Dash and Friends: Smarten Up Your Car With These Cool Tools

We have smartphones. Smart houses. But, what about a smart car? Dash is a car maintenance tracker that lets you keep an eye on your car’s performance from your phone. And it’s really cool, but Dash isn’t the only car maintenance tracker available. Different apps can help you keep track of different issues including fuel consumption, mileage, engine problems, and so much more. They can help you save money and help you take care of your car. Most of all, they can help you to make any car into a smart car.

How Does It Work?

An OBD2 port on a dash system.
Image CC by SA-3.0, Unported, by Saitobesho, via Wikimedia Commons

Most cars have an OBD-II port under the dashboard, especially if they sold in the United States. OBD stands for “onboard diagnostics.” If you have a unique sensor that can connect to the port, and an app like the Dash app, you can download various kinds of information about your car’s performance. The information varies from app to app. But some everyday things you might learn can include your car’s mileage, routes traveled, and possible maintenance issues.

This website can show you where to find your particular automobile’s OBD-II port. You can buy an OBD-II sensor easily online. However, the manufacturers of maintenance tracker apps also sell sensors. And, once you’ve chosen your app, you might find it more convenient to buy your sensor from the same company.

Dash: What It Is and What It Does

A BMW engine block that can be connected to the Dash system.
Image CC0, by Toby Parsons, via Pixabay

The Dash app is a powerful tool for turning your car into a smart car. But Dash isn’t only about accessing OBD-II data. It can also help keep you safe. In addition to performance information like mileage, distance, routes, and fuel consumption, Dash can call your friends and family if your car crashes. What’s more, if Dash senses that your car needs repairs, it can tell you which repairs you need. It can also give you a cost estimate.

Where can you buy Dash? Fortunately, you don’t have to! It’s free to make your car a Dash car. Just download the app from their website. The company also sells OBD-II sensors for as little as $10. You can download the Dash app for both iOS and Android.

If you want your car to be even smarter and more connected, try adding a smart dash cam (or dash com). Here are a few to check out.

Automatic: For Driving Security and Connected Living

Automatic PRO AUT-350 Connected Car OBD II Adapter, Realtime Car Tracking via 3G and No Monthly Fee, Trip Tracking, Engine Light Diagnostics, Severe Crash Detection and Alexa Skill.

Buy on Amazon

Automatic is another car maintenance tracker. You get a lot of the same maintenance information as with Dash, but the focus is on safety and security. The Automatic tracker keeps track of your driving and parking in real time. In addition, it has a dedicated response team to help you in case you’re in an accident. The Automatic website offers different apps that do different things. One app creates invoices from mileage readings. Another helps you to manage your vehicle costs. Also, there is a whole raft of apps to help you connect your car to services like Alexa and Nest. And so much more. Service plans vary in features and price.

Two Strictly Maintenance Car Maintenance Tracker Apps

If you’re more of a “just the facts” type, Fixd and OBD Auto Doctor might be for you. Both interpret your car’s signals and can help you save money as a result. And, both can help save your life.


FIXD Bluetooth OBD2 Scanner for Car - Car Code Readers & Scan Tools for iPhone & Android - Wireless OBD2 Auto Diagnostic Tool to Check Engine & Fix All Cars & Vehicles ‘96 or Newer (1 Pack)

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The Fixd sensor interprets the signals your car is trying to send you through those confusing lights and glyphs. Then it sends that information in plain language to your phone. As a result, you know exactly what is right, or wrong, with your car. It will also send you maintenance reminders.

Fixd can save you lots of money on repairs and teach you about your car all at the same time. Their sensor costs $60, and the app, available for iOS and Android, is free.

A spedomometer and check engine lights, which can be tracked by Dash.
Image: CC by SA 2.0, by Chris Isherwood, via Flickr

OBD Auto Doctor

You can run OBD Auto Doctor from a Mac or Windows computer, as well as from your iOS or Android phone. OBD Auto Doctor allows you to monitor your engine performance. Also, it can help you keep track of your fuel economy, and learn to drive more economically. If your “check engine” light goes on, OBD Auto Doctor will tell you what it means, and what you have to do to fix it.

Interestingly, the purchase price is a one-time charge per user. However, the user can run the app on as many cars as they like.

OBD2 Hardware

If you want a way to take advantage of onboard diagnostics technology without a smartphone, an OBD2 scanner may be for you. Scanners plug into the OBD-II port, and you can use them to access the same information you can get from the apps mentioned above. This article from Tom’s Guide reviews 19 OBD-II scanners under $100. It will also demonstrate how to use the scanners, as well as how to read the information the scanner gives you.

Code readers vs. code scan tools

If you decide to use a code reader or scan tool, it’s important to know what you’re buying. A code reader can read and clear your vehicle’s trouble codes. However, it might not tell you what those codes mean. A scan tool will give you more information, such as trouble code definitions. It may also give you suggestions for solving the problem. If you’re a no-frills type of person who knows their way around a car and its trouble codes, this may be the option for you. However, if you want more than just raw data, then you might prefer a car maintenance tracker app.

Take Charge of Your Car

Knowledge is power. And knowing how your car runs can help you save money and keep your car in peak condition. Also, tracking things like mileage can help you to run your vehicle efficiently. A car maintenance tracker like Dash can be your first step toward getting the most out of your car, while keeping you safe and sound – and part of the evolving world of smart technology.

Featured Image: CC0, by Deliphinmedia, via Pixabay

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