Most of us use a car regularly, and we know the frustration of seeing a check engine light come on when you're miles from anywhere. Luckily it's been mandatory for all cars manufactured since 1996 to have a little thing called on-board diagnostics version 2, or OBDII for short, built in.
OBDII is a little port with a variable number of pins, usually located on the driver side under the dash or steering column. Into this magic port you can plug an OBDII scanner dongle like the Foseal model shown here. The dongle will connect to any one of a number of OBDII apps. We tried the iOS version of OBD Fusion for $9.99 on our iPhone X.
The app connects to the dongle wirelessly, via wifi for this dongle, although more modern bluetooth versions are available that allow you to use your wifi router simultaneously which can be handy. Once connected the app reads the error codes that the dongle collects from the OBDII port and gives you much more readable and detailed information on what is causing your check engine light. With the Foseal you can even reset the light after fixing the problem, which may be doable based on your experience, the nature of the problem and the availability of parts.
The combination of a $20 scanner and a $10 app have the potential to save you a lot of money, since any visit to a competent mechanic will immediately exceed that amount. The app and dongle combination allow you to monitor quite a few parameters of your vehicle, and even create custom dashboards based on those parameters, e.g. RPMs, engine temperature, and other variables on one screen.
The one complaint we have is that the OBD Fusion app requires additional in-app purchases, called enhanced diagnostics, to unlock additional functionality, such as reading and clearing codes for airbags and other dealer-level stuff. The ED packs are available for Ford, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota but not for Chrysler products such as our Jeep Wrangler. A related complaint is the app doesn't read or clear tire pressure, which for off-road vehicles is a biggie. For that you need something more expensive like an AEV ProCal or Superchips FlashCal, one of which we'll try to review in a future article.
Overall the Foseal-OBD Fusion combo is helpful for basic check engine codes, and could quickly save you the hassle and expense of bringing your car into the dealer.