Cars & Vehicles Auto Parts & Maintenance & Repairs

Diagnostics Tools for Cars

    Auto Diagnostic Computer

    • Cars built after 1995 have an on board diagnostic (OBD) computer that constantly monitor the vehicle and notify the driver of any detected problems by turning on the check engine light. An OBD computer is a diagnostic tool designed to plug into the computer port in the car's fuse box. When plugged in, the OBD tool downloads codes from the computer that help diagnose the problem. Small hand held models can be purchased for your vehicle while auto repair shops may have more sophisticated types.

    Timing Light

    • An auto timing tool checks the timing of the engine. If spark plugs are not firing properly, the car would not run properly. A timing light fires a strobe light that will detect the timing marks on the flywheel or harmonic balancer. This timed strobe determines if the plugs are firing correctly and lets you know when the timing is off so adjustments or repairs can be made.

    Air Pressure Gauge

    • When the car is driving rough and/or there are problems with the vehicle drifting from a straight line while in motion, low tire pressure can be the culprit. An air pressure gauge is attached to the tire stem to check the pressure and verify the tires have the recommended air pressure. Check the owners manual or the markings on the tires to determine if your tires have the proper pressure and add or reduce the pressure as needed.

    Emmission System Testing Scanner

    • Many states require emissions tests on the vehicle before the car can be properly licensed for traveling on public roads. Emission scanners are tools designed to diagnose the amount of emissions coming from the muffler. A car with a faulty emission control system can cause the vehicle to run rough in addition to the extra pollution it will emit into the atmosphere. Some smaller hand-held OBD scanners also have an emissions testing scanner.

    Engine Scopes

    • An engine scope, or a "digital storage oscilloscope," is a diagnostic tool designed to capture and display electronic signals as waveforms on a screen. These waveforms can help diagnose a problem with a sensor or the onboard computer system. This allows you to pinpoint a specific problem without the testing of individual components and circuits that otherwise might be necessary to isolate a problem.

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