A few weeks ago, I ran into murky waters with one of my weekend test machines. I had hardly driven for half an hour when a signal flashed on the instrument panel, pointing to something wrong with the engine. Now, this was the last thing I wanted because that would mean putting off the test till I found how serious the matter was or altogether abandoning the weekend drive. But the next day was a Friday and the service centre would be shut. That simply meant I had to postpone the tough tests like acute cornering or even the acceleration test for the fear of damaging the car further. On Saturday morning, a quick trip to the authorized service centre of the brand resolved the issue. The technician did a quick computer check and a rational symptomatic assessment to announce that car was fit for the toughest of tests without the threat of any hazard. Great! And a quick reset of the Onboard Diagnostics wiped away the ominous sign from my instrument panel.

Trouble indicators can come on at anytime

Now, imagine if I could have got the mechanic to access my car’s on-board diagnostics from wherever he was on his holiday. I could have saved the heartburn, and performed the comprehensive tests well in advance. It is possible, swears Nebula systems, proponents of MECH5, a cloud based diagnostic app. The concept lets you access on-board diagnostic information from wherever you are. Which means, if you are stranded in the middle of nowhere, on your drive from Dubai to Muscat, not only can you access the precious information and do whatever you can about it, but also call up your mechanic to review the issue, to learn if it can be remotely solved or decide to flag the next vehicle coming by to a safe haven, till help arrives. Plus, the proponents claim that the MECH5 covers areas that normal On-board Diagnostics have not accessed so far, promising more faults will be found. Watch the video with info

On-board diagnostics refers to a vehicle’s self-diagnostic and reporting capability. OBD systems give the vehicle owner or repair technician access to the status of the various vehicle sub-systems. The amount of diagnostic information available via OBD has varied widely since its introduction in the early 1980s’ versions of on-board vehicle computers.

You can find out the error or check with your mechanic.

In MECH5, the cloud-based access to vehicle information, there is a hint of the future of vehicle diagnostics. All you need is a smartphone or tablet with internet connectivity. You can plug a small OBD device into your cars to remotely perform diagnostics on engine, ABS, windows or anything that is electrically powered in your car. Which these days, involved almost everything other than the tread of your tires or how hot the coffee in your cup holder is!

Good idea. They call it the ‘connected car revolution’. But it requires backup to start. Nebula Systems have posted themselves up on ‘kickstarter.com’ and the responses have been encouraging. Yet, not quite enough for the project to take off. You can view the presentation on site, and offer backup or suggest a backup. They have hardly a week to go before the destiny of the project is sealed for the moment – in terms of having the 50,000 Euros (approx. AED 248000) they need to get the project moving. ‘Diagnostics for everyone’ is a rather useful concept and I wish them luck in getting the ‘connected car revolution’ started.

Watch more on or pledge your support.

Tech Project to decipher your car trouble from anywhere was last modified: February 25th, 2016 by Sudeep Koshy

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