Key Tools for Automotive Diagnostics

If you prefer to work on your car personally instead of taking it into a shop, there are basic automotive diagnostic tools you should have on hand to help streamlined your do-it-yourself repair process.  Proper diagnostic equipment allows the source of an issue to be more quickly identified, helping to narrow down what repairs may be necessary and which systems are involved.

Multimeters and Scopes

Multimeters are specialized tools designed to measure the amperage, or amps, being produced by electrical components within the vehicle’s various systems.  They can be used to identify the source of a drain on the electrical system, and can also be used to confirm whether certain components are functioning properly.

Scopes can be used to further examine any issues that may be occurring within a vehicles various sensors, as well as certain other parts that can produce a signal that can be intercepted.  By being able to identify the presence of a signal, you can determine if certain components are working properly.

Key Tools for Automotive Diagnostics

Code Readers and Scan Tools

Code readers are simple devices that pull basic codes from the onboard computer located in a vehicle.  The provided codes serve as a starting point for all other diagnostic work by indicating which basic error seems to be present.

Many code readers also have the ability to clear codes from the onboard computer.  This is critical when performing repairs since you can tell if the repair was successful or not based on whether the original error code recurs after your work in an area is complete.

Scan tools provide additional information beyond what is provided by a basic code reader.  Scan tools can also read and clear codes as necessary, but it can also access additional data stored within the vehicle’s computer.  Additionally, while a basic code reader only provides the code, some scan tools have databases that can be accessed to find more information about the codes being produced without having to access another resource.

At times, the function of a code reader or scan tool can be performed through a piece of software, or an application, on various devices.  This can include programs designed for computers, such as a laptop, as well as applications that can be loaded onto a smartphone or tablet.  Some applications come with the necessary cable to connect the vehicle to the devices USB port, while others may connect wireless through a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.

Temperature Readers

Temperature readings can provide valuable information when performing a variety of automotive diagnostic procedures.  While this can obviously include issues related to the heating and cooling systems, temperature can also provide information regarding engine misfires, exhaust and emissions issues, and the proper application of windshield repair materials.

In order to gather accurate temperature readings, an infrared thermometer is often required.  This allows a technician the opportunity to take an accurate reading without having to actually touch the surface.

By using the appropriate diagnostic equipment, you can save yourself time by ensuring you are actually working on the source of an issue and not just addressing a symptom.  Additionally, proper diagnostic procedures can help you save money by avoiding any unnecessary repairs or parts replacements that may have occurred while you were trying to identify the precise nature of the problem.