In this heyday of smart technology, you can buy the equivalent of a FitBit for your car.
We took Automatic, an app paired with an on-board diagnostics dongle that logs your location, driving habits, and fuel usage to make you smarter on the road, for a test drive.
Just plug the Automatic dongle (called a Link) into your car’s OBD port and you’ll start getting a bunch of data about your driving logged into the companion app. Much of this data is ultimately meant to help you save money on gas.
For example, Automatic alerts you by making your phone chirp you when you break roughly, drive 10 or more miles per hour over the speed limit, or accelerate too rapidly. By giving you a heads up about your bad habits, it helps adjust the way that you drive to increase fuel efficiency. Better fuel efficiency means money saved.
The app gives you a daily and weekly score based on your driving, and compares your logged fuel economy with the EPA’s estimated value for whatever car you own. If you’re competitive, you’ll love the fact that you can track your driving score week-to-week, and that the app will tell you where you rank compared to other Automatic users throughout the country.
Every time you park, the app also GPS-logs your location, so you never have to search hopelessly for your car in a huge parking lot again. Because the Link is plugged into your OBD port, it can sense when you have engine trouble, and can offer a potential diagnosis.
Finally, the accelerometer in the Link can sense if you may have gotten into a crash and Automatic personnel will alert local authorities.
Automatic works with Android and iOS, but only on the iPhone 4S and above.
It costs $US99.95 and works with most cars made after 1996. You can check if it works with your car here.