Why Do Repair Shops Charge Diagnostic Fees?
Today's vehicles are a Networked Computer System. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, the engine is managed by an electronic control module, or ECM. These control modules monitor and control the fuel, emissions, temperature, the timing of the engine, starting, charging, transmission shifting and speed. The electrical accessory systems that add luxuries like power windows, door locks, seats, mirrors, heating and air conditioning, are also run by a control module, called a body control module or "BCM".
When one of these systems in your vehicle starts malfunctioning, a driver is alerted by either the illumination of a warning light on your dash or a symptom in which the vehicle or a component is not working properly. Unfortunately, when you tap into the vehicle's ECM it does not tell you what is wrong. In fact, the ECM makes adjustments and changes to compensate for the symptom that it is seeing, so the vehicle will still operate as close to normal as possible. The diagnostic process starts with retrieving the code or codes from the ECM. These codes give you the circuit or circuits that are affected, and what the condition is that the vehicle's computer is seeing. From there a qualified diagnostic technician uses expensive equipment and software to follow a diagnostic path of pinpoint testing to find the source of the problem and what is causing the condition.
This diagnostic process can be the most complicated part of vehicle repair. The technician who is delegated this task is a specialist in vehicle computer diagnostics. These technicians, constantly continue to further their education, training and upgrading of their tools and equipment, since the systems on vehicles are constantly evolving and changing.
This testing time and analysis of the results to find the problem, takes time so there is a fee, because the technician is working on your vehicle and be prepared, the more complicated vehicles become the higher this fee is going to go. Happy Motoring!
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