One major drawback of my obsession with collecting cars, most of which are German, is the high cost of insurance and repairs. So far I have kept the repair bills low by doing my maintenance and repair. Still, car expenses every month are almost as much as my rent, but that doesn’t bother me when I think of the joy I get from driving my cars.
Today’s cars from Mazda to Mercedes-Benz are equipped with too many control systems and computers, such as the engine control unit (E.C.U.), S.R.S. airbag module, climate control system, DSC, and transmission control module (T.C.M.), to name a few. In addition, there are computers for the instrument cluster, infotainment system, body control functions, active safety features, passive safety features, lighting, and other electrical functions. These advanced vehicles are more intelligent than ever, and if you start messing with cars, you will quickly learn that you can not diagnose these systems with a cheap OBD2 scanner from Harbour Freight, or the units that AdvanceAuto Parts and AutoZone let you borrow for free.
So I am always looking for the newest diagnostic scanners out there, that will let me troubleshoot multiple cars without breaking the bank. Not that long ago, I found the YOUCANIC scanner on a forum thread. The scanner seemed very promising, and to be honest, at first, I wondered if the YOUCANIC full system scanner was too good to be true. After doing some research, I found the company was founded in 2016, and yes, their scanner is real and was launched in 2022. One of the main reasons it caught my attention is that it provides comprehensive diagnostic capabilities for various vehicle makes. Below is an example on a full scan that I ran on a Mercedes-Benz.
So I decided to pull the trigger and purchase the YOUCANIC UCAN-II full-system scanner. To be honest, although there are scanners from brands like Autel or Launch many of which are more expensive, I had a budget of $500 max and needed a scanner that could diagnose all systems in all types of vehicles, so the YOUCANIC UCAN-II fit my needs and budget.
So far the scanner has proven to come in handy already. Just a couple of weeks ago, while driving my Infinti on the highway, the engine suddenly experienced intense vibrations, lost power and abruptly shifted into second gear, remaining there until I returned home. The engine light on the instrument cluster all came on at the same time, and I was unable to drive faster than 40 mph. I still had the scanner on my car so I hooket it up and it showed a fault code for turbo underpressure. See picture below.
A typical approach for someone in this situation might be to use an inexpensive OBD scanner or stop by a store like AutoZone to purchase one and plug it into the vehicle’s OBD port. The issue is that low-cost OBD2 scanners don’t provide information about the specific issues with the manufacturer faults stored in the varous control units. However, when I used the YOUCANIC scanner and plugged it into the OBD2 port, it revealed fault codes in the various control units not just the engine.
Now, if you are a mechanic who specializes in working on Infinity vehicles every day, it may be worth considering using the factory tool that often come with a yearly subscription that often run in the hundreds or even thousands per year. However, if you work on a variety of different brands, it may be more advantageous to use go with a scanner that can diagnose all systems on various makes.
A lot of full system scanners these days are switching to subscription-based models. SnapOn has been doing subscriptions for a while. Dealer-level scanners require a yearly subscription. So do the new players such as Carly for BMW or ThinkDiag scanner, and Autel AP200 many of which you can not use if you don’t pay the subscription yearly. Of course, if you need to add new model year coverage you may have to pay, but most of the examples above stop working completely unless you pay a yearly subscription fee.
One of the reasons I bought the YOUCANIC scanner is the fact that it does not require any ongoing subscription to keep it working and it doesn’t even need internet to use it. The YOUCANIC scanner is also capable of performing testing or what is also known as bi-directional support. For example, it can be used to determine if an issue with a malfunctioning window is caused by a faulty switch or motor. It can perform ABS bleed. Injector coding. It can even go further by utilizing test functions to operate the specific module in question and verify that it is not broken. The company promises to support new car models for up to three years, so my scanner should be able to work with new cars coming out, even though I have not tested it on anything newer than 2022. For me what matters is that the scanner will remain functional forever for all 1996 to 2023 model-year vehicles without a need for paying a yearly subscription.
While the scanner can read, clear codes, and view live data from any control unit, the one thing the current version of the YOUCANIC scanner is lacking is the ability to program or code various control units. Looks to me that the YOUCANIC scanner is not geared towards programming control units, but still it does have numerous functions that typically require a visit to a dealership, including coding new injectors, registering a new battery, releasing electronic parking brakes, individually testing vehicle systems, and troubleshooting TPMS lights. Also, its ability to program keys and TPMS may be more limited than some diagnostic scanners that I researched but most of them were between $1500 and $3000. For example, it can program a new key fob in a few cars, but not others, particularly not on BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, and Porsches. Honestly even the more expensive scanners can not program keys on newer European cars such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Land Rovers, and Porsche, so that didn’t surprise me. It’s not always clear which cars work best for programming keys, so it’s a good idea to contact support for clarification.
Throughout the years, I have used a variety of diagnostic scanners such as Autel, Launch, and SnapON. The YOUCANIC UCAN-II scanner has quickly become my favorite tool. I appreciate the quick support from the company. There are also a lot of helpful videos and tutorials on their website and Youtube channel, as well as a dedicated support application if I need a second opinion on a car issue. So far, the YOUCANIC UCAN-II has been a game changer, and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of its capabilities. If you only have one reliable vehicle and don’t do your auto repair work, you may not get the full value out of this tool. However, if you have a couple of cars from different brands or are the go-to person for car questions among your friends and family, I think you’ll be happy with your purchase. I certainly am. So far, the YOUCANIC scanner has been a valuable tool, allowing me to perform comprehensive scans on various cars, vans, and pickup trucks. I’ve used the tool on my Infiniti, and Mazda as well as on a friend’s Acura and Porsche. With the YOUCANIC scanner, I feel like having a dealer tech in my pocket. Which is a great feeling because it is usually the other way around.