Car plus Android equals fun

Foreword... more of a disclaimer :-)

I have to admit that I am really not a car person; I couldn't care less about driving a Lada/Yugo/Dacia - car is just a mandatory evil when you have three kids and live in a suburban area. For day to day work travelling I prefer public transportation which is just fantastic here in Finland.

So to the daily topic: Car + Android = FUN!


Thanks to my colleague Mikko for keeping me up-to-date how Android can help you with your car; it was last summer when he showed me how to utilize Bluetooth enabled OBD (On-board Diagnostics) reader and Android tablet to show cool metrics from the car.
At that time I was not really that ecstatic about the idea but I had a change of mind during the winter time as we own a Daewoo oops Chevrolet Tacuma (equivalent to Lada/Yugo/Dacia) which is prone to false positive OBD alarms (engine problem light on).
Current cars have hundreds of sensors and any error, false or real, will lead to disqualification during the regulatory checkup (annual for 5+ years old cars within European community as far as I know).
The repair shop has confirmed that the error is bogus and shouldn't be fixed due to heavy price tag but they charge 100€ for zeroing it (a real workaround...) before the annual checkup.
So the solution is to invest on your own OBD reader to make things easier (and way cheaper)... and with easier I mean that you can read and flush the OBD error codes as you see fit.
For the combustion engine fans the extra bonus is of course the fact that you can see all the metrics plus tweak your engine as you see fit.

The solution in practice

  1. Get a Bluetooth enabled OBD, preferably supporting OBD v. II (see more here), reader - I got this. More details later in the blog.
  2. (Have a Android phone/tablet)
  3. Get an application named Torque from Google Apps. You can test with the free version first.

The OBD reader

I got mine from - see details here. The price 9,99$ (including packaging and shipping!) is just plain cheap.

The package (notice the text ELM 327 (+Android robot logo) which just happens to work nicely with Torque according to user comments):

The insides:

There is a CD that comes along too for PC users (no need when used with Android).

The Torque app

The Torque app from Google play is really cheap compared to the beauty and functionality it provides.
Just start the app, pair it with the bluetooth OBD reader (code for the OBD reader is 1234 - how original) and you are ready, set, go!

Cherry on top is that this app looks even better on Nexus 7 than on my Nexus 4 (a bit too small for Nexus 10 though but still looks nice :-))