Automotive Scan Tools and Troubleshooting Your Car

Troubleshooting a vehicle should not be more trouble than it already is. Until the very recent past, a combination of intuitive guesswork, costly man-hours, and outright trial and error were the only available means for technicians to diagnose mechanical failure. The advent of computers changed this, making it possible not only to internally regulate automotive functions, but also to quickly and reliably diagnose problems with automotive scan tools that interface directly between machine and man, eliminating costly overtime and problematics in the process. Today’s automotive scan tools have evolved into highly sophisticated devices that can test practically anything under the hood. By reading data from the vehicle’s onboard computer and sending that information directly to the technician, an automotive scan tool can reliably and quickly diagnose a problem that would have taken hours or even days to manually troubleshoot in the past.

Whenever a car rolls into a shop these days, technicians start by checking the basics utilizing automotive scan tools specifically designed to check oil levels and quality, air bag functionality, and engine check lights. Almost every new car relies on an onboard diagnostic computer, or OBD, to report malfunctions in the engine and supporting systems.

This information feeds into a connector and reports data through a series of codes, referred to in the mechanical world as OBD or OBD2 codes. Before beginning any work under the hood, a technician must first collect this data with an automotive scan tool engineered to read and interpret the codes. Armed with accurate information, the technician can now begin the repair process without the excessive labor costs and possible damage than often resulted when trial and error troubleshooting ran into late hours and overtime in the past.