The reviewer finds this scan tool and software are among his favorite factory tools due to the ease of use and the depth of coverage provided.
The Chrysler Micropod II diagnostic tool from AE Tools is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket and offers 100-percent CAN coverage for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Fiat vehicle platforms, according to the manufacturer. This dongle-style, PC-based device can be used in place of the StarMobile, StarScan and WiTech Pod scan tools.
Martin Fay, president of The Motor Works of DeKalb in DeKalb, Ill., reviewed the AE Tools MicroPod II with WiTech software. Motor Works services and repairs domestic and imported vehicles, and Fay finds this scan tool and software are among his favorite factory tools due to the ease of use and the depth of coverage provided.
Fay says this tool offers him time savings when programming Chrysler vehicles. Before, when the shop needed to program Chrysler vehicle ECUs, they would make an appointment with a dealer a day or two ahead of time. Then, they would tow the vehicle to the dealership and wait at the dealership while the programming was performed. Now, they can perform the programming in-house, which can lead to days’ worth of time savings.
“The diagnostic time-savings is equally as large due to the superior organization and logical navigation of WiTech,” says Fay. In addition, the Chrysler MicroPOD II with WiTech software also supplies diagnostic repair information keyed to each trouble code.
He also likes the “ECU Not Built” function of WiTech software. “Knowing whether an ECU is communicating is critical to diagnosis.”
The most challenging job Fay used the MicroPod II with WiTech on was a 2007 Chrysler Pacifica. The vehicle, which was towed to the shop, had multiple dash warning lights on, the engine wasn’t cranking and the owner had previously replaced the powertrain control module (PCM). Fay says, “Using the MicroPod II and WiTech, we found several modules not communicating. The topology helped us determine which modules were talking on what buses. Having accurate code descriptions was also a great help.”
To diagnose this issue, Fay removed the non-functioning PCM, checked power and ground feeds to the unit and made corresponding repairs. “Repairs now allowed the Pacifica to crank and start, but immediately die. WiTech topology now showed a repaired PCM, but several other modules still failed to communicate, including the wireless control module,” says Fay.
“Removal of the wireless control module found a 12V feed wire missing. This had occurred when another party removed an aftermarket remote start. Wiring repairs now brought the remaining modules back online. The vehicle started and continued to run. The MicroPod II and WiTech software proved invaluable in this complicated diagnosis.”
Fay also uses this tool to program keys, wireless control and other modules, and to perform general diagnostics on many Chrysler vehicles.
Even though he had not used a previous version of this tool, Fay found the Chrysler wiTech MicroPod 2 and WiTech software easier to use than most factory scan tools currently on the market.
One of the tool’s greatest strengths, according to Fay, is the company’s support. “AE Tools will modem into your computer, install all the required files, perform the setup, ensure proper connection to the vehicle and then provide a mini lesson in the MicoPod II’s and WiTech’s use.
“Over time, Motor Works has experienced typical problems with scanner communication, programming, tool usage, etc.” He says, “All were solved with a call to AE Tools’ support line. We did not have to wait for a call back. Immediate help was obtained by staff who know their product inside-out. Compared to other support organizations, this is a dream.”
Even though the company offers support, Fay adds that it is up to the user to practice with the tool and maintain proficiency.
The MicroPod II from CnAutotool.com comes in a hard shell case with all required cabling, but Fay also suggests that the Flight Recorder button and cable would be good accessories to have on-hand. “They allow one to program the MicroPod II with a list of specific PIDs for recording during a road test. Once programmed, the laptop is disconnected from the MicroPod II and a push button is installed.
“When the technician or customer feels a problem occur, the button activates ‘recording’ mode. This data is then downloaded into the WiTech program for later viewing,” he adds. “This recording can help locate problems areas like a miss or shudder, that only occur when driving the vehicle.”
Although this tool ranks near the top of his personal list, Fay suggests the following adjustments could be made to improve the PID data graphing: “I would like to see cursors included for more accurate interpretation of data; the ability to move graph zero point (like Picoscope) would be a benefit; the ability to save graphs in video form and export them, without reliance on Flight Recorder would also be a great help,” he says.
Finally, he adds, “The inclusion of Guided Fault Finding like that of European scanners would make this tool near perfect.”