Auto, Gadgets, Useful Things by Richard

Taking home a CES Innovation award this year is CarMD, a $89 device that plugs into 1996 and newer cars, light trucks, SUVs, and minivans sold in the United States and tells you what that blinking “Check Engine” light really means, without you having to take it to a shop and spend $50 just for a mechanic to plug it in and read a diagnostic code. It also helps you avoid getting ripped off when it comes to car repairs, as you’ll know what the problem is with your car before the mechanic ever gets his hands on it to repair it. Once CarMD has read the code from your car’s computer, you connect it to your computer (Windows only) and it will give you the exact cause of the problem and the estimated cost of the repairs. At $89, you can’t afford not to have something like this around. It could really save you some money in the long run.


After talking with the people behind CarMD, I found out that AutoZone will run a diagnostic but only give you a code and technical definition for that code. CarMD is the only product in the world that uses a database that’s been developed over a decade and updated daily to sort the code(s) found and provide probable cause, recommended fix and estimated repair costs. Not even the $200 scan tools and code readers on the market can do that. As for FixDat, they believe that they are out of business, as they had a really good concept but no rights to the data they were promising.

Comments (6)

6 replies on “CarMD.”

hah….good catch, I was checking this thing out yesterday myself. There is a similar product on thinkgeek called the scangauge II which offers more information about things your normal gauges wont tell you. It will tell you engine error codes and is actually kinda sleek and is something enthusiasts will want in their car.

If I were CarMD, I would offer engine code searches for people beyond that which own their diagnostic product. If I owned a Scangauge product I will definently pay CarMD like 5 or 10$ for one of their reports.

It is nice, but I think I will continue going to advanced auto parts, autozone, and the like to get those checked out for free.

Not every AutoZone is checking diagnostic codes for free. So sad.

CarMD is sexy and everything, but it’s clunky. It’s huge. I saw something else at CES 2007 that I liked WAY better. It’s called fixDAT. Their website looks like it was just thrown up but it’s a really cool gadget. It’s going to be the size of a matchbox when it comes out this spring, so you can just leave it in the OBDII port of your car. What makes it so cool, is that it uses Bluetooth to talk to your cell phone or PDA or GPS device with Bluetooth. No cables! It gives you the code and the problem in plain English, without you having to make a trip to your computer to explain gibberish.

By all means, get your car checked out for free at AutoZone when you can, but for those who can’t, THIS is the next generation of diagnostic gadgets.

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