The car inspection itself is mostly us taking a look at your car, making sure its in good condition and ready to take you where you need to go. We check your fluids, tires, brakes, steering and suspention, check for any body damage, burnt out lights, a check engine light on the dash, as well as smaller things like your windshiled wipers.
We do this inspection so that we can find anthing you need to know about. We won’t take any actions unless you ask us to so you’re not getting stuff done you don’t want done, so you don’t have to pay money you may not have or want to spend.
Inspection vs Diagnosis
On an inspection we look at many components, over 50 points. We note what we see as needing attention or it looks fine and rate it from Green, Yellow and Red. We also look at fluid conditions and spark plugs and filters, when appropriate. An inspection allows us to note the condition of your vehicle and see what may need an in depth diagnosis and what components are operating correctly and have much more life.
On the other side, a diagnosis entails just one component or issue. We focus on that issue, following the testing process needed to identify the problem and then suggest proper repair to fix the problem. Diagnosing is a process that takes a great amount of skill and experience. We do use scanners to identify trouble codes in a vehicle. Those codes give us a starting place or what system may be having issues. We start doing our test from there. It is kind of like trying to find a certain house in a city using just the zip code. The zip code narrows the search down. Then knowledge and experience are used to figure out where that house is. It is not as easy as plugging a scanner and having it tell us what the problem is. To add to the difficulty in diagnosing many of the issues we deal with on a daily basis include electrical problems. Today’s vehicles have over a mile of wiring in them, with much of that wiring hidden in dashes, doors, carpets and body panels. A car today has over 200 computers in it controlling all the different systems in a vehicle. Our technicians are highly trained, using expensive equipment to find the problems, before we can begin the process of repairing them.
Your 50 point vehicle health inspection covers many important components of your car, including alignments. When you bring your vehicle in we will go from bumper to bumper and document with descriptions and pictures what we see, then send it to you so you see what we see and can make informed decisions. We will drive your car and get it on a lift to inspect the whole vehicle. If we feel it pulling or see evidence of an alignment issue we will tell you. If we see things that need immediate attention or if it can wait a while to save up for it first we will tell you. It is your vehicle and our job is to find out how it is doing and then recommend repairs or services that meet what you use the vehicle for.
An improperly aligned vehicle will wear out costly tires causing the car to pull unsafely, it will also be unstable on slick roads. Depending on what you use your vehicle for we recommend an alignment once every two years.
There are many different types of hoses on your vehicle, from coolant hoses to fuel lines, engine oil, transmission, power steering, brake hoses and air hoses. In our inspection we are looking for any hose or metal line that is leaking or in the case of rubber hoses swollen and weak. If these hoses break the fluid will not get to where it is needed. If a brake line ruptures your brakes will not stop your vehicle as the fluid is being pushed out of the hose instead of to the caliper which pushes on the brake pads to slow down the vehicle. In the case of radiator hoses AKA coolant lines, the radiator fluid is forced out of the rupture in the line causing the engine to overheat. When the engine overheats it can cause the heads to warp needing a head gasket replacement. Be vigilant and keeping the hoses on your vehicle new and operating correctly will save a lot of time and money. It is far less expensive to replace hoses than to do a head gasket job or have your brakes stop working. There are certain times we suggest off of milage or age of the car that we suggest MAINTENANCE to take care of known problems before they happen. We look for these things in our inspection and make maintenance recommendations off of time or mileage to keep you driving safely and without brake downs.
Rattling noises are one of the most complicated issues to figure out. The cause could range from a component malfunctioning in your engine or transmission, all the way up to something as simple as seeks on doors and fittings needing adjustment. It involves many test drives and often more than one technician to help figure the issue out. One of the things making it difficult is the fact that the rattling noise only happens when the car is moving and then only in specific situations. We have not figured out a way to get under the car safely while it is moving, so we put it on a car lift to get underneath it and have a look. When we lift a car the geometry of the suspension changes making loose things tight and tight things loose which is different than when it is on the ground. We often have to take components off and drive it to see if the noise changes. At the end the day we find the problem and share with what it will take to repair it.