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What Is A Vehicle Diagnostic?

Brian Bates

Nearly every vehicle you see on the road has an internal computer system that maintains communication with all of your vehicle's sensors and electronic devices. When your check engine light comes on, it has to be signaled through the computer first.

The technical term for the entire system is generally known as on-board diagnostics. At South Park Tire & Auto, we run a "diagnostic" test by plugging a scanner into your car's computer. Let's go over some fundamentals on diagnostic codes and translations, plus the information can do for you.


When we run a diagnostic, we connect the scanner into a port called the OBD-II port that's standard in all vehicles sold in the United States.

We will then receive codes that have different letter and number combinations. These codes are universal across all car manufacturers for the most part, except for a few manufacturer-specific messages. Codes that begin with "P" are powertrain-related, codes that begin with "B" are body-related, and codes that begin with "C" are chassis-related.


All in all, translating codes from modern vehicles has been streamlined to be easier for everybody. If you or your mechanic don't understand one, they can simply google an OBD resource tool. The only downside is that trouble codes aren't always full proof to diagnose a car problem, so it always helps to get a professional opinion. The diagnosis will often point you in the right direction, but you'll commonly need to physically poke around under the hood to understand what's going on.


For a proper diagnostics test, you can bring your vehicle to South Park Tire & Auto Center. With our high-end scanners and equipment and skillful team of technicians, we can pinpoint any of your car issues.

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