How Much Does a Car Diagnostic Test Cost?

Written by: Staff
Last Updated:  August 8, 2018

A car diagnostic test is like a doctor’s diagnosis.  It can reveal many problems with the car such as the transmission, oil tank, exhaust system and other components that make up the vehicle.

Because a car is composed of thousands of parts that function together, the parts can succumb to wear and tear and begin to break over the years.  This process will show you how bad or good the condition of the car is, which can help you identify how much work is needed to fix the car if problems show up.

Often done when the car’s “check engine” light is one, a quick car diagnostic test can help pinpoint the exact problem.

Day 286: ”Checkup” by seanmfreese, on Flickr
Day 286: ”Checkup”” (CC BY 2.0) by seanmfreese

How much does a car diagnostic test cost?

On average, this test is going to cost anywhere from free to as much as $120.  If you simply want the code, most auto part stores will be able to scan and give you this information; however, if you want a mechanic to scan the code and confirm the repair you need, then the price will be in the $55 to $150 range.  Some dealers or mechanics may charge by the hour since some cars and diagnosis can take much longer than others.  A lot of the times, if you pay this fee, they will apply it toward the future repair.

A few members talked about the average car diagnostic fees in their area, and according to the thread, most people paid anywhere from $50 to more than $120, with most saying the fee will go toward the repair if you were to use their service.

Car diagnostic test overview

During a car diagnostic test, the car’s onboard computer will be scanned and the mechanic will retrieve the codes it displays.  This is considered to the be the beginning of the diagnosis problem and a mechanic will almost always have to perform other tests to confirm their findings.

Aside from running the diagnostic test, the mechanic will also want to visually inspect the vehicle and take it for a test drive to confirm their findings.  Depending on the test, they may also perform a fuel pressure, spark, compression and/or individual component test.

What are the extra costs?

The diagnostic test is just the beginning of the bills.  Since these estimates will only include the test, you will need to factor in the future repairs as well.  Some mechanics, depending on their policy, may tie this testing fee in with the future repairs if you use them.  After the test, a mechanic will be able to provide you with their assessment and a ballpark estimate.  Even if you were to decline the services at the time, they may honor the quote for up to 90 days in the future.  Be sure to read the fine print for more details.

How can I save money?

Consider going to local auto parts stores as many will perform a diagnostics test for free.  Pep Boys, for example, will check your car for free if the “check engine” light is on.  They do this in hopes you buy the parts and/or tools to perform the job if you knew how to perform the repair.  In some circumstances, you may be able to find a store who has an employee is able to help you resolve the problem on the spot, saving you the mechanic fee.

Car diagnostic tools are available online and often cost less than $20.  Like the auto parts store and your local mechanic, it can output the codes, offering a better idea what the problem may be.

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Average Reported Cost: $104.25

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0 %
Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. Pep Boys (Egg Harbor Township,  New Jersey) paid $85 and said:

    They told me it was the compressor in my auto air conditioner system.
    They said it would cost $1500 to $2000.
    How do you know if the test is really from your car? Does the test identify your car by vin number, model or make?

    Was it worth it? Yes

  2. DeAnna (Stockton,  California) paid $132 and said:

    Big valley Ford

    Was it worth it? Yes

  3. Terry B. (Frederick,  Maryland) paid $150 and said:

    $150, at the Volvo/Audi dealership, plus the repair costs.

    Was it worth it? Yes

  4. shell (Bowie,  Maryland) paid $50 and said:

    too cheap?

    Was it worth it? Yes

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