Misconceptions About OBD Codes: Why Your Car Still Needs a Qualified Mechanic

Misconceptions about Scanning Your Car

It’s happening again… your trusty car is failing and you have no idea why. You call your best friend for a lift who mentions that all you need to do is get your car scanned and the code will tell you exactly what’s wrong. Who needs a qualified mechanic?

What is an OBD (On-Board Diagnostic) Code?

Your friend is partially correct. Mechanics use what are called OBD-II or OBD2 trouble codes to help figure out what is wrong with your automobile. Mechanics plug a portable scanner into your car or truck’s diagnostic computer and receive a code that explains where the trouble is originating. For example, code P0087 indicates that the fuel rail/system pressure is low.

Why OBD Codes Aren’t Enough

While more specific than a simple “check engine” light, codes can still be vague and do not fully specify the nature of the problem. A scanner may report multiple OBD codes making it difficult to decide where the problem is originating. Or an OBD code may refer to an entire system (malfunction in hydraulics) which needs a closer inspection. While the codes are certainly helpful, they do not eliminate the need for further diagnostic testing.

The Need for a Qualified Mechanic

While it is certainly possible for you to find out these OBD codes for yourself, it can difficult or dangerous to interpret them without help. OBD codes certainly help mechanics by locating a general area which may be causing the problem, but it requires a detailed diagnostic from a professional to find and fix your car problem safely.

If your car is having trouble in the Wilmington area of Northern Delaware (DE), contact Paul Campanella’s Auto & Tire Center.


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