Analyze Your Driving With a Cellphone App

June 5, 2017 •

Engine Data

We’re all above average drivers – well most of us are – but what if you want to get better? Maybe you’d like to wring some extra miles from every gallon of gas. Perhaps you’re trying to shave seconds from your lap times or you just want to know if that cold air intake really does improve performance.

Well, a cellphone app will let you do it.

Capturing Engine Data

Every car sold since 1996 comes with ODB-II. It’s the 16 pin connector under the dash that your mechanic uses to read trouble codes and reset the Check Engine light.

Your engine reports a host of data through OBD-II. By connecting to it you can capture variables like:

  • Engine Speed
  • Fuel Pressure
  • Instantaneous Fuel Consumption
  • Oil, Coolant and Intake Air Temperature

What to Do With Your Engine Data

Overlay them on GPS location data from your cellphone and you know what the engine was doing along your route. Add in readings from the accelerometer in your phone and you’re looking at a highly detailed map of what your car was doing. You can even learn 0-60 and ¼ mile times as well as the lateral g’s you pulled through the curves.

How to Import Engine Data to Your Cellphone

An app on your phone logs location plus speed, braking and acceleration. By linking it to the ODB-II port you’ll get all the engine numbers too. You can do that either with a direct cable connection or by a wireless transmitter.

Many Android users swear by the Torque app. (You’ll need to purchase the Bluetooth ODB-II transmitter separately.) Those with iPhones can use Rev, which does much the same thing. Alternatively, Flo works on both platforms, but lacks some of the performance-oriented features of both Torque and Rev.

Putting Your Engine Data to Use

You’re trying to save some gas on your commute. You could identify the spots where your consumption is highest. Tie that to engine speed, braking and acceleration numbers and you’ll see where you can save. Then as you modify your style you’ll have the data to show you what works and what doesn’t.

If you enjoy the occasional track day, the apps work the same way. See where you’re losing speed, or where you’re letting engine revs drop too low, then go back out and do things slightly differently. If engine mods are your thing, these apps will show you if you’re actually getting more horsepower and torque.