PACLink Heavy Truck Diagnostic Code Reader : Buyers Guide & Reviews

The PACLink is a diagnostic scan tool that is built with heavy duty and commercial vehicles in mind. Specifically, the PACLink is a bluetooth adaptor unit that connects to a smartphone app and allows a mechanic to run system tests and investigate various vehicle components. The PACLink is an alternative to a dedicated OBD tool, which is the traditional device required in order to run vehicle diagnostics.

Like many diagnostic scanners, the PACLink can read and clear trouble codes from a range of different vehicle systems, as well as boasting a range of other features that are best used for heavy duty vehicle servicing. In this review, we’ll take an in depth look at the PACLink, and help you work out whether this is the right tool for you and your workshop.

The first part of the review will give a rough overview of the scanner, before exploring its compatibility and features. The final part of the review will outline the best things about the PACLink and we’ll give our verdict on whether we’d recommend this bluetooth diagnostic tool.

Product Overview

The PACLink is a bluetooth adapter that plugs into the OBD port of a variety of heavy duty vehicles and trucks. The main advantage of a bluetooth adapter is that any annoying cables are removed, and as a mechanic you won’t be tethered to the vehicle. This means you can walk around the vehicle whilst running diagnostics. Bluetooth adapters are a viable alternative to a dedicated scan tool.

Like many diagnostic scan tools, the PACLink is an effective code reader and clearer. It reads all published J1939 codes, which originate from a variety of vehicle systems, including the ABS, SRS and transmission. The PACLink reads these codes quickly and accurately, and almost immediately highlights any problems in the systems to the mechanic.

After the device has read the fault codes and the mechanic has completed the necessary repairs, the PACLink can then be used to clear the codes. This is essential so that you know what’s be fixed and what still needs to be done. A great feature of this scan tool is that it provides fault code descriptions to assist the user and help them decide on the correct repair.

The PACLink features autoVIN technology, which reads your vehicle’s VIN number as soon as the device is connected. The VIN number lets the PACLink know the make and model of the truck, its year of manufacture and also information about the age of the engine. This saves a lot of time for the mechanic, who would otherwise have to research all the vehicle information before attempting any repairs. It also lets the user know the true age of the vehicle, which is useful

The PACLink has a live data function, which displays real time gauges that represent readings from across different vehicle components. Live data is a function that is usually expected from high quality diagnostic tools and is widely used in professional workshops, since it provides extremely useful information that is very difficult to obtain with other methods.

The live data stream reports on things like fuel trims, which lets you know how efficiently the fuel injection system is operating, as well as engine RPM and other engine statistics. Since the data is reported in real time, the mechanic can see how the engine’s components respond to different commands. For example they could press the accelerator pedal whilst looking at the data stream, and be able to see what effect it is having on the engine.

The PACLink also has a useful capture feature that allows the user to take screenshots of the different menus and live data gauges so that can be saved for later use. This is great as it lets the mechanic build up a record of their repairs, and they can refer back to them in the future if they find themselves faced with a similar repair.

The capture feature is best used when combined with the scan tool’s report feature. This handy function allows you to connect to a printer and print a summary of vehicle data. This summary can then be attached to repair orders to let your customers know all the repair information and what has been done to their vehicle.

The PACLink can display readings in both metric and imperial units. This is pretty helpful as often there is a confusing mix between which values you think of in metric terms and which in imperial terms. The PACLink removes this confusion and lets you customise it to the way you understand best. It’s also useful if you work in a workshop that has a large team of staff, who use metric and imperial in different situations. This means everyone can make use of the PACLink, and jobs can be simplified throughout the workshop.

The companion app that pairs with the PACLink is available on the Google Play Store, and on the Apple App Store. This means that the app is compatible with nearly all Android and iOS devices. This versatility again makes the PACLink even easier to use, and means it can be connected up to different staff members’ devices. The app is extremely intuitive and easy to use, and the app connects to the scanner quickly and with a strong connection.

The app is separated into multiple menus and sections. There is a menu for faults and fault codes, as well as one for the live data gauges, and one for general vehicle information. The app is responsive and you can get around in with ease. The inputs are lag free and there won’t be any frustrating delays when you’re trying to complete a complex repair.

The PACLink comes with a 1 year subscription to TruckFaultCodes.com, which is an interesting and much appreciated inclusion. TruckFaultCodes is a database of thousands of known heavy duty vehicle fault codes and problems, and a bank of verified repairs for those faults. This is a great tool for a mechanic who is working with many different types of truck brands and models during their day, giving them quick access to information that will really speed up their repair processes.

Finally, the design of the actual PACLink service adaptor unit is well thought through and executed. Small led indicators let you know when the device is connected to a smartphone, which remove all the annoying guesswork. As you know, connecting via bluetooth is sometimes a frustrating experience, but the PACLink makes it really easy. The unit is small enough to be portable and slip into a pocket, but large enough so that it isn’t easily lost. It makes a solid seal with the diagnostic port, and won’t be dropping out mid repair.

Overall, the PACLink is a reliable, well built and feature packed diagnostic scanner. The fact that it is wireless is a bonus, and really gives the user an excellent experience. In the next part of this review, we’ll delve a little deeper into the device’s functionality, as well as explore its impressive compatibility.

Compatibility

The PACLink is compatible with a large range of trucks and other heavy duty vehicles. Specifically, it works with nearly all truck makes and their vehicles that were built in or after 2004. It also works on a range of medium sized HGVs and small truck triage, again if they are built in 2004 or later. This is quite impressive coverage, since many scan tools are only compatible with a handful of different vehicle makes. The fact that this device works with the vast majority of truck brands really sets in apart from some of its competitors.

Compatibility is important when looking for a new vehicle scanner, especially if you are a professional mechanic that is working with a variety of different vehicles every single day. You want a tool that will be compatible with whatever is brought into the workshop next. Having one that is only compatible with a few makes is not really worth it in a professional workshop.

In essence, the PACLink’s impressive coverage of vehicles from the United States, Europe and Asia will mean that you’ll be able to use it on nearly all your repairs. This will save a lot of time in the long run, saving money in labour costs and also meaning that you can complete more jobs every day. Definitely consider compatibility when searching for a new workshop tool.

Functionality

In the first section we gave a rough overview of some of the main features of this scan tool. Here, we’ll look at those features in more depth so that you have a much better idea of what it can offer before you decide to buy.

Read and clear fault codes

Like all of the top diagnostic tools on the market, this one can read and clear fault codes effectively. Whether the fault codes originate from the engine, transmission, or ABS systems, the PAC Link will be able to read them. In fact, the PAC Link reads all published J1939 codes. The device also provides quick fault code descriptions to let the user know specifically where the problem lies. This is very useful since otherwise you’d have to research every error code yourself.

After you have completed a repair, the PAC Link can then be used to clear and reset the offending error codes. This is again important since you want to reset these codes, so that even the code reappears then it isn’t just the same problem as before.

It’s also worth noting that wi-fi or cellular data isn’t needed to read error codes, all that is required is a bluetooth connection, which can be established anywhere in the world. This is particularly great if you are taking the PAC Link abroad, and don’t want to rack up a big phone bill using expensive data rates to read any error codes.

Deactivate the check engine light

Another classic diagnostic tool use is to disable a vehicle warning lamp, such as the check engine light. This is one of the main reasons why a mechanic might be tempted to pick up a diagnostic tool, as it means they can easily reset these warning lights after finishing a repair. Although it is possible to disable these lights without a scan tool, the PAC Link definitely makes it easier.

As well as the check engine lamp, the PAC Link can also disable the change oil light, the tire pressure monitor warning symbol, and the transmission warning light. This is the bread and butter of diagnostic scan tools, but the PAC Link completes these deactivations quickly and without any issues.

Live stream gauges

Perhaps the PACLink’s best and most useful feature is its live data capabilities, which it refers to as live Gauges. These gauges report on a variety of vehicle systems and sensors in real time, so that the mechanic can really get to the bottom of any problems and easily locate the root cause of those problems.

The data that the live gauges display includes engine RPM, throttle position, battery level, average speeds, as well as information from sensors. The most useful one is probably the O2 or oxygen sensors. These are particularly useful for a mechanic since they give a good indication as to whether or not a vehicle is likely to pass an emissions test or not. The sensors are placed either side of the catalytic converter so that you know how well the converter is functioning.

There is no point sending a vehicle for an emissions test if it’s definitely going to fail, this would be a waste of money. However, without a device like the PACLink, it would be very difficult to gauge the likelihood of a failure. this is the same across other vehicle systems, and a mechanic will save a lot of money by being able to self test their vehicles, rather than paying for driving tests regularly.

The handy report feature also puts vehicle live data into a PDF file which can be sent straight to a printer to produce a hard copy. These papers can then be attached to repair orders so that the customer knows exactly what has been done and why.

Life/Trip

The live stream also gives contrasting statistics for the vehicle’s last trip, and over its lifetime. For example, you can see the average miles per gallon or the engine RPM in both cases. This is useful since a mechanic can see if the vehicle is still performing up to its usual standards. If the miles per gallon is much lower than the lifetime average, then this might suggest that a problem has developed with the fuel system or engine efficiency, and the mechanic can start there with the repairs.

Vehicle Information

The PAC Link’s automatic VIN reading technology means the user has all the vehicle information at their fingertips. This information includes the vehicle’s make and model and year of manufacture. This is also great for fleet managers who regularly buy new trucks and vehicles since it lets them see the true age of a vehicle.

The device also uses the information gathered by the VIN scanning to help suggest repairs for specific vehicles. It also uses it to read and clear error codes more accurately and efficiently.

Design

The PAC Link itself is built to a high standard meaning it is durable and will last for years to come. It is a sensible size that is very portable but also large enough to not be fiddly and easy to lose. It fits into the diagnostic port snugly and won’t be dropping out during repairs.

The LED indicator light that lets you know when it is connected to a smartphone is a really useful and thoughtful inclusion, there’s nothing more annoying than not knowing when bluetooth devices are connected. To connect, you simply enter a pairing code on your phone, and the LED will let you know when you’re connected.

The companion app is also well designed and is intuitive. The solid design of the PAC Link combined with the simplicity of the companion app results in a frustration free package with great usability.

Now that we’ve been over the device’s functionality, the next part of the review will summarise the key features.

Key Features

Live Data

The PACLink’s live data gauge system is a very impressive feature, particularly from a bluetooth adapter style scanner. The data reveals a lot about the engine’s condition, and being able to send the repair information as a handy PDF is useful.

Auto VIN reading

It is much easier to repair trucks when you know exactly what you are dealing with, and the autoVIN technology tells you just that. The auto VIN reading provides the data to the PAC Link that is needed to read codes specific to certain vehicle makes. Generally, it saves a lot of time and therefore money.

Engine Diagnostics

The PAC Link can diagnose problems from across vehicle systems, including the engine, transmission and ABS. You can also use the device to efficiently clear error codes after completing repairs.

The Verdict

Overall, as you can probably tell from our review, the PAC Link is an excellent diagnostic tool. It has great coverage across trucks from the United States, Europe and Asia, and can diagnose error codes in all of them. The functionality is impressive – the PAC Link offers features that you really wouldn’t expect from a portable bluetooth adaptor. We definitely recommend this tool to repair shops, and also to owner operators, who want to keep their heavy duty vehicles in check. You can’t go wrong with the PAC Link.

FAQs

The PAC Link is a very good diagnostic tool, that is suitable for professional mechanics, as well as owner operators of heavy duty vehicles. Whether you need to check the oil temperature, test the brakes, or run system checks, the PAC Link will be able to help you out. It has a great design with LED lights to indicate adaptor status. It’s easy to use and the autobaud detection ensures the bluetooth connection stays strong.

For more product details, have a read of our review above. The review gives an overview of the device, and takes in depth looks at some of its features.

The PAC Link works with nearly all trucks produced after 2004. Mercedes trucks are included in this, and you’re unlikely to find a Mercedes truck that isn’t compatible with the PAC Link and its companion app.

For more product details, have a read of our review above. The review gives an overview of the device, and takes in depth looks at some of its features.

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