Since the early days of Henry Ford’s Model T, automobiles and the electronics in them have drastically changed. In the 19th century, electronics in cars included no feature apart from function. Cars back then were basically death traps with little to no safety features whatsoever.
In today’s world, gadgets and electronics are sometimes the focal point in vehicles. From touch-screen displays that show your Spotify playlist, to emergency diagnostics that can signal EMS if an accident occurs, electronics are everywhere. There are electronics diagnosing every instrument in your vehicle from the engine to tire pressure.
So what are the handiest diagnostic gadgets available? Reviews on the internet can be impossible to navigate. Every person claims to be a “gear head” and every site thinks they have the best reviewers.
For some of the best reviews on everything, including the best mufflers and interior car features, At Full Drive can give you the knowledge you need. There are still loads to choose from, so to make your life easy, we developed the best list we could. Here are the top ten diagnostic tools you can purchase to help you keep your car running longer.
#1 – Dash Cam
No, dash cams are not only for police. They are also meant to help you record your car’s journey, wherever you go. This can help with everything from at-fault accidents to keeping you safer on the road.
The best product we recommend is the Garmin Dash Cam 20. It is a sleek product that provides some of the best picture quality on a 2.3-inch screen. It also comes with a built-in GPS system to provide the date, time, location and for the recording in question.
The best safety feature the Dash Cam 20 offers is what they call the “G-Sensor”. This built-in sensor accounts for any sudden changes in direction that come with a collision. Paired with the GPS this allows emergency vehicles to be alerted to you and your position immediately.
#2 – Battery Charging and System Monitor
In some ways, the world is a much cleaner place. With humans being conscious of what they put out into the world, the usage of hybrid and electric cars became an instant success. But they can get very tricky.
To combat hybrid/electric vehicle difficulties, Battery Management Systems (BMS) were designed. The BMS is meant to track your battery and let you know if it needs to be charged or if something is wrong altogether.
The system accounts for voltage and currents that are racing through the battery. By doing this, the BMS can then send you an alert if something is awry with your battery.
These systems are much more than a simple check battery light on your dash. They can determine the vehicle’s best operating mode, whether it is accelerating, braking, idling or stopped, and use the correct amount of electrical power to make the battery last longer.
The best product we recommend is Victron Energy BMV-712. This system gives the best performance that money can buy. With Bluetooth wireless systems included, you can even track the battery of your car through your phone.
#3 – HUM Roadside Assistance Device
HUM is one of the best safety diagnostic tools on the market. It is also the most readily available. You can purchase one from any phone store for as little as $10 a month. It is a guaranteed way to keep you and your family safe in your vehicle.
With the account, phone store managers install a HUM device inside your vehicle that offers loads of safety features. HUM+ is the best product for the job. With this system, the most glaring feature (that can sometimes get on your nerves) is a beep when you are speeding. This keeps drivers in tune with their speed. The HUM also offers roadside assistance, 24/7 emergency crash response, vehicle diagnostic information, and stolen vehicle help.
#4 – Escort Entourage PS
The Entourage PS is a GPS tracking device that allows users to keep tabs on their wheels from anywhere in the world via the Internet. The Entourage PS is a portable device that can be placed anywhere in your vehicle with no installation necessary.
The device then sends the location to you through an associated app on your phone. The PS charges at home or via your car’s 12-volt power outlet. It then continuously broadcasts its location for up to 10 days.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 773,139 vehicles were stolen in 2017. With the rates of vehicle theft rising, the Escort Entourage PS can protect you against vehicle theft.
#5 – DevToaster Rev
Coming in the middle of our list is the DevToaster Rev (say that five times fast). This device can tell you exactly how you’re driving and how your car is behaving through data. It will display how efficiently you travel a challenging road by showing a graph of acceleration and braking forces, including lateral acceleration (g-forces).
This is a performance-based diagnostic tool. For those drivers out there that like to go fast, this is for you. The system allows you to know exactly how you and your vehicle are performing just like having a crew chief in a NASCAR race.
The only downside to the DevToaster Rev app is that you have to have an OBD-II data system along with it. The OBD systems allow data to be tracked within your vehicle.
#6 – Kiwi 3 OBD2 Bluetooth Adapter
The OBD-II system is a diagnostic scanner that is meant to help the at-home mechanic diagnose his/her own issues.
With the ability to work on different platforms, such as iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile, the Kiwi 3 is also compatible with all cars built and sold in the US since January of 1996. So nearly every car on the road can have the Kiwi 3.
This system has a lot of capabilities to diagnose your vehicle including monitoring your miles per gallon, engine efficiency, and engine performance.
#7 – Speed Pro
Another app to accommodate the tech-savvy motorheads in the world, the Speed Pro is designed for convenience. The Speed Pro system tracks your speed to a fraction of a mile per hour through GPS. It also accounts for elevation with the United States, and mirrors your screen so you can use it as a display if you securely place your phone on your dashboard.
One of the downsides to the Speed Pro app is that it is only available through the iOS system. It is not available for Android users. If you own a fast car, this app can help you on the road and the race-track.
#8 – Land Air and Sea GPS Tracking Monitor
Let’s face it, some people don’t trust others, especially when it comes to driving their car. If you have a teen driver that borrows your car, or a roommate who isn’t the best driver, the Land Air and Sea GPS monitor could be your new spy equipment.
Running on two AA batteries, the GPS system is designed to let you monitor your vehicle when you aren’t behind the wheel. While the video and information aren’t available straight off of the device (you have to download it on a computer), it records everything you need to know to check your teen’s alibi about where they were Saturday night. If you need more proof, Car and Driver Magazine says it’s one of their favorite tracking devices.
#9 – Innova Diagnostic Scan Tool
The Innova Diagnostic Tool is another gadget to help you diagnose your car’s problems without the hassle of calling and paying a mechanic.
It is capable of reading and erasing tons of different codes, including the Anti-Lock Braking System and the check engine light codes. It is also able to relay different readings including RPM, oxygen and temperature readings.
It can also diagnose battery or alternator problems when your car won’t start at all. Many diagnostic tools don’t offer that perk.
#10 – Mobileye 560
Unlike any other tool mentioned previously, the Mobileye 560 helps your vehicle to avoid collisions. The tool sends real-time updates to users to help avoid accidents.
The system consists of a smart camera that is installed on the front of the windshield, an audio alert buzzer, and a display so the driver can view the warnings. The combination of these tools allows drivers to know collisions are coming before it’s too late.
Vehicle diagnostic tools can save you time and money. But most importantly, they can keep you and your passengers safer than ever. Before you go spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars at the mechanic so they will you what’s wrong with your car, try your own diagnostic gadget and see which one may help you know the problem.
In today’s world, electronics and computer systems are a majority of what makes your vehicle run smoothly. Assuring all of them are in perfect working condition is a handful to say the least.
But now you know our favorite gadgets to help you help yourself. So get out to that ‘01 Minivan in the garage and make sure you know why your check engine light is on.