A short guide on vehicle diagnostics: keep your car running
It’s no wonder that all car owners have a common concern on how to prevent serious breakdowns. Instead of spending a fortune on car repair, it’s worthwhile to conduct check-ups and stay abreast of your car’s actual condition. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered!
Let’s start with considering the basic signals, which may point to the need for a more detailed car examination.
Three telltale signs that something goes wrong in your vehicle
If you’re hearing a squeaking or creaking noise while turning your wheel, it may signal various breakdowns. Damaged suspension and power steering issues are usually on the top of the list.
A knocking sound, for its part, is a sign of putting too low or high octane fuel. In that case, you should also check out your car’s crankshaft. Plus, it may indicate that the spark plugs are installed incorrectly or damaged.
Both popping and clicking sounds of the moving vehicle indicate a low engine oil, losing drive belts, and worn-out tires. All you have to do is listen carefully, trying to figure out which car’s part the sound is coming from.
2. Different kinds of smell
The most obvious example is gas or oil leak identification. Certainly, the distinctive scent helps to detect the hazard quickly.
Also, the sweet smell is a symptom of the engine coolant leaking. Sulfur scent can be a sign of catalytic converter, fuel system, or battery malfunctions.
And if you detect mildew or mold smell, you should take a proper look at the cabin air filter. There’s a strong possibility that you will need to replace some of the components.
3. Sudden changes
First of all, if you notice an extreme vibration when holding on to the steering wheel, it points to the issues with the engine or engine mounts. Another indicator of these problems or fuel delivery malfunctions is bad throttle response. If you’re in doubt regarding the air conditioning system working capacity, just touch the vents. A small amount of air going through or a high temperature may be a symptom of a vehicle’s HVAC system deficient functioning.
What are the surest ways to diagnose your vehicle?
1. Visual inspection
Taking a look under a hood is a must when it comes to evaluating a car's condition. That’s why you need to do such inspections every month or even more often. Secondly, and no less important, you should check out your battery to prevent corrosion beside your battery terminals. Inspect the tires and your dashboard warning lights. If some of the lights are activated, it’s better to consult an expert. It’s nothing but warning lights indicate the car’s health.
Finally, look at the vehicle’s exterior to realize that the paint isn’t peeling or cracked. Checking out dings and dents is an essential step to find out whether you need any bodywork.
2. Checking the fluids
As with visual inspections, checking fluids level needs to be permanent. Short inspections once a month are usually enough. If your oil is at the right level and it remains clean, everything’s perfect.
If the oil level is low even though you change it regularly, it may indicate a leak. And if the oil is sludgy, contaminants have probably accumulated in the vehicle’s engine.
Another part of the inspection relates to transmission fluid. You should check it a few times a year to save your nerves. Ideally, the fluid has an orange or clear pink color. One of the first signs of serious issues with the transmission is dropping the fluid’s level or color changes.
3. Take full advantage of an onboard diagnostic system
These devices are aimed to report various mechanical issues and interpret system errors. Also, the tool is capable of recording and viewing the necessary data about the car’s maintenance and fueling. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine modern vehicles without computer diagnostics. But how exactly did the era of OBD began?
The history goes back to setting the groundwork for the standard in the 1960s. In 1968, Volkswagen launched the first OBD scanning computer system. Then, in 1978, the basic OBD system with limited non-standardized functionality was firstly introduced by Datsun. We should also mention that decreasing pollution was one of the primary issues in the late 70’. Thanks to sensors, it wasn’t difficult to measure a car’s performance and comply with environmental standards. In 1991, all vehicles in the state of California were required to have basic principles of OBD-I. And already in 1996 using OBD-II with a series of standardized diagnostic trouble codes was mandatory for all vehicles in the US. The European version of OBD-II became a compulsory part of diesel vehicles in 2003.
A multitude of OBD-II applications is available on Google Play and the App Store now. Selecting the right app with a useful set of functions is crucial to feeling confident on the road.