How long does a car diagnostic test take?

I’ve had my Jeep for a couple of years now, and last week, I was driving to work and the car just started jerking forward—it’s never done that before! So I’m planning on taking it to an auto shop for a diagnostic test, but I’m not sure how much time I should block off. How long does a diagnostic test take?

Answer
I’m sorry to hear that your car is acting strange, but taking your car to a mechanic is definitely a great way to find out what’s going on. Typically, a diagnostic test takes about an hour to an hour and a half, but more complicated issues may require further diagnosis, which can take up to three hours.
Although it may sound complicated, a diagnostic test is simply a reading of your car’s internal computer (ECM or PCM). This computer records, monitors, and operates many aspects of your vehicle. When something isn’t operating properly, a technician will utilize an advanced computer tool to connect to the vehicle’s internal computer to read any codes stored and download information to help determine what area of the car needs attention.
A diagnostic test can tell you a lot about your car and how it’s functioning. In addition to telling you why your check engine light is on, the test can provide detailed information on:
  • Ignition timing
  • Level of buildup in the engine’s combustion chamber
  • The performance of fuel injectors
  • Engine RPMs
  • Whether or not the ignition coils are firing properly
These tests are very accurate, and typically only cost between $60 and $100.
Taking your car for a diagnostic test is also important if you’ve been involved in a car accident or if your vehicle gets damaged in some other event. Doing this can give your insurance provider better insight into the necessary repairs—but if you find that the damages still aren’t covered, it may be time to switch to a new provider.
If you do need to find a new provider, try checking out the Jerry app. We’ll get you customized quotes from top providers in seconds, so that all you need to do is pick the plan that works best for you. And once you’ve picked a plan, we’ll even help you switch!
Best of luck with the repairs!
Chloe Jenkins
Answered on Dec 21, 2021
Chloe has a BA in Communication and Media Arts from Montclair State University and more than four years of experience in content writing, editing, and research. Before getting behind the keyboard at Jerry, Chloe was an Assistant Coordinator at her university and a film enthusiast working for the Montclair Film Festival. When she's not writing about car insurance, she spends her time with her pets, playing video games, or enjoying long weekend hikes.
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