Not so long ago, vehicle diagnostics needed a rack of instruments that would do a hospital operating room proud. OBD allowed the handheld scan tool to make it's way into smaller shops, and these days ...
Not so long ago, vehicle diagnostics needed a rack of instruments that would do a hospital operating room proud. OBD allowed the handheld scan tool to make it’s way into smaller shops, and these days they’re in diagnostic technicians’ personal toolboxes, too.
SGM tested one of the new breed of handhelds, the Kal Equip 9640 Enhanced Scan Tool. The 9640 is a professional tool, about the size of a hardcover book and weighing just over three pounds. It’s shaped to fit in the hand easily, with non-slip rubber grips and very large operating buttons up front with easy to read markings. Codes are displayed on a four line, twenty-character backlit LCD display. The 9640 is powered by six AAA batteries (included with the tool) to preserve information for off-car review, and includes a cigarette lighter adapter for non-OBDII or Chrysler LH applications. AC power can be used with a 12V adapter if necessary. Kal Equip recommends a universal unit available at most electronic or PC stores. Setup is by tiered menus, and includes battery and tool self tests, as well as optional silent mode and imperial/metric unit choices. Data can be printed on any Epson FX-compatible printer with a standard RS-232 interface, and the tool settings can be reset to accommodate printer communication issues.
How well does it work? The usual SSGM test for foolproof design is to let a fool use it, and to simulate this, we attempted to operate the tool without initially referring to the manual. It was possible to get good data right out of the box, mainly due to the simple “point and click” menu selections and a help feature that’s sensibly placed as a stand-alone button opposite the power switch. Another good feature is the “are you sure?” prompt that keeps the user from accidentally zapping good data. DTC’s, as well as the usual torrent of live operating parameters are available, as are freeze data from emission system failures. An I/M readiness feature checks OBD II monitors to prepare for dyno testing. The unit also erases DTC’s and resets the MIL.
The 9640 can be updated with a PC, and ships with 4 cables for GM, Ford and Chrysler OBD I and all OBD II vehicles. It all packs in a vinyl briefcase and includes a comprehensive manual. The unit is warranted for three years.
Complaints? A ring or hook on the body of the unit would be nice, as we were tempted to hang it by its cables. An additional on-demand O2 test would also be helpful, although the 9640 tests all O2 sensors as part of the overall system scan. Overall, the Kal Equip 9640 is powerful and extremely easy to use in a straight up “just the facts” tool that is designed for professionals. Pro technicians may not need foolproof tools, but when the clock is ticking and they’re backed up onto the street, it’s possibly the best feature of this instrument.