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Understanding the need for test, inspection, and vehicle diagnostics

“Vehicle diagnostics have become a necessary service to get to the root of what is going on. Here are a few things you can do to lower your costs low and keep your vehicle functioning well.”

We of a certain age may have fond memories of grandpa, uncle, or dad beneath a shade tree with the hood propped open. Sleeves rolled up, rag stuffed in pocket, oil can resting on the fender on a Saturday afternoon.

Have you been under your hood lately? Gone are the big carburetors and valve covers. Gone too are the up-front pulleys, fan blades, and shiny radiator caps. Likely you see a large plastic covering 90% of the engine bay. You may not even have an engine oil dipstick, and have to rely on the computer system to report oil level! The message is clear – DIY-ers, you’re not welcome here.

Vehicle power plants and comfort features have become increasingly functional, and increasingly complex. Power, comfort, and fuel economy used to be mutually exclusive; now they are efficiently managed through advanced controls.

Advanced controls, like any electro-mechanical system, require maintenance and sometimes they fail. When they fail, tools, talent, time, and effort are required to understand what is occurring. The common label for these tasks is “diagnostics”.; When diagnostics are properly completed, we have not only a path forward but an estimate for a successful repair to keep you and your loved ones safely on the road.

Born and raised in the Midwest, one of the best gifts I received from my parents is work ethic. At our shop, mediocrity is not an option; striving to be the best at what you do is the only path. That translates into “staff up, tool up, and train up.” ASE-certified mechanics, the best diagnostic tools you can buy, and an aptitude for continuing education.

As a consumer, proper maintenance on your vehicles’ most basic systems can help -  air filters, engine oil, and battery.

By their very job description, air filters become plugged over time. A plugged cabin air filter will restrict air flow and make a functioning air conditioning system feel like it is not even turned on. A plugged engine air filter will cause your engine to struggle.

Engine oil that is sludgy and dirty will prevent variable valve timing solenoids and other advanced engine performance controls from working. Engine performance and fuel economy will suffer; dashboard warning lights will illuminate.

Corroded battery terminals cripple electrical flow required to keep computerized modules networked and communicating with each other. When voltages drop, basic and advanced vehicle functions come to a grinding halt.

These basic systems are serviceable by a do-it-yourselfer with basic hand tools. They are also serviceable by your quality repair shop when visiting for any other service. Do yourself and your car a favor and stay current on these basics; when necessary, it will increase the speed and quality of diagnostics to get to a more in-depth repair.