Considering Car Mechanic Training? Here's What to Look For in Diagnostic Tools

automotive schools
There was a point in time when mechanics would open up the hood of a car and rely entirely on their own know-how to pinpoint issues. Luckily, with technology this task is a little bit easier nowadays. In addition to visual inspections and on-road tests, mechanics can use diagnostic tools to assess vehicles and diagnose the problems that drivers are experiencing with them. They also can sometimes conduct tests on the spot to give additional information, or suggest possible fixes for what is found. Read on for what you should look for when searching for a diagnostic tool in your career.

What Students in Automotive Schools Should Know About OBD

Scanners are diagnostic tools that connect to a car’s internal computer and pick up on errors in the engine, airbags and other parts of the vehicle by reading codes. On-board diagnostics, or OBD, refers to the ability of a vehicle’s system to self-diagnose and report. This is done through the sensors and computer system within the vehicle. Different vehicles have different levels of OBD capabilities. The two main types of OBD scanners are OBD1 and OBD2.
The original reason for the OBD system was to simply switch on the “check engine” light. OBD1 and OBD2 scanners came into play afterwards, in order to add functions. Prior to and including 1995, cars were manufactured with OBD systems compatible with OBD1 scanners, exclusive to the car they were intended for. From 1996 onward, OBD2 scanners improved upon this technology, acting as a universal interface that could fit with multiple manufacturers.

The scanner you need depends on where and when the vehicle was manufactured and the make
The scanner you need depends on where and when the vehicle was manufactured and the make

The reason OBD2 scanners are optimal is that they work wirelessly and give more information, by providing codes to identify why the “check engine” light is on. OBD1 scanners did not offer these capabilities. After your car mechanic training, if you’re looking for a scanner that is compatible with a car made in 1995 or earlier, you’ll need an OBD1. However, if the vehicle was manufactured in 1996 or later, you’ll need an OBD2 scanner, which will also give you much more data.

What Features to Look for in Diagnostic Tools after Automotive School

Compatibility is also important with regards to the specific model you are working on. Make sure you check that your diagnostic tools will work for the range of vehicles you need them for. Some tools have more range of compatibility than others, spanning regions and different types of vehicles including cars, SUVs, hybrids and trucks. You’ll also want to take a look at the features on diagnostic tools, choosing what will make your job easiest. Interfaces vary between diagnostic tools, with some better than others. Look for a screen that is easy to read—if it’s small, then a high-quality and clear display is important for readability.
Automotive schools give you a look into how much is involved in an average work day for a mechanic. The more intuitive and user-friendly a tool’s interface is, the more quickly you’ll be able to retrieve the data you want. You won’t want to be fiddling with the buttons when you have a busy day ahead of you, so choose tools that help you rather than add difficult steps to your day.

When you are able to quickly read and understand data, you can fix problems sooner
When you are able to quickly read and understand data, you can fix problems sooner

Memory is another feature to consider when choosing a diagnostic tool—some have the capability to export data to a cloud-based manager, easily storing notes and findings. Data storage is important on the device itself, so that you can keep working with a busy schedule, free of worry about running out of space. All of these features will help your shop run smoother and make sure your diagnostic tools help, rather than hinder, your work.
Are you interested in automotive mechanic schools?
Contact CATI to learn more.

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