How to Check Diagnostic Codes on Your Vehicle

Whether the vehicle you are driving is brand new or more than a decade old, chances are it is equipped with a number of sensors and onboard diagnostics. Those systems are designed to protect you, your passengers, and the vehicle itself, but interpreting their meaning is not always easy.

If you want to drive safely, it’s important to understand how the diagnostics on your vehicle operate and what they mean. Here is a brief rundown of what your onboard diagnostics are trying to tell you.

Look for the Lights

A number of diagnostic lights are built into the dashboard of your vehicle, and they can tell you a great deal about what is going on underneath the hood. If something seems not quite right with your ride, the first step to take is to look for the warning lights.

Some of those diagnostic lights can look similar, so you will want to consult your owner’s manual to find out exactly what is going on. The Check Engine and Service Engine Soon lights, for instance, can mean very different things, with the former indicating engine problems and the latter mostly concerned with the emission system.

Check With Your Local Auto Parts Store

If one or more lights on the dashboard are illuminated, help could be as close as your local auto parts store. Several major automotive store chains, including giants Auto Zone and Advance, offer complimentary code checking for their customers, which is always a good place to start.

Even if you do not know how to fix the problem, having the exact code in hand will make it easier for your mechanic to diagnose the issue. At the very least, getting this information ahead of time will save you time, and in the world of automotive repair, time is most definitely money.

Ask Your Mechanic

When something goes wrong with your vehicle, contact your mechanic. Even if you think you know the problem, it will probably take a professional to set things right.

Modern vehicles rely not only on mechanical properties but also on computer technology. That means the mechanic will need to reset the onboard computer in your car after the repairs have been made, so give the repair shop a call and make an appointment.

The vehicle you drive is equipped with a series of diagnostic lights and sensors. These systems can tell you a lot about what is going on, and you should never ignore what they say. Now that you know a little more about how those diagnostics work, you can drive with a greater sense of confidence.

Photo by Nejron from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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