Getting to know the Tools of Automotive Diagnostics

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With hybrids, electric cars and the sophistication of car technology in general, automobiles today are becoming increasingly complex. Though the vehicles of today may seem harder to understand and repair than the vehicles of yesterday, it’s actually the opposite. Today’s vehicles come equipped with OBD-II ports allowing a trained auto mechanic to evaluate and diagnose a problem faster, more easily and more accurately than ever before. For anyone interested in automotive training in Montreal, you’ll find that these tools are tremendously helpful in assessing and repairing a vehicle.

OBD technology, short for On-Board Diagnostics, was originally developed to comply with a mandate from the California Air Resources Board, which required all cars built after 1991 to be able to monitor their own emissions. OBD-II, the second generation of this technology, was implemented across the industry about five years later. Doing so established a standard protocol for all automakers. Beyond diagnosis, OBD-II can also keep track of data like vehicle speed or brake position, which can be valuable to insurance companies or fleet managers trying to monitor the driving habits of their employees.

Getting started

Let’s say that the dashboard of your vehicle indicates that you should check the engine. In this scenario, the first step will be to connect an OBD-II tool to the car’s port and then activate the scanning function. The tool will indicate a list of fault codes and brief descriptions of what they represent. This will give you an idea of where the problem lies, such as with the ignition system or with another part of the engine. In total, there are more than three thousand generic fault codes, in addition to manufacturer-specific codes. Not all fault codes will point to a clear solution or an easy fix, but the diagnosis information will at the very least point you in the right direction.

Additional tools

Though the OBD-II tool provides indispensable information, it’s far from being the only diagnosis tool worth investing in. If you’re interested in automotive careers in Montreal or currently enrolled in mechanic courses in Montreal, it’s useful to also be familiar with:

  • The multimeter. A car has sensors that can convert temperature and other information to voltages, which can then be analyzed by the car’s computer. A multimeter allows you to verify if a sensor’s output voltage is malfunctioning due to faulty wiring or a defective part.
  • The fuel-pressure gauge. One of the first steps in automotive troubleshooting is understanding if the engine is getting enough, too much or the right amount of fuel. A vacuum-pressure gauge can sometimes do the job here, but modern fuel-injection systems will require a dedicated fuel-pressure gauge.
  • The vacuum-pressure gauge. When a car’s engine isn’t performing properly, the culprit is usually fuel, air or spark. The vacuum-pressure gauge allows you to navigate the different vacuum lines lying under the hood to track down a problem, such as a leak or cracked tube.

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