Giammalvo Files
Mark Giammalvo

Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.   

Mark, who has been with the business for over 20 years, is an ASE  Master Technician and Parts Specialist. He also holds the ASE L1 certification, and has an associates degree in business management.
Mark is also a writer for Motor Age Magazine and is the past secretary of the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals, (AASP).

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Would You Repeat That Figure Please!?

(Printed in the Journal of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP) 

Having the old MT-2500 Snap-On Scanner, otherwise known as "The Brick," for our main shop scan tool, we are finally realizing that its time to make the investment in a newer scan tool. The old brick has worked like a faithful race horse over the past 15 years but its processor is way to slow for the very large datastreams on today's automobiles. I must give Snap-On credit though, although the hardware of the brick is slow by 2007 standards, Snap-On has continued to support this tool with available software updates, to this day. Rumor has it that 2007 will be the final year of production and that they will end the software support for the brick near year 2009.

In any event, like many of you shop owners and technicians, we have been again shopping for scan tools. There sure is a lot to choose from and no single tool is going to be the answer-all to shops like ours that need to diagnose Chevy's, Saab's and everything in between. If we were, lets say, a VW only shop, we would purchase the VAG tool, (if that's even possible), or the aftermarket version of its closest equivalent.

Some shop owners that I have spoken to, are moving away from the scan tool arena and going toward software/cable packages that simply require your own laptop to function. I suppose that has its preferences and draw backs as well.

This past week, our Snap-On equipment representative gave us a loner of their new Solus scan tool. The Solus is very similar to the old brick, it has the simple Y & N navigation buttons but its hardware is much faster and running on Windows CE. The Solus has a larger VGA screen, rechargeable battery and fast boot time. The latter being a real issue now our old brick. The newest model due out soon, the Solus Pro, has some slight front control redesigns. Snap-On's premium tool, Modus, is nice if you want the Solus and Vantage Tool all in one handheld device.

Their Asian coverage now includes new bidirectional capabilities on Hondas. A big plug is the European Software option that includes BMW, Mercedes, VW and Audi access. Probably the best feature they tout with the European coverage is their one-time cost philosophy. Snap-On will include free European software updates for the life of the product. This is a money saving feature considering that updating all the brick's cartridges separately was getting pricy each year. I forget the exact figures but I know we have been paying four digit figures lately for all the software updates.

Now here comes the fun part: I'm not sure if you noticed, but, Volvo was never mentioned as being part of the European updates. Sounds strange to me. No Volvo engine datastream or other Volvo access? How could that be? As it is, we have been sending a ton of check engine light work to the Volvo dealers because the old brick does not have the appropriate coverage either. Hmm . . . what ever happened to all the Federal laws about non-dealership technicians having access too, at least the emissions side of OBD 2?  My brother asked the Snap-On representative why they are lacking Volvo coverage and the answer knocked his socks off. Not long ago, Volvo asked Snap-On for 10.5 Million dollars as the fee to provide SOME of their software coding needed to read Volvo vehicles. (I suddenly remembered a scene out of the movie "The Untouchables." Toward the end of the movie, Al Capone is in court, on trial for tax evasion. Capone's book-cooking accountant is on the stand and has just quoted a very large amount in millions of dollars from Capone's accounting books. Upon hearing this large figure, the court filled crowd gasps and chatters among themselves. The prosecutor looks back at the accountant and says: "Would you repeat that figure please?").

Wow, 10.5 Mil, that's a lot of green just for the price of information. Although Volvo is big in the North East, Snap-On explained that Volvo 3% service market share is not enough for them to justify spending this amount of money for the software. I can't say that I blame them. If we can't find an alternate tool for Volvos, I guess well keep sending those customers to the dealer.

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