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How to get a free car diagnostic check

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How to get a free car diagnostic check
Car diagnostics is vital to keeping your vehicle maintained properly. And yet, many people avoid doing so.
 
Most auto shops will charge a price for car diagnostics. So, if your vehicle is running properly, why should you spend the extra money on solving no apparent problem?
 
Luckily, there’s ways to get a diagnostic check for free or by spending a small amount of money now for virtually unlimited inspections in the future.
 

What is a diagnostic check?

 
A diagnostic check is a process used to identify potential problems in a vehicle by utilizing the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system. OBD monitors all of the vital parts (engine, transmission, and many others) of the vehicle, storing information whenever an issue occurs.
 
Some vehicles may also provide access to live data information about your vehicle. Which makes it even more useful if you want to ensure proper operation.
 
Sometimes you’ll already have indicators that an issue has occurred such as when the Check Engine light is illuminated. But OBD systems can have important information even without illuminating the Check Engine light.
 
Data from the OBD system can be incredibly useful. It’ll often describe the parts that are malfunctioning, making maintenance easier.
 
Unfortunately, accessing information from the OBD system isn’t always easy. Some vehicles may show malfunctions in the multimedia system. But these vehicles are few and far between.
 
 
A person reaching towards the OBD2 port in a vehicle to plug in an OBDeleven diagnostic device
 

Free car diagnostic checks

 
Some people think a visual inspection is the only free way to do diagnostics. A visual inspection, however, reveals a miniscule part of potential problems. 
 
Auto shops
 
Auto shops and auto parts stores may sometimes provide free diagnostic checks for your vehicle. These are occasional and shouldn’t be your go-to method.
 
You should look into local auto shops to see if they’re offering a free diagnostic check. Some of them may be using such services for first-time customers to draw in clientele.
 
Additionally, if you’re not sure, try calling the service to see if they’d be up for the task. Just be warned – not many of them will be willing if you’re not buying other services.
 
But if you bring in your vehicle for other repairs or maintenance, it could be a good opportunity to ask for a free check.
 
Finally, some dealerships may provide short-term warranty for your vehicle. Call up your dealership to check if they would be willing to run a diagnostic test for free.
 
Built-in diagnostics
 
If a dealership or local store doesn’t provide a diagnostic check, you may still be in luck.
 
Some modern vehicles have in-built diagnostics that you can access through the multimedia interface. Additionally, some vehicles also have a secret menu that provides even more information, such as trouble codes or even live data. 
 
 A vehicle’s dashboard display showing a warning message about the engine oil being at a minimum level, with instructions to add oil.
 
Most of these menus are hidden or disabled by default, however, so you’ll have to scour the internet for access methods
 
A great example is the 2023 and newer Nissan Ariya’s secret menu as it provides diagnostic capabilities. You can see some of the recorded error codes and perform some slight modifications.
 
These secret menus will often be restricted to newer models and only a few car brands. But it’s always worth a short as accessing the secret menus is completely free.
 
Discovering these menus on your own may be difficult, however. Most models will have different button combinations and tweaks required to enter the menu. Your best bet is to Google your car brand, model, and “secret menu”.
 
Finally, VAG group vehicles have a Green Engineering Menu where you can run diagnostics and make modifications. To access it, you will first need to unlock it with an OBD device such as OBDeleven.
 
You should be getting an OBD scan tool in any case. They’re a small investment for an unlimited amount of free scans and usually come with many other features, making them amazing in the long run.
 
Shop OBD scan tool
 
OBD scanners and code readers

While not technically free, an OBD scan tool will set you back a small amount of money for huge benefits. They can allow you to view all of the information stored by the OBD system, and many of them come with additional features.
 
All you have to do is plug in the OBD device into your car’s port and follow the instructions. You can then run a free code scan for your car.
 
New OBD scanners also come with Bluetooth features – connect your phone or tablet and control the entire process through an app. 
 
Some of these tools will also give you access to live data readings. These are incredibly valuable if you want to test out various systems and diagnose potential problems.
 
So, a one-time investment gives you diagnostics, live data readings, code scans, and a multitude of other features for many years in the future.
 
 A person’s hands holding a smartphone with the OBDeleven app open, displaying diagnostic data for a car, with the interior of the vehicle and car dashboard visible in the background.
 

How OBDeleven gives free diagnostic checks

 
At OBDeleven, we develop advanced OBD scanners that allow users to run free diagnostic checks, code scans, and even make modifications to their vehicle.
 
Our code scan tool is licensed by VAG, BMW, and Toyota, not only showcasing the trust these car brands place in our solution, but giving us access to manufacturer-specific error codes. You can use these to diagnose issues that otherwise would be difficult to pinpoint.
 
Additionally, we understand that learning new tools is difficult. So we made our OBD diagnostic tool as simple to use as possible – plug it into your OBD port and use your mobile phone to make use of all of the features.
 
We’ve specially designed our OBD reader to be accessible for anyone at any skill level. So even if you have no experience with cars, OBDeleven’s reader will be easy to use.
 
So, the next time you’re driving around town on a warm summer afternoon and the dreaded Check Engine warning light pops up, there’ll be no confusion. 
 
All you’ll do is pull over, plug in OBDeleven, and the trouble codes will tell you what’s going on – you’ll know if you need to call your mechanic or can set up an appointment later.