Want to Become an Auto Mechanic? 4 Engine Diagnostic Tips You’ll Want to Remember

As technology advances, the modern vehicle’s computer system has gotten more complex. For those with careers in the automotive industry, this move toward computerization has meant the increased use of diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests, conducted using an onboard diagnostic (OBD-II) scan tool, are used to determine issues within a vehicle’s engine and other components. When mechanics use this tool, they can generate different diagnostic codes which indicate potential problems with a vehicle’s components after completing a scan. While these tools are relatively user-friendly, arriving at an accurate diagnosis for a problem with a vehicle’s engine is no easy feat. 

If you’re considering a career as a mechanic, discover four tips below which will help you to run efficient and informative diagnostic tests on a vehicle’s engine!

1. Anyone in a Professional Mechanic Career Must Know When to Use a Diagnostic Tool

During your professional mechanic career, knowing when to use a diagnostic tool will help you to provide more effective service to your customers. Typically, an OBD-II scanner should be used to determine the type of problem a vehicle’s engine is experiencing when the “Check Engine” light comes on. This light illuminates when a vehicle’s computerized system detects a problem within the engine, however, there’s no way to know for certain what the issue is without the use of a diagnostic tool. The OBD-II scanner should also be used when a driver is experiencing noticeable engine problems, such as trouble accelerating or a decrease in gas mileage.

You can use a diagnostic tool to determine what is triggering a vehicle’s “Check Engine” light

2. Make a Note of the Codes that Come Up When You Scan

When using a diagnostic tool, the tool’s end connector can be securely plugged into a vehicle’s onboard diagnostic (OBD-II) port. This will allow you to obtain the specific codes necessary to determine what could be wrong with the engine. Next, you can start the scanner, which will typically take less than a minute to complete a scan of a vehicle’s engine. The scanner will then display the error or trouble codes it reads. As these codes are your key to determining what’s happening to a vehicle’s engine, you’ll want to record these codes to reference them throughout the repair process.

3. Check the Codes and Make the Repairs

Once you become an auto mechanic, you’ll possess some knowledge about what certain trouble codes mean. You can use this knowledge to interpret the codes you’ve obtained during your diagnostic scan, helping you to understand where potential problems have been detected. From here, you can begin the repair process, checking the components of the engine which have been identified as malfunctioning or damaged. You may need to clean certain components, or replace them altogether. 

After checking the codes, make the necessary repairs to the engine

4. Scan and Scan Again 

After conducting some preliminary repairs, it’s important to check your work. Once your repairs are complete, run another diagnostic scan to see if any additional trouble or error codes come up. If the same trouble codes are appearing, you might need to conduct additional repairs or examine the engine more thoroughly. Once the diagnostic scan comes back clear, take the vehicle for a test drive to ensure that its engine is running smoothly. If you don’t detect any problems, that means that as a mechanic, you’ve successfully completed the diagnostic process.

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