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  • Vehicle Diagnostic App Translates "Check Engine" Light In To English



    I hate the check engine light located just to the right of my speedometer. It comes on. It goes off. I've decided it has a mind of its own. Nothing irritates me more than having that thing come on, then taking my car in for a diagnosis, only to find out I paid $70 to be told nothing was actually wrong and they reset my diagnostic system.

    I'm almost convinced I need to purchase the GL1 Vehicle Diagnostic connector ($90). Hell the adapter will even charge your iPhone or iPad, but is smart enough to not drain power when the car is turned off, so no dead batteries to worry about.

    Simply purchase the dongle, download the free iPhone and iPad diagnostics application, and plug in your iPhone or iPad to the vehicles On Board Diagnostics port. The program running on your iPhone or iPad will let you read what your OBD is reporting about your car. Obviously this app wont make the mechanically inept more apt to fix their car, but it is a great tool for mechanics, and wary consumers worried they're being screwed over for work on their car.

    To recap, plug, play, find out your car's needs in a way your mechanic can only dream of. Unless he uses the same program. Either way it gives consumers peace of mind, and give do-it-yourself car aficionados access to the same information those guys in the shop have.

    Source: ThinkGeek
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Vehicle Diagnostic App Translates "Check Engine" Light In To English started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. luvmytj's Avatar
      luvmytj -
      I use the KIWI wi-fi adapter and the above app, "FuzzyCar" by Fuzzy Luke. It is great and I tend to use it over my more pricer apps I bought for the same purpose. The connection cables are a bit pricey, but if your a geek like me you'll enjoy it. I track my milage with it among other data.
      Good stuff!
    1. spudman01's Avatar
      spudman01 -
      i wouldnt really call it "smart enough" to not drain the battery.. power is killed to the obd2 port with key off.. and honestly, $90? for someone with enough need to figure out their memory needs to be reset because of an intermittent problem, and complains when they pay 70 bucks for a shop to do it, go down to your local napa and buy standalone unit for $50 bucks. its smart enough to turn the power off when the key is off too. its nice to know what the code is really saying, but dont believe your shop when they say its nothing. it came on because there was a problem at one point. i am a mechanic and some of this stuff just irratates me. dont take this personally guy i actually thought you wrote a decent article, but im a little drunk and taking my anger out on the keyboard right now haha
    1. Peligro0's Avatar
      Peligro0 -
      Wow, really, amazing def going to have to get that adapter in the near futur.
    1. NakedFaerie's Avatar
      NakedFaerie -
      Whats the name of the app?
    1. TimVFR's Avatar
      TimVFR -
      There is a big difference between "reading" a fault code, and diagnosing why it occured. Then repairing it properly.
    1. alexevo's Avatar
      alexevo -
      A few things to consider:

      1. Most shops will "pull codes" for free which is what this app does.

      2. If this app requires a data connection then forget diagnosing your car if you're in a spotty area.

      3. If you paid $70 just to have a shop tell you there was nothing wrong with your car then either A. you were looking at the wrong light, or B. you need to ask for your money back because if the check engine light/service engine soon light came on then there is/was something wrong.

      4. If the light comes on and then goes off, that means your car's computer decided that the problem wasn't frequent and/or serious enough to warrant the light staying on.

      5. Most mechanics don't dream of apps like this for 2 reasons: A. customers with a little bit of information such as a diagnostic code are more a pain in the *** than ones who have no idea because they are the ones that don't believe/fight what you're saying the most. B. Most mechanics have a much more expensive/much better tool for diagnostic purposes.

      6. What the other guy said about Key Off = No Power to OBD2 port. Try to check your OBD data without the key being on and you'll notice it says No Connection Found(or what ever terminology the creators used).

      7. Just because your car tells you diagnostic data doesn't mean that it will tell you exactly what is broken and needs to be replaced. A single code could host 15(or more or less) different possible scenarios of stuff that needs replacing.

      8. This is no different than that commercial advertising the CarMD where they say "I scanned my car to find out I didn't have any codes so I knew it was good to go!" Wrong. Here is why: just because your car doesn't have codes doesn't mean there isn't something seriously wrong with it that would make it unsafe to drive. It just means that a problem hasn't become serious enough or that there aren't any problems with the engine/transmission. You could still have other problems. Furthermore, not having codes means your check engine light isn't on so you wouldn't even bother scanning it to begin with because any codes that are "pending" haven't occurred enough times that the ECU deems them important enough to turn the check engine light on.

      Folks, I am not saying this product doesn't have its merits. I'm just saying, is it really going to enhance your life that much? Does your car have so many problems that you'd make your $90 back quickly by having it. If that's the case then maybe get another(see: used OR new) car.

      It is a neat idea but these iphone OBD2 connectors/apps have been around for a while and these companies are just trying to prey on the general public with their fearmongering.

      Lastly, if you think you're being screwed over and/or don't trust your mechanic.
      Find. A. New. Mechanic.
    1. Colby21's Avatar
      Colby21 -
      they need to develop a tuning software now!!!! Next step! Please!!!!
    1. xclusiveiphone's Avatar
      xclusiveiphone -
      no way...$99 dollar for the damn connector. My $15 diagnostic tool does the job. Cool, but no thanks.
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      I just run by AutoZone to get a code reading because they do it for free.
    1. jrl_1644's Avatar
      jrl_1644 -
      A great app. Would have a wireless obd interface and give you useful real-time data like boost levels, exhaust gas temps, g forces( using iphone accelerometer) and any other variables available to it through the diagnostics port.
      Nothing against this app but that is my wish list
    1. Winterboarder's Avatar
      Winterboarder -
      You can buy a OBD2 Reader for 50 bucks from Autozone or PepBoys, and check the codes online. They also let you delete all codes from the car's computer.
    1. klouud's Avatar
      klouud -
      This is awesome!! I have a pretty good OBD2 scanner (scan tool), but would like something that tells me when all systems are "go" in terms of my state inspection. There are ways of getting around the check engine light "auto-fail" if you have a scanner.

      Anywho, it would be nice to do this with an iphone instead of a laptop.

      tim

      What app is being used and what cable are you using?
    1. one1's Avatar
      one1 -
      Nice product, unrealistic price. Code readers start @ $35 at any auto parts store and have different connectors for different vehicles. This is ONLY OBDII connector, that leaves out 70% of the other car makes (Toyota, BMW, etc). Not very useful and not priced effectively. Product will fail.
    1. spudman01's Avatar
      spudman01 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jrl_1644 View Post
      A great app. Would have a wireless obd interface and give you useful real-time data like boost levels, exhaust gas temps, g forces( using iphone accelerometer) and any other variables available to it through the diagnostics port.
      Nothing against this app but that is my wish list
      now thats something to pay money for! something that actually uses your $700 dollar phone's built in hardware to measure stuff like that, plus give your temps... it wouldnt take much for superchip or other simular brands to make an app that would do all this plus tune your engine, and change addresses(like change tire sizes on older vehicles) but i highly doubt we will ever see anything like that on the app store. people hard core enough to tune their engine are just going to buy the hardware. plus as easy as it is to pirate these things, their company would fail as soon as they publish the app
    1. Kruejl's Avatar
      Kruejl -
      Quote Originally Posted by one1 View Post
      Nice product, unrealistic price. Code readers start @ $35 at any auto parts store and have different connectors for different vehicles. This is ONLY OBDII connector, that leaves out 70% of the other car makes (Toyota, BMW, etc). Not very useful and not priced effectively. Product will fail.
      OBDII has been a standard on ALL vehicles sold in the US since 1996, regardless of brand.
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      You could go buy a code reader at any auto parts store for less than $40, use google to look up trouble codes or waste your money on this stupid app. If you paid $70 to have someone check a OBD2 code you deserve to lose that money, multiple times even. It's not hard or expensive to find out what a check engine light is on for and your iPhone is completely unnecessary to do that, unless you like looking hip and cool while you pretend to know what you're talking about of course. Seriously, get a code reader and use Google.

      DO NOT BUY THIS STUPID GADGET. You are wasting your money and this whole thing is completely pointless to spend $100 on when you can get the same fault checking ability for less than $40. Buy a code reader at a local parts store and use google, this has functionality that is completely useless to 99% of people, especially when 90% of people don't change a tire because they are either too stupid or too lazy. If you paid $70 to have someone check a OBD2 code you deserve to lose that money, multiple times even. It's not hard or expensive to find out what a check engine light is on for and your iPhone is completely unnecessary to do that, unless you like looking hip and cool while you pretend to know what you're talking about of course. Seriously, get a code reader and use Google.
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      Quote Originally Posted by spudman01 View Post
      i wouldnt really call it "smart enough" to not drain the battery.. power is killed to the obd2 port with key off..
      Power is not killed to the OBD2 port when the key is off. I check my codes all the time without the keys even in the ignition.
    1. spoofdogg's Avatar
      spoofdogg -
      Does any of these apps pull airbag codes?
      I have a standalone unit that will pull everything but those, and that's what's on!!! AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
    1. iphonogasm's Avatar
      iphonogasm -
      Quote Originally Posted by spoofdogg View Post
      Does any of these apps pull airbag codes?
      I have a standalone unit that will pull everything but those, and that's what's on!!! AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
      Thats a seperate system, i dont think the air bag system has anything to do with the obd. There standalone to my knowledge
    1. alexevo's Avatar
      alexevo -
      Quote Originally Posted by jrl_1644 View Post
      A great app. Would have a wireless obd interface and give you useful real-time data like boost levels, exhaust gas temps, g forces( using iphone accelerometer) and any other variables available to it through the diagnostics port.
      Nothing against this app but that is my wish list
      Boost level wouldn't work unless you had an electronic boost sensor with wireless data capabilities and exhaust gas temp wouldn't work as most vehicle(except some diesel) don't have EGT sensors built in. You'd not only need aftermarket sensors but also the peripherals to have them communicate wirelessly with your iphone which likely means at that point you're using your laptop for tuning anyway.

      Quote Originally Posted by klouud View Post
      This is awesome!! I have a pretty good OBD2 scanner (scan tool), but would like something that tells me when all systems are "go" in terms of my state inspection. There are ways of getting around the check engine light "auto-fail" if you have a scanner.

      Anywho, it would be nice to do this with an iphone instead of a laptop.
      Can't do that either with just erasing codes before state inspection. At least not here in CA. When you erase any codes you also reset the monitors and if those monitors don't have enough miles on them or enough drive cycles then the smog check won't complete. They thought about those people that would just pull the battery cable or use a scanner to erase the codes when they developed the monitor system.