Since vehicle scanners were introduced, manufacturers have continually incorporated more features to improve these devices. And the advancement of technology has given rise to different types of scanners, including bi-directional scanners targeted at repair technicians and auto shops.
A bi-directional scanner is an advanced tool with more complex functionalities than the standard scanner. Unlike standard scanners that only provide the status of the various vehicle sub-systems, bi-directional scanners don’t just pull data from the vehicle — they also send commands to the vehicle.
However, operating a bi-directional scanner can be a bit of work as they have several complex functionalities. This article will give insight into bi-directional scanners using Ancel X7 as our case study and how to use it.
What is a Bi-Directional Scanner
A bi-directional scanner provides a more comprehensive and complex option than most standard scan tools. It combines the features of a basic and advanced scan tool and takes it further with its capacity to send commands to the vehicle's onboard computer. With a bi-directional scanner, you can actuate any computer-controlled part.
This distinguishing feature makes troubleshooting vehicles much easier, as you won’t have to go around swapping out parts blindly. Instead, you can send commands to the ECU to actuate parts — motors, switches, sensors — to identify the faulty component.
For instance, if a vehicle window isn't rolling, the culprit that comes to mind is either a faulty switch or a motor. But you can streamline this by using a bi-directional scanner to send a command to the ECU to roll up the window. If the window responds to the command, you know the motor is still working, and all you need is a new switch.
But before going ahead to buy one of these scanners, you want to go ahead and do your independent research to check the supported features. So you don’t end up with a product that doesn’t support your vehicle.
To give a better description of the features of bi-directional scanners and how to use them, we’ll do a review of the Ancel X7 bi-directional.
Ancel X7 Full System Automotive Scanner
The Ancel X7 is an upgrade to the X6 and supports a wider range of vehicles. This bi-directional scanner features a 10-inch android tablet and uses a more stable bluetooth link to run a full system diagnostic.
With the X7, you can read your engine, transmission, airbags, battery, air conditioning, anti-lock braking, steering angle sensors, door lock, body, or tire diagnostic code. Since it is a bi-directional scanner, you can also send commands to the vehicle's onboard computer.
Besides running full system diagnosis or actuating parts, you can also reset, code, or reprogram parts with the scanner. And it supports most US domestic, Asian, Australian, Chinese, and European vehicles. It also supports multiple languages and comes with two years of free updates.
How to Use Ancel X7 Bi-Directional Scanner
The Ancel X7 scanner is easy to use if you have the proper knowledge and guide. However, you need some mechanical knowledge or similar skill to understand some of the features included in the scanner. Below is a step-by-step process to power up and connect the scanner to your vehicle.
Step 1- Setup the Scanner
After unboxing the scanner, the first thing to do is set it up. Connect the device to your wifi and launch your Ancel X7 app. Now proceed to register and activate your account. All the details you’ll need are contained in a piece of paper included in the box. While you are at it, choose your preferred language and update the software.
Step 2- Connect the scanner to your vehicle.
Once you’ve set up the device and updated the software, it is ready to pair with your vehicle. Plug the system VCI box into your vehicle's OBD II port to initiate the Bluetooth connection. The power indicator on the VCI box should turn red immediately after plugging it into the OBD II port. Now proceed to pair the tablet to the system’s bluetooth.
Step 3- Scanning the Vehicle
On the Ancel X7 app, you’ll find the following options: Diagnose, Hot Function, Upgrade, Data manager, Quick Support, DTC Query, Feedback, Data Playback, and more. Select the Diagnose option to perform a diagnostic scan.
Once you select the ‘Diagnose’ icon, you can either select the vehicle make and model manually or allow the device auto-detect it. If you choose auto-detect, wait till the scan is over, and your exact vehicle make and model will come up. Once you’ve successfully selected your vehicle make and model, you’ll be presented with some options, including ‘System Selection’, ‘Quick Test’, or ‘Hot Function’.
The ‘Quick Test’ option runs a scan on all the vehicle systems. From the Powertrain to the Transmission, ABS System, Body Control Module, HVAC System, SRS Module, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and all other systems in the vehicle.
Once the scanner completes the test, it pulls up the result. The systems without issues will have a green ‘OK’ written in front. While the systems with issues will have a red ‘DTC’ with the number of issues detected in brackets written in front of the system. You can proceed to scan the system with issues, and the scanner will pull up their diagnostic codes.
Clicking on the ‘Hot Function’ option takes you to a page where all the available vehicle features are listed. From Key Programming to Gear Learning, ABS Bleeding, DPF, etc. However, that all these features are available on the scanner doesn’t necessarily mean that your vehicle supports them.
Clicking on the ‘System Selection’ option will list all the vehicle modules. You can further investigate individual modules by clicking on their option. You can do some ‘Live Data’ reading, where you'll see the systems sensor's operation on a live graph.
A bi-directional scan tool's major advantage over a basic or advanced scan tool is its ability to send commands to the onboard computer. But these types of scanners are best for professional mechanics, as they usually require subscriptions to access the latest software update.
A reliable option you should consider is Ancel’s X7 scanner. If you are a regular driver or DIYer looking for a car scanner to buy, the X7 is an overkill. Instead, Ancel’s BD500, VD500, or AD310 scanners are some great options you can consider.