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Check engine light on? There's an app for that



OKLAHOMA
CITY -



We've all been there. Just driving
along, minding our own business when all of the sudden the ‘check-engine' light
comes on. As many drivers know fixing a check-engine concern can cost a lot of
money.



"A check engine light is
nothing more than just letting you that there is something causing your car to
have higher than normal emissions," said Brad Walker, an automotive
instructor at Oklahoma City Community College.



We asked Walker to help us test a
new device that promises to connect your car to your smartphone. The device is
called "Automatic." It plugs
into your car's data port, and that port has been standard on all cars since
1996.



Automatic costs nearly $100, but
promises to help diagnosis a check-engine light and save you hundreds of
dollars by keeping track of your driving habits.



With Walker's help we created a
check-engine problem by unplugging a sensor. After the car sputtered to a
start, the app that is connected via Bluetooth to the device plugged into the
data port showed our failure.



"To me this is a really good
diagnostic tool, but it doesn't definitely tell you what's wrong with your
vehicle," Walker said after seeing the results. The device and app did
offer suggestions on what could be wrong and Walker said about half the time it
could be as easy as replacing a sensor, but mechanics have other diagnostic
tools that can make sure there isn't a problem further down the line.



"You can treat yourself a
little bit, but at a certain point you want to go to a good doctor," said
Automatic's Ljuba Milikovic. Automatic's team says you will need to go to a
trusted mechanic sometimes, which is why the app includes a list of
well-reviewed mechanics near your location.



However, Milikovic and Walker both
told us a majority of check-engine light problems are due to loose gas caps. So
instead of paying a mechanic to diagnosis the problem, Automatic would save you
time and money.



That isn't the only feature of the
device we tested. It also tracks your driving habits and lets you know if you
are stopping to quick, speeding off from stops or driving too fast. "We've
done some research and he average driver could save about a third of that gas
money about 1,000 dollars each year just by driving more efficiently,"
Milikovic told Fox 25.



We took the device for a spin on the
turnpike where the legal limit is 75-miles-per-hour. The app gave us a driving
score of 50 out of 100. It also showed us how much we spent on gas for the trip
and told us how improving our driving could save that money.



Walker says the device is a good
tool for any do-it-yourselfer and could even help empower those less familiar
with what's under the hood. He did offer some tips for people who panic when
their dash lights up.



"If the check engine light
comes on, and it's running normally, then that kind of means you need to have
it looked at; but maybe you can drive it there," Walker said, "If
your check engine light comes on and it's flashing, it's not on steady, but
it's flashing that means you probably need to have it towed in."



Source: KOKH FOX25



Check engine light on? There's an app for that

Thursday, February 6 2014, 10:34 AM EST

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