Torque App for Droid smart phones

Product Test

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What can't you do with a smart phone these days?  Surfin' the web, getting your email, playing games against your friends, listening to music, let's face it you can do some really cool things with your phone now.  Recently though we have been testing out one of the coolest apps for Droid phones:  Torque.

Torque is an app that utilizes a bluetooth eneabled OBD-II compliant ECM scanner adaptor plugged into the diagnostic port on your vehicle to display real time data the car's computer is gathering.   Most all vehicles from model year 1996 on are OBD-II compliant.  On TJs this port is located below the dash near the drivers left knee.  The amount of data you can access is dependant on what sensors are used on any given vehicle.  While some newer vehicles may have sensors for and can display things such as transmission temperature, horsepower output and torque levels, others like our Jeep TJ have less available data.  Using a Droid X smart phone running the Troque app we are able to display the following information from the TJs ECM:

  • Coolant temperature
  • Engine RPMs
  • Engine Load in %
  • MPG instant
  • MPG average
  • Intake air temperature
  • Intake manifold pressure
  • Timing Advance
  • Voltage
  • Speed (either from the ECM or the phone GPS)
  • Throttle Position

That's not all.  Using the built in GPS and accelerometers in the phone itself the software can also display things like:

  • 0-60 mph time
  • 1/8, 1/4 mile times
  • Acceleration
  • Trip Distance
  • Altitude

So now you are probably saying "what do I have to pay for all this?"  But wait, don't ask yet, there's more!

Data logging allows you to gather all your data into a log and then send it to a web site or email for further use.  Also, with a push of a button you can see your position on a satellite map of the area (using GPS of course), AND you can enter a HUD (Heads Up Display) mode which reverses the gauges and allows you to place your phone on the dash and read them from a reflection off your windshield.

NOW what would you pay?

What you need to do this

First of all you need a Droid powered smart phone.  Next you need to go to the Android Market with your phone and download the Torque app.   Torque is available in an ad-supported free version or a paid version.  We highly recommend the paid version which at only about $4.65 US is an absolute bargain and will insure that the developer can afford to continue to make improvements with the app.

The other necessary item is the OBD-II port adaptor.  Several adaptors are available on the market and prices range from around $50 to over $125.  The app has a page with suggestions for different adaptors.  We chose to use an adaptor we purchased on Amazon for $50.  A link to this adaptor is available in our online store in the "Tools" section.  Other adaptors are available from Kiwi, ScanTool.net and others.  Our $50 adaptor came with a small CD which the enclosed letter from the dealer stated NOT to use as it was outdated freeware and also has been found to have malware on it.  The dealer also stated not to leave the adaptor plugged in all the time as it would drain the battery.  In our testing, when not in use there is only a single LED light on the unit that is on.  I would suspect it is always using Bluetooth to try and search for the paired device but left plugged in overnight on a daily driver it will present no issues with draining your battery.

 

Page 2:  Real World Testing