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Everything we have is computer-based and that even includes our cars. But unlike a smartphone, who knows the first thing to do when a light goes on to scream out that there’s a problem with the vehicle we rely on for getting around? Considering how much it costs just to drive into a garage for a mechanic to take a peek — why isn’t there an app for that? There is — but only because of OBDII, which is a port on the car for reading its guts by the professionals. Only now I can do it too, thanks to BlueDriver. And if you intend to use the app regularly, consider protecting your phone using the best cell phone cases.
The OBDII port is usually beneath the steering wheel and there it is just below and to the right inside of a cut off of my Mazda 3 (it’s been put on all cars since 1996, fyi). The BlueDriver’s got a socket at one end and fits right onto the OBDII port, I must have done it right because a blue LED on the BlueDriver started blinking, indicating that its Bluetooth was being powered up. This being the first time I used it, I then went to my iPhone and synced to Bluetooth like it was a speaker.
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I followed this by starting the engine and then tapped the free app downloaded earlier. This is where it got good. The BlueDriver app starting “reading” the car — performing diagnostics on it and displaying the results for me to review. And in moments it displayed my car’s VIN number and other general info about it, so I knew it knew what car it was looking at.
This was followed by my doing some checking to see if any trouble codes would be displayed — fortunately I got an “all clear.” But if something had showed up, I could have used the app to tell me what the code meant. Actually the app even included the manual and videos to make BlueDriver easy to use (one even showed how to attach to the OBDII port, maybe I should have checked this first before rushing ahead). No problem if I had had an Android phone instead of an iPhone, since there’s an app for Google’s OS too.
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The app provided data and a look as to info on such things as a Smog Readiness Check, Mode 6, Freeze Frame data and Repair reports. There’s live gauges/graphs to view, plus the ability to save the data to Dropbox. Some of this stuff I just didn’t get first time around, but compared to feeling powerless when a car light on the dashboard goes off and a trip to the shop is gonna mean lots of $$$, I’m willing to learn and think about that ounce of prevention cliche for real.
BlueDriver can be pulled out once the engine’s off and kept until it’s needed at another time. That means it isn’t locked into being used for just one car. Plus it’s small enough to sit in one of the cup holders. A bit of a learning curve to use it effectively, sure. But the results are worth it, even if it’s just knowing that the mechanic isn’t blowing smoke when he starts spouting off codes and rattling off repairs. I’d pay a one-time fee of $99.95 for never getting glazed over like a too-warm doughnut that someone bit into. Getting BlueDriver took care of that.