A complete inspection is what a dealer does to a trade-in car. That includes checking the brakes, tires, steering and suspension systems, lights, wipers, and that all the toys inside are working. Most dealers give every car an oil change. The inspection doesn't cover fixing anything. It just covers making a list so the dealer can decide what to fix.
Other diagnostic services depend on what is needed and what each shop offers for a set price. The most basic is reading any diagnostic fault codes. Many auto parts stores do that for you for free, but they just use an inexpensive code reader and almost always can only access Engine Computers.
There can also be codes set in Transmission Computers, Body Computers, Anti-Lock Brake Computers, Air Bag Computers, etc. You typically need a very expensive scanner to access those computers, and that requires a trip to a mechanic. They have to charge for their time to help pay for that equipment.
If you have an engine running problem, there is a huge list of variables so it's impossible to put a cost on the diagnosis. Reading the fault codes is usually the place to start, but the more details, clues, and observations you can provide, the sooner the mechanic can figure out what is needed, and that lowers the cost for you. If the problem only acts up intermittently, tell the mechanic what it takes, if you know, otherwise he might have to drive all over the county until the problem shows up. You'll be paying for that wasted time.
Monday, September 8th, 2014 AT 7:40 PM