A check engine light can mean serious engine trouble, such as a misfire that can cause extensive and expensive damage if not resolved, or it might just mean you forgot to tighten your gas cap after your last top-off. Fixd ($59.99) is a small sensor that plugs into your car’s OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics) port. This neat little accessory scans your car’s computer system for error codes, and delivers a diagnosis, in layman’s terms, via a mobile app, so you can either try to make the necessary repairs yourself or at least know what to expect before you bring the car to a mechanic. It’s easy to use and did a good job of diagnosing problems in our tests, though every so often it had trouble connecting to the Fixd network.
Design and Features
The Fixd is a smallish device, measuring 1.9 by 1.6 by 0.8 inches (HWD), that plugs into your automobile’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) port, which grants access to the car’s computerized self diagnostic system. All cars manufactured in 1996 and later have an OBD-II port, which is usually located under the dashboard on the driver’s side. The Fixd sensor works on all gasoline-powered cars equipped with an OBD-II port, but it doesn’t work on cars manufactured before 1996, nor does it work on cars that are powered by diesel engines or cars that are exclusively electric. It will work on hybrid cars, however.
When a check engine light comes on it’s because the system has detected an issue such as a misfiring cylinder, a malfunctioning mass airflow or oxygen sensor, or a fuel vapor leak. The on-board computer generates a code that mechanics use to troubleshoot and resolve the problem, which is why you’ll see them at work staring at a handheld screen with the engine running. The Fixd sensor lets you see what the mechanic sees, and is capable of detecting up to 6,800 possible causes for a check engine light. It also offers a description of the probable cause, along with the standard error code and possible consequences if the issue is not resolved. It’ll let you turn off the light, but it won’t diagnose other dash light indicators such as ABS (anti-lock brakes), TPMS (tire pressure monitoring), airbag, stability control, or transmission cooling.
The Fixd sensor draws power from the OBD-II port so you never have to worry about charging it, and once it’s plugged in you can leave it in. Or you can remove it and use it on any other OBD-II-enabled, gas-powered car.
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