The days of popping the hood and doing a quick diagnosis on your vehicle are, for the most part, finished. Instead, today’s
vehicles are governed entirely by the engine and drivetrain computer. Diagnostic tools are designed to bridge the
gap between you and this system.
When the engine computer detects a reading from a sensor that is outside of normal
specs, it stores a trouble code in the computer and lights the dashboard Check Engine light (CEL). From there, it’s a
matter of using a scanner or other diagnostic tool that can indicate the trouble code(s). The code will at least
point you in the right direction after you look up its meaning.
There are a number of these kinds of tools that you can use for diagnostics. Determining which to invest in depends
on how much know-how you have with cars. If you're not an experienced mechanic, you probably won't want to buy a timing
light to help set the timing on your older-model engine. On the other hand,
diagnostic tools like an ignition tester are pretty straightforward.
Some of the digital diagnostic machines available today can, after determining the cause of a problem, provide you with a
solution drawn from a database that includes information from -- no kidding -- millions of previous fixes. If you're
more experienced than most, digital multimeters and code readers will help you to translate engineering
diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) into English. What's more, they will reset the computer and turn off your Check Engine
Our line of diagnostic tools numbers in the hundreds. Some items are even compatible with Bluetooth for wireless connectivity.
Others, like the coolant and battery refractometer, sound almost cool enough to buy on principle, just so you can tell
your buddies, "This is my new refractometer."