Running a Shop News

Going to Subscription-Based Scan Tools

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April 27, 2020—As an alternative to investing in a variety of scan tool brands, many OEs offer factory tools for short-term subscriptions, says Donny Seyfer, executive officer for the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF).

Subscription-based services offer shops the opportunity to use a tool when they need it, let the subscription expire and then not have to invest in the tool again until they absolutely need it.

These tools have been around for a while in the repair industry but some industry experts say that the challenge right now with subscription-based scan tools is that there is no set standard for how many to use or which ones to use. Should you buy a universal tool that works for multiple brands or will a larger investment of a brand-specific tool pay off?

An initial investment of a scan tool could cost between $2,000 and $5,000, Seyfer said in a previous ADAPT story on how repair shops can prepare for newer cars. The shop might also have to invest in other tools to use alongside the scan tools like computers and each computer could cost an additional $300 to $500 or more.

Most OEM brands offer subscription services for either short-term or long-term access. For instance, Ford in May 2017 offered a subscription service of about $21 for a total of 72 hours and a programming and initialization service of roughly $33 for a period of 72 hours, according to NASTF. General Motors at the same time offered a short-term subscription fee for its global diagnostic system for $55 for 72 hours. 

In 2017, long-term, one-year subscriptions varied in cost between $700 and $2,000.

Some manufacturers offer reprogramming in their subscription services and the shop could see a return on investment and have the subscription tool paid off in the first quarter of the year. 

Scan tools are important for a shop to remain competitive, says Seyfer. When he envisions a shop staying competitive and up-to-date, the shop has the following top four pieces of equipment in the facility:

  1. Tire equipment. 
  2. Alignment equipment
  3. Scan tools necessary to work on brands you work on.

General service equipment (with the assumption that technicians have their own tools) like the kind used for injector cleaning





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