• Off-Highway Engine and Equipment Diagnostic Hardware

    When it comes to off-highway engine and equipment diagnostics, it is an entirely different world compared to on-highway commercial trucks. This market covers everything from agriculture to construction to stand-alone engines used in generators, air compressors, pumps, and quite a few more. We are going to cover these by each manufacturer, so that you can see what the hardware costs would look like.

    However, before we go into that, the important thing to remember with any diagnostic tool is that you need at least three components: a computer, software, and the hardware interface to go between the equipment and the computer. There are two very important differences to note when comparing off-highway to on highway diagnostics.

    First is the hardware. In the commercial truck world, a standard has been created. This was mainly since multiple components are used by multiple truck makers, so everything had to be standardized. You can read more about this on another post we did covering the SAE standards. However, this standard does not exist in the off-highway world. There is very rarely any “sharing” of components such as transmission and ABS. Because of this, a lot of manufacturers chose their own diagnostic connector style, and most made their own vehicle network that is proprietary to just them.

    The second is the software. In the commercial truck world, most software is available to purchase outside of the dealerships, and there also exists aftermarket software such as PF-Diagnose, JPRO, and others. However, in the off-highway world the software is rarely sold outside the dealerships. What people most often find is pirated software, and it is usually older versions. The other change here is that in almost every situation the OEM specific off highway diagnostic software will *only* work with the OEM specific adapter. This means you must now purchase a specific adapter for each manufacturer, all of which are very expensive.

    In comparing and learning, we recommend you also check out ourTEXA Off-highway diagnostic tool. You will find that this tool costs a fraction of the hardware listed below, has no required annual fees, and includes repair information.

    On that note, we will now take a little more detailed look at the more popular off highway engines and equipment in the marketplace.

    CAT Equipment


    CAT has long been the dominant player in the construction industry and continues to be today. The software you are looking for in this case is the CAT Electronic Technician or CAT ET for short. This software is typically released 3 times per year. If you find a copy of CAT ET 2017B, you are looking at the 2017 version B software. The next release would be 2017C, and so on.

    CAT will very rarely sell their diagnostic software to anyone outside of their dealership group. If they do sell it, it is most likely to a VIP customer. If you are fortunate enough to obtain the diagnostic software from CAT, you would also need to purchase their CAT Communication 3 adapter, also known as the CAT Comm III. This adapter can be purchased for around $1300.

    The other important thing to note is that not all CAT engines are CAT engines. The smaller engines could be another manufacturer but painted yellow. The example shown below is a CAT engine and marked as such, but it is really an FPT engine.

    The other one that comes up in the discussion of CAT is Perkins. CAT is the owner of Perkins, and while there is a separate tool that is labeled Perkins, it is just a CAT Comm III. You can use the CAT adapter with both Perkins and CAT equipment, but for software you would need Perkins EST.

    John Deere Engines and Machinery


    We have a great blog post that covers diagnostic options on John Deere, so we will just give a quick recap here on the dealer level option. For the hardware, you will have to purchase the John Deere ELD adapter. You will also need to talk with your local John Deere dealership on the software. While there is a watered-down customer version available, the software you really want is called John Deere Service Advisor, or SA for short. You will be hard-pressed to obtain this software legally, as John Deere rarely allows end-users or repair shops have access to it.

    Volvo Engines and Machinery


    The software you are looking for is called ProSis. This one software program is used by Volvo across the globe for heavy equipment. Currently, you can only purchase the "truck" software known as PTT or Premium Tech Tool, which means obtaining the other licenses legally is virtually impossible.

    For the hardware side, the recommended adapter is the Volvo VOCOM. This adapter isn’t cheap, as it comes with no cables. Of course, Volvo decided to make all the cables with a specialty connector, so even the USB cable is almost $300. Expect to spend around $2,300 to get an original adapter with the cables you need. Alternatively, we have been told that a standard adapter such as the DPA5 or DrewLinQ will work just fine, but we have never tested it and Volvo doesn’t recommend this.



    Case New Holland software required a special adapter, called the CNH DPA5. Often customers ask us if the normal DPA5 will work, and it will not. The programming is completely different. This adapter is the only one that will work with the genuine CNH software, which isn’t cheap coming in at around $2500.

    For the software side, you will need to use the CNH EST software. As with most software for this industry, you will find it almost impossible to obtain legally. While you may find some copies of the software available overseas or on secondary websites like Craigslist, these are always pirated software.



    JCB equipment and engines require the software called Service Master. We have tried to purchase this software from JCB dealers in the past, and we have been told that it is not available to the public. Again, you will find copies around on the Internet but these are always older versions that have been hacked and modified to function. In our opinion, hooking expensive equipment up to hacked software is never a good idea.

    On the hardware end, the JCB ServiceMaster software will only work with the JCB adapter, which is going to cost almost $1,000.



    Kubota uses software called Diagmaster, and they do not sell this to the public typically. This software also will only work with one of two adapters. The first is the DST-I adapter made by Denso, and the alternative is that the DG Python adapter works as well. However, the Python has been discontinued and replaced by the DG d-Bridge adapter. We have not had the opportunity to test the d-Bridge with the Diagmaster software, so proceed with caution if you go that route.



    Most people relate Cummins engines to the diagnostic software called Cummins Insite, which they would be correct. We do sell Cummins Insite licenses and these will work for off-highway applications as long as you are using the "Pro" version. Furthermore, Cummins is on version 8.3 as of the date of this blog, so you may see people selling off-highway versions of the software on the Internet. These will always be v7.x, and they will always be pirated and illegal software. Again, we recommend staying away from this.

    For the hardware side, Cummins does place nicely in this aspect that any RP1210 adapter will function appropriately. This can include adapters such as the Cummins Inline 7DrewLinQNexiq USB Link 2, and even the CAT Comm III adapter. Most often you won’t need to purchase a special adapter to use Cummins Insite on Cummins equipment.


    We’ve lumped all these together engines because they share one common trait: You can’t purchase the original adapters. However, there are plenty of China clones and knock-offs available all over the Internet. This includes the Deutz HS Light II, FPT Eltrac, Mercedes Xentry, Scania VCI-3, and others.

    Furthermore, we’ve tried to purchase the OEM software from these various groups and have been unsuccessful.


    In short, if you are trying to use OEM software on off-highway equipment, you will need the corresponding OEM hardware as well. Also, most of the software is not available to the public. To summarize, your hardware costs alone would be in a $20,000 price range if you were to purchase all of it. It is for this reason, we really recommend you look at our TEXA Off-Highway diagnostic kit, which performs at dealer level capability for a fraction of the cost.

    VOLVO VOCOM II w/cables
    John Deere ELD
    VCase New Holland DPA5
    Cummins Inline 7*
    Might be able to use CAT Comm III or VOCOM III
    Duetz HS Light II
    Only available to dealers or Chinese cloned copies
    FPT Eltrac
    Only available to dealers or Chinese cloned copies
    Kubota Denso DST-i Adapter
    Mercedes Xentry
    Only available to dealers or Chinese cloned copies
    MTU Diagnostic Tool
    Only available to dealers or Chinese cloned copies
    Scania VCI-3
    Only available to dealers or Chinese cloned copies
    Total Price
    Previous article The Diesel Technician Shortage Explained

    Tyler Robertson

    Tyler Robertson is the Founder, Owner, and President of www.DieselLaptops.com. Started in 2010, DieselLaptops.com has become the premiere source of diesel diagnostic equipment for commercial trucks, off-highway equipment, marine, motorcycle, automobile, agriculture, and more.


    Ron Brosius - March 22, 2021

    Can this system hook up to all heavy equipment? Once purchased is there a yearly fee? Can I flash cat ecms? I currently have cat sis and et. But can’t flash, only dealer can. I worked for cat for 15yr, now I’m on my own. I’m looking for something I can use on all earth moving equipment only, and hoping I can flash with this. Please get back to me with a price, I have a laptop, so don’t know if I would just need software and cables(comadapter)

    Miles Glanfield - February 11, 2021

    Looking for adapters and software for

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