What is an OBD Device?
Most cars these days come with an OBD port. OBD means On Board Diagnostics. Think of it as a USB port on your car, which a service engineer would connect a device or a computer to, to be able to talk to it.
The standard issue device is one that all official mechanics or repairmen for your car will have. Of course, such equipment is expensive to buy, even if you could get hold of it. Like many other such things, a huge suite of OBD devices is available in the market. There is a risk though. Just like you wouldn’t download any other email on to your computer or open any random file, you wouldn’t want to just plug in any old random bit of electronics on to your car.
Another issue that comes with OBD devices is that even if they are kosher, they allow you to tinker with the internal parameters of your car. If you know the dark arts, well and good, and you may be able to enhance your car’s performance. If you don’t, you may tinker the wrong number and mess up a whole load of things. This could be something minor, like resetting your service record, or something major, like messing with one of the settings of your sensors.
One may argue that these kinds of settings should not be available to be tampered with. If you think about it, you can’t just buy an official OBD device from your manufacturer. In fact, they are pretty much sold as an ‘interesting add-on’ rather than a necessity. The only person authorised to own one for your car is your officially licensed mechanic.
Installing the Engie device is all about finding where the OBD port on your car is. In my former car, VW Passat, you could access it by lifting off the coin tray. In my current car, the Hyundai i20, you need to remove the panel under your steering wheel to access it. This is also where the fuse box is for your car, so it is a handy thing to know anyway.
In terms of the app, you look for the ‘Engie’ app in your respective app store and go ahead and install it. You need to log in or sign up to use this. I am not sure why this was advantageous or necessary, but there you go. The point being, that I can’t log into the same login on my computer and read the diagnostics for my car. So it doesn’t work like a typical fitness device which tracks your fitness via phone/watch and lets you view the results via browser.
Once the app is installed, you have the option of buying an Engie device, or pairing it with your device. For this, your device needs to be plugged in to your car.
Once plugged in, a small red LED will light up on the device to indicate that it is on. Your device should now be able to pair with your phone, and you should be able to access a suite of information about the status of your car.
Engie – What does it tell you?
Engie tells you various things about your car. A lot of them are about the status of the car.
These can be the following:
- System scan, which includes:
- Engine System
- Body System
- Network System
- Brakes and Steering System
- Battery status
- Engine Temperature
- ABS Alerts
- SRS – Airbags
For me, the ABS and Airbag information was not available through the device. I got a complete green on my health, as well as the battery, alternature and engine temperature.
The device gives you levels, and also gives you an indication of what to expect.
Another feature built into the car is that of trip history. For your trip, it measures distance, tracks your movement on a GPS map, and if you enter your local fuel rate, gives you an accurate cost as well as average MPG for your journey. Sadly, this only really works if you have this app running while making a trip. Otherwise, it doesn’t auto update.
As a part of the service, it also remembers where you parked.
Service reminders and mechanics
It also can be configured to provide you service reminders. What makes this different from many other devices is the fact that it also has a list of nearby mechanics. It promises to email your OBD report to your local chosen mechanic, in case you need a repair. This is a feature I didn’t need to try.
In terms of mechanics, I couldn’t find any logic to the list available. It didn’t find the official service providers in Oxford, nor did it highlight the few local mechanics near me. I imagine it is something that is being updated and still has some time to go before being fully populated.
What about the dangers of an OBD device?
So if you’re scared about the device ruining something in your car through accidently changing a setting, you don’t need to be. That option is not available via the device at all. It functions as a pure read-only device.
Is it safe to leave this in the car? Will it drain my battery?
A very valid question. According to the manufacturers, the device uses less than 40mA. This is (once again, according to them) less than what a car alarm consumes in your car. So it should be fine. If you do use your car once/twice a week, or daily, this should be fine. However, if your car sits and gathers dust, it may not be a great idea to leave this in as slowly the drain may be enough to affect your battery.
As already mentioned, since it is a read-only device, it is also pretty safe to leave it in your car, whether it is running or turned off.
You can find out more about the Engie device via their website.
The Android version costs £19.99 while the iOS version costs £24.99.
Both of them can be bought from their website.
Engie allows the everyday user to be able to look into their car without fearing about messing with something. This makes it an ideal OBD device.