Keeping your car in working order is essential; that’s why you have your mechanic look it over when the check engine light comes on, when it makes a strange noise, or when it begins to run rough. But sometimes your car needs attention, even when there are no warning lights on the dash. Just as you visit the doctor for an occasional once-over, your vehicle also needs similar preventive care. This is where computer diagnostics come into play. Whether there’s a dash indicator signaling trouble, or you just want to ensure your car continues to run reliably, computer diagnostics offer a tried and true approach to solving issues and preventing potential problems.
Your mechanic will likely follow the following pattern of testing to determine your car’s trouble spots or specific areas that may need special maintenance:
Scanning Codes – Your mechanic will connect his diagnostics gear to your car to get the low-down on any codes your car’s computer may or may not be showing. This can give you and your mechanic an idea of what components may need to be serviced. The scanner accesses your car’s computer codes, sensor information, freeze frame date and crucial data, and software version information to provide your technician with a well-rounded idea of components or systems that need to be serviced.
Verification Test – The verification test analyzes your vehicle’s engine vacuum, back pressure, emissions systems, and ignitions operations. This may back up the information found while scanning codes, or it may provide entirely new information that will help your mechanic in his diagnosis.
Pinpoint Testing – As a final step in the diagnostic process, your mechanic may perform a circuit and component pinpoint test. He will go over diagrams for your electrical system, conduct testing on mechanical and electrical components, make visual inspections of potential problem areas, and conduct bi-directional control tests.
Research – After diagnostic tests have been performed, your technician may begin an investigation of recalls, technical service bulletins, and other information to determine if there’s a set pattern of malfunctions or trouble spots for your make and model.
Time for Repairs – Once the problem or problems have been diagnosed, it’s time to make repairs.
A Final Note – If your technician completes every step of the diagnostic process and finds no problems, but your engine light is activated on your dashboard, there’s a consolation for going through this detailed process. If there’s no reason for the warning light to be on, your mechanic can easily deactivate it.