What Is A Car Diagnostic Test?

Modern cars are filled with sensors, chips and computer systems from front to back. These technological advancements act to notify you of any problems with your car via the small, colourful lights that pop up on your dashboard. However, the digital information that these sensors gather is far more technical than any LED-lit symbol could ever display. That’s where full-blown car diagnostics tests come into play, reading the data displayed by your car to figure out where a problem lies, sometimes before you even become aware of the issue.

How Long Does a Car Diagnostic Test Take?

Despite present-day computers being able to perform complicated tasks in the blink of an eye, a diagnostics test can take between 60 and 90 minutes. In fact, if anything nasty pops up on the test, it could delay the process and make it last even longer. At most though, you should be looking at a few hours for a complete diagnostic test.

Bear in mind that this doesn’t include the time it will take to actually fix any mechanical problems that are brought to light by the test, nor is it likely that the fee for the test will cover any required repairs.

What Does a Car Diagnostic Test Tell You?

There are two ways to answer this question;

First of all, the test tells you a series of error codes that are generated when the sensors around your car tell the onboard computer and, in turn, the testing kit that something is amiss.

The tests tell a mechanic, technician, or any other person who is trained to understand these error codes which part of the car is failing. By doing so, it’s much easier to understand what needs fixing (if anything) and how challenging of a job that might be. It gives the mechanic the opportunity to examine certain areas of the vehicle without poking around other parts that could but in this case definitely aren’t the cause of the problem.

Where Can I Get a Car Diagnostic Test?

If your car is a mechanical mystery and keeps giving you problems that you can’t figure out, take it to your local professional mechanic for a once-over. They’ll be able to perform a diagnostic test for you and notify you of any issues that crop up.

If you’re wondering whether you can perform a test yourself by getting hold of a car diagnostic kit, then the answer is ‘yes’. However, since the price for some high-end devices hits four-figures, you’re probably better off going to the qualified professionals. After all, the kit itself is worthless if you don’t know how to interpret the error codes!

Are Car Diagnostic Tests Accurate?

Generally-speaking, diagnostic tests can accurately help a trained technician figure out what’s wrong with your car. However, these kits are not flawless devices. A car in a poor condition may have worn-out sensors which could give incorrect readings, while fluctuating voltages or bad electrical contacts in the on-board diagnostics ports could provide similar results.

The tests also cannot be used to diagnose an exact problem, in the same way that the mechanic themselves can. Diagnostic kits are suited to situations where something is going wrong with the vehicle, but it’s hard to know where the problem is occurring. If the mechanic has a checklist of potential causes, the diagnostic test allows them to cross off a few possibilities without examining the car manually.

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