Torque App for Droid smart phones

 

Real World Testing:

Upon receiving our OBD adaptor we rushed out to the shop and plugged it into the OBD port on our '98 TJ.  The instructions state to turn the key to the "on or running" position to begin the process of pairing the adaptor to your phone.  Pairing was simple, the device will come up as "Unknown device" on your phone but within the Torque app itself it will show as "CBT".

The app presents you with 7 home screens which can be populated with gauges for the various items you want to monitor.  Gauges can be made in one of 3 forms, Graph, Dial or digital and in 3 sizes, small, medium and large.  With the paid version of the app you can also change the background colors/texture of the gauges themselves.  Gauges can display in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, MPH or KPH, Feet or Meters, US gallons or Imperial Gallons and PSI or HG.  Each gauge has a very small "light" on it which will blink green to indicate that the software is in fact receiving data for that gauge.  Gauges can be added, deleted or moved around to fit your needs on each page and is easily accomplished by holding your finger on the screen until a context menu pops up asking what you wish to do.  The software also has a setting to automatically rotate the gauges depending on whether you are holding your phone upright or on it's side.

For our testing we chose to display GPS speed, Coolant temperature, RPMs (revs), Engine Load %, MPG instant and MPG average on the main page.  On a secondary page we displayed Intake air temperature, Intake manifold pressure, Timing advance and voltage.  On a 3rd page we opted for Ambient air temperature and Fuel level although neither of these is available on the Jeep TJ, we did test these on a 2008 Subaru and found them to be fairly accurate with what the gas and temperature gauges were displaying on the cars in dash display.

In order for the software to calculate MPG correctly you have to go into the settings menu and enter the engine size in Liters and the weight of the car in Kilograms.  It was a real eye opener as well as a downer to see what we were getting for gas mileage using the app.  After about 15 miles of driving we were backing off the gas, pulling away from stop lights much slower and slipping the transmission into neutral while coasting down hills in order to try and get our average up.  With our heavy Jeep we were showing MPG at around 4 to 8 mpg while pulling away from a light and an average of around 9-11 MPG while cruising at a sustained speed on level ground.  Speed didn't seem to matter to much but we did find a little better mileage between 45 and 55 MPH vs slower or faster speeds.  The coolant temperature seemed to be in sync with the needle gauge on our dash.  Watching the Engine load gauge was a bit interesting.  On level ground at a sustained speed of around 45mph the load gauge showed around 22%.  Switching the air conditioning on caused that to move up to around 22.5 or 23% and then came back down as soon as the AC was switched off.  Pulling grades would cause it to move up to around 30-40% give or take as more engine power was needed to hold speed.

Using the HUD mode causes the gauges to display reversed on the phone.  You then place the phone on your dash and the gauges reflection can be seen on the windshield.  In actual testing we discovered that because windshields are typically made up of 2 thin panes of glass with a plastic safety layer in between we would get a double image.  Even with the double image the gauges were still readable if not a bit annoying. The HUD mode only works well at night also.  If we intended to use this mode all the time we would be tempted to buy a small mirror to mount at the bottom of our windshield to reflect the image better and make it more readable during the daylight.  A suction cup windshield mount holder for the phone seems like a better idea however.

Gauges tended to update quickly and rotate well when the phone was laid completely flat down near our shifter.  However, we did notice that when taking a 90 degree turn too fast the gauges would spin 90 left or right depending on the direction of turn and the only way to get them to come back to level was to pick the phone up and lay it back flat again after the turn.

Error Codes

As we have had an ongoing check engine light issue, we used the software to check the stored error codes in the ECM.    The list of codes and their meanings are available from within the software at a push of a button.   Once we had found the cause of the problem we selected the "Clear Fault Codes" menu item and our check engine light went out.

So far we are really impressed with this setup and all at a cost equivalent to buying a cheap code reader.  We also like that we will be able to use it in any of our newer vehicles equipped with the OBD-II port to see what is going on under the hood by just plugging in the adaptor.

What will they think of next?

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