Tips & Advice
Do all cars have a diagnostics system?
Yes, most do. All cars and light trucks built in the United States after 1996 are required to be equipped with an on-board diagnostic software system. In an effort to reduce vehicle emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency established new guidelines in emission reduction. While this started in the 1970s, diagnostics rapidly advanced in their capabilities, particularly in maximizing efficiency that resulted in reduced emissions. This efficiency led the EPA to make diagnostic systems mandatory in 1996.
What problems can car diagnostic tools detect?
Diagnostic tools can detect problems in most mechanical areas of your engine, as well as in your transmission, exhaust system (to test carbon output), and your oil and gas tanks. Diagnostics can also tell you about any engine timing issues, buildup in combustion chambers, coolant temperatures, crank and camshaft positions (as they relate to timing or damage), clogged or faulty fuel injectors, and exhaust output issues.
On-board diagnostic system, or OBD, is a software built into all cars after 1996 (and some before). OBD monitors the performance of your car via sensors and ports throughout the car. That data can be analyzed by you, if you have a diagnostic machine at home, or your mechanic. ODB can identify real-time performance issues in your car by taking readings off of the different systems, including engine, transmission, exhaust, and even tire pressure.
How do car diagnostic tools work?
A car’s diagnostic tools work by plugging the scan tool under the dash into the on-board diagnostic systems (OBD) port or connector. Once connected, the scan tool connects to the software. The software details the status of all of the sensors in the system. These sensors can reveal all kinds of information about the state of the car, including timing, ignition, brakes, engine, and transmission. It is like the car’s black box.
Car diagnostics is a testing system that connects a machine to your car to test the engine, transmission, exhaust, ignition system, and all on-board computer systems. It is considered to be an in-depth test to determine the state of your car’s health. Car diagnostics can diagnose any car part that has a readable sensor.