ABS/EBS fault-reading and decoding is the latest innovation to be added to Scrutineer, the stand-alone trailer diagnostic unit from Hope Technical Developments. Phil Sherman at Feltham-based Phoenix Trailer Services has been putting it through its paces.

Trailers might have fewer systems to service compared with tractor units, but pinpointing faults can be time consuming. For example, is a fault down to the tractor-trailer air and electrical connectors at the front or something mechanical at the rear?

Hope’s Scrutineer trailer diagnostic unit can identify air leaks, poor brake adjustment, faults in lighting circuits, ABS and EBS faults, and problems with supply circuits on trailers. It is popular with many fleet servicing trailers and, in the latest update, the company has integrated Code-Talk, a software addition that makes reading and decoding of EBS/ABS fault codes more efficient, saving both time and cost.

Code-Talk reads out any faults recorded in the trailer ABS/EBS ECU. The technician can clear them from the ECU memory – once they have been rectified, of course.

Another benefit is that by integrating Code-Talk into Scrutineer, Hope has made it possible to have routine fault-code reading and diagnostics in a single unit – there is no longer a need for a separate laptop to read and interpret brake manufacturers’ fault codes to understand what fault the code is referring to.


“I’ve had previous experience with the Scrutineer, so I appreciate what a time-saver it can be when it comes to diagnosing trailer faults. Code-Talk provides additional diagnostic scope for ABS/EBS faultfinding,” says Phil.

“The braking systems on the trailers we service include Haldex, Knorr-Bremse, and Wabco. Currently, we need software from each of them to read the fault codes on their systems. We also have to make sure each is regularly updated. Code-Talk incorporates all the various manufacturers’ software and having it on the Scrutineer means all the diagnostic kit is in a single unit.”

Hope says it is continuously updated to ensure it remains compatible with all the leading brake brands, so that is both reassuring and could also save cost.

“The benefit of Code-Talk is that it enables the technician to get all the brake system fault codes via the ECU on the trailer, including a description of the fault. Scrutineer then helps pinpoint what has caused the fault – a low-output from the offside or nearside sensor, an internal valve, or an external cable, for example. It works really well and saves a lot of diagnostic time.”

Scrutineer on test

The Scrutineer is powered via the workshop mains electricity supply, so there are no exhaust fumes or noise from a tractor unit. The trolley it is mounted on has space for the compressed air cylinder and also for a battery, if mains electricity is not available. The colour-coded control panel has a set of LED lights and dials which guide the technician through all the safety checks.

Phil continues: “Space is tight on our dedicated trailer servicing site, so manoeuvring trailers in and out of the bays is a challenge. Not having to have a tractor unit to supply power to trailers for checks is a real bonus, because it minimises emissions and makes it a much more pleasant place to work.

“It is simple to use – you just hook it up to the supply lines at the front of the trailer. The technician can then walk to the back of the trailer and use the remote control to carry out function checks – there’s no need to involve a second member of staff to operate the brakes, or check lights and so on. Routine safety checks are still carried out thoroughly, but the whole process is more efficient.


“Technicians can check valve operation at the correct settings, as well as pressure, the EBS CAN line integrity, the operation of brake mechanisms, and operate the brakes via a remote control, for example. The control panel also shows live data like air pressures, wheel speeds and voltages – all of which helps speed up diagnostics,” points out Phil.

Lights and electrics

The bulb meter lets technicians do a quick visual check of how many bulbs are in operation on a circuit and identify earth faults immediately. Lighting circuits can be checked by socket pin number with the operation of the ABS system via 24N, 24S and the ISO-7638 connection.

Remote action

With the remote, the technician can perform the usual checks to be done whilst the technician is under the trailer, including releasing the brakes, checking brake operation, and making any necessary adjustments. They can check brake sliders and pad wear, and on drum brakes check and adjust, if necessary, the slack adjusters. The wheels can be spun for a quick check on tyre wear.

“The ability to check under-chassis components using the remote control has been a real efficiency booster. Vital safety checks are not going to be overlooked because the technician is to-ing and fro-ing from under the chassis – he can concentrate on what he’s doing,” says Phil.

There’s a separate voltage check for each side of the trailer – which saves time when fault-finding because there’s no need to run a full diagnostic to pinpoint the fault.

To find out more on the Scrutineer trailer diagnostic unit from Hope Technical Developments, click here.

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