How to: Put an iPad to work, in the car

Keep Up With Your Engine

Is there anything that can stop a vacation faster than the car’s “Check Engine Light” coming on when there’s not a gas station for miles? If this happens, you can take control by knowing why the light is on and even work on fixing the problem.

GoPoint can tap into the car’s On Board Diagnostics computer, which continually scans the car for operational details and problems as well as monitor what’s going on inside the engine. Start by plugging the small GoPoint BT1 connector into the vehicle’s OBD-II port. This is the tricky part because while every car made since 1996 has an OBD-II jack, unfortunately, each car has it in a different place. My advice is to look in the vehicle’s manual. On my car it is underneath the dashboard next to where my left leg when I drive.

Once it’s set up, the BT1 uses Bluetooth to communicate wirelessly with the pad. The DashCommand app can be downloaded onto the pad and displays beautiful gauges on the iPad’s screen, showing everything you need to know about how the car is running, from engine and car speed to fuel economy and the temperature of the engine’s coolant or the exhaust catalyst.

It even displays any saved fault codes and help also diagnose why the engine light is on. As I found out sometimes it’s a simple fix. My car’s gas cap was allowing too much air into the fuel tank and it needed to be replaced. Fixed and back on the highway in a half an hour.

Brian Nadel

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.

  • xxplosiv88
    Goodbye wholesome family roadtrips. BUT, also goodbye to "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?". Something I'm sure I'll appreciate when I have kids
  • ...or you can leave the damn thing in the trunk, until you have arrived at your destination.
  • Hey its really fantastic idea to carry ipad in cars.