Car & Van Diagnostics

Diagnosing faults on a modern vehicle can be a complex and time-consuming task. If a fault indicator light is showing on your dashboard, it is possible that the cause of the fault doesn’t lie with that specific part of the car, but it could be linked to any one of the many other related gadgets. If you don’t have a warning light showing, but you have noticed a loss of power, or you have a fluid leak of unknown origin, it can all be very frustrating. Don’t waste time and energy trying to solve the puzzle yourself, there are experts you can call in to help you when you just know something isn’t right but you can’t be sure exactly where the problem lies.

The AutoMend network has car and van mechanics that are skilled in problem diagnosis, and they have access to all the latest tools and techniques to pinpoint your performance issue and get it resolved quickly. With access to more than 9,000 members working in garages and out on the road, there is always someone nearby to come to your rescue, whatever model or car or van you drive, and whatever the age of the vehicle.

How does a mechanic diagnose faults?

Most cars nowadays have a central computer ‘brain’ that runs the vehicle’s systems and can log errors that occur during operation. Mechanics have access to an array of electronic diagnostic tools, so it sounds simple enough to diagnose faults. You simply connect the diagnostic computer to the car or van, and hey presto, out comes a readout which tells you the cause of the error. Sad to say, it’s not usually as simple as that. A single fault can have multiple potential causes, and you need an experienced mechanic to get to the root of the problem without spending many hours going through every single potential option.

Expert fault diagnosis requires highly-trained individuals who fully understand both the workings of the vehicle and the output from the diagnostic systems. It’s a bit like detective work - using a combination of experience and technical knowledge (which is constantly being updated) to quickly pinpoint the cause of a problem and work out the best way to resolve it. The mechanic’s job these days is often to interpret computer data in order to work out which part needs replacing or repairing.

Basically, a computerised diagnostic check compares the individual parameters of all the different electrical and electromechanical devices in the car against the manufacturer’s standards. Any differences can indicate where the problem lies. Best case is when the fault can be immediately traced to a single component, and this can be replaced, problem solved. At other times, there could be something tenuous or intermittent, such as a loosely connected or damaged cable, which is where the skill of the mechanic comes in and tracing these problems can be really time-consuming.

How can I help the mechanic to find the problem quickly?

Although electronic diagnostic tools can be a quick and clean way to trace the cause of a problem, they are not the only method. As a driver, you have your part to play when a fault develops – not everything comes down to sensors and fault indicator lights. If you can provide accurate, detailed information about a problem you can help the mechanic to focus in more quickly on the cause. Having a clear idea of what the problem is can also help the garage to give you an accurate quote for repair work. Here are a couple of tips:

Listen for noises

If you detect a change in the noise your vehicle makes, describing it can be helpful. Try to work out what has changed – is it the engine note, is it a noise underneath the car, is it coming from front or rear? Any information that helps to pinpoint the problem can be useful.

Take a picture

Phone cameras are great when it comes to recording visual information. Fluid leaks can be hard to pinpoint – if you get to your car and see a fresh pool of liquid, take a picture to indicate the location before you move the vehicle. If your engine has an oil leak, a picture of the affected area can be a great clue to the cause.

Common faults

A car is such a complex piece of machinery with all the different interconnected electronic and mechanical systems, it is no wonder that things sometimes go wrong. Here are just a few of the faults that you may encounter, some of which you could possibly repair yourself, but most of which are best left to the AutoMend professionals.

Warning Lights

When you first switch on your ignition, you will see an array of warning lights on the dashboard. These should all be quickly extinguished as the vehicle’s computer (ECU) runs through a series of quick start-up checks. If any remain illuminated, the car has either developed a fault, or something is about to fail. There are many possible reasons for a light staying on, but the general rule is that a red light means you must take immediate action (safety may be compromised), and amber or other colours need to be looked at as soon as possible.

Most common warning lights

Engine management – indicates that a sensor has triggered an alert.

Oil pressure – usually indicates a low oil pressure alert.

Battery – your battery may not be charging correctly.

Brake – there is a problem with the hydraulic brake system.

ABS (Anti-lock braking system) – could be a failed sensor.

Brake and ABS together – a major brake fault may have developed, do not risk driving the car.

Any warning light indicates a problem, but it may not necessarily be the car’s specified component that is failing, it could also be a sensor failure giving a false alarm. This is where the mechanic’s skill in diagnostics really comes to the fore, and this is why you should trust an AutoMend mechanic to give you the best possible advice on these matters.

Blown Fuse

This is the first port of call if something electronic has stopped working. There are fuses attached to all the systems in your car, including the audio system, electric windows, windscreen wipers and climate control / heater. Open the fuse box and check the fuse for the affected system. How can I tell if a fuse has blown? If you don’t know where the fuses are - check in the vehicle handbook. Some fuses are accessible, and some are not, so you may need to get professional help with the more obscure ones.

Blown Bulb

You may get a warning light on your dashboard if a bulb has blown, or you may just notice that one has gone. If your car has accessible light fittings, you can probably replace the bulb yourself (always check you are inserting the correct bulb for the job first). In some vehicles however, light fittings are hard to access, and you will need to get a mechanic to do the job for you.

Failure to Start

This has to be one of the most frustrating of the problems you can encounter. You need to get somewhere, you try to start the car, and nothing happens. There are many possible causes, including a flat battery, lack of fuel (a blockage, or you have simply run out), a jammed starter motor, the list goes on. Call out an AutoMend mobile mechanic or arrange for your local AutoMend garage to take your car in for diagnosis and repair.

Finding a local AutoMend mechanic

Our free online search and quote process is easy to follow and is designed to quickly put you in touch with diagnostics experts nearby. We just need you to tell us your post code and then pick your location from the suggested list. Choose your vehicle make and the service you need (diagnostics) and we will show you all the garages and mobile mechanics in your local area. You have a choice between phoning the mechanics directly to speak to them about your vehicle problem, or you can ask for one or more online quotes for the work. Vehicle diagnostic quotes are free and put you under no obligation to proceed. We know you will be happy with the cheap prices and delighted with the service, so why not get in touch today and get those annoying vehicle problems diagnosed and repaired?