Because i work with FCA diag software on a daily basis i can share some experience.
There is a standard adopted by most automakers in 2002? So just about any cheap chinese obd tool (if it supports the appropriate communications protocol) can read basic trouble codes populated on the databus. But that s all.
To dig deeper into other control units, make adjustments and programming you need more sophisticated devices
When talking about OEM tools, then for almost anything up to 2005 (some dodge trucks up to 2007) you need a DRBIII
WiTech DRB Emulator is NOT a 100% replacement for a real DRB Scan tool.
From 2007 up to 2009 you can use StarScan or StarMobile. basicaly the same device with the same capabilities. The only difference ist that Starscan is a standalone handheld unit with color LCD and Starmobile uses the VCI pod as an interface and needs a PC as a desktop client. Now obstolete, no FCA support nor flash files anymore.
Still both work pretty well in standalone mode, you can do almost anything dealer can, except flashes.
WiTech (or WiTech1) – can use the same communication interface as starmobile did. Or can use the new Micropod. Can work in standalone mode. Supports vehicles up to 2015. Again, can do just about anything the dealer can, including flashes (if you have paid access to techAuthority service). Lot of clones on the market, also same used units from closed dealerships…
BUT!!! You go online and play with FCA and do not have registered micropod or VCI pod it will be rendered locked and useless.
Todays state of art is Witech2.
This is online only solution. No standalone software or application. Works with just about any internet browser or operatiing system (win, apple, unix, linux android…..) Does not work without internet connection.
Uses the same wiTech MicroPod 2 bud you need an utility to change firmware. this can be done only once. So if you still plan to use Witech 1, you need another micropod which will be dedicated to Witech2 only.
Then you need a $$$ subscription from FCAWitech. In USA it is also available for an aftermarket shops, in Europe it is a dealer-only option.
Works also with some clones, but it is a hit/miss. Good clones whicch work run about $500 in the net. Not cheap, but still better than $1800
This is a decent micropod 2 china clone: (it’s sp271-c)
Regarding the AppCar FCA software – it works. I know who made it and have a multi license version (not single vehicle). can do a lot but not everything.
But in some cases it can go beyond the capabilities of dealer tools.
You can change gear ratios, tyre circumference/size, enable/disable TPMS, program DRL, program voltages for PWM (good for LED headlamps) and a lot of other stuff.
Quite long post, but hope someone finds this info useful
Attachment: witech abilities
DTC Code Retrieval
Retrieve OE DTC with code Definition X
Link DTC to service information X
Customizable PID display X
Retrieve and display Mode 6 Data X
Network Topography X
SCI BUS ISO 9141
PCI BUS X
Programmable Module Installation (PMI) procedures X
Module Reprogramming (Reflash) X
Supplemental restraints initialization X
Programmable Parameters ( ability to change in service settings i.e., tire size, personality, customer convenience etc. X
Anti-theft System Functions X
Remote Keyless Entry X
Factory Keyless Entry Code X
Restraints (supplemental restraints and seat belts) X
ABS Service Bleed X
ABS/ Brake system functions X
IVD Initialization Sequence
Ride Height Calibration ( for vehicles with pneumatic or hydraulic ride height controls)
Tire pressure monitor functions X
Cruise Control System tests X
Electronic Ride control X
Charging System Tests X
Parking Aid Tests X
EVAP Test X
Force monitors to run
Fuel Economy Test
Fuel System Test/Relative Injector Flow Test X
Bi-directional control of fuel components X
Bi-directional Ignition System control X
Power Balance Test X
Relative Compression Test X
Transmission bi-directional Tests X
Engine Checks and OBD Tests (Drive Cycle, Mode 01, Mode 06 & Mode 09) X
EGR Test X
Basic DMM functions
Current measurements (50 Amps/500 Amps)
COP (Coil-On-Plug) stress test