Diagnostics de-mystified

When you go to a garage, are you paying for a Diagnostic assessment or merely a  fault code reading?

There is a big difference!
There appears to be some confusion around what a diagnostic check actually means from garage to garage.
A proper diagnostic check  should be an in depth assessment of a fault on your car which involves reading the codes and live data then evaluating them to ascertain exactly what work needs to be carried out.
There are numerous types of diagnostic equipment that garages can invest in, and simply speaking, you get what you pay for. The cheaper equipment is able to provide a fault code, but it is then down to the garage as to whether they have the ability or knowledge to carry out the appropriate testing to advise you of the exact cause of the fault.
To try to explain further, Fault codes are a symptom and not a cause. So, we advise that when considering where to take your car when you see a warning light, it is important to consider what you will actually get for the price you are quoted.
Many independent garages will have basic equipment and may seem cheaper for diagnosis, but the diagnostics they offer is merely a ‘code read’, which does not address the actual cause. Providing you with a fault code is not what a Diagnostic check should be, the garage should be able to completely assess the fault. What will you do when the garage hands over a fault code and says “this is what the car says is wrong”? How do you know this is right, how do you verify these results? If one garage is unable to assess the cause correctly, then you will end up paying again at another garage in order to get an accurate answer. No financial saving in the long run!
At times it may feel frustrating to have to pay money just to be given what you may perceive to be a ‘simple’ answer as to why a fault light may be on; here at Lakeside Garage we have invested heavily in Dealer level Equipment and our expert technicians. This enables us not only to be confident in using the equipment, but also allows them to be able to accurately assess the cause. This takes time (it is not just a case of plugging a machine into the car and getting an answer!).
Within our diagnostic assessment we check the system and develop a test plan.. This will include sensor checks, fuses, wiring and levels of software in control units. We also use to the dealer systems in case there are known faults or recalls that may be required. It is not always possible to get to the root cause within an initial assessment, in this instance we would be able to discuss a price or time limit to spend on the car to get the answer.
When asking your local garage to look at a fault ask them whether you are getting an assessment, and what does this include, or a fault code read.