How to Check Your Own Engine Diagnostics How to Check Your Own Engine Diagnostics

With the use of a few simple to use tools, you can check the engine diagnostics of your vehicle. By checking these diagnostics yourself, you can prevent costly trips to a mechanic and even detect or prevent serious engine problems that could cause future damage. There is a wide variety of inexpensive tools that you can purchase and use to check the diagnostics of your vehicle. By utilizing these tools and checking your diagnostics, you can lower fuel consumption and emissions and improve engine power and stability.

Spark Tester

A spark tester is an inexpensive tool that will test spark plugs to determine if they are receiving current from the spark plug wires. If a spark plug is bad, you car can seem sluggish or have troubles starting up. By testing your spark plugs, you can determine if replacement is needed and prevent a costly trip to a mechanic for a very inexpensive repair.


Multimeters are inexpensive tools that can be purchased at any local hardware store. Multimeters are used to test electrical wires for voltage, current and resistance levels. Using this tool can help determine if there are any electrical issues in your engine that need to be addressed.

Timing Light

A timing light is another tool that can be used to run diagnostic checks on your engine. The timing light will indicate if your engine has a timing issue. Correcting engine timing issues are one step in an engine tune up, and occur when the ignition sends a spark to ignite the fuel and start the car. If your vehicle is not starting properly, this is a great tool to check if the issue exists with the timing of your engine.

Compression Gauge

A compression gauge is a tool used to test many different components of your car to reveal issues within the combustion chamber. When components within the combustion chamber begin to slow and wear, a compression gauge can detect this and alert you so steps can be taken to prevent future damage.

Vacuum Gauge

Vacuum gauges are another diagnostic tool that are used to test the amount of vacuum the engine is pulling. This tool allows you to test the vacuum at varying speeds and throttles. The amount of vacuum in your engine has a direct link to the amount of fuel your car consumes. This tool can indicate when the throttle position of your vehicle needs to be adjusted to increase fuel economy and vehicle performance.

Scan Tool

One of the best tools to have for running engine diagnostics yourself is a scan tool. When your "check engine" light illuminates, a specific code is recorded into your car’s computer. A scan tool can read this code from the computer and return the code back in the display of the scanner. This code can be used to then determine the exact cause for the "check engine" light to turn on. By being able to determine the cause of the "check engine" light as soon as possible, you can prevent unnecessary and future damage to your engine.

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