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We have a little cheapie code scanner — actually a couple of them — around the Toolmonger shop, but we aspire to one day pick up a serious unit, like Snap-on’s Ethos.  It’s the real deal, not only handling the standard OBDII codes, but reading pretty much anything a post 1980 car can send.

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It features a 4.7″ black and white display — high vis for the shop, as opposed to fancy color that’s hard to read in bright light — the ability to display up to four parameters graphically, and a vehicle power adapter so you don’t have to sweat batteries or find an outlet. 

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Besides the basic 1996+ OBD communication (including all nine modes of OBDII), Snap-on also offers vehicle-specific communication software that lets you read systems beyond the engine, like transmission, transfer case, ABS, airbag, body, occupant classification modules, and so on.  Currently they offer a version for 1983-2005 Chryslers, 1981-2005 Fords, 1980-2005 GMs, and 1983-2005 Asian imports.

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The deluxe kit goes for $1,695.  That may seem like a lot, but when you consider that it pretty much does the job of that $10,000 big-ass unit you see at the dealer, it’s a deal — and a small price to pay for a shop that intends to work on modern cars.

The ETHOS Scanner System, Deluxe Kit [Snap-on]


14 Responses to Snap-on’s Killer New Code Scanner

  1. Tony says:

    That’s a lot of money for something you will only use occasionally and that most auto parts stores will do for free.

  2. Pat says:

    I agree, rent one.
    By the time this paid for itself, it will be obsolete & you will need to buy another – it only claims compatibility with models to 2005 & no mention of Europeans.

  3. Old Donn says:

    For $1000 bucks it better wind your watch & scratch your back! If you’ve gotta have one, Actron makes a decent code scanner that doesn’t require a 2nd mortgage.

  4. Alan says:

    I’d rather get a CarChip (http://www.davisnet.com/drive/products/carchip_products.asp) for much less and get logging of information while I drive as well.

  5. Fred says:

    I like to buy 1, is it still available?
    Her in Holland we like to work with Snap-On tools so can i get one still?

  6. Jeff says:

    Save your money, you can buy a better scan tool from MAC tools, the Taskmaster, for $1200.00 and it does all the same plus more. It’s made by OTC and completly upgradable.

  7. Jerry says:

    Agree with Jeff..the Taskmaster is far superior and priced much better. Your only problem is finding a Mac dealer that will stay in business long enough to provide you any service.

  8. Ethos Scanner with whole kit and adapters for 12,000 OBO seriously

  9. dan says:

    Where do people get this stuff??? 12,000 are you friggin serious, how about 1000. It does domestic and asian vin specific all control modules from 1980-2009. Euro generic but vin specific optional. Auto zone only does generic obdII engine codes, no abs, air bag, body, tpms, transfer case, transmission, no specific engine, just generic.

  10. tony says:


  11. tony says:

    I can get 5 car mds for that price…….you guys are trippin’

  12. matt says:

    for a guy who is in many of different cars daily the ethos is far superior to the car MD junk when you’re on Auto Tech mechanic you need something that works with every vehicle and give you many of diagnostic parameters unlike a cheap car MD and as far as Mac goes I wouldn’t by any tools from Mac Tools because it is hard to find a dealer the next unit to look into would be the Solis pro

  13. Bladecpnitro says:

    The problem with the free diagnostics at Advance Auto is they don’t tell you everything and they won’t even bother hooking up if you don’t have a check engine light on. Cheap is not the answer to everything unfortunately.

    I’ve had 3 vehicles in a row that those cheap scanners showed nothing in the last 3 weeks.

    1. Ford Focus 2002 stripped timing belt engine quit, computer showed nothing.

    2.Ford Winstar Van skipping and cutting off, computer showed nothing.

    3. F 250 Ford skipping, showed nothing but probably a bad coil back like it was last time. The last time that happened we had a mechanic with a Snap on diagnostics tool and it told exactly what was wrong.
    He put one of the old coil packs in 2 years ago and its run until a couple days ago with no issue.

  14. Hector Rojos says:

    For $1200 I can buy nice pre-obd pre-air bag pre-ABS 1976 volvo with 4 speed M/T and steel bumpers and will have fun:)

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