Checking Computer Systems When Doing Pre-Purchase Inspections
Checking the computer systems on today’s vehicles before making a purchase cannot be overemphasized. Almost every system in today’s state-of-the art vehicles has some type of electronic or computer controls to control its operation. Some of these systems are for entertainment or convenience only such as phone and BLUETOOTH systems, Satellite, radio and climate-control systems and ensure that the driver has a very comfortable and enjoyable ride. Other systems however are much more critical to the functioning of the vehicle. Problems caused by a computer controlled brake system, ABS, suspension or engine control system, or engine or suspension system can cause the vehicle to be unsafe if not working correctly.
Car Inspectors’ Diagnostic Software
Pre-Purchase vehicle inspections performed by Car Inspectors includes check of all vehicle-specific computerized and electronic systems including (but not limited to):
• Engine Control systems
• Transmission and Drivetrain Management
• Antilock Brakes Systems (ABS)
• Traction Control
• Steering and Suspension Control
• HVAC and Climate control
• Control Area Network (CAN) Systems
• Camera systems including Back-Up Camera
• Security Systems
• Radio, Sound and Entertainment Systems
• Navigation Systems
• Phone and Bluetooth
• Body Control Module Systems
• SYNC Systems
• Parking Assist Systems
• Plus many others
Car Inspectors uses PC-based electronic diagnostic programs and equipment which checks each of these systems thoroughly to make sure that the vehicle you’re purchasing will not have any kind of computerized or electronic problems. The software used by Car Inspectors is able to check all vehicle-specific systems for all vehicle models through 2017 and can read thousands of system-specific Trouble Codes. Car Inspectors is also able to determine the difficulty and cost of repairing any problems, faults and errors found and report them on the inspection checklist and include the cost of repair on the written estimate at the time of the inspection.
Cost Savings of Finding Electrical Problems
The importance of having the electrical, electronic and computer systems of your vehicle checked out cannot be overemphasized. Many times, the vehicle you’re about to buy may appear to operate normally with no symptoms or warning lamps on the dash telling you otherwise. However, if a trouble code was recently cleared by the seller to turn off a warning lamp temporarily (such as the “Check Engine” light for example) and you buy the vehicle, a fault in the Powertrain Management System will eventually re-set the fault and turn the light back on. The result will be that you may be unable to pass SMOG inspection in the state where you want to drive the vehicle. This also means you will be unable to register or have it licensed. The repair of the problem may also cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This is especially true with electronic and computer system failures which are usually much more difficult to isolate, diagnose and repair than simple mechanical problems. Also, many times electronic and computerized problems are intermittent. This means that the car may seem to be okay during the 1-2 hours it is inspected by the technician, but after several hours of driving, an electronic component, computer or a loose or poorly connected wire may vibrate, move or get hot. Cold or wet-weather can also cause intermittent problems with electronic systems which otherwise seem to operate normally. The result may be a system that starts performing poorly or shuts down completely. Car Inspectors by checking any trouble codes which are stored in the computer’s memory is able to determine whether a problem is present at the time of inspection or intermittent, and report the potential of it becoming a serious (and expensive) problem later. The buyer can then make an educated decision of whether to go ahead with the purchase or look elsewhere for a vehicle which doesn’t have possible high-cost electronic problems which will have to be diagnosed and repaired later.
Steve Storey / ASE Master Technician / Car Inspectors