Review: Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi from Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless and Delphi first announced their Vehicle Diagnostics product at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show and I’ve been excited to try it out ever since. This little device is capable of allowing users to track, unlock, start and troubleshoot their car or truck remotely from a smartphone or internet browser. Making the Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi seem like one of the most interesting and useful vehicle accessories out there. Not only does it offer a lot of nice features, it also promises to be easy to install and use.
Verizon was kind enough to send one over and I’ve used it for a couple of weeks now. I’ve had the chance to test all of its features at this point and will now offer my opinion of Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi.
The Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi product includes an easy to install module that connects to your supported vehicle’s existing OBD-II port. The Module itself measures 3.15″ (H) x 1.77″ (W) x 0.87″ (D) and is constructed of sturdy, black plastic. Not much to it really. It is compact enough to be out of the way while installed in both of the vehicles I’ve tried it in and it doesn’t feel cheap or like it will fall apart.
Going around the device, we find a function button on the left side. It is mostly used for setting everything up the first time the module is plugged into a vehicle. Once initial setup has been completed, the module connects and works automatically as needed. A status indicator LED in the front of the module keeps users informed with either solid or blinking lights in the colors of White, Blue, Green, Red or Yellow. There is also a service connection port on the right side. I’m not sure what this port is used for, but it isn’t anything users will need to use or worry about.
Internally, the Vehicle Diagnostics module is powered by a Qualcomm chipset, and its connectivity options include Bluetooth 2.1, GPS and Verizon’s CDMA 1X network, which is basically available everywhere in the US at this point.
How to install Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi
Installing the Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi module into your car or truck is rather simple and easy to do. The included instructions do a great job of explaining the entire process from start to finish. So I wont go over everything here. Instead, I am just going to cover the basic steps that need performed once you have activated the module with Verizon service and started a Delphi connected car account.
- First, you’ll need to locate the vehicle’s OBD-II port. If you’re having trouble finding it, the Delphi Connected Car app has a helpful feature that will show you a picture of the location of your vehicle’s OBD-II port.
- Once you have located the port, plug the activated Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi module in. The port is designed to ensure that the module can only be inserted the correct way. Be sure that you press the module until it is fully seated into the port.
- Now that the module is connected to your vehicle, it will perform a one time setup process to connect to Verizon’s network. During this process, the status LED will turn solid white, turn off, and blink. That is all normal behavior for the very first time you connect the module to a vehicle. Once the initial network setup is finished, you should see the status indicator LED change to solid blue, which indicates that the module is activated on Verizon’s network. After this first time setup process, the LED will change directly to blue once plugged into a vehicle.
- Ensure that the status indicator on the Vehicle Diagnostics module is glowing solid blue and then insert and turn your vehicle’s ignition key to the “ON” position. Do not start the engine at this time. With the key at “ON” and the engine not running, press and hold the module’s function button until you see the status LED blink red once. You can then release the function button and wait for the vehicle setup to finish.
- After approximately 30 seconds, the status LED should change from red to solid green and then blinking green. Then the blinking green LED will go out and be replaced with a blinking blue status LED. Which indicates that the setup process has successfully been completed and that the module is working correctly.
Just to clarify, the steps above only need performed once each time the module has been plugged into your vehicle’s OBD-II port. Afterwards, you wont need to do anything to make the module work as long as it remains connected to the car.
I used the Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi module with two of my cars, but I typically left it connected to the car I drive most days. That way it was ready to go without me needing to doing anything. With that said, I don’t think it is much trouble at all to switch the module back and forth between cars as needed. From start to finish, the setup process takes around a minute to perform.
Software & Features
Once everything is plugged in and connected, you can begin using your smartphone or tablet to locate, monitor and control your car or truck. Currently, the Delphi Connected Car app is available for all Apple devices running iOS 5 and higher, and for Android devices running Android 2.2 and up. I used the Android version of the app for this review, but will include links for both below:
Delphi has also created a web portal – www.mycar.delphi.com – that not only allows users to connect to their vehicles from any internet browser, but also offers most of the features found in the Delphi Connected Car app. I appreciate Delphi bringing these features to internet browsers because it allows users of non-supported platforms to still use the Vehicle Diagnostics product. I tested the website on all of my mobile devices, and I’m happy to report that it functions perfectly on my BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8 smartphones.
Both the application and website share a similar design and both are easy and enjoyable to use. I didn’t encounter any problems with the site being slow or refusing to load. And the Android version of the application ran flawlessly on the Verizon Wireless HTC Droid DNA review unit I’ve been using. I’ve got no complaints at all when it comes to the software Delphi has created for its Vehicle Diagnostics product.
As for features, the Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi is loaded with them. In fact, it has so many features that I am a little surprised that they decided to go with the name “Vehicle Diagnostics” instead of something else. I personally can’t think of a better name for it, but “Vehicle Diagnostics” kind of sells this product a little short in my opinion. Simply because it will do so much more than just diagnosing problems with your vehicle.
Besides telling you the cause of the “Check Engine” light on your dash, Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi will tell you where your car currently is, how much gas is left in its tank, the condition of its battery, if it has been traveling faster than it should be and if its engine is running or not. Also, depending on the year, make and model of your vehicle, you can use Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi to replace all of the functions found on your key fob. Allowing users to lock or unlock the doors, open the trunk, trigger the alarm or start the engine of their vehicle all remotely.
Another nice feature include with Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi is the ability to keep track of your trips. This feature automatically records summaries of all trips from the time the engine is started till the moment you park and turn the vehicle off. Recorded information includes total distance traveled, start and stop time and stopping location. It also gives users the option to view their entire trip on Google Maps, and since the features works automatically and uses GPS, you’ll always know exactly where you parked. I love that this works without me needing to do anything or think about it.
If all of that isn’t cool enough, Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi will help you get your vehicle back if it is stolen. A geo-fences feature allows users to easily setup alerts via email for whenever their connected vehicle exits or enters a specific location on the map. Just imagine, someone tries to steal your car. The moment it leaves the area you have digitally fenced off, you’ll receive a notification. Once you’ve seen the notification, you can switch over to the “Live Tracking” view and see exactly where your vehicle is at in real time. The app even gives you a convenient “Call 911” button on this screen so you can tell the dispatcher exactly where your car is and where it’s heading.
Of course, The live tracking and geo-fencing features also enable parents to remotely check-in on a teenage driver as needed. These two features alone could easily be worth the price of admission depending on your situation and needs.
Not all of the features I’ve discussed here will work with every vehicle. It all depends on your particular car or truck. So before purchasing this product, It’s a real good idea to go ahead and check Delphi’s Fitment Guide. It will tell you if Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi is compatible with your vehicle and explain which of the features are available to use with your car.
So, what do I think of Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi? Well, I am sort of thankful that technology like this didn’t exist back when I started driving. My first car was a ’72 Dodge Challenger, it was in pristine condition after spending 20+ years sitting in a garage prior to me buying it and it was stupidly fast. I did a lot of really, really dumb things with that car – like most 16 year old boys with a classic muscle car would – and I’d probably still be grounded today if my parents had one of these and knew about how recklessly I was driving.
Now that I am older, more mature and a parent myself, I’m glad something like this is available. I still have a few years before my oldest child gets her license and starts driving, but once she does, she’ll probably be dealing with us keeping tabs on her whereabouts and driving habits with a device like this.
Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi does everything it claims it will. Its features are useful and easy to use, and everything worked flawlessly. Bottom line, if you’re interested in having a connected car, Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi is an affordable and easy way to make it happen.
Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi is available exclusively from Verizon Wireless for the price of $250. That price is for the device contract-free, but you will need a data plan to use the module. It can be added to any Share Everything plan of 1GB or higher and service can be canceled at any time without an early termination fee.