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Best diagnostic tools?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by StephenJ, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. StephenJ

    StephenJ Member

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    So I've read a lot of posts that mention a lot of various diagnostic tools but can't find any that really talk about what the tools can do. I've read about one product uses a laptop and pirated version of the Toyota software. Another one that uses torque pro app with a phone. Also others that I can't remember the name of. I really don't know what all these tools can do.

    I'd really like something that can check cel codes for a lot of cars. Maybe other things like ability to read voltages of sensors and such. I'd really like something wireless and phone/tablet based. That way if a cel comes on I can just pull my phone out on the spot and see what it is. But ultimately of course, i want it to provide good diagnostic info regarding the hv battery to get a feel for its health.

    I'd like to stay under $100

    What do all the different options do?

    Thanks!
     
  2. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    For what you describe the perfect solution is a $20 Bluetooth OBDII "dongle" and a "Pro" version of an Android app such as Torue or OBDII Doctor for $5. This will give you all you asked for for under $30. I have just acquired a BAFX Scan tool from Amazon and it works pretty well. There is a link to a file with custom PIDs defined to work with Torque and Prius to display Prius specific things like battery module voltages, resistance, etc. I am still playing with mine, but I was able to create a custom screen with 14 battery module voltages and resistances (28 gauges total) to display in real time. It goes without saying that the trouble codes can be read and reset and freeze frame data displayed and logged for them. This applies to pretty much any OBDII compliant vehicle, though I have only used it on my Prius.

    I have also bought a mini VCI cable that can be used with Toyota TechStream software (not pirated, BTW, the software is freely available. The cable is a Chinese knock-off, though). I have not fired that up yet as I am still working on procuring a dedicated laptop that runs 32 bit windows. That cable cost also around $22 and also on Amazon.

    Best of luck!
     
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  3. StephenJ

    StephenJ Member

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    Do you know what Torque Pro or OBDII Doctor can show as relates to the battery?

    Isn't the BAFX just hardware? So your using it with Torque pro app and it allows you to create a custom screen with all the battery info? Where are you saying the link is to custom Prius PID's (what are pid's?)

    Thanks so much for all the awesome info!
     
  4. StephenJ

    StephenJ Member

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    What about the tool in the Priuschat store called Scanguage with the little display. It isn't really what I'm looking for but sometimes you just 'think' you know what your looking for. Lol. What all does it show/do relative to the battery and as compared to the android based apps?

    Also, does torque pro, obdII Dr, or techstream show SOC like I think I read that the scanguage shows?
     
    #4 StephenJ, Sep 6, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
  5. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    Yes, I am using BAFX with Torque Pro. I have downloaded a file with custom PIDs for the Prius, but the current version of Torque Pro already has those PIDs defined (you have to load them once you get all set up, it's simple). The only thing I noticed is that the version of the Torque definitions has errors in it and is missing unit #6 (or #8 I don't remember) on the battery voltages, but the one you download from around here somewhere (I searched here on PC for "Prius PIDs for Torque" or some such) are error-free and you can use them to display all 14 battery units' voltages and internal resistance (and much, much more, but I have not delved deeper in). The 14 units are pairs of units (28 units in the Prius II battery) that the car monitors. That's the best you can have without opening the battery and measuring individual units yourself. There are a lot of things you can display including total battery SOC, times at lowest voltage, times at highest voltage, etc. I just can't even list everything here because it's overwhelming, but it's all there to display. Torque allows you to create gauges (different kinds: digital, analog, histogram, line graph, etc) with any PID that is defined. PID is a channel of information that the reader has access to. It is coded in a stream of data and PID defines how to extract a particular data set from the stream. So if you know how to define a PID for what the car provides (and I imagine it's well documented somewhere), then you can create displays of whatever the car reports. And it reports a lot, apparently. So some kind soul (I don't know who to give credit to, but whoever you are, THANK YOU!) has created a file that is acceptable by Torque with a whole lot of Prius specific PID definitions. There is a file for gen 2 (mine), gen 3, and I believe even a gen 4 already. If you search you will find it. If I find it before you, I'll post a link here. I suppose I can upload my copy here somewhere also.

    ScanGauge is a wonderful little tool that is completely eclipsed by the wireless dongle+Android App combo. It just can not display nearly as much (though it can probably read it just as well as the BAFX). So if you have an Android phone, go for the BAFX + app. Torque is not the only one out there, OBDII Car doctor seems very good also. There are many others, but these are the top ones.I have a free version of OBDII Car Doctor and I really like it.
     
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  6. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    Here we go, I found it. Here is the thread about custom PIDs on Torque, where to download them and how to use them.

    Best of luck!
     
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  7. StephenJ

    StephenJ Member

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    Hey thanks for the awesome post and link! I'm going to go ahead and get that Torque Pro / BAFX setup. If Torque Pro can do all that then what is it that the Toyota Techstream software can do that's better than Torque Pro? I was thinking about getting both but now I'm not su sure, what would I need Techstream for?
     
  8. StephenJ

    StephenJ Member

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    Well, I went ahead and ordered that BAFX your using and decided to go ahead and get the mini VCI cable also. Since it's only $18, why not! It looks like I'll be having fun in a week or so trying to get all this stuff set up and figured out. Lol
     
    #8 StephenJ, Sep 8, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2017
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  9. VFerdman

    VFerdman Senior Member

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    So, how is it going with those tools? I have both BAFX (which works great!) and the mini VCI that I have not tried yet. My reasoning was the same as yours. For $18 why not just have it in my arsenal. I think there are certain things that can only be done through Techstream, but so far I have not needed any of them.
     
  10. Cd=.25

    Cd=.25 Junior Member

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    Late to the party here, but a Prius NEWB question about scan tools. I know the procedure for other OBD II tools, but is the Prius different? What keeps the ICE from starting while the dongle/tool is plugged into OBD port? Other cars easy-Key on/Engine off
     
  11. love4electric

    love4electric Junior Member

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    Hi people , and thank you in advance for helping.
    I just bought a 2013 prius III 130k miles less than a month ago and I already think I have a ABS actuator problem , how can I be sure ? What's the best tool to use ?
     
  12. dolj

    dolj Senior Member

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    Hi and welcome to PriusChat.
    A lot of users here obviously think Techstream, for which you will need an old beater laptop (preferable) and a J2534 cable to connect the car to the laptop. For a cable, I recommend the VxDiag cable as it is easier to install and is faster and more reliable in use. Some of the cheaper Mini VCI cables can lose communications and if that happens while trying to pair a key fob or bleed the ABS, can create more problems than it solves. Another cable option is the Tactrix Openport 2.0, if you want another fast reliable cable. More expensive, but designed and built in the USA, if that is important to you. Don't buy a Tactrix from a knock-off site, it will be cheaper, but is not the genuine article.

    But it really depends on what you want or need to do.

    For some here, a BlueTooth dongle paired with a phone app is all they require.
    The first thing is to see if there are DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes) which you will have if any to the diagnostic lights are on.

    Do you still have the 2007, that is mentioned in your profile? If so post about that here in the Gen 2 forums. For your Gen 3, go the Gen 3 forums and post any questions or problems over there about them.
     
    #12 dolj, Apr 14, 2020
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2020
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  13. love4electric

    love4electric Junior Member

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    https://priuschat.com/posts/3025451/
    Thank you for letting me know where to post , hope I got it right now
    I really wanted the VxDiag but the reviews on Amazon were really bad (could they be fake vxdiag ?)some from programmers losing comm , the tactrix had no reviews at all I think (just a couple of reviews from a fake tactrix listing on Amazon)so i thought if all affordable ones may be potentially malfunctioning I'll better get the cheapest one so I got two mini VCI
    Apologize for my subpar non-native english and thank you so much for offering valuable info
     
  14. dolj

    dolj Senior Member

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    For future readers, don't buy them on Amazon or eBay, there are so many fake products on those sites.

    Buy them directly from their respective websites.

    VxDiag Shop: VXDIAG VCX NANO for TOYOTA TIS Techstream Compatible with SAE J2534 (There is a WiFi and a cable Option, cable option is cheaper)

    Tactrix Store: Tactrix Openport 2.0 You will need to source your own copy of Techstream.

    love4electric, if you are not happy with your purchase you can always buy a better one from one of the above links. If you have Techstream up and running, just need to install the Tactrix driver and select it in Techstream. Don't do any kind of uninstall and/or reinstall of Techstream.
     
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  15. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    I bought my Vxdiag on Amazon when they first came out years ago and it works good before they offered wifi but after looking at them now on amazon lots of complaints about them.

    Listen to dolj's advice.

    But mine works great full techstream. But like all knock off software only use it on a burner laptop. Consider it infected. I have an old XP Dell that I use just for questionable software. There hundreds of laptops on CL really cheap. You will beat the sh#t out of a laptop going in and out of your car.
     
  16. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    A few "lower tech" diagnostic tools:

    1. Boroscope. You can these that clip onto a phone now; should look into this.
    2. Stethoscope. For pinpointing where sounds are coming from.
    3. Leak-down gauge set. Checking for head gasket or valve/seal (also piston ring?) failure. Stumbling block for me: no compressor. So far.
    4. Digital multimeter. A must-have around the house, and good for 12 volt battery monitoring, continuity checks.
    5. Electronic load tester. Much better assessment of 12 volt battery.
    6. Dial gauge with magnetic base, and micrometer. Mandatory if you're serious about brake work. Dial gauge is used for various other play/tolerance checks as well.
     
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  17. Prius717

    Prius717 Junior Member

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    Is techstream a paid software? If I would buy VXDIAG VCX would it come with software?
     
  18. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    For anybody who hasn't seen one, a "mechanic's stethoscope", available in auto stores, doesn't look like a medical stethoscope on the business end. The headpiece going into your ears looks the same, but the business end has a thin metal rod maybe 30 cm long, so you can use it to poke into cramped areas and rest on a particular spot. It will do a really good job of carrying the sounds to you from that exact spot.
     
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  19. cthindi

    cthindi Member

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    Techstream is a paid software from Toyota. You can officially license it for a shorter duration from Toyota. However you need a VCI cable to be able to connect your computer to the car.

    https://techinfo.toyota.com/techInfoPortal/appmanager/t3/ti?_pageLabel=ti_ts_lite&_nfpb=true

    There are many pirated versions available which work on older windows releases. 'VXDIAG VCX' most likely is offering one such version to download along with miniVCI cable
     
    #19 cthindi, Apr 30, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
  20. dolj

    dolj Senior Member

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    More correctly, you need an SAE J2534 compatible cable to be able to connect your computer to the car.

    Mini VCI is not an adjective or collective name to describe a J2534 cable, it is a noun, a brand name to be specific of one type of SAE J2534 compatible cable. VxDiag is another brand of SAE J2534 compatible cable. Both these come with a version of Techstream that can scan a car in offline mode.

    If you want to get access to the online reference information you can log in to the TIS portal and pay the appropriate subscription fee and then have access for the period of your subscription. 2 business days is the shortest period.
     
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