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Why It's Essential to Get a Diagnostic Test After a Crash

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A mechanic will connect a scanner to your vehicle’s computer, which has information about anything wrong with the car, even things that might not be obvious from the outside.

When you get in an accident while driving, any damage to your vehicle could come back to haunt you. Even a minor fender bender may lead to problems down the road, so don’t let the lack of obvious destruction fool you into complacency.

“Even if the damages seem minor (for example, you can spot only a few dings and scrapes on the bumper), you should have your vehicle inspected by an auto repair mechanic before you resume using your car as you normally would,” dmv.org says.

In fact, these are just a few of the problems that might not pop up until later, according to Angie’s List:

  • Reduced battery life
  • Flickering check engine light (indicating a host of possible issues)
  • Leak from oil, air conditioning fluid, power steering fluid, etc.
  • Off-balanced alignment

When you first notice a problem, your safety may already be in jeopardy, and it is difficult to prove to your insurance company the issue stems from an earlier wreck.

“The more time that lapses, the more difficult it becomes for a motorist to make that case,” according to angieslist.com “So don’t take the long and winding road to getting your vehicle checked out.”

Rather, take your car to a mechanic for a diagnostic test.

What is a diagnostic test?

A mechanic will connect a scanner to your vehicle’s computer, which has information about anything wrong with the car, even things that might not be obvious from the outside.

“Performing a car diagnostic can reveal a number of problems associated with the transmission, oil tank, gas tank, exhaust system and other components of the vehicle,” according to autointhebox.com. “Modern vehicles designed with computer processors, microchips and sensors can be linked to a car diagnostic computer scan to pinpoint exactly where the problem exists.”

Is it worth the cost?

The cost for diagnostic tests vary but, while price is important, don't focus on it solely. Instead, visit a mechanic you trust. You may be tempted to diagnose the car yourself but, for your vehicle’s sake, professionals recommend against this.

“I've had customers come in and tell me to swap some part because they're sure it's the problem,” writes a service manager for Popular Mechanics. “But all that is is a really expensive guess. They might be right 10 to 20 percent of the time, close 20 percent of the time, and dead wrong 60 percent of the time. I had a customer go through six oxygen sensors when all it was was a shorted wire.”

Not only will you get the repairs you need with the help of a good mechanic, you will save money by doing everything right the first time.

Can any mechanic help?

Choose a mechanic who will do a diagnostic test as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and, if a shop tells you it doesn’t need fancy equipment to find problems, take that as a red flag.

“The latest model cars are more like advanced computers,” Money Talks News says. “If the mechanic says he has the latest diagnostic equipment or the latest tools for your vehicle, ask to see them and have him explain how it works. Attitude problem? Drive on.”

One sign a mechanic shop does quality work is it has recommendations and positive reviews, both online and from your family members or friends. You can also look up information regarding or ask about certifications from professional organizations, as well as check the company’s profile with the Better Business Bureau for details about the business and any complaints lodged against it.

Safety first

Don't let a minor crash turn into a major hazard later. Ask a mechanic for a diagnostic test, and rest easy, knowing you've made any necessary repairs.

Pennsylvania’s Select Collision Group offers quality paint and body repair for damaged vehicles. With convenient locations in Hanover, Mechanicsburg, and Hershey plus a track record of honesty and reliability, Select Collision Group can help you navigate the confusion of insurance-funded repairs to get back on the road. Learn more at centralpaautobody.com.

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