Along with your phone or tablet, the Fixd onboard diagnostics (OBD) adapter is an inexpensive way to help you get a handle on what's going on under the hood of your car and remind you of maintenance items. However, it stops short of being a one-stop diagnostic center.
Like other diagnostic scanners, the tiny Fixd adapter plugs into the OBD-II port of any car sold in the U.S. since 1996. This lets it tap into the vehicle's computers and display active and archived faults.
Editors' note: Avoid the first-generation Fixd (opens in new tab) adapter, which has not been well received among its buyers. The second-generation hardware (opens in new tab) — the one we tested — is much more reliable and useful.
Setting up and installing Fixd
All told, it takes about 5 minutes to get Fixd going. After downloading and installing the iOS (iPhone or iPad) or Android app, you'll need to register with Fixd. Unfortunately, unlike with ScanTool's OBDLink LX and MX adapters, there's no software for Windows or Mac computers.
If you're confused about where to plug in the Fixd adapter, the app can send an email to the Fixd support crew to reply with the port's location. After I plugged the Fixd scanner into the OBD-II port on my 2014 Audi AllRoad and set up the app on my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone, the software asked if I fixed the car myself or used a mechanic; I responded that it was something in between. Next, I needed to enter the Fixd device's serial number, which is printed on its side.
Within seconds, the app found the OBD adapter and automatically created a Bluetooth link; there's no typing in or pairing numbers. The device had a range of 35 feet, which is more than enough for sticking my head into the engine compartment while looking at the diagnostic data on my phone.
The app's main Condition window shows the car's year and model as well as any uncorrected faults, but not the car's vehicle identification code. In contrast, other OBD scanners, such as the ScanTool.net OBDLink LX and NX scanners, do show this code.
There are also categories for Details (the fault code and explanation), Timeline (maintenance details) and History (a log of events), each of which has a link at the bottom for finding a local mechanic or a link to AutoZone for parts.
Along the way, Fixd correctly diagnosed my introduced fault of disconnecting the engine oil temperature sensor and successfully turned off the check-engine light. When it finds a generic fault, Fixd goes beyond displaying the fault code to describing the problem; for example, it may say your oxygen sensor has gone bad.
However, although the device and app can handle and explain the thousands of generic OBD codes available and retrieve manufacturer-specific ones, it doesn't describe the latter. It can't diagnose problems with airbags, anti-lock brakes or a car's tire pressure monitor. The company is working on including these aspects of your car's operation into Fixd's adapter and app.
This is the OBD scanner for the forgetful. That's because the Fixd app keeps tabs on the service history of your car and lets you know when the next scheduled maintenance should be performed. It goes beyond listing the expected oil and filter changes to include items such as greasing the sunroof's track and checking the constant-velocity joint rubber boots.
Fixd works with a single car or a family's fleet of vehicles. But it can't turn off the service-reminder light if you do the maintenance yourself, and it can't perform a pre-inspection emissions check. By contrast, Carista's app and adapter can do both.
Fixd stops being useful when you hit the road because it doesn't display and record dynamic data — like speed, engine speed and fuel pressure — that can be helpful in diagnosing a problem. Other diagnostic devices, like ScanTool's OBDLink LX (opens in new tab) and MX (opens in new tab) adapters, can do this with attractive dashboard-like gauges.
What owners say about Fixd
So far, the reaction to the second-generation Fixd seems generally positive. On Amazon, (opens in new tab) reviewers are currently rating the device 4.3 out of 5, with more than 70 reviews posted. Some users said Fixd could do a better job with the installation procedure.
Overall, Fixd does a lot for the money, from identifying and recommending fixes for car problems to reminding you about overdue maintenance. It still needs some software development, but every car should have Fixd or something like it in the glove box for routine maintenance and emergencies.
Among competing OBD II scanners, we prefer the $99.95 BlueDriver because it interprets specialty codes for several automakers and offers dynamic driving data. However, it's nearly twice as expensive as Fixd. For bargain hunters, the Autel Autolink AL319 (opens in new tab) is a good basic option with a 2-inch color display, but it doesn't tell you what the error codes mean.
Overall, we like Fixd, but it's not our top pick.