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On-Board Computer Diagnostics (OBD)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put regulations in place establishing requirements for On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) systems on all vehicles manufactured after December 31, 1995. These OBD systems enable technicians to access trouble codes, and other engine management system information, by using a scan tool. The OBD performs automatic checks on various components in your vehicle’s operating systems that affect emissions. If a problem is discovered, the OBD alerts the vehicle owner by making the “check engine” light illuminate in the vehicle. The management system then generates a code that helps the technician to locate the problem using the scan tool.

Impact on Emissions

The purpose of the OBD system is to insure that your vehicle’s emission control systems are operating efficiently by monitoring emissions-related components and systems that can break down or malfunction. This computer can usually detect a system problem before the vehicle breaks down. Many system components that impact emissions are electrical, or even chemical. Sometimes problems with these types of systems may not be visibly detectable. The computer can detect these emission-related failures and alert the vehicle owner to seek diagnosis and repair. Hopefully these types of problems can be diagnosed and repaired before vehicle emissions become a problem.

On-Board Software and Hardware

Today’s vehicle engines are mainly electronically controlled. Computer software, along with the sensors and actuators, make up the OBD system. Sensors and actuators detect the operation of specific components like the oxygen sensor, and actuate others like fuel injectors, in order to maintain efficient control of engine systems. With proper computer software, an on-board computer is capable of monitoring these sensors and actuators to make sure that they are working effectively. The software can detect the malfunction or corruption of the sensors and actuators, before the vehicle actually ceases to function properly.

A Faulty Gas Cap?

There have been cases when the “check engine” lights up because a loose or missing gas cap is detected. If your “check engine” lights up, stop and check the gas cap first. If the “check engine” light continues to shine you should take your vehicle in for service as soon as possible. The “check engine” light is there to let the driver know that service is needed, usually within 1 to 3 days to help prevent more costly repairs.

Turning the “Check Engine” Light Off

Only qualified, trained technicians with the newest diagnostic and repair equipment should be called upon to use the OBD scan tool and diagnostic features that will de-activate the “check engine” light. AFS Car Care Center employs ASE Certified Technicians that are qualified for conducting OBD related diagnostics and repairs. Our staff is well trained and has access to all of the equipment and technical information they need to diagnose and repair emissions-related problems.