As more and more technological advances are made in the world of automotive engineering, driveability issues become increasingly complicated and difficult to diagnose. For instance, let’s say you are having trouble with your vehicle running rough, and your “check engine” or “service engine soon” light is on.  The problem could be something simple such as a dirty throttle plate, a malfunctioning sensor, or worn spark plugs.  But, it may also be a combination of more than one of those simple solutions.  When you bring your vehicle in for service, a repair shop would first perform a diagnostic scan of your vehicle’s computer.  This is done with a computer diagnostic scan tool which retrieves the trouble codes stored in your vehicle’s computer or computers (some vehicles have more than one).  These trouble codes are sometimes linked to a specific part, or they may be  generalized codes that inform us of a problem with a particular circuit within the vehicle’s powertrain management system.  For example, if we get a code P0301, that tells us that there is a misfire present on engine cylinder number one, but it does not tells us what the culprit is.  So, we would have to visually inspect all of the components related to that code, and also interpret the live data that we are receiving from the communication between our scan tool and the vehicle’s computer.  The misfire issue could be due to a fouled spark plug, a faulty ignition coil, a clogged injector, or an arcing ignition wire; or it might be any combination of those things contributing to the problem.  There are also instances where we receive codes for a specific sensor or part, and we replace that part, but the problem still exists to some extent or there is an underlying issue with the vehicle that was masked by an even bigger problem.  This is why it is so very important to get your vehicle to a shop as soon as you notice a problem or notice a warning light that has come on.  Ignoring the problem will only make it worse, and can actually lead to additional problems that could end up costing you a lot more money to repair than the original issue would have.  And always remember to make a note of what is happening with your vehicle and when it happens when you have a problem, because providing us with an accurate, in depth description of an issue can sometimes be the most valuable diagnostic tool of all!

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