Tool Review: Programa PC Retriever

The PC Retriever from Programa consists of PC-based software which is linked to the vehicle by a Vehicle Interface.  This system delivers a wide range of manufacturer-specific diagnostic data from European vehicles covering Mercedes Benz, BMW, MINI, Volvo, VW/Audi and OBD II.

The PC Retriever has the ability to graph, view, print and save “live data.” Other added features include module coding, component activation, factory fault codes and text (includes fault summary and vehicle quick test), memory reset and display freeze-frame data values. 

By having software running on a PC, Programa has the ability to complete Internet updates, remote software activation and customer support using the “remote support” feature. 

The Review

Technician Tom Karagianis reviewed the Programa PC Retriever at Tarkus Complete Automotive Service in Milwaukee, Wis.

Tom said users require their own computer to use this program, and the shop purchased a laptop specifically for using the Programa PC Retriever. (They had been looking to upgrade their shop computers for awhile.)

He said when he and other technicians in the shop used the scan tool, they liked the fast setup and the quick results.

“I think the best part of it was, it was fast, and the information was right there.”

Tom found one drawback: he didn’t always have the opportunity to use the PC Retriever since he found it useful only for foreign makes and models. Because of the less frequent use, he found it may be more expensive to justify purchasing for his shop.  

“It’s easy to use, but it’s expensive. And there’s a monthly charge (for the online service you need) to get information out of it.”

He said when they did use the tool, he liked the ability to go online for more information and assistance. He has also contacted and worked with the Programa online support staff.

Although Tom said his shop didn’t use the PC Retriever as often because his customer base includes all types of vehicles, he suggested the PC-based scan tool would work well for foreign vehicle repair shops.

“It’s a great tool if you’re going to be a specialty BMW shop, or specialty Porsche shop,” Tom said. 

It would also work well “if you’re going to buy (Programa’s) programs, for their different manufacturers, and if you’re working on imports.”