Why Do Auto Parts Stores Run Free Diagnostics?

Free Car Diagnostics

Nothing can be as tempting as the word “free.” Given that everything seems to have a price tag these days, it’s nearly impossible to give something away out of simple charity. So, when someone says this or that product/service is “free,” the knee-jerk reaction would be to ask – what’s the catch?

What then of auto parts stores running free diagnostics? Well, they are indeed “free,” but it is so because of several reasons. Most of it can be deduced through simple cost-benefit analysis, but to make it clearer, here are the reasons why auto parts run free diagnostics.


The 5 Reasons Why Auto Parts Stores Run Free Diagnostics

The 5 Reasons Why Auto Parts Stores Run Free Diagnostics

1. Marketing Strategy

With such fierce competition in the market, brands will exhaust all of its efforts to stand out. One such crafty way to do so would be offering free car diagnostics. Think about it, when your car experiences some sort of trouble, and you can’t fix it yourself, you go to those auto shops that can, right? And which auto parts store would you most likely choose? Those that offer free diagnostics, of course! It’s a basic marketing tactic. As a consumer, you’d think not will it potentially solve your problem, but it might also cost you nothing at all.

2. The Magic Scan

The technology involved in running car diagnostics is impressive stuff. By just hooking a cable or two to some computer, the auto parts store already knows what is wrong with your car. It’s that fast! However, does that solve all of its problems? No, it doesn’t.

 There are some inner-workings that you are in the dark about. The diagnostic scan, aka “magic scan,” works as a code reader rendering stored diagnostic codes. These codes can only tell you which part of the system is the problem, giving you a specific area but not the exact problem. 

3. Repair Advice

Now that the “magic scan” has been performed, it is now time for the main puncher –the repair advice. Legally, one should know that stores selling auto parts are not meant to give professional repair advice. Their business is registered only to sell parts and nothing more. Repair advice should be reserved for those who specialize in them, like mechanics. 

Yet this is not what happens most of the time; auto parts stores give repair advice after doing their diagnostic scans. This marks the start of their sales pitch.

4. List of Parts You Need to Buy

After doing the free magical scan and repair advice, the store now hands you the list of parts you need to purchase if you want your car to ever run again. Wait. What? Just when you thought everything was going well so far, you are now asked to pay for a list of parts. That’s a hook, line, and sinker right there! 

It is as if this outcome was predetermined, and you’re caught just right in the trap. They do this so convincingly as well! Add it to the fact that you’re probably too embarrassed to leave without even purchasing anything out of the store after getting some of their services, you somewhat feel obligated to make a purchase. 

They offer you something, and you trap yourself unknowingly. When you show signs of being indecisive, pressure from their sales talk pumps up. It becomes uncomfortably intimidating, even if they don’t mean it. So, what do you do? Buy those parts just to leave and be done with it.

5. Profit from Free Diagnostics

Purchasing those parts in the list with the promise of “problem solved” may sound consoling, but that is only true when it works. Most of the time, replacing parts is only suitable as a temporary measure. 

They not only cost you more money; you might just have replaced your still functional parts with plain new ones. In other words, you could end up not truly solving anything. 



There you have it – auto parts stores usually offer free diagnostics as a buildup for a completed purchase. Of course, not all auto parts stores out there are meant to rip you off. Some of them may give you your money’s worth. 

However, for most of them, especially those that offer free diagnostics, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Be extra vigilant if they will put your best interest first rather than their profits. When you are looking for actual repairs, consult your trustworthy mechanic first. Running a free diagnostic scan can just be a follow-up when you need to buy parts.

FG Editorial Team
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