Vehicle Diagnosis Programs for a Laptop Computer

Updated April 17, 2017

If you want to work on a vehicle made after 1996, you'ss need more than a long Saturday afternoon and a socket set. Vehicles are getting more complex; problems with newer vehicles are more difficult to diagnose. Laptop vehicle diagnosis programs will make your job easier. Plug your laptop PC into your vehicle's computer via the OBDII plug and the program will run a diagnostic check on your vehicle.

AutoTap Express DIY Hardware and Software

The AutoTap Express DIY package connects your vehicle's computer to your laptop using a USB cable. The cable plugs into the OBDII plug under the vehicle's dashboard. AutoTap Express DIY then transfers information from the vehicle's computer to the AutoTap diagnostic wizard on the laptop. This program identifies problems and will walk you through the solutions. The diagnostic wizard allows you to select the problem that you're having with the vehicle. For example, you can tell the program that the engine knocks or pings when accelerating, that the engine overheats or that the fuel economy is poor. Once the diagnostic wizard collects the relevant information, it will display the sensor values next to the reference values, allowing you to compare them. Other features of this program include emissions testing, a real-time graphic data display and vehicle snapshots, which this allow you to track the engine's performance over time. AutoTap Express DIY works with vehicles made in or after 1996.


PCMSCAN is an OBDII scanner and diagnostic tool. PCMSCAN connects the vehicle to the laptop via a serial or USB cable. It allows you to view, chart, log and play back diagnostic data in real time. You can also view diagnostic trouble codes and capture freeze-frame data and other vehicle information. You can resize, move and arrange the program's on-screen gauges to imitate your vehicle's dashboard. You can then configure the gauges to report the minimum, maximum and average of the monitored parameters. This program can test the performance of aftermarket parts, and can read both pending and stored diagnostic trouble codes. It supports the trouble code definitions on thousands of vehicle models. PCMSCAN can also clear the Check Engine light. It supports vehicles newer than 1996.


DashDAQ is a PC-based vehicle diagnosis program. It performs diagnostics using a laptop connected to the vehicle's OBDII port. It also supports over 10,000 manufacturer-specific diagnostic parameters for vehicles from 1996 or later. DashDAQ PC will identify problems, then offer suggestions on how to fix them. To test your vehicle's performance, use the DashDAQ signal tree, which shows reaction time, speed and run time. You can also set up your own tests to check performance. This program can also display emissions testing and fuel economy information. DashDAQ PC supports the SAE J2534-1 vehicle software standard, and allows you to run data acquisition and diagnostics functions from the same interface.

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About the Author

Located in Palmdale, Calif., Rick Chaney has been writing articles since 2005. He enjoys writing various types of articles that include health-related, how-to, about and list articles. Chaney's health-related articles have appeared in “Men's Health Magazine,” as well as other online publications. He finds that using his past experience and adventures in his writing style enables him to deliver high-quality and professional articles.