Occasional doctor visits and routine check-ups keep us in good health. Not much is different for your car. A good GP will be able to identify your symptoms and work out a treatment plan, or recommend you for further investigation, while a good mechanic will be able to tell the difference between a clogged injector or an ECU malfunction.

Sorting out the check engine light is not the only reason to have a diagnostic inspection. Regular diagnostic tests will detect problems you may not be aware of, and avoid you thousands in repair expenses.

Diagnostic services

There are a few different types of vehicle diagnostic tests. Read below to understand the differences between them and what would suit you best.

“No-start” diagnostic inspection
What is a “no-start” diagnostic?

On internal combustion engines a “no-start” diagnostic is one of the most basic forms of assessment of a car’s mechanical condition. It is a detailed process of elimination, based on the 4 elements of a running engine: spark, air, fuel, and compression.

Each area can have a number of possible causes and an experienced technician will know how to get to the root of the problem efficiently, even where others have failed.

Plug-in diagnostic inspection
What is a plug-in diagnostic inspection?

A plug-in diagnostic is a procedure that implies connecting your vehicle to a professional tool or software kit that will read out a series of fault codes which the mechanic can then use in the diagnostic process.

Despite popular belief, this service is not as simple or magical as you might imagine. In most cases the device / software won’t even tell you what the problem is. And less so how to fix it.

As an example, Onboard Diagnostics scanner tools have become quite popular and accessible in households over the world. While forums are full of information on different types of fault codes, it seems that buying one will avoid a mechanic trip when that check engine light comes on.

However, a good number of Google searches on: “Where do I plug in diagnostic tool?” suggest it may be a good idea to take your car to a specialist for this type of service.

Mechanical diagnostic inspection
What is a mechanical diagnostic inspection?

A mechanical diagnostic test will identify issues with any of the vehicle’s components, such as transmission issues, brakes, oil tank etc.

One single car has an estimate of 30 000 components. Excluding the electronic system, that gets a different type of diagnosis, there are a few thousand possible parts to assess during a mechanical diagnostic.