Free Car Diagnostics Test – All You Need To Know

Free Car Diagnostics Test – All You Need To Know

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases in form of commission or other compensation from the links on this page, at no additional cost to you. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!

 What To Know About Free Car Diagnostic

Car repair can be pretty expensive, and you’d want to be as efficient about it as possible. Well, one place where you can save money is a free car diagnostic. How do you get your vehicle diagnosed for cheap or completely free though?

Let’s find out!

What is an Engine Diagnostic Test?

Car diagnostics tests can reveal existing problems with your car’s engine, as well as with its transmission, exhaust system, brakes, throttle, ignition coils, or whatnot. Using a car’s built-in chips, sensors, and processors, a diagnostics tool can accurately point where the issue is.

The most commonly used diagnostic tool is the OBD II scanner which gets hooked to the OBD II port in the car. If your car is newer than January 1, 1996, then it should have an OBD II port, and you can get a scanner for around $10-$20 to do diagnostics yourself.

These Personal Code Readers For Diagnostics

Explore Most Recommended Obd Reader For Car owners by Customers on Amazon

With that being said, diagnostic tools do not determine the cause of the problem – they only show where the problem is. Due to this, you would need some knowledge and experience to solve the issue. If you are a newbie, even an advanced diagnostic tool won’t help you get your car back on track.

Before diagnostic tools and tests were a thing, identifying problems was done with trial and error, which was expensive and time-consuming. Still, these scanners give a significant head-start to technicians.

What made things worse is that people mostly addressed mechanics only after a severe malfunction or breakdown.
Modern tools allow vehicle owners to spot issues long before they cause serious consequences. And while available scan tools don’t yet show a breakdown’s causes, they do make diagnostics much more efficient.

How To Get Free Car Diagnostics Video

What Can a Car Diagnostic Test Tell You?

Car diagnostics check show you which system has an issue. Modern diagnostic tools usually show error codes, and each of the codes is assigned to a specific issue or component.

Then, mechanics consult the tool’s error code sheet to find out the problem that the code is associated with.
But as we’ve said earlier, the diagnostic tools aren’t too specific, so mechanics often have to do some manual diagnostics to find out where the problem is exactly.

How Long Does a Car Diagnostic Test Take?

The diagnostic test itself takes about 1-2 hours, but this will depend on your car’s model and year. Older cars are often ill-equipped for modern diagnostic tools.

While the test doesn’t take too long, shops usually ask you to leave your car with them for a day or two. That’s because they have plenty of other jobs to do, and they need to finish scheduled jobs first before proceeding to your car.

What’s The Average Cost of Car Diagnostics?

The price of a car diagnostic test varies widely from place to place. Some workshops offer diagnostic tests for free as a way to attract customers, while others charge somewhere from $65 to $100, perhaps more.

Before choosing a shop, make sure to check a few places to pick the best one. Remember that cheap does not always equal good. It may be that a cheap shop’s staff is less equipped and experienced.

On the other hand, cheap doesn’t mean bad – great workshops may choose to provide diagnostic services for little money or completely free to promote their business.

If in doubt, make sure to get a second opinion. Check online reviews and only work with reputable shops.

How to Get Free Car Diagnostic Test?

Now, let’s consider those who do diagnostic car checks for free. The 4 available options are a dealer store, auto-parts shop, mechanic workshop, or do it yourself. I’ll explain more here;

1) Having A Personal OBD-II scanner and Doing It Yourself:

No doubt, investing in a personal OBD II scanner really pays off. It’s just one-time investment and you can diagnose your car for free forever. It helps you to monitor the day to day activities of your vehicle.

You can diagnose any malfunctioning much earlier than the actual symptoms appear. In the long run, it increases the life of the vehicle.

There are many products, available in the market, intended for personal usage that is quite affordable and serves the purpose with great efficiency.

Some popular brands include Autel, Actron, Big Banana, OTC, BlueDriver, etc Moreso you can find our list of top code readers and scanners here.

2) Visiting An Auto-Part Store:

People at auto pat stores may not be as experienced as your local mechanic since their field is selling auto parts. But they should be able to perform a diagnostic test, determine the issue, and give you directions for further actions.

When it comes to repairs though, auto part store workers may be unable to help you. Some shops may offer repairs, but probably not all shops.

But here is the downside,

If your car needs repair and the store can’t do it for you, then you’ll need to take the car to a repair shop. There, if they are not willing to base their decisions on the testing results of an auto part store, they may insist on doing their own test. And since not all repair shops do free car engine diagnostics, you may have to pay them.

This may not necessarily happen, but it clearly shows that you should work with as few people as possible. The best option is to have your car checked at a repair shop for free and then repaired on the spot if required. This way, you won’t be wasting time and possibly money.

They are not the seasoned mechanics but experienced enough to advise you if the found problem is a minor or major. If there is some major issue, you can get a fair idea of how much it will cost for you at a car repair workshop.


3) Taking Help From Local Mechanic:

You can even approach a repairing house, and a seasoned mechanic can give you a free diagnostic check.

In today’s competitive business scenario, a repairing house doesn’t mind offering a free check. He will waive the charges if you opt for his repair services. He’s the best choice at tracing the problem.

He is the best guy for providing you with all the details about the problem with the engine, its causes, solutions, and consequences, if not repaired.

4) Seeking A Dealer:

If your car is in warranty period and some error occurs, you can take it to the particular dealer from where you have purchased the vehicle.

The dealers have the most expensive and advanced scanning equipment to figure out the complicated and deep-rooted problems in the engine. Their tools are regularly updated so they can literally trace any known problem in your vehicle. Moreover, they can’t charge you.

Even if your vehicle is out of warranty period, you can still approach them as to retain the customer they might avoid charging you for a formal engine diagnostic.

What’s Best: A Mechanic Shop vs. A Dealer vs. DIY

For me, its right to visit a repair house as they are authorised and certified auto mechanics with advanced scanning tools. They make a definitive diagnostic and figuring out the nature of the trouble, its causes, and possible solutions. So, they are endorsed with much authenticity.

On the other hand, DIY solution is viable, if you want to keep a day-to-day check on your vehicle and knows how to fix the standard or basic errors in the engine. But to cope with some major issues, keep yourself prepared to visit a professional and to pour some money out of your wallet.

Being Cautious:

Should you try hard to find a place where your car will be diagnosed for free? Well, if you can find a good repair shop or auto-parts store or if your dealer does free diagnostic check, then sure, go ahead.

However, we suggest that you do not have your car diagnosed at a sub-par shop. A poor test may not be able to reveal the underlying issues to your problem. And you won’t be able to take actions early to avoid malfunctions and expensive repairs in the future.

Final Advice

So far, you know a few ways on how to get a free diagnostic check for your engine.

So, which route should you go?

I must say if you have one car, and you can choose to visit some dealer. Find an AutoZone in your vicinity and you will see many of the owners there are offering a free diagnostic check. If you have multiple vehicles and, moreover, want to monitor them frequently, you must buy a suitable engine code scanner.

Hope that helped.

Other search terms to this page

free diagnostic check in san diego
free diagnostic check las vegas
free diagnostic check austin
free diagnostic check houston tx
free diagnostic check in san jose ca
free diagnostic test jacksonville fl
free check engine light diagnostic phoenix


When I decided to first buy my car, I found it very difficult to get detailed information online which will help me to buy the best products and accessories to make my car special and different. That was over 15 years ago. Most of the reviews were mediocre and it could be easily seen that the writers barely had any knowledge about the tools or the products that they were recommending and they had definitely hadn’t actually used or maybe even seen the products that they were recommending. These wide holes in the market made me work towards improving my technical knowledge about the car industry and improve my expertise. I created this website to ensure that there is an online resource which is comprehensive and gives real and genuine tips to car lovers. As a new car owner and especially if it is your first car, it is very overwhelming to read all the information that you come across online. To solve this issue for you, I try my best to ensure that my articles and reviews demystify the complex issues behind buying and maintaining your car. Regardless of if you are a first-time car buyer or an experienced car owner who wants to improve your car, we have the perfect reviews, news, and solutions for you. Let’s get started on our journey to get for you the best tips for taking care of your car. You can reach me on