What Is FIXD?
Using a smartphone app and an OBD-II sensor, the FIXD system promises to provide real-time updates about the health of your car in less than 60 seconds, which could help prevent thousands of dollars in costly repairs.
Specifically, the website tells us this system can detect 6,800 possible check engine light causes, translate them into simple terms, provide you with a summary, indicate their severity, and then give you instructions on what to do. You’ll even be warned about possible consequences if you continue driving.
FIXD can also provide users with automatic oil change and maintenance reminders, the ability to access data across multiple cars in your family, along with an active timeline. As maintenance tasks are completed and recorded, they can even be exported into a comprehensive vehicle health record.
Based on what we learned from their website and commercial, it certainly seems that the FIXD system could help take the guesswork out of a check engine light, as well as provide other key benefits like maintenance reminders.
But is it the only option in town? And if not, is it necessarily the best? These are just two of the core questions we’ll help you answer in this article, starting with a closer look at FIXD’s operation.
How Does the FIXD System Work?
There are two parts to the FIXD system: the iOS and Android app (per the company, there are no Windows Phone versions in the works) and the sensor.
At about 2" long, 1.65" wide, and .78" in thick, this sensor plugs into the OBD-II port (the same one used by mechanics to diagnose problems you might be experiencing), which is available on all gas-powered cars built after 1996.
Note: Per the company’s FAQ, FIXD also works with gas-powered trucks purchased in the U.S. that have a GVWR (gross vehicle weight) less than 14,500 lbs. However, it does not currently work with diesel-powered vehicles or electric-powered vehicles.
A picture of FIXD’s OBD-II sensor, which gathers information about check engine lights and sends it to the app. Image credit: FIXD Automotive
The sensor’s small, compact design allows it to stay out of sight while it remains plugged in at all times. There, it will gather data related to any check engine light and send it wirelessly via Bluetooth to your smartphone, where the app will translate the information into:
- The severity of the problem
- The consequences of continuing to drive with that problem
- A 2-3 sentence definition of how that problem affects the rest of the car
In addition, FIXD’s algorithm will determine your mileage and alert you when you’re approaching important maintenance intervals, as well as provide factory recommended maintenance schedule for your specific make, model, year, and engine.
You can install sensors in multiple vehicles to remotely monitor the health and status of other family members, as well as receive mobile push notifications when a new problem is detected. All data collected is secured through the company’s industry leading safety protocol.
In these FIXD app screenshots, we can see the vehicle’s error codes, a brief description of each, along with its current mileage and maintenance schedule. Image credit: Google
Keep in mind, however, that the FIXD system is currently limited to check engine lights only. According to the product’s FAQ, they “are working on expanding the capabilities to include service reminders, ABS, TPMS, [airbag, and other non-check engine lights] by licensing manufacturer-specific codes.”
What Is FIXD’s Maintenance Club?
Although it wasn’t yet released at the time of our research, FIXD’s upcoming Maintenance Club will allow members to receive the items they need once they reach their next maintenance interval, tailored to their specific vehicle year, make, and model.
The program can be customized as you see fit, and whether you’re a beginner or a pro, they’ll also show you how to complete the maintenance, without having to leave your home and head to the parts store.
Your membership can be canceled or pauses at any time, and no deliveries are sent without your approval.
How Much Does the FIXD App & Sensor Cost?
The FIXD app is free, although you’ll pay the following for sensors:
- 1 Device: $59
- 2 Devices: $88 ($44 each)
- 3 Devices: $118 ($39.33 each)
Once released, the Maintenance Club membership will be free, and you’ll only pay when products are shipped.
For one device, you’ll also pay $5 S&H, while all other options come with free shipping.
Regardless of the number you order, FIXD comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, less S&H, along with a one-year limited warranty. To request one, the sensor must be in good condition (not physically damaged, broken, or altered) and you’ll need to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Can We Learn from FIXD Customer Reviews
Between Amazon and Walmart, there were more than 160 customer reviews for FIXD at the time of our research, which gave the system an average rating of about four stars.
In general, most compliments appeared to indicate that it’s easy to install and use, provides clear insight into check engine lights, and delivers meaningful value for the money.
What few complaints there were frequently related to not working properly; usually related to problems connecting. The company responded directly to each complaint on Amazon.
Between iTunes and Google Play, FIXD’s app had nearly 750 pieces of feedback from users, with an average rating of 4+ stars. Most compliments and complaints mirrored those found elsewhere.
From a company perspective, FIXD Automotive, based out of Atlanta, GA had an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and 25 closed complaints, as of 9/7/17. Of those with details available, most appeared to revolve around customer service issues and long shipping times. Again, a company representative responded each time.
Are There Other OBD-II Sensors Like FIXD?
Different Sensors & Their Capabilities
Since the OBD-II port has been standard on all new vehicles manufactured since 1996, there’s been plenty of time for various technologies to develop around it. The most basic of these include:
- Code Readers – Features basic code reading and clearing functionality.
- Scan Tools – According to LifeWire, in addition to what’s provided by a code reader, these “may include advanced data reading and playback features, extensive knowledge bases and diagnostic procedures, and even built-in testing equipment.”
In addition to standalone code readers and scanning tools, there are also Bluetooth-equipped models—formally known as ELM327 scan tools—that can display much of the same information on your smartphone.
However, while scanners typically come with more robust features, LifeWire emphasizes that none of these devices can, among other things, “read manufacturer or pending codes or provide troubleshooting information or tips.” This is where ‘smart’ dongles like FIXD enter the picture.
Smart Dongles That Go Beyond Code Reading & Sensing
A handful of OBD-II dongles can go far beyond demystifying check engine lights, tracking maintenance, and sending alerts. And while they all attach to the same port, they seemed to have carved out niches for themselves by providing unique feature sets.
Although we won’t cover it here, it’s important to point out that some, like Metromile, can even help set your auto insurance rates. How do these other models compare to FIXD?
Hum by Verizon
Although Hum’s equipment will only cost you as little as $30, you’ll also need to pay an activation fee and a monthly subscription fee of between $10 and $15, depending on the model you purchase.
For these prices, subscribers will receive access to emergency and roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location services, vehicle diagnostics, maintenance reminders, and the ability to talk with an independent, certified professional for advice if a problem occurs.
Additional features include boundary and speed alerts (for younger drivers), a monthly summary of driving history and habits, navigation, and even a Wi-Fi hotspot (depending on model).
Depending on the model, Automatic's service provides unlimited 3G access and unlimited car monitoring, all with no fees.
Lite’s features include Bluetooth syncing, trip logging, business expense apps, engine light diagnostics, fuel logging, while Pro’s features include crash alerts, parking and live vehicle tracking, IFTTT apps for home automation, and the ability to utilize streaming apps.
The Lite dongle is priced at $79.95, while the Pro version will cost you $129.95.
Originally started as a crowdfunding campaign in 2015, Vinli also provides drivers with access to a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. However, they claim to provide access to the “largest app ecosystem for your car.”
Here, much like with smartphones, users will be able to choose from more than 40 different apps that can assist with everything from tracking routes and speeds and locating your car, to connecting your car to your home and even interacting with Amazon Alexa.
According to Vinli’s FAQ, though, it only appears to be available to businesses and dealerships, and the “price of the device and service is determined by our channel partners.”
Regardless of the smart ODB-II sensor model you choose, though, keep in mind that according to Tom’s Guide, you need to be aware of potential data security concerns:
“The OBD port was never designed to power Wi-Fi hotspots, or to transmit and receive wireless data. The port is simply meant to convey diagnostic trouble codes to a car owner or mechanic. Likewise, most cars' internal networks were never supposed to be connected to the Internet, and as a result, have loose or nonexistent security safeguards.”
Our Final Thoughts About FIXD
As with most consumer products, whether or not FIXD is the right option for you largely depends on your needs and the factors you consider most important.
For example, if the initial price is your top concern, you could purchase a Hum device for as little as $50 (the retail price plus activation fee). However, you’d also need to pay between $10 and $20 per month to continue utilizing their services, which will also involve signing a contract.
On the other hand, FIXD’s initial price came in $10 higher, although it was a one-time purchase; no future fees were required. However, it also included the fewest number of features (e.g., no Wi-Fi access, different app choices, IFTTT connectivity, and so forth) of the competition.
Splitting the difference, Automatic’s system also didn’t require monthly fees, came with a wide range of available features, and didn’t require a recurring subscription or contract. But, it’s Lite and Pro versions were the most expensive at $79.95 and $129.95, respectively.
The bottom line is that if you’re looking to step up from a standard OBD-II scanner, but don’t necessarily need all the functionality (and associated costs) offered by some of the ‘smart’ competitors, FIXD seems like it might meet your needs.
And if it doesn’t, the manufacturer stands behind it with a 30-day refund policy. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay to ship it back to the company.