Car Computer Diagnostics | Auto Mechanics 101

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Modern automotive manufacturers are constantly striving to increase safety performance, as well as to make their cars the most understandable and easy to drive. To do this, electronic circuits are being introduced, and unified control systems are being created. New generation electronic micro-processes control not only the alarm and airbags but also the operation of the engine, brake system, transmission, and chassis. Electronics have become the most important and valuable part of the car. Given the complexity of electronic components, it is important to regularly check the car for faults. All kinds of sensors and indicators will quickly indicate the presence of a failure of a particular system. But for an error-free determination of a breakdown and its location, it is necessary to carry out computer diagnostics of the car.

What Is Computer Diagnostics of a Car?

Computer diagnostics is a set of measures to check the blocks of the electronic control system, electronic components of the car, sensors, indicators, and modules. Diagnostics provides an accurate assessment of the technical condition of the vehicle’s electronics and the health of the onboard system. Computer diagnostics reveal both obvious and hidden faults.

Computer diagnostics are necessary when detecting increased fuel consumption. It also detects uneven engine operation, power loss, and signal light “CHECK” on the dashboard.

It is also recommended to regularly carry out preventive diagnostics, for example, before a long journey or when the season changes. A computer check should be carried out when purchasing a used car.

Computer Diagnostics Are Carried Out Using Specialized Equipment

There are three types of scanners:

Dealer Scanner

A professional device designed for the maintenance of a certain brand of car and related ones. Produced directly by the manufacturers of the brand or by their order, it contains the OEM software. As a rule, it is used in dealer service centers. Differs in the absolute accuracy of scanning. It has wide functionality: up to the possibility of flashing the on-board computer. The advantage of the scanner is that it not only gives an error code but also gives a detailed breakdown of the breakdown. Accurately determines the causes of the malfunction and provides possible solutions. Identifies the location of the fault. Corrects the onboard computer software. Narrow specialization and versatility imply a high cost for such devices. Car diagnostics using a dealer scanner are best left to professionals. Since incorrect settings and improper use of the scanner can lead to serious malfunctions in the entire electronic system of the car.

Portable Scanner

Versatile and compact device. Gives an error code and indicates the location of the breakdown. It has small dimensions and reasonable cost. Suitable for individual use and in small workshops.

Multibrand Scanner

Unlike a dealer scanner, it has a more modest set of diagnostic capabilities. The main advantage of this device is its versatility. Able to diagnose almost all modern car brands. Has a large set of features. Some models allow you to make a safe setting of the onboard computer. It is easy to use and inexpensive, which is why it is popular among semi-professionals and ordinary motorists.

Types of Computer Diagnostics.

Engine diagnostics is necessary if you have excessive fuel consumption or Increased engine warm-up time. It is also needed when your car has a high or low idle or unstable operation of the engine.

Suspension diagnostics is required if you get the knock when driving. It is also needed when you get uneven tire wear detected, increased free play of the steering wheel, or the ABC system is not working properly.

Diagnosis of an automatic transmission is needed if one of the gears is faulty or when shifting gears, noise, and slippage are observed.  It is needed when there is an oil leak.

 Methods for Conducting Computer Diagnostics

There are three methods for conducting computer diagnostics. All of them depend on the situation that might happen with the car.

Specialized Service Center

The main advantage of this method is that large car repair shops are equipped with the necessary professional equipment for high-quality computer diagnostics. Competent service masters have enough experience and skills to work with programs and equipment. It remains only to bring the car to the territory of the workshop and pay for the service. The service center should be contacted in the event of a serious breakdown. An experienced master will conduct a deep diagnosis, as well as offer options for eliminating the detected malfunctions. All necessary repairs can be carried out immediately on the spot.

Field Diagnostics

It is used in cases where a car malfunction does not allow delivering it to a service center. Specialists come to the place with all the necessary equipment. A scanner is connected to the car; the information is read and decoded. If necessary, reset the system errors. At the end of computer diagnostics, the master provides a report and gives recommendations on solving the detected problems of the car. It is better to order an on-site diagnostic service at a large service center. Small car repair shops and individuals, as a rule, have a minimum set of equipment. Diagnosis will be superficial and inaccurate.


Suitable for carrying out a preventive check of the state of the car system by the car owner himself. To do this, it is enough to purchase a scanner adapter with an OBD-ll connector and install a special program on a laptop, tablet, or phone. It must be remembered that the functionality of this method is limited. It will not be possible to fully assess the real state of the electronic micro processes of a car on its own.

 The Process of Computer Diagnostics of a Car

The computer check goes as follows. A diagnostic tool (scanner) is connected to the vehicle’s onboard system through the diagnostic socket. Next, the scanner reads complete information about the car and error codes. The current data is displayed on a single-channel multimeter. Then the indicators are transmitted to an external computer. The computer program decrypts the received codes. And gives a detailed report on the real state of all electronic systems of the vehicle. The whole process of computer diagnostics takes from 10 minutes to 2 hours.

To date, computer diagnostics is the most effective and reliable way to check the condition of the car. Timely diagnostics allow you to identify faults in advance. Diagnostics reveal and detail even the most minor defects, eliminating which in time can prevent a serious breakdown. Thus, the car owner saves time and money on expensive repairs. It is important to remember that a serviceable car is a guarantee of the safety of the driver and passengers.