Vehicle Diagnostics: Explained
Diagnosing the Source of Your Car Trouble — West Automotive Group
Nearly every driver will see a dashboard warning light illuminate at some point, and all drivers know that this is their car’s way of telling them it needs some attention. Few vehicle owners, however, are equipped to diagnose the exact nature of the root cause. If you live in the Kearny Mesa, California, area, you’ll never need to worry about figuring out why a warning light is on. The ASE and ATRA certified technicians at West Automotive Group are experienced in diagnosing the source of your vehicle’s trouble and repairing the problem. We even back our work with a warranty, giving you peace of mind and getting you back on the road quickly.
Universal Diagnostics, Universal Trouble Codes, and Universal Common Causes
When an indicator lamp shows up on your dashboard, you immediately run through possible causes in your head. While that list might be a bit random unless you have some mechanical training, your car comes equipped to help you (or your technician) out. The appearance of dashboard lights may vary from one vehicle to another, but every car adheres to an industry-standard protocol. A warning light illuminates in response to an issue that is detected by the Onboard Diagnostic System. This system generates universal trouble codes that can be read using an OBD-II reader, a computerized tool that helps mechanics identify the basic problem with your car. Its predecessor, the OBD-I, was used in some early 1990s autos. While this system was better than nothing, it was manufacturer specific. The trouble codes generated were different, depending upon who made the car.
Beginning in 1996, the EPA mandated that the second generation system use universal codes. The advantage of this change was that a code that pointed technicians in a particular direction on one manufacturer’s products provided them with the same information if generated for another automaker’s car. The EPA intended to help control emissions, but it served a second purpose of making auto repair more precise and less trial-and-error. No matter the manufacturer or region, mechanics notice common problems that tend to trigger warnings most often. Since the OBD system was developed primarily to control emissions and smog, not surprisingly, fuel and exhaust system issues most often top the list of common culprits. These include bad oxygen sensors, poorly fitting gas caps, poorly functioning mass airflow sensors, and failing catalytic converters. Aging spark plugs and faulty spark plug wires can also trigger OBD alerts.
After Diagnosis Comes the Prescription and the Cure
Even after obtaining a code, a technician will need to pinpoint the exact issue (using experience) and make a repair. For that, count on West Automotive Group.