When you take your vehicle in to figure out if something is wrong with it, often you will witness the service mechanic perform what is called a diagnostics test on your vehicle in order to diagnose the problem. The diagnostics test will tap into the vehicle’s computer system, which monitors the vehicle itself and logs any possible problems, and scan the system for potential faults.
Diagnostics tests and the computer hardware within the vehicle that logs vehicle faults are helpful to mechanics because it allows them to access and diagnose the problem more quickly and effectively. Whereas in the past, service mechanics had to thoroughly inspect a vehicle in order to gauge whether or not there was a problem, which lead to many issues being overlooked or incorrectly diagnosed, diagnostics tests communicate through special codes what specific problems the vehicle has.
What’s great about your vehicle’s computer is that it also keeps a detailed history of all past issues as well, so if anything has ever gone wrong but returned to normal or was repaired, that information is still stored in the computer and can be accessed through service shops’ scanning technologies. Technicians can be made aware of irregularities in the system this way, which allows them to better understand the inner workings of your car. This can make preventing future issues easier as well.
More often than not, diagnostics tests are performed following the illumination of one of your dashboard warning lights, especially the check engine warning light. Sometimes this light will even be a fluke, in which case the computer system will indicate a problem with your sensor. Other times, it may be indicative of something more serious. It’s a good idea to have your system scanned either way