What do you do when your check engine light suddenly flashes on to your dashboard? Like most people you probably head to a local tire shop or dealer to ask them why it came on. If you are especially ambitious/cheap you might head to an auto parts store and use and OBD-II monitor to check what error code made the light come on and what the error code means. Automotive component manufacturer Delphi’s new device, called Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi, promises to do away with both those annoying errands PLUS allow you to turn your smartphone into a key fob PLUS enable geofencing and speed alerts PLUS live tracking. Here is a full list of the features:
- Access to your family vehicles anywhere and anytime with smartphone or web browser
- Decode Vehicle Health Issues
- Vehicle Status/Alerts
- Trip Log
- Key fob on phone
- Teen Driver Geofence and Overspeed Notification E-mails
- Live Tracking
- Direct Connect (over Bluetooth®)
- Self-installed “plug-and-play”
- Secure and encrypted
- Compatible with most vehicles sold in the US from year 1996 and onward
So how does this little device no bigger than garage door opener provide you with total vehicle diagnostics? It does it by plugging in to your car’s OBD-II port. This data connection is commonly located in the driver’s foot well, and it is this connection that professional mechanics plug into to help determine what is wrong with your vehicle. Your car’s central computer can detect problems and (while turning on the check engine light) output a special code to tell once-rare and expensive devices what is wrong. Delphi’s device promises to make these devices available for consumers less familiar with these isoteric devices.
That consumer friendliness comes at a cost however. The Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi costs $250 plus a $35 activation fee. That initial cost covers you for the devices wireless transmitting service for two years, with the device’s service costing $5/mo after that. Believe it or not, that is more expensive than a tradition OBD-II monitor. The Delphi device is sure to be more user friendly however, with special consideration for less mechanically inclined consumers.