Truck diagnostic tool

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Let’s Talk Truck Diagnostic Tools

Orange check engine symbolOkay, you’re familiar with this scenario, you’re on the road and the check engine light suddenly grabs your attention. For many, if not most operators, one pulls over and reaches for their OBD 2 reader to get an idea of what the problem is and potentially, how serious it is.

OBD 2 automotive diagnostic code scannerOnce only available at dealerships and repair shops, diagnostic scanners now come in all sizes, capabilities and price ranges to be an affordable tool for any driver’s toolbox. But do you know the over year story behind on-board diagnostics? It is interesting to see where the tool started and how it has advanced and which ones are leading the way in

Way Back When

First, let’s start at the beginning, to be exact. That’s when Volkswagen incorporated an on-board computer with the ability to be scanned, on their Type 3 compact car. From there, the on-board diagnostic tool slowly evolved over the years.

In , Datsun consumer vehicles started featuring on-board diagnostic computers to aid in fuel injection system tuning. It is important to note that there was no industry standard in place at the time. General Motors created a proprietary interface and protocol for testing the Engine Control Module (ECM) during the assembly line process in It was called the Assembly Line Diagnostic Link or ALDL.

Mechanic checking the oil on a semiThe Society of Automotive Engineers proposed the adoption of a standardized diagnostic connector and a set of test signals in In , what eventually became known as OBD 1 (On-Board Diagnostics) was introduced as a result of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) requirement that all new vehicles have some level of OBD capability. It wasn’t until that CARB mandated OBD 2 specifications be adopted for all new vehicles starting in And in , OBD 2 was < a href="" target="blank">made mandatory for all cars sold in the United States.

Heavy-Duty OBD 2

OBD requirements for heavy-duty vehicles were phased in by the EPA between and And, in , the EPA made the OBD 2 standard mandatory for all heavy-duty vehicles.

Even though the specifications and codes for on-board diagnostics became more standardized, the price of diagnostic tools remained high for years. So, only dealerships and repair shops could afford them. But, as technology advanced, OBD scanners became affordable for consumers.

Readers vs. Scanners

Before we go any further, it may be important to point out to some that there are two types to OBD2 tools for vehicle owners — code readers and scanners.

Code Readers are OBD2 devices that can read and clear codes from vehicles equipped with an on-board computer. OBD2 code readers are usually inexpensive and are limited in what they can diagnose. They usually don’t have the capability to provide manufacturer-specific codes or offer access to any additional data.

Close up of a circuit board and voltage meterScan tools offer a variety of more advanced features and usually give users access to manufacturer-specific codes, allow for customizable access to live and recorded data and even provide information for troubleshooting problems. As to be expected, OBD2 scan tools are more expensive than code readers.

Heavy-duty Truck Diagnostic Tools

There are a variety of OBD2 diagnostic tools to choose from for today’s heavy-duty truck, 4&#;4 or farm vehicles. Diagnosing issues yourself in order to find, identify and perform a repair offers a significant amount of savings potential for heavy-duty vehicle owners. And, if an issue is serious enough that it requires a professional mechanic, at least you’re better informed about what’s wrong with your vehicle and less likely to be surprised by the announcement of a costly repair.

Over at, Tim Miller has put together a great review of the five best heavy-duty truck diagnostic scanners for If you’re looking for truck diagnostic tools, OBD FOCUS’ article is a great place to start. Here’s a quick summary of the five models from the article:

The LAUNCH CReader HD Plus Heavy-duty Truck Scan Tool With Full OBD2 Modes

  • For Class 4 (14, lbs.) through Class 8 (33, lbs. and over) Heavy-duty Trucks.
  • Includes 6-pin and 9-pin Deutsch connectors PLUS OBD2 pin connectors.
  • Provides J, J and J protocols — Heavy-duty Standard.
  • Includes Generic/Global OBD2 pin (cars and light trucks) communication-Modes
  • Read and Clear Active and Inactive Fault Codes. Easily determines the cause of the Check Engine Light (MIL). Turns off Check Engine Light (MIL), clears codes and resets monitors.
  • Reads, records, graphs &#; plays back live sensor data. Reads live O2 sensor test data and EVAP data stream, displays monitor and I/M readiness status (emissions).
  • Coverage for Engine, Transmission, Brakes and More, via Heavy-duty Standard.
  • Monitor all Data and View Live Data Streams.

NEXAS LUMNX-NL+ Heavy-duty Truck Scanner

  • Supports all heavy-duty trucks(J, J and J) and all OBD2 standard protocols. For American HD trucks (Class4-Class8) from on.
  • Reads and erases codes, I/M Readiness, Live data, EVAP Test, O2 Sensor Test, Auto transmission, ABS and more.
  • Built-in DTC library for instant code definition display.
  • Works on almost all cars, mini vans and light-duty vehicles (OBD2 &#; CAN) for US-Based, EU-Based and Asian vehicles

KZYEE KC Heavy-duty Scan Tool, HD Truck Diagnostic Scanner Transmission DPF Code Reader/Eraser with Live Data

  • Only for Class 8 Diesel HD trucks
  • Check Engine Light Reset – read and erase all detected Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCS)
  • Transmission – read and clear transmission system error codes or check status via live data
  • Braking – read and erase braking system error codes and monitor status via live data
  • Exhaust Emission – read and erase exhaust system codes, read ECU info and monitor status via live data
  • Diesel Particulate Filter – read and erase DPF codes and monitor the system via live data

Autel MLHD OBD2 Scan Tool For Heavy Trucks

  • Designed to work with all OBD2 compliant vehicles and Heavy-duty Vehicles (J and J).
  • Offers complete OBD2 functions with Enhanced Mode 6 access, and the patented one-key I/M Readiness Test.
  • Widely compatible with and newer American, Asian and European vehicles (including light trucks), and diverse protocols for Heavy-duty Vehicles utilizing SAE-J and SAE-J
  • Decode generic (P0, P2, P3, and U0), manufacturer-specific (P1, P3, and U1) codes and pending codes, along with the improving mode 6 data for reading the definition of an On-Board Diagnostic Monitor ID, and the enhanced codes in Powertrain system for Ford, GM and Chrysler.

Launch X V+ Diagnostic Tool plus Heavy-duty Module

  • Supports 68 brands and over models from America, Europe, Asia
  • Easy-to-use touchscreen interface for quick auto scanning and vehicle diagnosis – has a higher hardware configuration, larger storage capacity, faster processor and features the latest display technology (inch capacitive touch screen).
  • Features a Bluetooth OBD2 connector module and Wi-Fi functionality for cord-free convenience
  • Rugged, heavy-duty construction
  • Designed to provide diagnostics utilizing J and J truck standard protocols and is equipped with 6PIN OBD, 9PIN OBD, and additional diagnostic connectors for major truck brands.
  • Supports multiple ECUs, and is compatible with the latest Android-based Launch X diagnostic tablets.

Diagnose But Don’t Delay

Heavy-duty truck diagnostic tools can be extremely helpful in the care and upkeep of your heavy-duty vehicle. But it’s important to realize that when a serious issue arises, the smart move is to get your truck, 4&#;4 or farm vehicle to the experts at Inland Truck Parts right away. Because, when it comes to diagnosing, repairing and maintaining your vehicle, we have the quality and expertise to get the job done right, right now.


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 % work on your truck.

Remember, don’t pay for what you don’t need. Don’t buy a $1, 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.

Table of Contents

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-

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

 *Notes: Excellent: ; Good: ; Fair: ; Poor: ; Very poor:

Top 3 scan tools for 24V heavy trucks: Nexas NLP, Fcar F, or Romondes RD?

OBD diagnostics

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

NexLink NLP

NexLink NLP

The NexLink NLP 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.

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System diagnostics functions

The FCAR F, NexLink NLP and Romondes RD can perform full system diagnostics on most heavy trucks. The FCAR F, 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.

Advanced service functions

These scan tools all have varying degrees of advanced service functions. The NexLink NLP lags behind here as it only does DPF regeneration and oil service light reset. The FCAR F 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.



The FCAR F 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.

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Supported protocols and vehicle coverage

All three scan tools are compatible with most OBD2 protocols and HD OBD protocols. The NexLink NLP is compatible with the 5 OBD2 protocols and heavy-duty trucks&#; protocols like J, J and J The rest have the same protocol compatibility, but the NexLink NL P 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.


 The NexLink NLP sometimes reads codes without clearing them, especially for Pete with an X15, 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 NT 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. 

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

 *Notes: Excellent: ; Good: ; Fair: ; Poor: ; Very poor:

Best heavy-duty 12V truck scanners: Nexas NL, Autel Maxicheck Pro, or Foxwell NT Elite?

OBD1 and OBD2 diagnostics

The NexLink NL and FOXWELL NT Elite are the only scan tools here that run diagnostics on vehicles made before 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 NL leads the three here as it runs OBD1 and OBD2 diagnostics on a wider range of vehicles at an affordable price.

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 NT 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 NL tops the three here with excellent vehicle systems diagnostics functions.

NexLink NL

NexLink NL


The NexLink NL 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.

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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 NL resets ABS warning light, drivetrain light, cab climate light and some others. But the FOXWELL NT Elite tops the other two here. In addition to typical reset functions done by the other devices, it can also perform key coding.



The FOXWELL NT 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.

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Supported protocols and vehicle coverage

All three vehicles are compatible with the five OBD2 protocols which are the KWP, ISO, ISO, J VPW, J PWM and CAN. But the NexLink NL is also compatible with J, J and J 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:

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

*Notes: Excellent: ; Good: ; Fair: ; Poor: ; Very poor:

Best light truck scanners: Foxwell NT, BlueDriver, or CRPE?

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 NT, BLUEDRIVER and the LAUNCH CRPE 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.

System diagnostics functions

FOXWELL NT 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 CRPE also does a rather decent job checking for faults in 4 main systems (engine, ABS, airbag, and transmission).

If you need a diagnostic device you can use from your smartphone without compromising functionality, BlueDriver fits you the best.

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 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.

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Advanced service functions

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



The LAUNCH CRPE 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 CRPE is the best choice.

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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 L Powerstroke diesel trucks.


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

Also, the Foxwell NT 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 CRPE, 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. 

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

 *Notes: Excellent: ; Good: ; Fair: ; Poor: ; Very poor:

Professional heavy truck scan tools for technician: Autel MSCV, Launch X PAD V, or X PRO3S+HDIII?

System diagnostics functions

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




The LAUNCH X 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.

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Advanced service functions

The Autel Maxisys CV MSCV is capable of making typical resets such as oil light reset, fuel pressure adaptation reset, etc. The LAUNCH X PRO3S+HDIII does 31+ advanced service functions, but the LAUNCH X 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 (MSCV) tops this category because it offers most reset functions you need at a more affordable price than the rest.

Autel Maxisys MSCV

Autel Maxisys MSCV

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

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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 (MSCV). This makes the Autel Maxisys CV (MSCV) the best here as it offers ECU programming and IMMO programming at a relatively affordable price.

Autel Maxisys MSCV

Autel Maxisys MSCV

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

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

Supported protocols

All three tools work with every OBD2 protocol and HD OBD protocols. The Autel Maxisys CV (MSCV) runs on SAE J, SAEJ, J, KWP, VPW, UDS-CAN, and CDL protocols. The LAUNCH X PRO3S+HDIII works with all HD-OBD and OBD2 protocols. And the LAUNCH X PAD V tops the rest as it works with J, D-PDU, RP, all HD-OBD, and OBD2 protocols.

Vehicle coverage

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

Autel Maxisys MSCV Professional Heavy Truck Scanner

Autel Maxisys MSCV

Price range: $$

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Autel Maxisys CV (MSCV) 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 X PRO3S+HDIII can only work for 12V to 24V diesel trucks only.  After the first-year update, subsequent ones cost around $, which may burden the user. Also, if you have not opened the x 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 X PAD V, update for the first year is free but subsequently, you need to pay $ 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.

Read more: Autel MaxiSYS MSCV 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 Request Live Data
  • Mode Request Freeze Frames
  • Mode Request Stored Trouble Codes
  • Mode Clear and Reset Stored Emissions Related Data
  • Mode Request Oxygen Sensors Test Results
  • Mode Request On-Board System Tests Results
  • Mode Request Pending Trouble Codes
  • Mode Request Control of On-Board Systems
  • Mode Request Vehicle Information
  • Mode 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 J (PWM and VPM), ISO, ISO [KWP], and CAN [11Bit and 29Bit] protocols. The software runs on most 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.


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 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

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.

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 NL 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 NLP 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.

And for professional truck technicians, the Autel Maxisys CV (MSCV) 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

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

Benefits of truck scanners

The 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



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 NL Plus review

NexLink NLP Heavy-Duty Truck Scan Tool

NexLink NLP is an excellent option for diagnosing problems with your truck.

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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.



The FCAR F 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.

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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 MSCV Professional Heavy Truck Scanner

Autel Maxisys MSCV

Price range: $2,$2,

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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 Fs or Ram s. 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 . 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 NL Plus

Nexas NL Plus review

Nexas NL Plus Heavy Duty Truck Scan Tool

Nexas NL Plus is an excellent option for diagnosing problems with your truck.

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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 MSCV

Autel Maxisys MSCV review

Autel Maxisys MSCV Heavy Duty Diagnostic Scan Tool

The Autel Maxisys MSCV supports functions like ECU programming and bi-directional control required for advanced repairs.

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Key Features

The 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 NL Plus

Nexas NL Plus review

Nexas NL Plus Heavy Duty Truck Scan Tool

Nexas NL Plus is can do almost everything you need, from code reading and clearing to DPF regeneration, Sensor calibration, or oil reset, etc.

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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 MSCV

Autel Maxisys MSCV review

Autel Maxisys MSCV Heavy Duty Diagnostic Scan Tool

The Autel Maxisys MSCV supports functions like ECU programming and bi-directional control required for advanced repairs.

Check Price at Amazon


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:

$$ [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 NL Plus

Nexas NL Plus review

Nexas NL Plus Heavy Duty Truck Scan Tool

Nexas NL Plus is an excellent option for diagnosing problems with your truck.

Check Price at Amazon

$2,+ [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 MSCV

Autel Maxisys MSCV review

Autel Maxisys MSCV Heavy Duty Diagnostic Scan Tool

The Autel Maxisys MSCV supports functions like ECU programming and bi-directional control required for advanced repairs.

Check Price at Amazon

Compatibility And Coverage

Heavy trucks are divided into eight classes depending on their weight. Most trucks in classes (14, 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, pounds are between class 4 and 8. Class 8 consists of any vehicle weighing more than 33, pounds, including semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. Read more here-

Heavy trucks use various diagnostic protocolslike J, J and J 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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Bosch Introduces New Heavy-Duty Diagnostic Tool Package

Bosch introduced at AAPEX the new ESI[truck]Pro heavy-duty diagnostic tool. Bosch says the features the most heavy-duty vehicle coverage in its price range to scan, diagnose, troubleshoot and repair trucks faster. Bosch’s new heavy-duty diagnostic tool includes OEM-specific coverage, manual DPF regeneration capabilities, component actuations and actuation tests. With the , techs and shops also receive brake, transmission and trailer ABS coverage for more diagnostic power. The new diagnostic tool covers all major heavy-duty truck, medium-duty truck, engine, transmission, and brake system combinations with diagnostics, component actuations, special tests and automatic module identification for Class trucks.

Click Here to Read More

The ESI[truck]Pro comes as a inch rugged Windows tablet or as a PC kit. Both versions include all makes/models heavy-duty coverage, data stream and component actuations.

ESI[truck] Pro will help technicians:

  • Read and clear codes
  • Run DPF regeneration and maintenance resets
  • Perform actuation tests and component actuations
  • Auto ID for Class vehicles to find and talk to vehicle modules
  • Read OE-specific brake and trailer ABS modules and run tests
  • Conduct cylinder cut-out actuation tests
  • Wirelessly communicate with heavy-duty trucks
  • Create customizable diagnostic and health reports

An available troubleshooting and repair info subscription can reduce diagnostic time with confirmed fixes, diagnostic help and vehicle-specific info based on trouble codes, year, make, model, engine and data sets.

The Bosch ESI[truck]Pro covers all heavy-duty on-road vehicles including some of the most popular and frequently seen by techs, fleets and in shops:

  • Heavy-duty Diagnostics coverage: Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Mack, Volvo, Peterbilt, Sterling, Westernstar, MD Trucks, Sprinter Van, Isuzu, GM and Ford.
  • Engine coverage: Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel-MBE, Deutz, MTU, Navistar, PACCAR, Perkins and Volvo, and includes medium- and light-duty basic software.

Adhering to industry communication standard RP, the tool will read and clear codes, perform calibrations, track service schedules, read data streams and component technical data. It also includes basic OBD II scan for light-duty trucks and newer.

New diagnostic software for Bosch’s heavy-duty tools is available three times per year, with a one-year subscription, including all three updates. New tools include a one-year subscription, providing techs with 12 months of engine, brake, transmission, ABS coverage and more.

Also available from Bosch heavy-duty diagnostics are the ESI[truck]Expert tool and HDS heavy-duty code reader. The features all coverage found in and adds system info, technical info, parameter configurations, change calibrations, wiring diagrams, injector coding and service schedules. The heavy-duty code reader displays and graphs live data from SAE standard MIDS/PIDS along with on-screen definitions of diagnostic trouble codes and is HD-OBD compatible.



Dealer level truck diagnostic tools and OBD2 scanner for DAF, MAN, Volvo, Iveco, Renault, Mercedes, Cummins and other trucks, busses and vans. A ready-to-use garage equipment is sold together with laptops and pre-installed diagnostic software, so you will not need to worry about anything else. If you are in doubt whether to purchase the truck diagnostic tool with the laptop, we have to inform you that a specifically dedicated laptop has to be used for the diagnostic software.

The software requires quite a lot of computer resources. Therefore, when installed on PC, it should be used for diagnostic purpose only. The laptop becomes a part of your OBD2 scanner. Furthermore, the installation and activation process is quite complicated; therefore, we ourselves prepare everything for the customer. We can sell the tool without the laptop and pre-installed software, but only if the buyer has some experience with the same tool’s installation and programming procedures. Otherwise we might refuse to close the deal because our past experience tells us that at the end of the day, to make the tool up and running, one needs to be a professional in truck diagnostic tools.

Finally, additional licenses and software packages can be purchased on request to turn your truck diagnostic tool to all around programming and coding machine. If any concerns will occur, our support will help you either in person of via Teamviewer.


Diagnostic tool truck

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Snap On doesnt want mechanics to see this scan tool!

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