A guy in the auto mechanics class I’m taking recently told me about a smart phone-based scan tool app called Torque. Scan tools are the devices you plug into your car or truck’s OBD or OBD2 diagnostic port to display engine trouble codes, a handy thing to have if you’re working on your own truck. (Trouble codes are generated by the vehicle’s computer when the check engine light goes on.)
Besides reading trouble codes, the app can display all kinds of vehicle information on your phone or tablet in real time: mass air flow, boost (on turbocharged cars), coolant temp, fuel flow, the list goes on. And, because it’s running on a smart phone, it can also display things like pitch, roll, GPS position, and compass heading. The app even has a function that will record video of the road ahead, through the phone or tablet’s camera, while overlaying vehicle data into the frame. Pretty cool.
The video gives a good overview. Things start getting interesting around 4:06.
All you need to make it work is the app, which is $5, and a Bluetooth scan tool, which plugs into your OBD2 port. These can be found on Amazon for about $23. (The OBD2 port has been required on vehicles since 1996, though cars a year or two earlier may be equipped with it. Older cars have the OBD port, which unfortunately won’t work with this system.)
Self contained scan tools can cost hundreds of dollars and don’t have as much functionality, one of the many reasons that the Torque app and a Bluetooth scan tool make such a compelling package.
Check the links for a CNET review, the app, and the bluetooth scan tool.
CNET: Monitor your car’s performance with the Torque app for Android
Google Play: Torque Pro Scan Tool app
Amazon: BAFX Bluetooth OBD2 Scan Tool (this one is compatible with Android only)