Gear Review: Autophix 3210 OBDII+ Bluetooth Scanner

Hear Kalen’s thoughts after a few months of fiddling with a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner from Autophix. What we liked: Easy setup Great dashboard functionality It worked and got me out of a bind! What we …

Club 4X4 Insurance
Jun 22 2022

Hear Kalen’s thoughts after a few months of fiddling with a Bluetooth OBD2 scanner from Autophix.

What we liked:

  • Easy setup
  • Great dashboard functionality
  • It worked and got me out of a bind!

What we didn’t like:

  • Can’t legally access dashboard while driving
  • The vehicle needs to be on and connected to build the dashboards

New car with all the technological bells and whistles or an analogue older unit that has minimal or no computer intervention? That’s a question for the ages in the 4×4 world. Many of us scream black and blue about the benefits of older, mechanically simpler vehicles that can be repaired roadside with a bit of diagnosis and know-how. Then there’s others who are more comfortable, no pun intended, with newer vehicles that have more creature comforts but are burdened with multiple complex computer systems to control everything from the driveline to the dash to the doors and everything in between.

One thing I will say is that on a recent crossing of the Simpson Desert (read about the trip in Part 1 and Part 2), other than two very old vehicles that were pulled along on purpose as part of filming with the Offroad Adventure Show, everything else I saw was new enough to have some sort of computer-based control. So, where does that leave you if the dreaded little engine light comes up on your dash, followed at times by limp mode when you’re out bush? There’s not a cable tie in the world that will save you here.

Diagnosis is the biggest issue; with a myriad of sensors across multiple looms, it’s not just a question of mechanics anymore. The difference between the end of a trip on a flatbed – a problem in itself given many roadside assistance providers exclude service provision on dirt – and continuing a trip could be knowing where your issue is.

Over the last few months, we’ve been trialling the Autophix 3210 OBDII+ Bluetooth Vehicle Scanner. I felt it’d be a good item to have on board when heading remote in our Ford Ranger Raptor, just in case. This nifty little device plugs into the on-board diagnostics port, or OBD2 port, of the vehicle and communicates via Bluetooth to your phone through an app to give a plethora of vehicle vitals readings that you can set up as a dashboard for quick access. Amongst various other functions, it also allows you to do a diagnostic check of your vehicle’s systems in response to a Check Engine Light (CEL) or any other issue you may sense with your vehicle.

Installation is really easy; simply find the port and plug in the unit. The clear packaging has a QR code from which you can download the OBDMate app, available for Apple and Android, then it’s a pretty simple affair of setup, which includes choosing your exact vehicle in the app. Thankfully, I completed my trip in the Ranger Raptor with no issues, but it was a treat to be able to check different vitals as I was travelling. It took a while, but I set up my dashboard to my liking, then it was just a matter of flicking to that page in the app to monitor.

I then forgot about it for a while until I was in one of my other vehicles on the way to an event recently and experienced not only the check engine light, but also the traction control light, which was more concerning. I did continue on with caution as the trip was relatively short but upon my return, I remembered my little Autophix unit. Plugging it quickly into the port of this vehicle and engaging with the app, which cleverly asked for a new vehicle entry, I quickly got a reading of what the code was for. Interestingly, it’s not what I thought it might be given the traction control being switched off. Importantly, I was able to then clear the code. In the old days, one would disconnect then reconnect the battery, which is a bit hit and miss. But this unit cleared it and it hasn’t come back. For this vehicle, which rarely gets driven, it will be a monitoring situation until I can get it out to a shop who can do a more thorough check.

Now the vehicle didn’t go into limp mode, but driving for a sustained period of time with the CEL on and no traction control isn’t really a good idea, so knowing that I was able to clear it was a load off the mind. Out in the bush in a 4X4, this sort of code may have been OK, but I’d still be worried about stressing the driveline if something was wrong somewhere. Different codes do different things but in the case of a fault triggering limp mode, your chance of continuing will be slim to none unless you can rectify the issue.

Everyone who travels remote should have one of these close by in my humble opinion. You can try to engage roadside assistance if you’re in doubt, which as we know can be a mixed bag. If you’re insured with Club 4X4, you can get recovered and send us the bill, up to the selected Offroad Recovery Cover amount on your policy. But one of these clever gadgets could save you the hassle.

Where can you get one? Visit Autophix Australia where they’re sold for $129.95

Club 4X4 Insurance