Check Engine Light Code Reading

BMW Diagnostic Head

Over the past couple of decades, a myth has arisen that all that is needed to diagnose a vehicle problem, such as a check engine or airbag light, is to hook it up to an automotive diagnostic scanner and an accurate answer will be produced. And now that they’re as cheap as $70, anyone can diagnose their car and know exactly what’s wrong. If only life were so easy.

So, where does the information that the diagnostic computer or scanner receives come from? This information, what are sometimes referred to as trouble codes, comes from sensors. These sensors only know that there is an incorrect reading from a specific component, such as an oxygen or crank position sensor, they don’t know why the reading is incorrect. Is the sensor itself faulty, or is it the wiring, or the engine management computer? It could be more than one thing, especially on an older vehicle.

The code points in a direction, it doesn’t provide a definitive answer.

This is why skilled technicians, like the factory-trained Level 1 Master Technicians at Pacific Motorsports, are important. They know where to go with the information from the diagnostic computer, and what other factors may be involved, as they’ve probably seen the specific situation previously, perhaps dozens or hundreds of times before.

Expensive modern brand-specific automotive diagnostic computers are a vital part of the diagnostic procedure (and are absolutely critical for coding and updating), but they are but one part. Highly trained and experienced technicians that know what to do, and where to go, with that information, are even more important. This is why our best practices include these key players, and why we here at Pacific Motorsports are your Best Alternative to the Dealer.

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