[s-cars] VAG COM and other electronic diagnostics

Cody Forbes cody at 5000tq.com
Sun Sep 20 07:56:02 PDT 2009

A basic code reader gives you exactly what it says.. a code, ie.  
P0123. From tgat point it is up to you to find out what that code  
means, usually via Google. VAGCom will give you the code, the OBDII  
standard description, and any additional info that VAG adds to the  
OBDII description. See:  http://ross-tech.com/vcds/tour/dtc_screen.html

 From there you can use the VAG proprietary 'measuring blocks' to view  
data to help pinpoint you problem, ie. watch the cylinder specific  
missfire counters live to pinpoint a bad ignition coil, check temp  
sensor readings, etc. See: http://ross-tech.com/vcds/tour/m-blocks.html

Play with that online demo in both of those links above to go through  
the software and find all of the features. FWIW VAGCom does also  
function as an avanced OBDII scan tool for all vehicles. In my opinion  
it is loads better than even an expensive generic scan tool. See: http://ross-tech.com/vcds/tour/obd-2.html

-Cody (mobile)

On Sep 20, 2009, at 9:47 AM, Manuel Sanchez  
<manuelsanchez at starpower.net> wrote:

> JC,
> Thanks for the info.
> A few follow up question.....
> So VAGCOM or other manufacturers proprietary interfaces allow you to
> do many other things than just pull engine OBD codes, but lets say
> for the moment we compare VAGCOM and a run of the mill code reader
> that you can but at a FLAPS when you are trying to help diagnose an
> engine problem, will the VAGCOM be able to offer more information for
> an engine problem than the simple code reader?
> TIA,
> -Manny
> On Sep 19, 2009, at 9:11 AM, JC wrote:
>> Manny -
>>> If you were going to buy some sort of electronic vehicle
>> VAG-COM no doubt. Think you might be confused about OBD 1/2.  More on
>> that...
>>> Can VAG COM read items that a run of the mill current
>>> electronic diagnostic tool can't?
>> Depends on what you mean by 'read' and 'run of mill'.  Sure a ROTM
>> little
>> OBD tool should pull basic engine codes and clear them.
>> But part of it is in how it is done - generic "OBD" readers don't
>> do a ton
>> of stuff in the interface that VAG-COM does. VAG-COM's first big
>> value add
>> is in huge databases of descriptions and lookups for codes and
>> readings and
>> inputs so you don't have to constantly look up codes or measuring
>> block
>> numbers to remember what they mean, you get the description. As
>> well as a
>> lot of other cool functionality like graphic display of reading/
>> monitoring,
>> ease of changing default settings for central locking modules etc.
>> Re: HW vs. SW solutions - benefit of dedicated hardware scanners is
>> usually
>> that they are small and simple to hook up and you don't have to
>> wait for a
>> PC to boot etc. Otherwise a PC solution is usually vastly superior  
>> for
>> reasons above.
>>> I ask because I have 2 VAG products;  one is OBD 1 and the
>>> other OBD 2.
>>> In an ideal world I would get one device that talks to all of
>> OBD 1 vs. 2 is hardly the most important distinction... everything
>> does
>> OBD-II these days. It's actually additional features/
>> functionalities that
>> sit on top or outside of the "OBD" part limit what you can do with
>> older /
>> simpler scanners. For isntance if you want to work on VW/Audi
>> models from
>> last 10 years and do things like re-code new immobilizer keys, you
>> need one
>> that can deal with more advanced hardware bus interfaces and
>> software that
>> matches.
>> Any early or basic OBD scanner will work fine for the official OBD II
>> functions of reading engine codes but very likely won't do any of  
>> that
>> higher level stuff. All the OEM automakers do their own proprietary
>> computer
>> interfaces and extensions. For instance, common stuff you do with a
>> 'proprietary' scanner is be able to reprogram door and window
>> locking/opening behaviors, set various defaults and formats for
>> information
>> displays in the car like the instrument panel... That kind of stuff
>> is often
>> proprietary to mfrs so while a VAG compatible scanner will do a
>> great job
>> for your VW-Audi family products, if you want to do it on a Saab or
>> a Jeep,
>> you need something totally different compatible with their dealer
>> stuff.
>> Example: I rented a Volvo this summer with the interface language
>> set to
>> German and it was completely annoying that to change it, I would
>> have had to
>> have had a proprietary Ford/Volvo tool to change the system.  This
>> is all
>> WAY past "OBD" compatiblity specs, which is really just the most  
>> basic
>> government driven functionality for emmisions control purposes.
>> So while VAG-COM and other VAG type tools talk to all of them for
>> VW-Audi
>> brands (Skoda etc.) However, if what your trying to say is having a
>> one-stop
>> scanner for VW/GM/BMW/etc... AFAIK there isn't a great 'super  
>> scanner'
>> product that does all the things you might want to do for all those
>> brands... others please invited to correct but I've not heard of  
>> it...
>> JC
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