What Is Diagnostic Testing and What It Means To You


Cars today are basically computers on wheels and technology is rapidly turning them into Smartphones on wheels.  The mechanic of yesteryear would be completely lost when it comes to maintaining these cars, much less repairing them.  That is why we no longer call these professionals mechanics…they are automotive technicians. Technology is changing fast and these technicians have to keep current so they are constantly in training.

Most vehicles of today have an ECU (Engine Control Module) that monitors sensors in the engine, fuel and exhaust systems. 

  • It actually makes adjustments to the fuel and air mixture continually. 
  • When the module comes across a problem that it can’t adjust it stores a trouble code that your technician can retrieve. 
  • The dashboard will illuminate letting the driver know there is a problem so they can schedule an appointment and get this taken care of (if the dashboard doesn’t just illuminate but flashes constantly, stop driving and get your vehicle towed to the repair shop!).
  • This gives the technician a starting point so they know which system(s) needs help.

OBD-II or On Board Diagnostic allows the technician’s laptop to interface with the vehicles’ computer systems to log sensor data.  The technician uses this to pull stored trouble code(s) and this lets a technician know what the potential problems are right away.

This is all great news for you; the consumer because pinpointing a problem quickly saves a great deal of labor hours which is very efficient and cost effective. It gives the technician clues that are needed to determine what additional tests need to be run. 

AAA says it best:  “Today’s technicians use vehicle computer diagnosis in much the same way surgeons employ medical testing.  In both cases, combining test results with expert knowledge and skilled hands can lead to an accurate diagnosis and an ultimate cure.” ~Ginnie Pritchett, AAA Public Relations


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