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What Is A Car Diagnostic Tool?
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What is A Car Diagnostic Tool?

Troubleshooting a car is one thing any DIY person needs to know. When a problem pops up with your car and you take it to a mechanics shop, the fee just to tell you why your check engine light is on can cost you upwards of 80 dollars! To me that's ridiculous, especially if I can buy a scan tool myself and check my own car for less than half of that price. Asking the question, what is a car diagnostic tool is somewhat broad because there is not just one, but I am going to tell you about the basic ones you might need or want to use to save yourself those mechanics fees.

To start with is one diagnostic tool some of us have seen being used or used ourselves, the scan tool. These may go by another name like OBDII, which stands for On Board Diagnostics Generation II, but that is not really a name. OBDII is second generation which is cars AFTER 1996. Pre 1996 would be OBDI. The scan tool is plugged into your car, usually underneath the dash, and reads the problems with the car. Scan tools can only read the codes if it is a problem with emissions, sensors, or parts that the computer can read. If it is a mechanical problem meaning something physical broken that does NOT affect the computer you may not get any bad reading at all. Scan tools are very easy to use, all you do is plug it in and read, figuring out what the codes mean is fairly easy as well. If you use a basic scan tool it will only give you the codes which you have to match up to a database. You can do this buy purchasing a code book, looking online, calling the dealership, or going to most local auto part store.

Another diagnostic tool is a test light. This is basically a wire with a light bulb attached to to see if electrical current is going through. These can be used to test fuses as well as wiring and light bulb sockets.

A step up from the test light would be a DVOM meter. (the article picture is a DVOM meter.) These meters can test voltage, can be used as a test light, can measure temperature,and can test parts. These meters take a little more knowledge to use but once you learn how it will save you money for sure.

The last basic diagnostic tool is using your own senses. The things that you pick up when a problem happens can always be helpful. It is always best to know a little bit more before you dig in or worse case scenario take it to the mechanic. Something you might have smelled or heard can save the mechanic time and save you money, and if you are going to fix it yourself it will save you from looking in the wrong spots. It is always good to learn more about tools and how they can help you save money. The right investment in a good tool could possibly save you A LOT of money.


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