Vehicles

Bluetooth Car Diagnostic Scanner

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Wireless car diagnostic tool

I have used this for several months to troubleshoot and diagnose various automotive problems on several vehicles ranging from a 1997 Saturn SL1 to a 2010 Infiinti G35 and a 2014 Jeep Compass.

Unlike the standalone handheld OBDII Can-bus diagnostic computers, which can cost upwards of $150, this device is only about $12. It uses your Android or iPhone smartphone as a wireless display and works both to tell you the diagnostic error codes that trigger your check engine light as well as a real-time diagnostics information display that can be used to troubleshoot performance problems while the engine is operating. The application you need to do this is free.

There are also paid apps that turn this unit and your smartphone into a tool for improving fuel efficiency through real-time monitoring and analysis of your car’s sensors.

One major advantage of this tool is that the Bluetooth connection has a 30′ range, which allows you to read the display without actually being in the vehicle. This means you can check under the engine hood or under the vehicle while still being able to read the diagnostics displays, which is really not possible with the older wired tools. This can make testing and troubleshooting much simpler.

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-- Dan Kim 01/14/15

(Readers say this Bluetooth device is not iPhone compatible. Here's a $15 OBDII scanner with WiFi that is advertised as being iPhone compatible, but we have not tried it. Also, reader Alan Burnstine says: "The thing you didn't mention is that you can also send codes to the car. Other than just turning off the check engine, you can also set some features, for instance on a Prius, you can turn off the annoying back-up beep. There is a procedure to do it without a scan tool, but one of these makes it simple as long as you know the codes to send (which are widely available on the internet)." — editors)