And here’s our top seven tips on what, and what not to do to ensure that you make the most of this step in your diagnostic process.
Johnny’s Top Seven Tips for Fault Code Success...
1. Select the right tool
Using a generic scan tool has its place but if you truly want to be effective and profit from this type of work then select the manufacturer tool. I switched to using manufacturer tools and information many years ago and it enabled our garage to get ahead of the competition.
Using the right serial tool will give you buckets of confidence and you’ll often get additional information as part of the fault code that a generic tool won’t supply. Not only that but it’ll remove that anxious feeling that so often blights our day as we think “will this scan tool communicate”.
2. Carry out a global scan
Effective diagnosis is about gathering as much information as possible. The more information you have the more informed your decision making process will be. Reading just the codes in the system you perceive to be faulty will only ever lead to extended diagnosis time in the long run.
We’ve seen non start faults caused by air bag systems, inoperative infotainment caused by energy management systems, drivability faults caused by A.B.S systems, the list just goes on and on. It really is quite common to see faults in seemingly unrelated systems causing havoc on a vehicle. You’ll give yourself the best chance of reducing your diagnostic time when you look at the complete picture by carrying out a global scan.
4. DON’T CLEAR THE CODES YET!
I know it’s tempting just to see which ones bounce back but you’ll be causing yourself a whole bunch of hardship.
Many systems will reset the learned parameters (adaptations) which will remove any diagnostic clues waiting to be revealed when you look at serial data. This is trebly important when looking at engine management and drivability faults. The last thing you want to reset is fuel trim data and lose that diagnostic gold dust.
There are of course some instances when you’ll want to clear them straight away but that’s a whole other conversation for a different day.
5. Don’t ignore OBD
OBD is often perceived as the poor relation of the manufacturer’s software, but in reality there’s a wealth of information here that you’ll not want to brush aside.
Not only that but on some vehicles you’ll not be able to clear the MIL light until a fault code reset has been carried out in both the manufacturer and OBD programs.
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