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Bluetooth Scan Tools Can Be a Blessing or a Curse

Many software developers have invested considerable time and money to make their products work properly with these scan tool devices. This includes the many software programs like ‘Torque’ for use with Android enabled phones. Torque is the most downloaded scan tool software on Google Play and has a great following by its many users.

Torque as well as many other phone (Android, iPhone, Symbian), tablet (Android, Windows) and PDA applications (programs) are included with our Bluetooth Scan Tool , the 2X80S.


Many of these programs are promoted by their developers as usable while driving a vehicle. If you follow the developers advice it may prove to be dangerous.

The developers suggest that you download their software to your phone, install a Bluetooth scan tool like the 2X80S, connect to the vehicle and enable a communications link with the cars PCM and network computers, and then proceed to drive your car.

Bluetooth enabled car network communications have their place and can be very useful whether you are using a smart phone or a Bluetooth enabled notebook, or laptop with software.

The place they should be used is in the service bay or very sparingly in an open road test; however suggesting or using these systems in an uncontrolled environment like driving your car with the tool continuously installed is dangerous and poses serious risks not only to your car, but you and the public.

At a recent conference the automobile manufacturers IT/IS people and others from the IT/IS community openly stated their concerns for car computer networks. They reminded the public that these computers and networks have NO firewalls, NO antivirus, and can be exploited.

The cars have as sophisticated a network as in any corporate environment for example Ford Motor Company recently announced that the Ford Fusion has 70 computers  in the one car. Ford says data on the Fusion network flows at the rate of 25 gigabytes per hour. But it has NO protection!

These 70 computers control not only the operation of the engine and transmission, but also control the many safety systems on the car. Ford is not the only manufacturer using these computers and network to control safety systems.

Exploitation of the Antilock Brake System (ABS) could render the brakes inoperative. Not a good scenario if you are driving your car and someone shuts down your brakes. What happens if they also turn off the Air Bags (SRS), and take control of the Cruise Control, speeding your car up uncontrollably?

A little research can show that there are less than 10 protocols (languages) used in vehicles, and since 2006 there has been only one language, CAN. This is very similar to what happened to PCs and their operating systems. We are all aware that Microsoft’s operating systems became the defacto operating system of  PCs. Yes, there are others such as Linux, and Mac but their market share is miniscule when compared to Microsoft’s Windows.

If you remember before and during the early years of Microsoft’s Windows there were viruses, Trojans and such but they were not really a threat like they are today. This threat has materialized simply because of a predominant operating system and its flaws are continuously documented and exploited.  

Microsoft has added firewall and antivirus software to their operating systems, and continuously tries to harden their systems against exploitation. Even with this help from Microsoft, many of the world/s PCs are still exploited daily.

These car exploitations will grow with the governmental requirement to a single language for external communication, CAN.  Without intervention and or industry wide cooperation, the situation will most likely follow the path of what happened in the PC industry.

When you drive your car with the Bluetooth scan tool connected to it, you may not be the only person accessing the data or interacting with the many computers onboard. These Bluetooth enabled scan tools can transmit data over a distance of up to 100 meters, and are capable of fast enough data speeds that two or more simultaneous connections are possible. They present an OPEN doorway that can be exploited not only for retrieving data but changing the programming or controlling it.

Don't forget that IF you leave a Bluetooth Scan Tool permanently connected to your car, it makes it easier for a thief to connect to your car, program a new RF key like in the BMW and steal your car . Also it would be highly doubtful if your insurance would pay since you obviously would have contributed to the theft.

Please consider using these tools responsibly and do not drive your car with it connected as you are not the only person driving on the roads.

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Comparing our 2X80S to competitors

Controls Data Corruption
Improved Data Speed
Enhanced Software Included
Phone Tablet PDA Capable
Multiple PC Applications
Multiple Phone Tablet PDA Applications
2 Wheel Vehicle Applications
Component Specs
OBD Training
Legacy OS Support
  Yes or Included           No or not included              Some or limited
All above information is based on published information as of 01/2015 or products purchsed to confirm

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