Once upon a time, aftermarket add-ons were marketed almost exclusively to motorheads. Apart from stereo upgrades and the occasional set of ill-advised Car Lashes, mainstream drivers didn't spend much time looking at specialty rims or undercarriage lights or insane suspension tweaks.
But cars have changed, and so has the way we interact with them. Recently, we've seen Apple's CarPlay, Android Auto, and Navdy, all of which put the smartphone at the center of the driving experience. And now, there's another gadget/app combo for your car called FIXD.
As you'll see from the video embedded above, FIXD is primarily a maintenance tool. The FIXD Vehicle Sensor plugs into the OBD-II port underneath your dashboard and accesses all the diagnostics information it can find. (That's the same diagnostics information that triggers warning lights on your dash.)
Using Bluetooth, the Sensor then pairs with your smartphone and displays that data via the FIXD app. (FYI, it appears that the Android app is set to debut this fall, with an iPhone version to follow in the spring.) It'll list any existing or looming problems with your vehicle, explain the consequences of those problems (e.g. a malfunctioning airbag could increase your risk of an accident during a collision), and give you an estimate on how much it'll be to have those problems fixed (or FIXD).
FIXD also keeps tabs on maintenance, and it allows you to export your maintenance records at any time, which seems like a much simpler way to pass on records when you sell or trade in your vehicle than handing someone a bulging, greasy envelope filled with faded receipts.
Also, FIXD works on multiple vehicles -- great for the car-owner with more than one ride in the garage.
At first glance, FIXD may seem a lot like the Automatic app we've talked about several times before. And it's true, there are similarities, but from what we've seen, FIXD has a number of advantages that Automatic and some other add-ons don't.
WHAT WE LOVE
It's simple and straightforward: Automatic does several things, functioning as an automotive health tracker, a driving instructor, and an emergency device. Which sounds great, but honestly, it can be annoying. Sure, you can turn off the alarms that sound every time you nudge past the speed limit, but then the app has a tendency to crash. (Also, if you share a vehicle with someone else, it's a little creepy that Automatic reveals your location to everyone linked to that car.)
FIXD, on the other hand, is about maintenance and only maintenance, making sure that your car is good to go. It's a one-trick pony, but it performs that trick awfully well. And it's the only trick that many folks will need.
It's cheap: Automatic is $99. FIXD is available for pre-order at a cost of $40.
The company is based in Atlanta: Just for a change, it's nice to see a tech start up that isn't in New York or San Francisco.
WHAT WE DON'T
It's being funded on Kickstarter: It's not the crowdsourcing part that makes us anxious. FIXD is a good idea, and ultimately, we expect that it'll find its way to market. Unfortunately, as we've seen with many other projects, the rollout timeline is probably a bit unsure.
Does FIXD seem like the sort of thing you'd be interested in owning or giving to a friend/family member/secret Santa gift recipient? Share your thoughts below.