Snap-On Verus: My Diagnostic Tool Of Choice

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Snap-On Verus: My Diagnostic Tool Of Choice
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As a long time Snap-On user, and Modis and Verus owner, I feel I must write to correct the misinformation that “supertractor3” has posted here in his guide about the Verus in Guide # 10000000013852189.

I have written several guides on automotive diagnostic scan tools and J-2534 pass through units here on Ebay.  I have broached on some of the Snap-on scan tools in several of them.  Today, I wanted to address the latest of many disappointing scan tools from Snap-On called VERUS.

In years past, I have been less than enthusiastic about MODIS because, for the money, it was a huge disappointment.  I didnt allow for the kind of expansion that most tech's wanted, (and the expansion devices that were available were way too expensive) the updates were costly and the coverage had holes all over it, particularly for European cars.  They still stick with that retarded personality key system and finally, the unit was grossly overpriced! Very little bi-directional capabilities as well.  Now, Snap-On has outdone itself with what I can only figure to be a suckers scan tool!

I purchased one of the first Modis units sold on the east coast, after many years using the “red brick” scanner. I have always been very happy with its performance and access capabilities. Has it had problems? Sure, but so has all the other aftermarket tools I have used over the years (Vetronix Mastertech, OTC and Ease, to name a few), including the factory tools (Tech1 and 2, NGS, WDS, IDS, DRB 3, WiTech) that I have.

I upgraded to the Verus in October ’08, and have not regretted the purchase at all. Like all first generation tools, it has had some growing pains. It is now a very full featured scan tool, lab scope and diagnostic portal. I have all the domestic factory tools, the major Asian import tools, and some high level European tools, but I always start my diagnostics with the Verus.

The VERUS is, basically, a hand held PC Tablet.  Compared to most REAL PC Tablets, its slow as hell!  Snap-on did little to improve the software and the bi-directional functionality over MODIS and that leaves much to be desired.  Most car lines in Verus have no bi-directional capabilities at all!  Many car lines only provide access to the powertrain controller and no access to Body control, transmission, ABS and SRS controllers and most give no access to the security controller.  You can, however, check your email on the VERUS,  This is good news and bad news!  This means that now, anything on the net can now do to it what it can do to your PC.  Add to this, the resoundingly slow speed of the unit compared to most PC based diagnostics and many stand alone units and what you get is simply a huge disappointment.  It still uses the personality key system, so get ready to tote around a dozen keys when you head to the car. 

Yes, the Verus IS a hand held PC. So was the Modis. While slow in the beginning, better software has made the Verus as fast as other PC based scan tools (IDS, WiTech, etc). The Verus is extremely powerful, with lots of bi-directional controls, and covers most body, transmission, ABS and SRS systems in addition to powertrain. Most aftermarket scan tools do not access security modules and functions, because the manufacturers do not allow them to. That’s part of the anti-theft system, and they want to keep that access out of the hands of the general public. Surprisingly, GM, Ford and many other makers do allow you security data and code access for diagnostics. The ability to program keys and reset security passwords is another matter for all but factory tools, and even then you have to buy the code numbers and entry passwords from the factory.

The Verus is a PC, but the operating system (Windows XP) is embedded. This means that viruses and nasties can’t overwrite the system. And it has the ability to do a clean install from itself or over the net from Snap-On and go back to factory fresh software. My Verus has been on a network and the net since I purchased it, with no problems at all. And yes, I do access AllData, Mitchell, and other automotive web sites with it, as well as transfer files to my laptop for further study with the ShopStream Connect program that Snap-On provides FREE to all users.

Now as for the pass through unit Snap-On sells as an add on to this, ITS GREAT!  Thats because it's not theirs, its simply a re-packaged DrewTech CarDAQ with Snap-on's proprietary software.  What this means is that you are going to pay about $500.00 more for it because they painted it black instead of blue and put their sticker on it.  It also means that the software and application range has been greatly reduced because snap-on took Drewtech's great J-2534 software and replaced it with their own crappy software greatly limiting its capabilities.  In addition to this, the cost increase gets you a unit with less memory than a comparable CarDAQ unit.  When I went to go visit a Snap-On Verus Victim last week, he was pulling his hair out trying to flash a Benz via J-2534.  After watching him fumble and bumble around with this two ton $9000.00 ultra slow handheld abomination, I simply walked out to my truck, grabbed my computer bag, got out my CarDAQ and laptop and hooked up to the wireless net drop in his shop.  I logged into the Benz download site and in about 8 minutes, my Toughbook was pushing a flash into the PCM. When I finished the flash, he was just getting the "on hold" muzak from the tech line at Snap-On of Bangladesh.  Recently, I attempted to diagnose a bad throttle actuator on a Ford Truck.  The Verus only offered me bi-directional control to do a evap test, nothing else.  How can anyone think that this scan tool is a HUGE waste of money when you cant even "ping" an electronic throttle with it or sweep a gauge or two in the instrument cluster or even manipulate the IAC counts?  This snap-on scan tool is nothing more than a glorified code reader!

As I do my reprogramming with factory tools and another brand J-2534 tool, I can’t comment on the Snap-On J programmer. But I will say that all J tools have problems with various car and car lines, and it usually ends up being a software problem. Just because your J tool worked today on that car doesn’t mean it will work next week on another. This is just a simple fact of life in this computer age, and you better get used to it. Even the factory tools have their moments with software. Don’t judge any tool on how it works today, as it may work tomorrow on a vehicle that another tool fumbles on.

Which version update was your Verus? Many functions and features, as well as fixes have occurred over the last year. All scan tools will do something today that others will not. Then next month the others will leap ahead, leaving you tool behind. It is just a fact of PC life.

Of course, updated software is available from Snap-on, but bring your wallet! Like Modis and Solus, Its going to cost you and cost you plenty!  In addition to the initial sticker shock of their tool (almost 9 grand), the updates for US, Asian and European coverage is well over a thousand dollars and only available from Snap-On.  For 9 Grand, I could buy a half a dozen generic units, every one of which will out perform and have better applications than Verus.

Generic units? ALL aftermarket scan tools are generic compared to the factory tools. Remember, you are not only updating the scan tool, (with domestic, Asian and European coverage), you are also updating the 4 channel lab scope, the 2 channel graphing meter, and the built in troubleshooter and component testing database. Other scan tools do not deliver the built in help; the library of test procedures, connector pin charts, PID definitions and other helpful information that Snap-On does. You are paying for way MORE than just a scan tool access update.

ALL tool updates are expensive. Updated a loaded Mastertech recently? A Tech 2? A fully loaded OTC Genisys or Pegisys? Snap-On updates are not out of line for what you are updating.

If your one of those mindless drones who buys snap-on and ONLY Snap-On, your probably boiling right about now.  Not because you think someone just ripped your G-string up to your shoulder blades selling you one of these things, but probably because I blasphemed Snap-On tools.  This is why many of my friends and I call the Verus the VIRUS.  Once you get bit by the Snap-On bug, its hard to imagine there may be better stuff out there. I find most Snap-On folks are like this generally speaking.  I will be the first to relent that Snap-On makes the best hand tools in the world!  I own plenty of them, but when it comes to diagnostics and programming equipment, its all just name recognition and no real versatility and horrible cost to benafit factor.  I know lots of you are hogtied to Snap-On because they offer credit-on-the-truck, but this scan tool's is one you do not want to be married to for the next 4 or five years.  Its useability has now become that of a typical low end PC.  In 6 to 12 months, it will be obsolete and the Snap-On guy will be offering to trade it in on their new piece of crap scan tool like he did when you gave up your Modis or Solus you spent too much on to get a Verus. Thats how they keep you coming back.  I guarantee, I will be updating and using at least 3 or 4 of the generic scan tools I own like Hanatech Ultrascan for years beyond how long Snap-On will be offering updates for Verus or Modis and at a fraction of the cost.  Sure, I cant check my email with it or have a color screen, but I will get better coverage and wont get carpel tunnels syndrome using it. 

No matter what you chose to buy, I wish you luck.  In my opinion, Snap On's Varus, like its predecessor Modis is nothing but a lot of flash and very nominal substance at a rediculous price.  Hey, if you want a good looking scan tool and want to be able to check your Email while working on a car and cost is no concern, Verus is for you! Its nothing but a glorified code reader to, pretty much everyone I have spoke to about it, keeping in mind that most of my affiliates are high end diagnosticians, not heavy auto mechanics who only need a simple code reader.

Have you worked on any of the vehicles "heavy auto mechanics" work on today? Most have just as much high-end electronics and diagnostic systems as any light duty truck or car. I think they would tell you they need nore than just a code reader!

NO aftermarket scan tool will ever access ALL the system, tests and data of the factory tool. But in reality, most techs do not need or could afford that level of access. I know this; that is why I have so many factory tools, just for those times I need that obscure data or module access. Aftermarket tools also have enhanced capabilities over factory tools. Few factory tools graph data, and the few that do don’t do a good job of it (Ford IDS being the exception).

As an automotive drivability and computer systems instructor, and a working tech, I have heard the same complaints about all makes of scan tools. Usually this just means that the operator does not have the basic skills or system knowledge to properly use the power of the tool. Everyone wants to just “plug in the machine” and get an instant answer on what to fix or replace. This “machine” does not exist, even in the factory tool.

I have many fellow techs with other aftermarket scan tools call me saying they can’t access this system or that system with their tool, but I can with the Verus. And yes, sometimes they can get into systems that I can’t. But the access changes with every update, and knocking a tool just on the current access level is foolish. There will always be some tool that can do what yours can’t: at least this week, until the next update.

As I stated earlier, the Verus is the first tool I hook up to any drivability or computer system problem on a vehicle. With few exceptions, I can diagnose, repair and verify the repair with just the Verus tool alone. Learn to completely use all the capabilities of your current tool before looking for a new and better one.

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