Documentation DVD and scanner review:
Iíve tried to post this information in a new thread several times and I continue to get messages that my post wonít be visible until reviewed by a moderator. That apparently hasnít happened either, so Iím going to try and add it here as another reply to this existing thread. If Iíve offended anyone or broken any rules, I apologize in advance.
I mentioned earlier in this thread that Iíd bought a documentation DVD and a scanner I hoped would allow access to the proprietary GM systems, primarily the folding top controller (FTC).
I bought one of these DVD's for the documentation:
Unfortunately, the GM Tech2 scanner was not affordable for me. After researching and questioning the vendor, I decided to take a risk on one of these scanners:
Iíve now had both for a while and have had time to see if they would be suitable, particularly for a retractable owner. Hereís a brief review.
The documentation DVD: I bought this first and installed it on a laptop that was capable of running it. Be advised to pay attention to the system requirements. It installs a non-commercial copy of VMWare and runs the software in a virtual instance of Windows XP. (Donít forget how old this stuff is.) This is real GM documentation as written for the technician using GM tools and training. If youíre mechanical and competent with current automotive technology, youíll be okay. But realize this isnít intended for the novice. On the up side, everything that ever happened to the G6ís is here and even better, all the embedded links that take you to related topics work! It may be overkill for the casual owner who just wants to maintain his/her G6, but those personalities who crave information (and therefore overkill) will eat it up. Even though current GM documentation with its cryptic line drawings leaves me a little cold, itís still possible to see what you need. Printing from the tool is a little fiddly and Windows has its usual quirks, but it does work. (Tip: When you end the VM session as in shutting down the computer, choose ďSuspendĒ so it saves where you were and doesnít have to go through as many hoops when you load it next time. If Windows wonít boot within the VM next time, choose ďLast known configuration that workedĒ and it should go back to where you were.)
The scanner: I was really skeptical that this scanner would live up to the promises, but I was surprised. The model I bought was GM only, but there are models for other makes and even top-line models that cover all makes. Itís even updatable (through subscription) so additional years can be loaded into it. This one I bought covers GM vehicles through 2016 so that covers all G6ís and I donít plan any other purchases and I shouldnít have to update it.
The setup is simple and itís quite intuitive to use. (Good thing since the user manual is back-level.) Once connected, you can choose to have it scan your vehicle for all controllers that exist or you can manually input the vehicle information from a representative list. Iíve done it both ways. It sometimes takes a few moments to connect and communicate and you might not get immediate feedback, but ultimately I was able to reach everything (and thereís a LOT.) A few times it told me that it couldnít communicate, but backing out and trying again always got me there eventually. Patience is always advised and itís no big deal if you want to unplug it and start over (Iíve done this too). It has all the usual functions like reading and clearing the DTCís. But for all the proprietary GM systems and operations it really shows it usefulness. And specifically for retractable owners, it DOES communicate with the FTC (Folding Top Controller) and the information it holds regarding the current state of switches and controls is very interesting. (One item the FTC is supposed to report is the number of cycles the top has completed from day one. On my car, that count was ď0Ē and I donít know why. Iíll keep an eye on it to see if it changes.) Many of the controllers have special functions that are also very useful (like remote fob programming). Another example is that you can access a function through the BCM (Body Control Module) that will override the FTC and release the trunk solenoid for you without drama. (Thatís very cool.)
My conclusion: For the price of each, I think theyíre a hit. (And it you have other GM vehicles in your stable that fall in the date range, the scanner is useful for them too.) IMHO if you plan to keep your retractable indefinitely as a collectible as I hope to, these are two items you need.
Good luck everyone. - Mark