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How Much For A Car Diagnosis – Trust Someone Else To Do It?

by Jordan Harris
How Much For A Car Diagnosis

Have you started to experience weird problems with your car and you are looking to diagnose the matter and you are interested in learning how much for a car diagnosis? Well, if this is the case, then you are at the right place because this article will be all about car diagnostics.

Doing your own research before you decide to take your car to a shop and get it diagnosed is a really smart idea. Why we are saying this? Well, because there are workshops out there that are overcharging customers and making them spend hundreds of dollars for this type of service.

This is mostly due to inexperienced diagnosticians. They just plug in the OBD2 scanner and cross their fingers and hope for the best. While in fact, this job is a lot more than this.

A good diagnostician should understand how the car breathes and connect the dots quickly. And these types of diagnosticians are difficult to come by. This is why we are going to try to help you out when it comes to this type of work.

First, we are going to learn what is car diagnostics. Then we are going to learn more about the signs that indicate that you need diagnostics to be performed on your vehicle.

After that, we will cover the diagnostic tools and how this procedure is done to a car. And of course, we will learn how much for a car diagnosis. So, if you want to learn more about this topic, follow along till the end because there will be quite a lot to cover.

Car Diagnostics Test

Now before we dive into more complex topics like elaborating on how much for a car diagnosis, we need to learn what is car diagnosis in general. Why so? Well, there are a lot of other people struggling with similar issues and we feel that this topic needs further elaboration since not all folks are very experienced when it comes to cars and know about diagnostics. So, let’s cover this quickly.

So, what is a car diagnosis? Well, diagnostics in general is basically defining a problem that is present in your car based on the symptoms that the car produces.

It is the same thing as when we humans get a cold and visit a doctor. Then the doctor determines that we have a cold and gives us the medicine needed in order for us to overcome this problem.

And it is the same thing when it comes to cars. The car is not happy and you need to go to visit a car doctor, also known as a mechanic or diagnostician.

Nowadays cars are so advanced that there are separate different shops for diagnosing problems only. They are basically specialists when it comes to this type of work and your car will be diagnosed in a matter of minutes.

Then you can take the car to a mechanic’s shop and get it sorted out. Some people on the other hand are into DIY stuff and they diagnose problems by themselves. And if you are into cars, you should also try this as well. But how much for a car diagnosis? More on that, we are going to cover it in a bit.

Why Diagnosing Your Car Is Important

Another topic that we would like to cover before we dive into how much for a car diagnosis is the topic of why car diagnostics is important for you as a car owner. Why is this so?

Well, car diagnostics is really essential for you and your car. Namely, because there are problems that often appear in cars that can be really damaging for your car in the long run if you keep driving the vehicle as it is.

Let’s create an example. You have a vacuum leak that needs repairing, your intake manifold is allowing unmetered air to enter the engine. Why is this a dangerous situation?

How Much For A Car Diagnosis

Well, this problem will first start to affect your performance and your car will run rough. Other consequences of this issue are damage to the spark plugs, the O2 sensor, as well as the catalytic converter.

So, you see why quick diagnosis is really important unless you want to pay thousands on repairs later on.

This is why when you notice a check engine light or another symptom, you should not be cheap and make sure that you diagnose this problem as quickly as possible unless you want to get some permanent engine damage and then trash the whole engine altogether.

But how much for a car diagnosis? More on that, we are going to cover more in a bit.

Signs That You Need A Car Diagnosis

So, we have covered what is car diagnostics and why it is important to be done quickly. Now let’s take a look at the signs that indicate a need for car diagnostics.

As you probably know, when the car starts to show problems, there will be some signs that the car is in desperate need to be diagnosed. This is why in the following chapters, we are going to cover all of the situations that you need to be aware of before we learn more about how much for a car diagnosis. So, you don’t want to miss that.

How Much For A Car Diagnosis, Warning Signs #1: Check Engine Light

Now let’s start with the first sign that you need a car diagnosis. And this is probably the most common one. Namely, the check engine light. So, what is a check engine light?

Well, a check engine light is a special light that is located on the cluster of your vehicle. This sign usually says “Check Engine” or there is an icon with a car and a wrench next to it. So, what does this sign mean?

Well, this means that the computer has recorded some problems with certain components of your car. If you didn’t know, the computer is constantly testing all of the sensors and solenoids and the overall work of the engine and transmission.

How Much For A Car Diagnosis

So, whenever there is a problem with a certain component, the computer will know. And once the computer has collected enough evidence that there is a problem, it will show the check engine light on your cluster.

At first glance, you will not know why this light is there unless you learn how much for a car diagnosis is and pay the diagnosis cost.

What is really good is that there are tools known as OBD2 scanners and with these tools, you can scan the car and see what kind of codes you are getting. The codes concerning the powertrain start with the letter P and the rest of the symbols are numbers.

For example, code P0300 indicates a random misfire inside the engine. While the P0301 indicates a misfire on cylinder number 1. Once you get the idea, the codes are rather easy to understand. But how much for a car diagnosis? More about this, we are going to cover more in a bit.

How Much For A Car Diagnosis, Warning Signs #2: Audible Noises

The next sign that indicates a need for car diagnosis is the audible noises that can be present. If you don’t know, when cars break down, they do not always show the check engine light. Why so?

Well, this is the case because cars have components that are not connected to the computer of the car. And since there is no reading from a specific sensor, you will not be able to diagnose the problem this way.

Instead of this, you track the audible symptom that is created. For example, if you get a squeaking or squealing noise when you start up the engine, you might assume that the drive belt has gone wrong and it is loose. This problem might be caused by a bad drive belt or possibly a bad belt tensioner or idler pulley.

Car Diagnosis

Or another example is if the car starts to create hissing noises. When a car starts to hiss, it means that you have a vacuum leak somewhere or possibly the exhaust leak either from the exhaust manifold or the exhaust pipes.

Another example can be whining noises. Especially when you get up to speed. A whining noise can indicate a problem with the transmission if it comes from the center column, or a problem with the wheel bearings if the sound comes from the wheels.

And the last example that we are going to give is the clunking noises. Clunking noises are a rather common thing. These types of sounds are often caused by problems with bushings on the control arms or by bad struts tower bushings.

And if you don’t know these things, it might be best to learn how much for a car diagnosis. But more on this, we are going to cover it in a bit.

How Much For A Car Diagnosis, Warning Signs #3: Drivability Problems

We have covered the two types of signs that indicate a problem with your car and that this problem needs diagnosing. The next sign that we are going to cover when it comes to diagnostic issues is the drivability problems.

So, what is a drivability problem? A drivability problem is a type of problem that affects your driving characteristics. This means that the car is not driving as it has been driving previously before the problem appeared. Some people who haven’t been driving a car before these problems appear are even not aware and think that everything is normal.

Let’s make an example, the spark plugs on the car are bad and the engine is performing poorly and is down on power. This problem unless there is an experienced driver, it cannot be spotted. And then of course you need to learn how much for car diagnosis and diagnose the problem.

Vehicle problems troubleshooting

Another symptom that we are going to list is the situation when the car is pulling to one of the sides. Let’s say that you drive straight and the steering wheel starts to wander left or right depending on the issue.

This is another drivability sign that indicates a problem with your vehicle. The causes for this problem can be a number of things. Namely, bushings, ball joints, and inner and outer tie rods (for more insight, check out our guide on outer tie rod replacement). So, you need to learn how much for a car diagnosis and diagnose the problem.

And another example is the situation when the car doesn’t want to move. You press on the gas, and the revs go up the clutch is smoking but the car is still in place. A seized brake rotor is one of the causes of this problem. So, you see how different problems require different diagnostic approaches.

How Much For A Car Diagnosis, Warning Signs #4: Component Malfunctioning

And the last sign that you need to learn how much for a car diagnosis is the situation when you have a component malfunctioning in your vehicle.

Component malfunctioning is rather common. But diagnosing the root cause can be a struggle because there could be many factors in play.

Let’s say that your AC is not working. Why is this the case? Why is it not working? Is it because of a bad AC compressor (prompting you to confirm by knowing how to tell if AC compressor is bad)? Bad condenser? Bad refrigerant line or an empty AC system or a bad A/C compressor in your car? There could be a number of causes for this issue. And this is why diagnostics have to be done the right way in order for the problem to be uncovered.

Another example is when you have an engine problem. Let’s say that your engine is lacking coolant. Why could be this the case? Why the engine is lacking coolant?

There could be a number of reasons behind this. Namely, there could be a blown head gasket, you can have a radiator leak or a coolant hose leak. So, this is why proper diagnostics have to be done in order for the problem to be uncovered correctly.

And our last example is let’s say when the cluster has failed and is not working. Finding electrical issues can be a true pain and diagnosing them can be a complete nightmare if you are not experienced.

It can be the cluster that has failed completely, there could be a blown fuse, or a rat or a raccoon has chewed up the wires and caused a short in the system. Anything is at play.

So, you need to make sure that you learn how much for a car diagnosis and diagnose the car. But before that, let’s take a look at the tools needed.

Car Diagnostic Tool

Now let’s take a look at the tools needed when it comes to car diagnostics before we learn how much for a car diagnosis. Why do we think that this is necessary? Well, there are a lot of DIY guys out there that are going to enjoy learning more about how they can tackle this type of work. So, let’s dive into the topic.

The first tool that you are going to need when it comes to car diagnostics is the OBD2 scanner. So, what is an OBD2 scanner tool?

If you didn’t know, every car that is produced after 1996 has an OBD2 port. This means that there are tools that can be plugged into the vehicle in order for the trouble codes to be retrieved.

With an OBD2 tool, you can scan for codes, and delete codes. And you can also read live data from different sensors.

And live data will tell how this sensor or solenoid is performing while the car is running. What is unfortunate is that these advanced options are only included in scanners that are at the higher end of the spectrum, price-wise.

But if you want to scan your car for cheap, you can snatch one of these on Amazon. There are a ton of really good deals. There are even Bluetooth-enabled OBD scanners out there. And the good thing is that you can connect this scanner to your mobile phone.

The second tool you are going to need is a multimeter. With a multimeter, you can measure different values. These tools can measure resistance, continuity, and voltage. Basically, all you need to diagnose a sensor or a solenoid. But how much for a car diagnosis? More on that in a bit.

How Car Diagnosis Is Done The Right Way

Now before we discuss the main topic for today which is how much is a car diagnosis, let’s take a look at how car diagnosis is done the right way. Let’s learn more about the ways how this work is performed.

The first thing you need to learn is what kind of symptoms you get. For example, if you get a check engine light, computer diagnostics have to be done. And by this, we mean that you need to scan the car with an OBD2 scanner tool and check the codes.

Once you diagnosed some codes that stick, you can move on and inspect the components that are affected. Namely, sensors, solenoids, and fuses. For this, you will need to have a multimeter. With the multimeter, you can measure the different electric properties of an electrical circuit.

For other symptoms like audible symptoms, you need to learn where the sound comes from and see the type of sound, whether is a whining, clunking, knocking, or possibly squeaking noise. All these noises can lead to different causes.

And the last thing is the drivability issues. These are usually tracked based on the system that is affected, whether it is the steering column, front suspension, or rear suspension. Or possibly the powertrain. But how much for a car diagnosis? More on that, we are going to cover next.

How Much For A Car Diagnosis

Now let’s take a look at how much for a car diagnosis. Let’s say that you don’t know how to do a diagnosis and you want to have this sorted out at a shop. What are the prices?

Well, the average price for computer diagnostics is somewhere between $80 and $120. There are places where you can get this service even cheaper like Autozone, where they can read your check engine codes for free.

You can also, check out Groupon.com, you can find a lot of offers in your area for a really cheap price.

Vehicle problems troubleshooting

But this doesn’t mean that every diagnostic is this cheap. Let’s say that you have a problem with the engine and transmission and the respective component has to be disassembled.

This will not be a cheap thing to do because only for removal and disassembly of the component you can pay a few hundred dollars in order to get the right cause diagnosed.

So, we can sum it up that issues like the check engine light, suspension issues, or minor engine problems can be diagnosed for very little. But when the problem is something a lot bigger like an internal engine issue or problems with the transmission, the prices for diagnostics can be rather high.

Final Conclusion

In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to car diagnostics. First, we learned what is car diagnostics and the signs that indicate that you need diagnostics to be performed on your car.

Then, we covered the tools needed and how this procedure is done to the car. Lastly, we discussed how much for a car diagnosis and learned more about the prices involved.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

How Much Is Car Engine

A car engine can cost from $200 up to $15,000. It really depends a lot on the engine that you need. A junkyard engine is probably the cheapest. A new engine for an average car will cost you about $5,000 or more.

How To Check Check Engine Light

In order to check the check engine light you need to get an OBD2 scanner. With this scanner, you will be able to gain access to the OBD2 port and scan the car for codes. Once you scan the car, you will get all of the codes that this vehicle has.

Where Can I Get A Diagnostic Test On My Car

You can try visiting Autozone, they will read all of your codes for free. Or you can take it to a mechanic’s shop, these shops usually charge somewhere in the range of $80 to $120 for diagnostics.

How Long Does A Car Diagnostic Test Take

Car diagnostics do not take a lot of time. Usually between 15 to 30 minutes. The technician will plug in the scanner and see which of the codes stick and based on this will try to diagnose the problem.

How Much For Diagnostic Test For Car

A diagnostic test usually costs somewhere between $80 and $120. Or if you want to diagnose your car for free, you can take the car to your local Autozone and they will scan the codes for you.

Do Mechanics Charge To Look At Your Car

Usually, they don’t charge if it’s something simple. But if it’s involved some computer diagnostics, multimeter testing, or even disassembly, they will require that you pay a certain amount of cash to get the problem diagnosed.

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