Onboard Diagnostics For Auto Service

Virtually every vehicle manufactured in the world over the last few decades has an Electronic Control Module or ECM. This is a fairly powerful computer that controls and monitors many systems on your vehicle from the fuel system to the emission control system and even the electrical system. In the event of a failure of one of these systems the ECM will let the operator know via a code which is usually displayed on the vehicle’s dash.

Modern automotive service centers all have a computer diagnostic machine. These are either hand-held devices or large models costing up to ¼ million dollars. They all look for the same information though the more expensive units are capable of testing multiple systems for a much greater array of information all at the same time. Either way they all communicate with the ECM through a port located somewhere usually inside of the passenger compartment.

I Have A Code On My Dash

If you have a flashing light, a lighted icon, or a code flashing on your dash this means your ECM has detected and recorded a system fault or a reading which is out of the normal operating ranges. Sometimes this simply means there was a one time or temporary problem which requires only for the ECM code to be reset. There are other times when it means a sensor or component needs to be recalibrated or replaced.

If a light on your dash has come on and the performance of your vehicle has changed you need to cease operation of the vehicle as quickly as is safely possible and call for an auto service repairman. Some failures can lead to further damage to critical systems if you continue to drive. A faulty oil pump, for example, could lead to complete destruction of the internal part of the engine. This could result in very costly internal engine repairs or even replacement. Read your owner’s manual for very important information about warning lights and dashboard codes.

Service Interval Indicators

Some lights on your dash can simply be reminders that a service interval is approaching or is due. Your vehicle’s ECM knows how many miles you have driven and how many months it has been since your last service. More sophisticated ECM and dashboard systems will communicate with you about these issues. Believe it or not some vehicles are already beginning to incorporate systems which will send a text message, email or even social media message to you about your vehicle. Are you ready to receive a Tweet or Facebook post from your car reminding you to change the oil and rotate the tires? The time is here and you will see more and more of this in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *