Easy Code Reader: We Test GoTech’s Mobile OBD-II Diagnostic ToolPosted in How To: Engine on December 15, 2016
Most of us cringe in fear when the check engine light in the dashboard of a modern 4x4 is tripped on. Your mind begins to spin in frustration wondering what could have triggered it, how bad it really is, and most importantly, how much is it going to cost to fix it. In the old days, you typically needed an experienced mechanic to help diagnose vehicle engine problems. Today, we have code readers. They come in many shapes and sizes and some are more useful and specific about identifying problems than others. However, all of them access your vehicles engine information via the OBD-II port, which is typically located under the steering column and dash, just above the pedals. All vehicles that are ’96 model year and newer have an OBD-II port. We recently got our hands on the new GoTech mobile OBD-II diagnostic tool and put it through its paces on several trucks in our fleet. The GoTech is more than just a code reader, though. It can interpret trouble codes, discover check engine light definitions, monitor engine performance in real time, review troubleshooting tips from ASE-certified Master Technicians, and of course, clear trouble codes, all via a Bluetooth-compatible smartphone or tablet.
The GoTech is inexpensive, more compact than most other comparable code readers, and the free GoTech Mobile OBDII Diagnostics app (available from the Apple App Store and Google Play) is compatible with a variety of iPhones, iPads, and Android smartphones and tablets. The dongle is cordless and does not require batteries. It’s small enough that it can easily be stored in the vehicle glovebox, center console, door pocket, or ashtray, making it the perfect diagnostic tool you can take with you every day. You can input up to 10 different vehicle profiles into the app, so you may only need one GoTech to cover your entire 4x4 fleet.
Pairing the unit to a mobile device and linking it to a vehicle is quick and easy, just remember to start the app only after the vehicle key is turned to the “on” position, the dongle is plugged into the OBD-II port and is paired to your mobile device. Once the dongle is paired with your phone, you can access and clear trouble codes as well as monitor vital engine performance data. One feature that we found especially interesting is the Smog Test feature. It identifies components and systems that are not functioning properly, which would lead to your vehicle failing an official smog test.
Unfortunately, most of the available performance data is meaningless to the average person on a day-to-day basis, decreasing the chances that you’ll use the GoTech as a detailed gauge cluster. As it is, you have access to engine coolant temperature, vehicle speed, intake air temperature, engine rpm, throttle position percentage, time since engine start, miles driven since code set, and several other advanced diagnostic readings like timing advance, fuel trim, oxygen sensor voltage, and so on. We’d like the option of being able to access the basic info too, such as engine oil pressure, transmission temperature, and so on. All of this data is typically available through the OBD-II port, just not on the GoTech app. Perhaps this feature can be added down the road in an update.
Viewing and clearing trouble codes is as easy as scrolling and clicking through your mobile device. The system is very user friendly. Ultimately, if you have the capacity to maintain a Facebook page, you can operate the GoTech.