What makes a dashboard light come on?

Today’s vehicles especially Europeans are manufactured with complex interrelated systems. These systems are considered on-board computers that continuously monitor and store information concerning the performance of the vehicle. A warning light comes on because the ECU (Engine Control Unit) “main computer” has sensed a signal from one of the systems or components that has gone outside of its normal operating range. The computer then sends a signal to turn on the dashboard light to let you know something is wrong!

The potential causes for a warning light can range from something as simple as improperly tightening your gas cap to engine, transmission, fuel, cooling or braking system performance issues. While dashboard lights can stay on and the vehicle still appears to be driving “normal”, ignoring some indicator lights can lead to serious issues, such as engine or transmission damage or other component failures. In some instances, this can be a safety hazard where the driver may lose power steering control or braking capabilities.

What are examples of vehicle operating issues that require diagnostics?

Typical vehicle operating issues that require a diagnosis on your vehicle include:

  • Any warning lights on the dash that are illuminated (Check Engine Light, EPC, ABS, Airbag, Coolant, Brake, etc.)
  • Emissions failures
  • Engine or transmission performance
  • Steering and ride control
  • Cooling System
  • Air Conditioning and Heating
  • Fluid Leaks such as Oil, Coolant, Power Steering and Transmission and/or Differential Fluids

How much will it cost?

Diagnostics are handled by highly skilled technicians at an hourly or procedural rate that is specific to each concern. A Check Engine Light diagnostic will often be at a fixed rate, unless additional diagnostic procedures are needed. Other times the diagnostic rate could be per hour in cases where very little to no information is provided or previous work was done to the vehicle with no actual history as to how that work was done can be tricky and lead a tech to spend as little 3-4 hours up to a day or 2 testing different systems and components.

How long will it take to diagnose my problem?

In some cases, we can find and fix the problem on the same day. In more complex cases it can take several days or weeks.

How can USP Euro Car Care “diagnose or analyze” my vehicle’s problem?

At USP Euro Car Care, we have factory tools, trained technicians and services advisors and the latest in technology to handle diagnostic issues for everything from a Check Engine Light to Complete Engine or Transmission Failure. 

Properly performing a complete diagnostic and procedure normally includes the following steps:

1. RETRIEVE DATA – A full-functioning factory scan tool is used to perform an onboard computer system analysis in order to retrieve the following:

  • Computer codes
  • Freeze frame data
  • Computer software version numbers
  • Critical sensor data and status information

NOTE: Merely “pulling codes” does not generally provide enough information to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem. Pulling codes is the initial step in the process by identifying the circuit or system that has illuminated the vehicle’s dashboard light.

2. DUPLICATE CUSTOMER’S CONCERN – This process may involve driving vehicle anywhere from 1-200+ miles, some concerns occur during cold start driving which means vehicle needs to sit for many hours sometimes the entire day or night to be able to duplicate. Other times it can take several days to duplicate an intermittent concern which means technician will need to attempt several times.

3. VERIFICATION TESTING – Verification tests determine if systems meet proper specifications. These tests most times include factory testing tools, borescope camera, special equipment and computer software to perform analysis of:

  • Engine vacuum and back-pressure
  • Mechanical and electrical engine timing
  • Ignition system
  • Fuel system
  • Emissions system

NOTE: Failure in any of these basic systems can cause the check engine light to illuminate and falsely identify a circuit or component as the problem, which could lead to improper or unnecessary parts replacement if we do not complete verification testing.

4. PINPOINT TESTING – All manufacturers require that circuit or component pinpoint testing is done in order to make an absolute diagnostic determination. These actions involve:

  • Working through wiring diagrams
  • Performing electrical and/or mechanical tests
  • Performing bi-directional control tests
  • Visual inspections of suspect areas

5. RESEARCH TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETINS – Technical Service Bulletins and hotline information will indicate if the problem has been determined to be a pattern failure, meaning that it is a known issue that occurs with a particular type of vehicle. This does not eliminate the need for testing, as other systems must meet specifications before a service bulletin procedure should be performed.

6. CAR REPAIR – This may involve multiple actions such as:

  • Parts replacement
  • Cleaning of passages, connections and/or components
  • Performing manufacturer technical service bulletin updates
  • Updating of vehicle’s computer software
  • Wiring repair or replacement

7. VERIFY REPAIR – Once all necessary repairs have been completed, the vehicle must be retested to verify that the repair is complete and has achieved the proper results. This verification process may have involved from 10-200 miles of driving by technician or service advisor.

All parts installed by a USP Euro Car Care Skilled Technician are guaranteed to meet or exceed manufacturer standards, with our 3yrs/Unlimited Mileage Limited Warranty on parts and labor, you have peace of mind that we are confident in our workmanship, also if you wish, we’ll gladly return your old parts to you once work is completed.

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