Test Bench

The Lastest Carman Scan AT tool from Hickleys is put to the test this month

Published:  12 December, 2012

Regular readers of Testbench will know that the number of modern diagnostic tools that are designed specifically to work with Asian vehicles has shot up over the last year or so and the latest of these is the new version of the Carman Scan AT.

The distributors have high hopes for this tool - and have gone as far as to describe it as being 'truly the best Asian tester on the market.'  This was a claim that we aimed to put to the test.

First impressions

The tool comes in a smart aluminium flight case - which our tester noted was one of the best he'd seen at any price. Apart from the tablet itself, the package contained an assortment of cables and connectors for older Asian vehicles as well as various leads for uploading and charging, etc.

Written instructions for Asian tools vary enormously, but the tester noted that the instruction book that came with the AT was clear and concise.

So far, so good. But how did it perform?

In use

Like many diagnostic platforms, the AT runs over embedded Windows CE. The tool started reasonably quickly. The tool is driven by a touchscreen and menus were straightforward. The tool was certainly fast enough, although our tester noted that it slowed a bit when used for functions such as capturing live data.  That said, the ability to capture real time info as well as a one hour 'flight recorder' mode are a real selling point of a tool in this price bracket in the eyes of our tester.

The car that the tool turned out to be the most use was a Mazda 3. The graphing function was very useful as the tool already contained a lot of data about the car.

Another point that our tester found useful was the ability to perform actuator operation and coding. This was tried on a Fiesta - which is a similar car to the Mazda of course.

Coverage was described as being excellent on Asian cars and very good on everything else. However, the tool would not communicate with Jaguar/Land Rover vehicles for some reason. We tested it on a Discovery III, but the two would not talk to each other and the same thing happened with a Jaguar XF.

One very useful feature of the AT is the internal battery which means that the vehicle's ignition can be switched without crashing the tool. The battery also means that the tool does not constantly require a trailing power lead. In addition our tester was also impressed with the way that you could collect grabs of the onscreen text as well as the traditional whole screen grabs

Price

The Carman Scan AT is listed by Hickleys for a basic price of £1995 including two years' software and warranty. An additional £1000 buys an extra year of updates and software. There are additional packages available for further software updates, and connection packs are available for older European and American vehicles. Our tester agreed that tools at this price point offer very good value for money.

Verdict

This tool is makes no bones about the fact that it is for Asian vehicles, although as it turns out it offers good EOBD coverage for many other vehicles. If you only have one main tool for your garage, this might not be the unit for you - but if you want a flexible second tool in your workshop it would seem to offer very good value for money.

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