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VW and Audi Diagnostics: Your Questions Answered

You’ve heard the word mentioned a lot. But you’re not exactly sure what it means. At least, not in terms of your vehicle. Here at WCC, we’ve also heard it mentioned a lot just lately. Perhaps even more than usual. But thankfully – for you – we know precisely what it’s all about.

We’re referring to diagnostics. 

Yes, the ‘D’ word.

At WCC, our technicians have performed a number of diagnostic tests on both Volkswagen’s and Audi’s in the past few weeks. Although it’s a service we’ve offered our customers new and old for a long time. One which we’ve been providing to our customer base for the past 10 years, too. And one which extends to all makes and models which comprise the VAG product portfolio

WCC Were Early Adopters to Benefits of VW and Audi Diagnostics Testing

In this technical age in which we all work, rest and play, it pays to know something about IT. Although we can’t all be experts in programming SKY+, the team at WCC are very handy when it comes to diagnosing issues which arise out of the blue. Issues which customers are first alerted to when the engine management systems on their vehicles throw all sorts of warning lights and dashboard messages at them. 

Making it our business to determine precisely what the underlying problems might be throughout the collective brand’s individual ranges. Primarily by hooking customers’ vehicles up to our laptops. And running far-reaching diagnostic checks to establish just what’s what. 

But just what is the ‘what?’

What’s the diagnostic element? What does it do? Why does it do what it does? When, where, which, why and how? 

Let us explain.

Tell Me More About VW and Audi Diagnostics Testing

In a sentence, most modern cars are fitted with engine management systems. Which are engineered to monitor various rudimentary functions of all our cars. Clever little electronic sensors connected to a number of key components of our vehicles. So when something goes awry it identifies the issues and sends a signal to the car’s brain. Or the engine management system. 

Good examples include the following:

  1. When emission levels are compromised

  2. If tyre pressures are compromised

  3. Should oil pressure suddenly drop

  4. In the event that the road-worthiness of brakes become a cause for concern

  5. When the traction control isn’t working how it should be

Simply put. If and when warning lights appear on our dashboards flagging up problems, drivers need to act upon them.

Is there more technical terminology for it? 

Yes. On-board diagnostics. Or OBD. Which is the coverall phrase mentioned in direct relation to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capabilities. This digital data is an invaluable tool for a technician to access the status of the vehicle which is experiencing problems. Essentially, an OBD scanner is used to receive data codes. As well as detect any errors in the engine and relay any other information about the overall condition of the car to a technician.

What Role Does a Laptop Have in VW And Audi Diagnostics?

A typical vehicle diagnosis set-up comprises the two core components. Notably the device (hardware) and an app which is uploaded to said device (software). The former ticks the ‘hardware configuration interface’ box, and tends to be a laptop. While the latter is usually industry-leading software. Dedicated to fault-finding via the OBD. 

Employed as a ‘smart assistant’, the vehicle diagnostic app is specialised software. Crucial to analyse issues, quickly and more importantly, accurately. Courtesy of in-built processors, microchips and sensors. These diagnostic tests can reveal problems within a car’s engine, transmission, exhaust system and emissions and brakes. Along with all other components critical to the functionality of the vehicle as a whole. 

Elsewhere the diagnostics determine any issues with the fuel injector, air flow and coolant, ignition coils and throttle, and oxygen sensors, amongst many other elements which can be scrutinised electronically. 

So, The Diagnostics Is A ‘Cure All’ For Engine Management Problems?

Not entirely, no.

The commonly-held notion that technicians use code-reading tools to pinpoint the precise problem that triggered the ‘check engine’ light on your car’s dashboard is a bit of an urban legend. The reality of the matter is that the code readily informs the technicians which specific engine or component parameters are out of range as such. Yet it stops short of identifying the actual cause of the problems. 

That’s the juncture at which our good old-fashioned human touch comes into play. Although not so much touch. More the application of our brains. Our technicians employ their vast skill set and wealth of hands-on experience to diagnose the underlying issues. Which they can then work towards resolving for customers. 

How Long Has Vehicle Diagnostics Been ‘A Thing?’

Guess who was responsible for inventing vehicle diagnostics? Yup, your friend and ours, Volkswagen.

Way back in 1969 VW introduced the first on-board computer system with scanning capability, in their fuel-injected Type-3 models. As of 1975, the Datsun 280Z appeared with simple OBD facilitation. Largely motivated by the need for real-time tuning of fuel injection systems. That said, there was no standardization of what was monitored, analysed or indeed, reported. 

Fast forward a couple of decades, and subsequent revisions and legal compliances – starting in America and crossing the Atlantic in due course – culminated in OBD-II specification being made mandatory for all new vehicles.   

Of course, in those earlier days the volume of diagnostic data available to interpret via OBD varied widely. The earliest versions would simply illuminate a malfunction indicator light if a problem was detected. Yet not provide any information as to the nature of the problem. 

What Are The Benefits of VW and Audi Diagnostics Testing?

Recognising engine problems on cars was mired in difficulty. Acknowledged as both time-consuming and expensive before the advent of vehicle diagnostics testing. Particularly when bearing in mind that historically car owners only ever brought their vehicles to repair specialists after a breakdown or other significant malfunction.

Then came the emergence of diagnostic testing and the widespread use of computerized car components. Problems could then be detected and verified long before they cause a potential breakdown. In addition to this, diagnostic tools can also check a vehicle’s computer system for any VW, Audi (or any other VAG manufacturer’s) notifications. Together with any stored data about the car’s history. This affording technicians a comprehensive picture to equip them with all the information they need to perform the best job for customers.

Where Does WCC Fit Into The Run of VW And Audi Diagnostics Today?

Our team of VW and Audi diagnostics testing experts here at WCC have been very much in the habit of doing exactly this for the past 10 years. Serving the needs of our customer base. Which, while being geographically based on the Wirral, stretches across Cheshire and throughout the North West. 

Why not put our VW and Audi diagnostics services to the test, and have a chat with us should you experience any dashboard warning light issues which have recently appeared and are causing you concern.

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