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7 Must-Have Tools For Car Engine Diagnostics

Must-Have Tools For Car Engine Diagnostics

Vehicle maintenance and repair costs account for 7-9% of the total cost of ownership but can make a significant impact, according to a report on LeasePlan. As a car owner, your ultimate goal is to keep your vehicle running efficiently, improve fuel efficiency and maintain safety. For these reasons, creating a preventive maintenance schedule for your car should be a top priority. Doing so helps you avoid expensive repairs in the long run.

However, there are those moments when you’ll hear sounds from your car. Or the check engine light mysteriously switches on. When unexpected car issues occur, you can choose to go to the auto shop for repairs or take the DIY route. If you prefer troubleshooting car problems by yourself, you’ll need to invest in the right equipment. Below are 7 must-have tools for car engine diagnostics to help you fix a car battery light issue and other minor engine-related problems.

Code Readers

Scanners and code readers are categorized as high-tech auto diagnostic tools because of their ability to retrieve codes from the vehicle’s computer. The data pulled from your car marks as the starting point for conducting a thorough diagnostic check on your engine. Ideally, code readers enable you to detect engine defects, including why check lights are on. Using the reader, you can access your engine’s computer live and freeze frame data and delete the diagnosis codes. Deleting codes helps you determine if your repair attempts fixed an engine malfunction or not.

Scan Tools

Like code readers, scan tools allow you to read codes and clear them. However, the functionalities of scan tools are more advanced compared to code readers. Scanners let you read available information on your engine’s computer. After analyzing data, you can create a checklist of parameter IDs based on your preferences. What’s more, scan tools provide in-depth details regarding codes and how to carry out engine diagnostics. Some expensive models have knowledge support sections you can use to speed up engine maintenance procedures.

Scopes And Meters

In addition to scan tools and code readers, you’ll need meters and scopes. The most basic meter you’ll require to carry out successful engine diagnostics is the multimeter. Multimeters are versatile tools that help you check if the starter circuit is in excellent working condition. You can also use them to test car batteries, electrical circuits, and elements in your car’s O2 sensors.

Scopes are as indispensable as multimeters because of their ability to read and display signals put out by sensors and other car parts. For instance, a borescope allows you to peer into the inside of engines, engine mounts, and other hard-to-reach areas of faulty car parts. SPI Borescopes explain that borescopes are flexible tools with articulating tips that allow users to inspect curved and narrow spaces. They also have high-definition cameras that provide real-time visuals on LCD monitors to help you pinpoint issues affecting engine functionality.

Proper Lighting Equipment

Proper lighting is vital for vehicle diagnostics because you’re likely to miss something obvious even when using advanced tools due to poor lighting. Therefore, invest in high-quality and adjustable lighting fixtures for your garage. You don’t need expensive lighting equipment, but one that lights up the entire engine compartment. Something simple like a hood light can do wonders when fixing your car’s engine. Stick to fluorescent bulbs or LEDs, as they produce less heat while ensuring your workspace stays bright.

Vacuum Pump

Automobile engines consist of parts that rely on a vacuum pressure to function effectively. But like other components in your car, vacuum-controlled motors and sensors experience mechanical failure if not well maintained. When this happens, the engine, cylinder head components, and other vital parts become dysfunctional. Signs your vehicle’s vacuum components are failing include poor fuel efficiency, leaking oil, and faulty air conditioning system.

To ensure your vehicle remains functional, test your car’s vacuum lines regularly using a vacuum pump and pressure test kit. This tactic helps you detect vacuum line leaks and wear and tear. Since vacuum pumps or lines are always in use when the engine is on, they are prone to mechanical failure due to broken belts, faulty hoses, and electrical issues. To get the correct readings during inspections, be sure to use the pressure test kit when the engine has warmed up.

Fuel Pressure Gauge

There are times when your vehicle will feel sluggish. This could be due to oil leaks, debris, and other mechanical problems that cause the fuel pressure to drop. As a result, your automobile’s power will reduce, forcing you to drive at a slow pace. Anytime you have concerns about your vehicle slowing down, run a diagnostic test using a fuel pressure gauge. This tool will help you determine if your engine is getting sufficient fuel to function as required. If you detect a problem with your vehicle’s fuel pressure, visit your auto mechanic immediately. Another essential practice is to never drive your car on less than a quarter tank of fuel. This trick helps prevent mechanical issues related to fuel pressure.

Telescoping Mirror

Today’s car engines come equipped with many components within a small space. While this engineering is impressive, it makes engine inspection rounds daunting, especially for DIY enthusiasts. With so many hard-to-reach components in the engine, detecting technical problems affecting your car’s overall performance becomes difficult. Fortunately, there is one diagnostic tool you can rely on to inspect hard-to-find areas in your vehicle’s engine. As a do-it-yourself fun, consider investing in a telescoping mirror. This tool has simple but reliable features that help you view dark and hard-to-reach parts under the hood. With a telescoping mirror, you get a clear view of the components in question, thanks to the sufficient lighting they provide.

Regardless of how keen you are to keep up with car maintenance, you’ll still experience minor technical issues from time to time. Fortunately, you can troubleshoot simple car problems by yourself as long as you have the right tools. Some of the must-have tools in your garage include pressure test kits, scopes, multimeters, scan tools, lighting systems, and code readers.

About the author

Sravani Reddy

I'm a breaking news reporter for crazy speed tech focusing on economic policy and capital markets. I completed my master’s degree in business and economic reporting at New York University.

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