2. Diagnostic trouble codes
Take your car to an Automotive Service of Excellence certified facility with access to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) repair information. A thorough inspection ensures that the structural integrity of the vehicle frame, steering, and suspension components are functioning properly. Reputable businesses should also have access to scanning equipment to identify Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) that may have been caused by an accident.
“Just because a dashboard is off does not mean that the collision did not generate any codes. You can only access these DTCs when you drive the vehicle through a scan,” explains Hawkins.
Even a little fender bender or curb check could damage it, says Frank Leutz, 52, an ASE-certified mechanic and owner of Desert Car Care in Chandler, Arizona. Leutz also hosts the Wrench Nation Car Talk radio show.
“All modern vehicles have a data connector that relates to airbag systems, collision warning systems and corrective steering systems,” explains Leutz.
A technician connects a computer to this data link to retrieve fault codes from the vehicle’s on-board system. When the engine is running, the scan can also preview live data and test circuits.
“It’s very similar to an MRI – a full-body scan for your car that leaves less room for error than just relying on your eyes,” says Leutz.
If you don’t assess potential ADAS problems, problems can arise later, adds Leutz. For example, if the systems are not properly calibrated, your car can pull to the right.
“You will think the vehicle is not pointing properly if the camera systems are actually not seeing properly,” he explains.
And if your rear bumper got knocked in a parking lot, you’ll see a dent, but you won’t see if the arming sensor for your airbags was hit, he adds.