Scan Tool Review: Toyota/Lexus/Scion & Honda/Acura

Mastertech 3100 was used as Toyota’s original tool. Referred to as the “Intelligent Tester” in Toyota’s service information, this is the same Mastertech 3100 available to aftermarket shops except that it has an OEM Toyota card. It offers great coverage on OBD-I and OBD-II systems, as well as all body and chassis systems up until model year 2008. As a self-contained hand-held-type tool, the MT3100 offered good OBD-I and OBD-II coverage on other makes as a generic scan tool when the appropriate cards were used.

Toyota introduced the Intelligent Tester 2 around the year 2000. Made by Denso Corp., it was also a hand-held-based tool but was limited in ability to OBD-II only. The Intelligent Tester 2 offers some module programming, but does not support key programming functions and has been end-of-life for some time now, so it is not a great investment for the average shop.

Techstream was introduced in 2007, and upgraded to Techstream 2 in 2014. It was a great stride forward for Toyota, which appears to be at the forefront of streamlining scan tools and access to OEM scan tools for both dealer shops and independent shops. PC based, the Techstream uses an OEM spec J2534 interface to access scan tool data over web-based software found at: http://techinfo.toyota.com with coverage back to 1989, Techstream 2 is the same software with a more powerful hardware base.

Shortly after releasing Techstream, Toyota released the Techstream Lite. The first of its kind, the Techstream Lite uses an aftermarket J2534 interface cable (Mongoose is the most popular) to utilize the Techstream software in a manner almost identical with the Techstream at a significantly reduced cost. The Techstream Lite gives near complete coverage on all OBD-II vehicles but isn’t without a few bugs. Toyota seems to be very attentive to resolving these, which makes the Techstream Lite an excellent value for a shop that does some Toyota, but cannot afford the investment of the Techstream.

Honda/Acura

Like Toyota, Honda started off using the MT3100 with an OEM- specific card. They called this tool the PGM Tester. It was a solid tool for the years it covered, but only offers coverage until 2003. The HSDS software was first introduced on the HIM platform and offered a glimpse of the future, but maybe was way ahead of its time. This was simply an interface module that allowed the tech to use a PC with HDS software to access all modules on a Honda, including all OBD-I and OBD-II up until 2010. There were two versions of the HIM produced, one with a daughter module and one without. The daughter module was a multiplexer device that allowed for CAN communication on newer models.

The darker years of the HDS software would have to be the Tablet and Pocket Tester versions. The Tablet, as the name implies, used an unreliable tablet to run the HDS software. The Pocket Tester used an underpowered pocket PC. Both of these versions have bugs that remained unfixed once they were respectively shelved in favor of more reliable platforms.

The GNA600 gave the HDS a stable and reliable platform. Similar to the HIM module, the HDS was an interface that allowed a laptop to become the scan tool. Offering coverage from OBD-I all the way through 2010, for all OBD-II and body and chassis systems. HDS allowed the technician, in conjunction with Honda’s support site – http:// www.ServiceExpress.Honda.com – to access all modules including programming and most theft key functions.

The latest version of HDS uses the MVCI platform and is the only version of the HDS software that
allows access to all vehicle modules from 1992 to present day. It includes module and key programming and is the only tool you need to do Honda/ Acura work at the factory level.

Special thanks to Brandon Steckler, a Honda master technician who works for Conicelli Honda, Conshohocken, Pa., for helping me with accuracy on this article.

Editor’s Note: To read more about scan tools, be sure to visit ASA’s new Scan Tool Resource Center at www.scantool resource.com.

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