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Review of the Garmin nuvi Vehicle Diagnostic Tool

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 7/22/2011

Need your own small vehicle diagnostic system? Consider the ecoRoute HD. It offers a lot of usability, but it only works with certain Garmin devices. Learn whether your device is compatible and if this device is worth the cost.

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    ecoRoute: Yay or Nay

    With the Garmin ecoRoute HD, you can turn your nuvi into a diagnostic tool. The ecoRoute connects to both your Garmin GPS device and your vehicle’s diagnostic system. This device communicates with your onboard diagnostic system, pulling up information about timing, air intake temperature, manifold pressure and more. It also keeps track of your driving habits.

    The device is Bluetooth-enabled and is an add-on for your current GPS device. The goal of this device is to improve fuel efficiency in the hopes of saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint.

    The ecoRoute is compatible with any car or light truck with an OBD-II system, which includes any vehicle produced after 1996.

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    Rating Average


    The device is easy to setup, but you will need to update your nuvi. You can do this by going to the Garmin website and finding the latest firmware update for your device. Once your device is updated, you simply need to connect the device to your OBD-II port on your vehicle.

    You should zip-tie the device or use some other method to keep it from dangling near your feet. This is a danger since your foot could get caught up in the device, making it difficult to accelerate or brake. This is a downside to the device since Garmin should have considered this issue with design. The company does promise to add some type zip-tie to future devices.

    Other than that issue, the setup could not be easier. Once the device is plugged in, your Garmin nuvi will recognize the device, and the nuvi will prompt you to finish the setup. Follow the on-screen directions. Once the setup is complete, the ecoRoute immediately starts compiling data about your vehicle.

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    Rating Average

    You can obtain advanced feature information, including Gauge and Fuel Economy views. The Gauge view provides you with information on the engine data including load, timing and RPMS. These numbers will fluctuate depending on how much you depress the gas, but it will definitely give you some information on how hard you push your vehicle.

    Most people will get the most benefit from the Fuel Economy view. This view gives you information about average fuel economy, fuel costs, mileage, carbon footprint and total fuel consumed. You can see exactly how well your vehicle burns fuel as you are driving.

    You can also see engine diagnostic codes with this device. Diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) not only tell you that your vehicle is having an issue. It will also explain which part of your vehicle is having the problem. This is great since you can take this information to a mechanic, or you can try fixing the problem yourself if you are a DIY mechanic.

    Other information that the ecoRoute provides includes the Driving Challenge. This breaks up your driving habits into scores. These include scores for speed, braking and acceleration. You can use this information to adjust your mileage performance.

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    Rating Average

    The major downside to this product is that it is only compatible with Garmin nuvi devices. If you own any other type of Garmin or other brand product, you cannot use the ecoRoute. Another downside is that you cannot track the historic trip data of multiple cars with this device. You can only do one device at a time.

    If you have more than one vehicle, you will have to invest in more than one device or restrict your use to one vehicle. This is different from other types of car efficiency and diagnostic devices that can keep track of multiple vehicles.

    It is a little expensive at nearly $100. You can get regular car troubleshooting devices for just a little more than this device. These, however, are separate devices unlike this one that simply connects to your Garmin. The major upside to these other devices though is that they provide information that is much more comprehensive. The ecoRoute only provides you with simply car diagnostic information, which may not be enough to fix your issue.

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    Bang for Buck

    Rating Average

    Overall, the Garmin ecoRoute HD is a handy device. It is easy to use, and it provides you with some great data. While the price tag is a little high, it is still less than $100. The major downside is that you can only use it with the nuvi. It would be nice if Garmin would upgrade this device so that it works with a variety of Garmin devices.

    For the moment, however, Garmin nuvi owners will love the data that they collect from this device. The ecoRoute may even save you some money.

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    Image Source: Garmin