range, you’re looking at professional heavy-duty truck scanners. They’ll include advanced features like bi-directional testing and programming capabilities and full-system diagnosis, and necessary repair and adaptation functions. While they’re worth the investment for professionals, they’re often more scan tools than everyday drivers need.

Highly recommended – Autel MS908CV

Autel Maxisys MS908CV review
Autel Maxisys MS908CV Heavy Duty Diagnostic Scan Tool
4.9
The Autel Maxisys MS908CV supports functions like ECU programming and bi-directional control required for advanced repairs.

Compatibility And Coverage

Heavy trucks are divided into eight classes depending on their weight. Most trucks in classes 1-3 (14,000 pounds or less) use the same OBD2 diagnostic system as other road vehicles like cars and SUVs. To diagnose these vehicles, you’ll use a standard OBD2 scan tool. 

Trucks that weigh more than 14,000 pounds are between class 4 and 8. Class 8 consists of any vehicle weighing more than 33,001 pounds, including semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. Read more here-https://www.fullbay.com/blog/truck-classification/

Heavy trucks use various diagnostic protocolslike J1587, J1939 and J1708 and may even use a different pin format in the diagnostic port. Because of this, standard OBD2 code readers won’t work on these vehicles. Instead, you’ll need to get a scan tool designed for use with heavy trucks. 

The other primary division in trucks is the type of fuel used by the engine. You’ll find both diesel and gasoline engines in everyday use. Some scan tools will work equally well with both, while others are designed more for use with one or the other. 

If you’re concerned about a scan tool’s compatibility with your vehicle, the best option is often to reach out to them directly with your vehicle’s make, model, and year. They’ll be able to tell you exactly which functions are supported and if it’s a good match for your truck.

Read more: LQ4 vs. LQ9: Which engine should I choose?

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