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BlueDriver OBDII Scan Tool Review

If you're looking to stay on top of your car maintenance without regular trips to the mechanic, check out our review of the BlueDriver OBDII Scan Tool!
By
March 16, 2015

Whether you are a gearhead or not, as a car owner, it is always important to be on top of everything as far as maintenance and upkeep are concerned. This does mean regularly scheduled trips to a mechanic or workshop, but if you’d like to keep an eye on things in the meanwhile, you now have the tools to easily do so, that allow for the comfort of checking performance and error codes, if any, directly from your smartphone or tablet.

One such device and application is from BlueDriver, and here is our review of the BlueDriver OBDII Scan Tool!

What is OBDII?

On-Board Diagnostics, better known as OBD, as been around since the 1980’s, and basically involves plugging a dongle into a port in the car, which is usually found in the section below the steering while. In its early stages, this was a tool meant for mechanics, as the attached dongle would just flash a light if something was wrong, leaving it up to the user to actually figure out the problem.

Cars manufactured since 1996 now come with the OBDII standard. With this latest iteration, which is still found in cars available today, you are now able to get detailed information on what might be wrong with your vehicle, and since its inception, the feature set has continued to expand, with this tool getting smarter over the years.

How does it work?

Using OBDII linked to a mobile application isn’t exactly new, but has only recently become completely wireless, via Bluetooth. In this case, you get both the tool that is attached to the car, and an application, available for free on the Google Play Store, from BlueDriver.

Installation is as simple as it gets, and all you have it do is find the OBDII port in your car and plug the dongle in, which starts to flash blue when initialized. You then connect to the dongle via Bluetooth on your mobile device, and once linked, you can open to application to get started.

The application searches for and connects to the dongle, and once done, you are taken to the main screen that features an array of options, including Reading Codes, Clearing Codes, Smog Check, and detailed vehicle info. As an example, if you want to take a look at the vehicle info, all you have to do is tap on it, and a new screen will open that has all the detailed vehicle information on it. Every section includes relevant information about the current status of the car, and you also have the ability to forward this information via a shareable repair report.

Another tab in the application is called “Live View,” and as the name suggests, allows you to track detailed information about the car as it’s happening. You can add numerous options to this section depending on what you’re looking to keep a track of, and everything is shown in a list view, with information being updated in real-time. The Live View is a great way to know exactly what is happening, but can be overwhelming for those who aren’t particularly familiar with the mechanics of it all, and a more detailed breakdown of the information of the screen would certainly be more appreciated.

The final tab is the “More” section, and includes some useful tools such as the user manual, the option to update the firmware, as well as some advanced settings. The user manual is video based, and while it does a great job in providing the information you need, the videos can be a bit static and boring. Nevertheless, it certainly is extremely useful and a welcome inclusion.

I was able to test this device and app with a car that had its “check engine light” on. Finding the problem and the relevant error code, I did have to search for what it meant to figure out that the issue was related to a faulty gas cap. We replaced the gap cap, cleared the error message, and were good to go, saving us from an otherwise necessary trip to a mechanic.

Pricing and Final Thoughts

The BlueDriver dongle can be found on Amazon for $99.95, and as mentioned, the associated application can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. At first glance, the application seems to be quite minimalistic in its features, but digging into the menus and customizing the Live View screen allows you easily have all the detailed information you may need at your fingertips. More wallet-friendly OBDII bluetooth adapters are available, but they often don’t come with their own applications, and searching for compatible ones can be quite troublesome.

If you aren’t as familiar with the mechanics, this device lets you know that there is an issue, and gives you the opportunity to research it, and if possible, fix it on your own, even if the Live View becomes less useful. Having the ability to download and share a detailed repair report is always a big plus. If you’re a mechanic, or truly understand the ins and outs of a car, picking up this device is a no brainer, and should definitely something found in your toolkit.