Technology is a Wonderful Thing
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Technology is a Wonderful Thing

For those who are not aware, I am not on Facebook. I find it a bit presumptuous to think anyone would care what I am eating, how many pounds I’ve lost (gained?), or how old my pet is. Call me old fashioned but for the most part, this does not interest me. So, instead of having a Facebook account, I track my friends on my wifes (Elaine) account. This way I can retain the moral high ground of being above social media while still getting my social media “fix”. Clever, huh?! Elaine calls me a Facebook lurker, but not in the creepy sense.

A few days ago I was checking out Elaine’s Facebook feed when I came across a Sponsored (code for advertisement) Post about a device you can plug into your car and immediately be able to diagnose what is wrong with your vehicle, determine the severity of the problem, and provide a cost estimate of the repairs! All for the affordable price of $80! WOW! Sign me up!! Why on earth am I spending thousands of dollars on my diagnostic tools, not to mention hundreds more every 6 months to update my software, when I can buy everything I need for 80 bucks on the internet?

What the advertisement does not tell you is a diagnostic code does not tell you what is wrong with your vehicle! It is kind of like going to a doctor because you are not feeling well. Yes, you have a fever (dangerous)  and this is a concern but what is CAUSING your fever? Or, you have high blood pressure (can be very dangerous as well), but what is CAUSING your high blood pressure. A diagnostic tool works like that. It will give the technician a code for a sensor or symptom, but this usually does not tell you what is causing the code to be triggered. Example, if you have a warning light & code for your Traction Control, this could be caused by a faulty sensor, faulty wiring, faulty wheel bearing, faulty tone ring, faulty Control Module, etc…. Diagnosing by code alone is never advised and can cost the vehicle owner time and money.

Empowering yourself with more information is always a good thing. I am a big fan of “do it yourselfers’”, and it is YOUR vehicle after all. Remember though, licensed technicians spend years in the trade and spend thousands of dollars on quality equipment that should not, and cannot, be replaced with a Youtube video and cheap equipment. Like my Dad always says, “Sometimes you can have just enough knowledge to make yourself dangerous!”.

There is a reason licensed garages spend thousands of dollars on Diagnostic Tools and updated Software. Believe me, if I could achieve the same results with an $80 device I would do so in a heartbeat! Now, I’m not telling you how to spend your hard earned money. By all means, if you are inclined to purchase one of these devices, go ahead. If you don’t believe/trust your garage of choice, get a second opinion! As a consumer, you should always have options and choices to ensure you receive the quality service you deserve. But please, if you do use a scan reader, do NOT erase the codes! Having the history of the codes when you bring the vehicle in to be repaired makes a technicians job much easier. It would be great if we could simply plug a device into a vehicle to determine what is wrong with it, and I am aware that some people actually believe that this is how Automotive Technicians diagnose vehicle problems today. The reality is that the diagnostic codes are only a part of the information a qualified technician uses when determining the source of a problem with a vehicle. Anyone who tells you different may only be trying to sell you something!

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