Genuine vs Clone Tools

Can you tell which of the tools above are genuine or a clone?   The market is flooded with cloned and cracked interfaces and software (Even my own software that is sold on this site!)  From this picture alone there's two almost surely clone tools and two almost surely genuine, but it can be overwhelming to try and weed out real vs fake!   The goal here is to help you keep from making a big mistake buying something that's being misrepresented as genuine, which is very often on sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace, etc.  Often the seller even has no idea because their use case didn't expose some of the flaws of the fake tools!

Don't get me wrong, cloned tools are not completely useless.  Aside from being illegal and unethical and a host of other things, they do at least provide some functions of the real tool they're emulating.  You'll have to decide for yourself if you're OK with that and willing to take the risk of wasted money, time, and possibly damaged modules due to it, etc.  If your livelihood relies on it, I'd recommend choosing the real tool every single time though!

The following information is based around some of the most popular factory tools for GM, Ford, and Mopar vehicles.  Use this information at your own risk, as I have seen it all.  I've even seen a customer buy a tool off eBay that checked out as genuine on the outside only to find someone had swapped the guts out with a clone to pass it off as legit!  If you have anything to add or dispute or just general questions, please shoot me an email at!

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Ford (VCM, VCM2, VCM3, VCM Lite)

This will focus on the VCM2, because to date from what I've seen I don't think there were ever any clones (yet!) of the original VCM, new VCM3 or VCM Lite.

The VCM2 is probalby one of the most notoriously cloned factory scan tools. There's so many versions from a very cheap $100 version that's literally just like a VXDIAG VCX Nano jammed in a VCM2 case to a supposed "Full Chip" 1:1 clone that costs $200-300 to even more expensive "reworked" versions.  Both VCM2 in the picture at the top of the page are genuine Bosch tools.  I have experience with one "Full Chip" $200 clone which was completely dead on arrival.  I ended up getting a decent bit of my money back after being forced to file a PayPal claim.  I ended up losing out on shipping the tool back to their "repair center".   All pictures and information otherwise here are pulled from hours of internet research looking and comparing my legitimate tools to clones for sale.  

So what kinds of issues do people have with clones?  Aside from just not working, the biggest issue is usually older protocols don't work.  J1850 PWM on the 90s and early 00s Fords won't work right, or the FEPS signal to enable programming doesn't work.  Second big issue is possible viruses and cracked software on your PC that is bundled with it.  High failure rates, programming failures, poor connections, missing features, stuck on older versions of software, etc.  Lots of reasons to avoid unless you have a specific use case as a hobbyist.  Supposedly the full chip clones function as originals, but issues with those are like mine it was DOA with very little support and a fight to get my money back, and also trying to use it with legitimate IDS the serial numbers are often blacklisted and causes a hassle.

Things to know for spotting a real vs fake VCM2:

1) The easy stuff: If it says "Made in China" on the back or does not have a serial number under the bar code, or comes without the stickers on it, it is a clone 100% of the time.  The cheap red skinny long case with a clear lid.  The clones come in that, never seen that from a legit one.   Same goes for being bundled with DVDs that are generic or have cheap stickers or Chinese writing on them and not real Ford branding.

2) If it has the embossed VCM II one the front in the plastic and FoMoCo embossed on the back, I have never seen a clone with this detail in the case so I would believe it is genuine Bosch from that detail alone.  I believe these were the earlier versions, but have zero evidence to go off of on that.    

3) If you've gotten past that, you're on to the better clones or one someone already put the stickers on.  Another dead giveaway is the serial number.  Every clone I've seen that does a 1:1 clone of the stickers uses the same serial numbers:  (Actually I'm having trouble tracking it down right now, but I believe it ended in 732 Now that I look though I see maybe another clone with a different serial number, but maybe they just used pics of the real one for their clone ad).  Another known earlier clone serial number is 1326-88683699, it appears to be a very complete and nice clone, but I have not been able to test it's function yet.

Known clone serial numbers pulled from ads for cloned devices: 1326-88683699, 1312-88603241,  1312-31606352,  1213-31606732

4) Pricing.  The original VCM2 for Ford is not available anymore NEW as far as I know.  I believe the Mazda version is still sold new, but they are pricey (~ $2400 last I checked!).  Used the Ford VCM2 ones I can tell are legitimate are going in the $800-1800 range.  Sadly I've seen some clones approach these prices sold as genuine as well.  If there's a NEW one listed in the $100-300 from a business, it's almost surely a clone.  I've gotten lucky and found legit used ones from individuals in the $200-500 range before but it's a lot of tedious work to track them down!

5) A couple more notes for some small differences:  Authentic Bosch VCMII seem to have a nicer matte finish on the rubber end caps.  The clones seem to be cheaper and shinier when new.  The authentic units also have a difference in the sticker on the back.  The serial number appears to be a sticker underneath and it appears through a window in the top layer sticker.  All authentic tools I've seen also have a more natural colored plastic sticker.  It's kind of an off-white with the black layered on, so the words appear off-white instead of bright white like the clones.  You can see in the pictures below some of these details.  Both are authentic units, the Bosch branded one and the ETAS branded unit.  Also added one picture from a nicer "full chip" clone on the internet.

GM Tech 2

Coming soon!


Coming soon!


I don't have a clone MDI2 myself since I have a few genuine ones, but from what I've been told, they do work reasonably well as a simple J2534 type device.  I have also been told they are basically just a clone MDI1 fit into a MDI2 case, meaning some features won't be available which can be a problem on newer vehicles.  

MDI2 known clone serial numbers:


All genuine MDI2 tools have printed on lettering and logos on the front.  If it comes without the GM logo or has stickers applied it is a clone.  If the logos are on the tool, you can tell the more recent clones fairly easily by wildly inconsistent lettering such as in this picture:

Here are a few examples of genuine original MDI2 in various conditions.  Over time they may be cleaned with alcohol or another solvent and remove some or all of the printing on the front, but you can still tell it was there, unlike stickers.  

The rest of the tool including the serial numbers and labels on the back follows similarly to the real vs clone VCM2 information above.  Partcularly the rubber end caps and the labels on the back.  All real MDI2 should say made or assembled in Germany.  Missing serial number or made in China is a clone.  The physical characteristics of the label and serial number on the back are also the same as the VCM2 (see information above under the VCM2 section about the look and feel of the labels on the back)

Mopar Micropod II

Coming soon!

Other Emulated Tools (VCX Nano, STIC, etc)

Coming soon!