Scan Tool Review: Chrysler

Chrysler’s DRB3, StarScan, StarMobile and wiTECH scan tools are assessed.

Chrysler Corp. has had significant changes to scan tool platforms in the past decade. This can make it tough for a shop to know what they need to have complete competence on everything Mopar.

The DRB2 was the original scan tool. While technically there was a “DRB,” it was never really a scan tool in most folks’ eyes. The DRB2 covered model years 1983 through 1994. It offered no graphing ability, but did have some bi-directional control capability and some programming.

The DRB3 was Chrysler’s longest running scan tool with vehicle coverage from as far back as 1983 all the way up to non-CAN BUS vehicles in 2008, when using the right combination of cards, cables and multiplexer. Introduced back in 1993, it revolutionized how Chrysler technicians used a scan tool. Not only does the DRB3 offer really good parameter identification data (PID) coverage and expanded bi-directional controls, but it can also do programming, coding and calibrating on any module that is designed for it. What’s more is this tool includes a PEP module that has a scope and DVOM built into it, as well as a generic scan tool function that allows this tool to talk to non-CAN OBD-II vehicles of other brands. It reached its end of life in 2008 and stayed supported for years after, but is no longer available new from Chrysler.

StarScan was the original Chrysler scan tool of CAN BUS communication that was mandated by the government. Released in 2003, for the 2003.5 Durango, it covered only CAN BUS and CAN BUS/PCI Hybrid BUS systems. A buggy tool to use, it never developed into a reliable platform and most shops would not benefit from its acquisition. Chrysler stopped selling StarScan in 2009 and stopped support in 2011.

StarMobile was introduced shortly after the StarScan and, like StarScan, it is a CAN BUS and CAN BUS/PCI hybrid-only tool. What made this tool unique was it marks the first step toward a PC-based tool. The StarMobile can function in a limited standalone manor. It also can be used standalone as a flight recorder. It truly shines though when combined with StarMobile Desktop Client (the name given to the PC software program that runs the more advanced parts of the tool). The StarMobile stopped being supported by Chrysler in 2013, but the StarMobile tool can be updated to function as a wiTECH pod, although there are some known communication issues with some 2012 and newer models.

In 2009, Chrysler introduced the wiTECH platform, another CAN/PCI-based tool. This marks when Chrysler went completely PC-based with their scan tools. Like the StarMobile, the wiTECH uses a desktop client (wiTECH Desktop Client) to run the tool from a PC. Unlike the StarMobile, the wiTECH no longer has the ability to function in any standalone manor. Another difference is the wiTECH can only be used by a PC setup on a special Chrysler-authorized router and a paid yearly subscription fee to work. A neat feature that the wiTECH brings to the table is a DRB3 emulator that allows communication with PCI BUS systems. This includes the ability to program most PCI and CAN modules and even program most keys.

A shop looking for Chrysler capability should probably look at the wiTECH first. This will give you 100 percent coverage on all newer CAN BUS Chryslers and give you near complete coverage on 1998 and newer PCI-based systems. The DRB3 would be ideal to have to cover some of the models that the wiTECH does not cover well. To figure out the exact need for your shop, make sure you visit Chry­sler’s Vehicle Diagnostic Tool Reference Chart found here. All Chrysler programming, information and subscriptions can be found at techauthority.com.

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