When I was first told that Innova had released Innova 3040c New Diagnostic Scan Tool, I was slightly curious as to what they had come up with. Innova have a history of releasing some very good entry level kits, and as an avid do-it-yourselfer, I wanted to know whether this scanner would be able to help me figure out why the engine light kept on coming on in my 02 Chevy Avalanche. I have had a few scanners in the past, but I felt that I needed to upgrade from my old Actron scanner, and the Innova was not only within my price range, (Less than $75 for a scanner is a steal) but also came highly recommended by a mechanic friend of mine.
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First stop was Amazon (I buy everything from them), and as usual, by the next afternoon I had the scanner in my hands and was busy trying to figure out how to open the packaging. That was the first of very few disappointments. The scanner comes in finger severing plastic that is virtually impossible to open unless you have a collection of blades and other cutting tools (really hate the packaging). However, immediately I freed the scanner from its packaging, I realized I may be holding one of the best tools I have ever had.
To begin with, Innova 3040c scanner is light (They say it weighs 8 ounces), so light in fact, that you can picture yourself forgetting that it is in the palm of your hand. I also love the fact that it is not too big that it takes over your palm, but not too small that you may lose it. The build quality is also very impressive, and you can tell just by holding it that you are holding a quality piece of equipment.
The screen looked pretty good, and when I finally got the scanner connected to my car I was impressed by the clarity and of the color screen and the way everything is laid out so neatly on it. However, this is where I had my second heart breaking moment, as the scanner took quite a while to finally connect and install all the information for my car (in comparison to some of the other scanners I have used in the past).
Once this was done though, I could finally find out what was causing my check engine light to come on all the time. Turns out I had a minor problem with my catalytic converter, so I deleted the error code using the scanner, fixed that problem and everything was fine. Then I thought about all the features that had been advertised with the product and decided to try some of them out.
Turns out the Innova 3040c is a lot more useful than I thought it was. Most of these devices fall short of the manufacturer’s claims but this one actually operated as advertised. The first thing I decided to check was the battery and alternator tests. These run like a charm, though they were slightly inaccurate. For instance, the battery check was inaccurate by 0.20 volts. However, this was not a huge concern as I have a feeling that should there have been any major problems with my battery and alternator, the scanner would have let me know.
Next, I checked out the live data feature that I must admit is very impressive. The 3040c was reading information that most amateurs would not even begin to know how to interpret. Details like my fuel trim and engine coolant temperature were being relayed back to me in real time (usually things I do not think about until I need to, like when the car is overheating) as was my speed and RPM, though again, these were not very accurate.
For instance, there was a moment when I was comparing the tachometer read out on my car to that on the 3040c and I realized that it was about 100 RPM off (The car was showing 3500 RPM, the scanner was showing 3400 RPM). This is a small difference at low revs but at higher revs, towards the 6000 RPM mark, an error like that could decimate the engine. The speedometer was no better, and was actually more like 4MPH off (I was doing 50 MPH, but the scanner was displaying 46 MPH). This was slightly disappointing, but then again, after comparing it to a friend’s Craftsman, I found the same inaccuracies (not exact but close) so this is either a thing that these scanners haven’t gotten right yet or my sensors need to be checked.
The Graph, Display and Disappointment
One feature that kept me interested for hours was the graph that the Innova 3040c is able to produce to show you your car’s performance as you drive along. The graph is amazing and gives you a wealth of information about what is happening in your engine. It will even give you emissions values and freeze data options. The freeze data feature allows you to capture a particular moment in time so that you may analyze it later on. I had no use for this feature (as other than the Check Engine Light my car was fine) but I can imagine a whole host of scenarios where I would find the feature very handy. During the emissions tests, there are a couple of LEDs that flash either red, yellow or green depending on the status of the emissions monitor.
While using the scanner, I realized that there is a lot more to the screen than first meets the eye. The color display is amazing, and the fact that you are presented with about 20 different readings on it at any given point in time is cool, but when I moved into my garage is when I really started to fall in love with the screen. My garage has low lighting, and therefore I have to rely heavily on lights and torches to do almost everything. However, with the 3040c the backlight on the screen worked so well I didn’t have to worry about how I am going to tilt the screen so that I can read it in the light.
The scanner was working great, so I decided to try it out on my wife’s VW Jetta. As it was manufactured in 2000, I thought that the scanner would work wonders on it, especially since the car has had its check engine light and ABS lights on for about a month now.
However, once again, the scanner would break my heart, as it did not connect to the car AT ALL. I thought this was weird as the manual and the product description on the Amazon website all state that it will work with all cars made after 1996. It took a short visit to the manufacturer’s website to find out that Innova scanners will not work on VWs due to a communication issue between aftermarket scanners and the vehicles. I thought this rather strange and for a second was angry because of the false advertising, (It’s supposed to work with “any car, light truck minivan, SUV or hybrid manufactured since 1996 whether foreign or domestic) but then I thought of the afternoon I had in MY car and my anger abated. It was an inconvenience, but one I could live with.
While I was referring to the manual, I realized that it is rather unhelpful. Therefore while I was online trying to figure out why my wife’s Jetta would not connect, I downloaded the English version of the manual to see if it was any different (The manual and the scanner come in three languages, English, French, and Spanish) and I was shocked by how much more information it held. If you decide to buy the product, having the hardcopy of the manual will help to an extent, but the downloadable manual is much more helpful.
While I was on their site, I also downloaded their PC app so that I could get more information about the codes that I received on the scanner. I found that the app will not only give you additional information on the error codes that you receive, it will also give you estimates of how much everything will cost for repairs. This information though helpful is also somewhat inaccurate, and therefore should not be treated as the final word. Another problem with the app (though just a minor one) is that it is still not compatible with Windows 10.
One thing that irritated me about the app was that accessing reports about the data that you have collected can be a tiresome process. You have to register and log on to the website to be able to use it effectively, which in my opinion rather defeats the purpose of having an app.
However, the website makes up for it by giving you the ability to subscribe to an Innova tech service, where a dedicated team of mechanics is available to help you figure out what certain codes mean and how to fix them. This is an extremely helpful service, and though I have not personally used it yet, I have a feeling I shall be doing so in the future.
What About The Competition?
Compared to some of the other scanners I have used, the Innova 3040c scan tool is very impressive. It is capable of reading a wide range of error codes for a number of cars. However, it can be a bit tedious to use, especially when it comes to connecting to certain car models. For instance, when I tried to connect it to my neighbor’s Toyota, it was even slower than when I connected it to my Chevy.
To cap it all off, I had to enter the Make, Model and Production Year information for the car because for some reason the scanner could not read that information for itself. Nevertheless, once I had done all that it read all the error codes with no problem, and we were able to fix a number of issues.
Another thing that makes it stand out from the competition is that screen. I have mentioned it before but the clarity of the screen is exceptional, and there are very few scanners in this price range that can match it. The wealth of information that can be displayed on the screen at any one time is also something that few other scanners can match. This allows you to find out what ails your car even faster, meaning that you will be able to save time on diagnostics and repair.
The support (though optional) is something that most companies do not offer their clients, and the fact that you get so much for so little is amazing. You may have to pay for registration but the costs are negligible compared to the services that Innova offers, which range from Vehicle history reports and In-depth diagnostic reports to helpful video tutorials and a DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) library that gives you all the error codes and their meanings.
At the end of the day, this is one of the best OBD2 scan tools I have used since I started messing around with cars. It has all the features that I could ever need from a scanner, and a few that I do not, but that just adds to the value of it. For those of you who are looking to buy a scanner that is simple to use (a child could use the 3040c) and can scan for virtually any error code that you car can throw at it, this is the scanner for you.
The only real disadvantage to Innova 3040c new diagnostic scanner is that the stock cable is so short that unless you are sitting in the driver’s seat during your whole diagnostic process then you are going to have to buy an extension cord. Other than that, this is a product that any amateur, or professional, mechanic should consider having in their garage.
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