Diagnostics – Why do I need it and why do I have to pay for it?
Yes, it’s an internal combustion engine, (except MINI e) but the main vehicle functions are being performed and monitored electronically with dozens of control modules. Seeing one of those warning lights in the instrument cluster of your BMW, MINI, or any car can be a bit unnerving, but keep in mind, that may be the only indication that there is an unsafe condition or something may not be working correctly.
Performing a diagnosis involving the various BMW control modules, (aka on-board computers) may be necessary to get to the root of a problem if a warning light does come on. In some cases the manufacturer will also require an update to any or all of the dozens of control units, too. These may be required for performance or other issues, just like your PC. Even if a battery is replaced, it has to be “registered” (in BMW speak) so that the battery resources will work with all of those 50-60 or 70 ECU’s. Diagnostics for your BMW or MINI should include the use of professional grade equipment that is BMW specific.
A good work shop will invest in the skilled employees and the premium equipment necessary to actually fix your BMW or MINI’s problem. They are also paying for re-programming software and valuable current BMW and MINI manufacturer information so that you receive the correct resolution. In most cases the proficient work shop will have to pass these fees to the client by charging for the diagnostic service. The complexity of virtually all vehicles, BMW, MINI or whatever has exponentially grown and in actuality, you may be getting the best deal of all. You don’t have to figure it out or fix it yourself!
Important Note: If you are taking your BMW or MINI to a repair shop that does not have the proper equipment, they may have to take your BMW to another shop for re-programming, re-coding, etc..basically to finish the job. In that case, it should be listed as “sublet” on your invoice to be compliant with B.A.R. regs. and to be honest with you, the customer.
Diagnostics can range from the simple, to the complex. It might only be your TPMS light is on and you only need to check your tires and pressures! But, then again, it may not be a quick fix and go. For your own safety read your manual and know what the lights and all indicators are associated with, such as your ABS or SRS. The warning lights may be letting you know about an unsafe condition, so it’s never a good idea to ignore any of them.
When your light comes on, your BMW may be also be giving you the opportunity to take care of something that can be potentially damaging your engine or other expensive components. For example, ignoring the emission related check engine light or MIL can lead to more costly repairs, due to premature failure of oxygen sensors and catalytic converters. And then comes time for the smog test…..ooops.
A trusted BMW or MINI specialist should also provide to you a wealth of BMW product knowledge along with their services. The advantage to you is that you will make educated decisions when it comes to your diagnostic and repair. BMW and MINI service is just that, a service. It is not a commodity that can be compared like toilet paper at Costco.
It’s going to be a stellar weekend for driving one of the BMW’s. Hug those curves!