Few topics in the automotive repair business are as controversial and confrontational as the fee for a diagnosis. Should a customer have to pay for the time the mechanic spends figuring out what is wrong with a vehicle or only for the repairs he or she actually makes? These days, don’t technicians just plug the car into a computer to figure out what’s wrong?



Our Free Code Scan service is an informational service that we perform for free. We will connect to your 1996 and newer vehicle and retrieve the codes that are triggering your light to illuminate.  This service should be performed when you have a check engine light illuminated and are looking to receive preliminary information before committing to further work.


When your Check Engine light comes on, a trouble code(s) will be stored in one or more of your vehicle’s computers. There are certain conditions (usually 4-5 specific criteria) that have to be met for a trouble code to set, and it is vitally important that the technician who is diagnosing your car checks all of them before he/she makes a repair decision.

The diagnostic trouble code (DTC) is effectively the “tip of the iceberg”. The trouble code takes you to “an area” for further testing to properly determine where the real fault is. The diagnostic fee allows us the time to thoroughly test and accurately determine the real cause of the warning light using the professional test equipment we have invested in and the skills we have acquired from years of experience and schooling.  This is a much safer option than to just throw parts at it until it’s fixed.

Another scenario we see often is a drivability concern with NO “check engine” light illuminated and no codes stored in any of the computers or modules of the vehicle. This leaves the technician with only himself and his tools to deduce the problem. This is akin to solving a mystery with no clues.

Many customers balk at paying diagnostics fees, especially when it comes to trouble codes. Often customers think that the simple reading of a trouble code (which takes less than five minutes) completes the repair process, when actually, it’s just the beginning. For example, the P0503 code, which indicates a malfunctioning vehicle speed sensor, has forty-one steps spanning eleven pages in a shop manual after the code has been set. Examining those forty-one steps takes time and expertise to examine—shouldn’t the technician be paid for that time?