Product Review on the:

HAND-HELD DIAGNOSTIC TOOL FOR J1708 AND J1939 ELECTRONIC DIESEL ENGINES

Canadian Automotive Instruments
33 Boulder Blvd. Stony Plain,
Alberta, Canada T7Z 1V6


Contact Information:
(780) 963-8930 or...
1-800-270-TACH (8224)
(Toll-Free only in Western Canada)
e-mail: cai@c-a-i.net

Product review by:
Tony
BAT Auto Technical

 In our search for new products, especially diagnostic tools, we were contacted by Tim Stevenson,
of Canadian Automotive Instrument Ltd., about their Ultra-Link scanner for heavy trucks. This scanner interested me greatly, as a heavy truck and equipment mechanic. After some discussion, they allowed us to test and review their scanner. I have attempted to show this scanner in action and to give a clear view of its capabilities.

When I first received the scanner, I liked the fact that it was pretty compact. The box it came in is small enough to fit in most toolboxes and doesn't take up alot of room, which is really nice for someone who has to carry it around in a service truck. The scanner comes in a nice plastic toolbox that is set up to protect the scanner.
Other than the fact that things don't always want to go back into things the way they came out, it wasn't a problem to fit everything back into the toolbox. The unit comes with 2 cables for accessing the ECU of the engines. One 6 pin Deutsch and one 9 pin Deutsch harness. The scanner has a nice "touch pad", easy to clean, especially with greasy fingers.There are optional cables that can be purchased for various applications and one cable, along with download software for hooking up to a PC to print out saved information.

Hooking up the scanner is pretty simple, find the diagnostic port, remove the cover, if one is there, and find the correct cable and plug it in. Simple enough. No power supply is needed, as the scanner uses the vehicle's system to power up.

When the scanner is hooked up and the key is turned on, the scanner powers up. The first screen enables you to toggle between the different protocols. There are 2 protocols to chose from. The best way to identify if you are " on the bus " is to observe the tach reading that comes up after initialization. If the reading shows four asterisks ( **** ) you are not on the bus. If the reading shows any number value you are on the bus and communicating. It is best to try 1708 as this is the default " protocol " and is most common in the industry. If it is the wrong protocol, then it will give you a TIMEOUT - ECU not responding. (See image below left)

If you get this screen, it means one of two things. Either you are using the wrong protocol or there is a power problem to the ECU.

Not active trouble codes is pretty self-explanatory. This is what you like to see.
Again, this is self-explanatory. Usually, there will be some minor inactive code.
This feature is good for when you have to order parts. There is also a screen for the engine model and engine information, which really saves having to hunt for the serial number, especially on some Cummins M-11 engines.
Engine hours is another good information screen. It allows you to see the total hours on the engine, opposed to what the meter reading is.
I liked this, as it allowed me to push the motor and see how it is reacting, opposed to how it should be reacting.
The tach screen was nice for adjustments, setting up PTO rpms or other different things.
The oil temp screen is one I like, to check on the temp when running under a heavy load. It can be an early sign of a problem. Although, usually other signs are apparent.
The Battery Volts screen was one that helped me pinpoint an ECU problem I ran into. No active codes, no start. While scanner would communicate, there was 3.8 volts showing. A check to the start/charging system showed 13.2 volts. A bad power connection for the ECU was the problem.
The Orange Engine Warn light is ON, indicating a problem. Hooking the scanner to the truck and checking for active codes, it showed an engine oil pressure voltage problem.
This one had me confused for a little while, as the sensor kept checking out fine. The voltage readings for the sensor were with in the manufacturer's specifications, so I had to try and hunt some for the problem.

The above problem is where the scanner proved itself in saving time. The dash gauge (mechanical) showed 60 psi. Checking the sensor showed it was working. But, the oil pressure reading on the scanner read 8 psi at 1,000 rpms. A faulty oil pressure sensor. Problem went away with a new update sensor from Cummins.

Another nice feature is the Track mode. You can see from the LH, clockwise is the engine oil pressure, engine rpms, Fuel Rate and turbo boost, which I used to make some checks on an engine I was having a few problems with. These showed the problem was not an oil pressure or rpm problem. Other options of the Track mode that I needed to use were engine oil temp, fuel temp and accelerator position.

The ultra link also allows you to save the information and then later download it to your PC. It made it nice to pull the codes, do some checks and then later download the info. Then you can print the file or save it in a file for records to give to the customer or file in the vehicle's maintenance records.

This is a printed out page from the above download screen. The information at your fingertips. I liked the fact that at a glance you have all the information. This is something that is a great bonus to this scanner. In a fleet situation, you can use this as a comparison down the road. A regular check will show a pattern of irregularities, should they arise.

Specifications:
Model............................Ultra-Link Hand held Scanner
Power requirement..........Power supplied by vehicle.

Dimensions.....................scanner unit ...........7 3/4" x 4" x 1 3/4"
                                      carrying case.........11" x 6" x 4"

My rating for this product;
Overall design............................................................Very Good
Comments: Smaller than most units on the market.
Instructions included for use......................................Very Good
Comments: Took a bit to understand the protocals, but otherwise pretty clear.
Design and quality......................................................Very Good
Comments: A few little problems getting everything back into the toolbox supplied, but not really a problem.
Packaging....................................................................Very Good
Comments: Packaging assures the product is in excellent shape.
Includes necessary accessories?................................YES
Setup.............................................................................QUICK and EASY
Comments: Plug in and ready to go..
Performance.................................................................Very Good Accuracy.......................................................................Very Good
Contact information for company................................Clearly indicated in the literature.
Level of experienced required for use........................Moderate
Comments: This is designed for the diesel mechanic who deals with various makes of engines.
Price.............................................................................. See the manufacturer's website for pricing. www.c-a-i.net

Where to buy:
Contact the manufacturer at www.c-a-i.net for pricing and shipping information.

Last Note: I liked this unit. From the stand point of a fleet diesel mechanic, any time you can get your hands on a tool that will do alot of things for a reasonable price, it is a good thing. It would take several manufacturer specific scanners at several thousand dollars each, to be able to even pull any fault codes. This scanner is worth the investment.

Thanks for reading my product review. Any comments or suggestions would be welcome, and can be emailed to:

 

batauto.com©November 2001