Marine Engine Diagnostic System (MEDS) Review
There are just a handful of Multi-brand Marine diagnostic software programs on the market today. One of those, The Marine Engine Diagnostic System, or better known as MEDS, is a multi-brand marine diagnostic tool made by CDI electronics which covers most of your major brand outboard, inboard, Personal Water Crafts (PWCs), and Volvo Penta D6 diesel engines. The MEDS tool has a wired diagnostic cable or cables depending on the engine, that runs to your laptop/tablet to the ECM connector to communicate information of the engine. The flash drive used during set up will have to be in the laptop in order to run the software on the engine.
First, lets give a brief overview of what each tab looks like, how to find certain information, and then we will get into the pros and cons of the diagnostic software.
The interface is shown below, and it is in a colorful red and black color scheme that is easy on the eyes. After you have connected the cables to the ECM and laptop (don’t forget the flash drive), you then select what you want to pull from the ECM. The software has the tabs found on the right-hand side of the screen.
Live and Dual ECM Data is just that, data read from the ECM about the engine you are connected to. You are going to see gauges like below showing you those parameters.
If you select the Text View, it will give you graphs on certain parameters.
Real time Data is going to give you the parameters at that moment as seen below in a different screen then the gauges.
System info is going to give you the ECU information and specifications on the engine. This includes information such as model, engine specific information such as oil type and capacity, along with some settings programmed into the engine.
View History tab is going to give you run times, Freeze Frame, and diagnostic records. Depending on the ECM it may give you Freeze Frame on different systems or Fault Seconds. You can also erase history and add the results to a file.
The Active Faults Tab is going to tell you what faults you have on the engine if any, and what faults may be “ghost faults”.
The Engine Tests is going to give you tests that can be performed on certain components of the engine. Depending on manufacturer and the ECM you may have more or less than other engines.
You also have the Auto Self-Test tab and the Options Tab is where you are going to find the Serial Number, Licensed Engine platforms, and where you can change the units of measurements and Language.
The Help Menu is where you can find information on the application, help with navigating through the software, cable information, and the information on how to get tech support.
Meds is easy to use, especially for the people that struggle with computers. They have a simple format with an easy to read interface that is plain and straight to the point. They offer multiple packages for some of you that only work with certain manufacturers and engine types. Coverage is basically up to 2011 on some engines, others it may go a little later but that depends again on engine manufacturer and ECM model. From my experience the tool works great on Mercury products and Yamaha engines. Their Tech support is open from 8-5 Central, they are always polite and usually does not have a long wait time.
One issue with the system is the cable selection process. Other tools on the market give you pictures, and some have videos to explain where and which cable to use on different models. I use these tools almost every day, so I’m used to what to use but for a mechanic that only brings the tool out once a week or month this could be a huge issue on time and your personal sanity! I’ve had my share of meltdowns.
The larger issue that is that the coverage on some models only goes to 2011 on most models. We verified that with MEDS Technical Support, and from our own experience with the tool. There are other tools on the market that have a lot more coverage, both in terms of which engines it will connect with, the model years it works with, and the number of diagnostic commands it will do.
An example of this is diesel engine coverage. MEDS lists only the Volvo D6, while other tools like the TEXA or Cojali give you complete coverage across CAT, Cummins, John Deere, and many others. I would rather have the capabilities to do more engines for a cheaper price.
The last strong negative is the price point for this tool. Since MEDS is purchased by modules, the price goes up very quickly once you combine all your coverage. For that price, you’d be better off with a more robust diagnostic system. Where this works in MEDS favor is for clients that are only wanting coverage on a specific engine or two.
In conclusion, MEDS is an easy to use diagnostic tool that lacks in a lot of coverage and functionality. There is only a hand full of diagnostic tools on the market for marine engines that don’t have the price of OEM software and the coverage. MEDS is one that does a great job with coverage for different engines but there are two others that offer more coverage in gas engines and much more in diesel engine coverage. Coverage for engines after 2011 can be spotty though, so if you plan on working on newer engines as well as older this may not be the tool for you. You may want to check out the Cojali Jaltest or the Texa tools. They tend to be easier to use, have repair information, troubleshooting guides, a much cheaper price, and much more coverage.
As always, we appreciate feedback and comments!