Engine Diagnostics

Check engine light on? Car doesn’t start?

In Diagnosticsby Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Does your car not start? Does it crank over, but the engine doesn’t run? Is the little light on your dashboard that looks like an engine on? All these indicate that you need engine diagnostics performed.

Check engine light

It takes quite a few years of training and experience to be able to diagnose today’s high-tech vehicles. 

Special scan tools are needed and access to a large database on information to work on your vehicle are needed. 

Many times automotive technicians need to start with the basics of a battery and alternator electrical system test to a visual inspection to see if something is obviously damaged to using multi-meters and digital oscilloscopes along with manufacturer scan tools to pinpoint the problem of the vehicle. 

These problems can range from broken wiring to components not working to software updates that are needed to make the vehicle operate correctly. 

Where there used to be only one computer in the car, there can be up to 30 or more controllers and electronic modules operating the vehicle. Not only do they have to perform their function in the vehicle, they also have to talk to each other. One not working correctly can cause some strange problems.

Dashboard Lights

Dashboard Warning Lights

How much are engine diagnostics?

Engine diagnostics can vary. You should be prepared for at least a one-hour diagnostics charge. Depending on how difficult the problem is more time may be needed.

At Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, when we do get into engine diagnostics there have been time we have found the problem in 30 minutes, and we charge accordingly.

Do you do free check engine light diagnostics?

No. We do charge for what we do, because the equipment and talent required to do it isn’t free. A lot of places that do free check engine light diagnostics will do it if you have the work performed at their shop and they will bury the cost into the job. 

How can the parts store do check engine light diagnostics for free?

They’re not performing engine light diagnostics, they’re hooking up a generic scan tool and retrieving the codes and many times just make recommendations on what parts to buy that may or may not fix the vehicle. That is not engine performance diagnostics.

My car won’t start. What now?

We would start with a basic electrical check of the battery, alternator and starter. If all checks there, we would go to the computer and retrieve the codes and then find out what sensor or control system is not working correctly.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.