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Featured Review: Automatic Car Adapter 2nd Generation

July 22, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

How about something a little less Android-y? I’ve been driving around with the Automatic Car Adapter in my car for a couple of months now. I wanted to bring this review to you sooner, however, I wanted to be sure I used every feature of this $99 car adapter, to give our amazing readers the best possible review.

So what exactly is the Automatic Car Adapter? Well for those that don’t know, every car has an OBD-II port. Basically, every car since 1996, has an OBD-II Port. It’s a port that is typically located underneath your steering wheel column, and your mechanic will usually plug in different things to find out what’s going on with your car. It gives all kinds of information like how fast you’re accelerating from a full stop, how fast you’re breaking, how fast you’re going. As well knowing exactly what’s wrong with your car when the check engine light comes on – perhaps my favorite feature. And there’s so much more. Think of it as a computer for your car. And now thanks to Automatic, it can be connected to your smartphone.

Plugging in and setting up the Automatic adapter is quite easy. In fact, the hardest part is likely finding the OBD-II port. Mine was under the steering wheel column, and yours should be in a similar area. Just plug it in, and then open the app on your phone and follow the directions. If you ever do a factory reset on your phone or get a new one, simply download the app, login. Then go to the Help section and tap on connection. Then tap “Retry Connection” and as long as Bluetooth is on, it should reconnect without any issues. Connecting every time you get in the car is quite easy too. Just have your phone with you and leave on Bluetooth (I normally just leave it on all the time, it doesn’t use much battery these days), turn on your car, and within a few seconds it’ll connect to your smartphone.

The most common use for the Automatic is becoming a better driver. For each trip it tracks you. And gives you a score between 0 and 100 for that trip. Your score will vary based on how many times you did a hard accel or a hard brake, as well as how long you drove over 70MPH. Now, while you can set that to be higher, say 80MPH, it will still hurt your score for going over 70MPH. The reason is that your MPH starts to go down when you go over 70, and Automatic is here to help you get the most miles out of every gallon of gas.

Now if you tap on a trip, it’ll show you where you went. Also where you stopped. If you have a hard accel or a hard brake, it’ll show on the map exactly where that occurred. One of the more interesting features here is that you can tag a trip as business. What this allows you to do, is to export that trip through the Automatic Dashboard and if you get reimbursed for miles driven for work, it gives the most accurate miles driven. Which is great for me in my line of work. Also within that screen, you can see how long your trip was, as well as your average miles per gallon. Which can vary quite heavily. Sometimes, I can get up to around 30 MPG, while other times it’s around 20 or lower. Usually due to traffic and construction. We all love those orange barrels, huh?

Tapping on the icon in the corner that looks like an engine, you can see more info about your car. For instance, how full your gas tank is. It will also estimate how many miles before you’re out of gas. Another handy feature is the fact that it’ll warn you when you get to a certain amount of gas left. Mine is around 1/8 to 1/4 of a tank which will get me about 61 miles, on average. The lower part of your screen will show you what’s wrong with your engine if the check engine light comes on. This is handy because you can tell exactly what’s wrong with your car. There’s also a button below for nearby mechanics. Which is very handy.

Ever went to the mall and forgot where you parked? It happens to me quite often when I go to the airport and fly around the world to cover various events for Android Headlines. However, Automatic has a fix for that. The app will show you exactly where you parked. Now by default, it stays in the notification bar. Not my favorite thing, but it is easy to change that in the settings.

That’s not all. Automatic has integration with a variety of apps, with the most common ones being IFTTT and Nest. One of the cool things you can do with Nest is have it change the temp in your home when you get close to your house. And with IFTTT, well the options are endless. Given that IFTTT has so many channels available. One of my favorite integrations is Expensify. Which goes back to tagging trips as business. It allows you to export your trips and get the expenses covered by your job. It also works with the Pebble, so you can see where you parked. This is also coming to the Apple Watch, so far no word on Android Wear, but I’d expect that to be on the way soon as well.

There’s also License+, which is a pretty neat way to teach your kids how to drive. With Automatic’s driving habits, they will also be a safe driver. With Automatic, you can also set it up for multiple cars. So you can Swap it from your car to your wife’s car, to your kids car. Very easily, and it’ll know which is which. A useful feature, but how often are you going to swap out this adapter to another car? Probably not that often.

In a nutshell, that’s basically the Automatic Car Adapter. I’ve been using since about the first week of June and have pretty much enjoyed it. It’s really helped me get even more mileage out of every tank of gas, and now, I never have to worry about where I parked, when I come back from a long trip. You can pick up the Automatic Car Adapter from their website or from Amazon for just $99.