written by: Jon Cevski•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 6/14/2011
Find out how you can connect your Android powered phone to your car and get information about your vehicle performance. Solve engine troubles by reading engine error codes on your cell phone.
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OBD II Technology
Since 1996 all vehicles in the US are required to have an OBD II port for car diagnostics and service. This port enables you to communicate with the onboard computer and get information about engine performance, fuel consumption, important temperature readings, mileage and other important data. Also, you can read error codes and turn off the engine trouble light.
Combining the information from the car's computer and the phone's GPS and accelerometer sensors, results in a whole new set of possibilities. This enables you to measure your G-force on corners, acceleration, speed, braking and lap times. All of this data can be recorded and compared for different setups or tune up settings. You can even compare engine data like the power of torque output for different parts, providing you with the information you need to get the best set up.
These features can be very useful for people who like to tune their cars and get the maximum performance out of them, and also for people who like to race and compare lap times. In order to connect your Android phone to your car you need an adapter that will connect your phone and your car computer wirelessly. These adapters use two technologies, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Here are the best two models, one using Bluetooth and the other Wi-Fi. These are the best two Android car performance analyst apps.
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OBDLink Bluetooth Scan Tool Hardware and Torque Android App
The OBDLink hardware features a Class 1 compatible Bluetooth transmitter that offers a maximum range of up to 100 m or 330 ft and Plug and Play connectivity. It is compatible with Android and Symbian based phones with built-in Bluetooth. It also has a USB port for PC connectivity and it comes with the free OBDwiz diagnostic software. Other PC software and mobile apps are supported. You can buy this hardware for $149.95 or find out more about it first from its homepage listed in the links in the references section.
The Torque Android App is a great diagnostics tool. You can measure the torque and BHP power output from your engine and even take temperature readings from the engine, oil and engine coolant. The user interface is customizable, meaning you can choose which gauges will be displayed on the screen.
Maybe the greatest feature of this Android app is the integration of GPS. This enables you to measure fuel consumption during your drive to work, record the time it takes you to get there, and even save all of that data and compare it with different routes. You can even send GPS tagged tweets directly to your Twitter profile. This app is compatible with Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Dell Streak. The Torque Android App can be yours for $5 from Android Market, just follow the link in the references section.
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Kiwi Wifi Hardware and DashCommand App
The Kiwi Wifi can be bought in two versions. The first is the standard version which costs $149.99 and the second is the Kiwi Wifi + iMFD with additional support for up to 32 sensors. The upgraded version costs $199.99 but offers more sensor data, things like exhaust gas temperature, air/fuel mixture ratio, fluid temperatures and more. The system is protected using a WEP wireless security key. More information can be found on the Kiwi website (link posted in the references section).
The DashCommand, as an Android car performance analyst tool can provide you with information regarding performance, fuel economy and engine condition. You can measure power output, torque, air/fuel ratio, spark timings and a lot more. Another great feature is the fuel economy gauges which can show instant fuel economy, average fuel economy, time to empty and distance to empty. Temperatures for engine coolant, intake air and ambient air can also be shown on the screen of your Android phone or tablet.
GPS is also integrated in this app. There are a lot more gauges that are supported by this app but all this comes at a much higher price than the Torque Android app which can do almost everything that the DashCommand app can do. The cost of this app is $49.95 and it can be found at the Android Market, just follow the link in the references section.
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Which Solution is Better for You?
Both technologies have their pros and cons. The Wi-Fi variant offers greater speeds and more information about your vehicle than you’ll ever need. The price of the hardware is almost the same so the deciding factor will be the price of the app and that makes the Torque app the obvious winner.
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All product images and information gathered from manufacturer's website.