Most people panic when their car’s “check engine” light goes on.
While the problem could be an easy, inexpensive fix, such as a bad oxygen sensor, it could instead signal the fact that you’re going to have to shell out a lot of money to get your car running in top shape again.
How can you tell the difference?
You could adopt a do-it-yourself attitude and for less than $50 buy an on-board diagnostics scanner- OBD - that plugs into your car’s computer. It reads numeric diagnostic trouble codes, known as DTCs, that the computer puts out when your car is malfunctioning. Or an auto parts store will do the scanning for you free of charge.
Trouble is there are thousands of DTCs, which means you could end up buying and installing the wrong part in the hope of saving money, only to find that your engine light goes back on again when you’re finished.
“You cannot make a diagnostic decision based on a code alone,” said Doug McAllister, owner of Douglas Automotive in Barrington and Crystal Lake. “This is why the so-called ‘free diagnostics’ that some of the parts stores offer is a bit misleading. It takes a skilled diagnostic technician armed with the code, the right tools and the proper information to get to the bottom of most DTCs.”
The codes are just a starting point in determining what is ailing your vehicle.
“There is research to be done and pinpoint tests to perform to accurately rule out good components and condemn the faulty one,” McAllister said. “While you have to invest some money into the diagnosis labor, in the end you often save money by replacing or repairing only what’s needed as opposed to replacing parts that you don’t need.”
www.douglasautomotive.com | 123 E. Virginia Rd., Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.356.0440