Edition: February 2013 - Vol 21 Number 02
Article#: 4181
Author: Repertoire

Closed-hood jump starter

A one-time messy and unattractive job, jump-starting a car has been boosted to the ranks of easy. Although it still requires connecting a dead car to a running one, with the new closed-hood jump starter, there’s no longer a need to rummage under the hood. By connecting the starter to the cigarette lighter outlets in both the dead and running cars for five to 10 minutes, users can relax – perhaps even enjoy a (cigarette-free) break. When the light on the Closed-Hood Car Jump Starter turns green, the dead car can be started. The jump starter comes with an 18-foot cord.

Plug-and-play wireless device

Diagnosing car ailments needn’t be a headache. The Kiwi Wifi is a plug-and-play wireless device designed to download one of two recommended car diagnostics apps from the App Store and then monitor a range of stats about the car, including fuel efficiency, engine-trouble codes, real time gauges, horsepower and torque, and more. The device – which comes with a 6-foot OBD-II cable for convenient installation – connects to a car’s OBD-II port (right below the steering wheel). A built-in power switch eliminates the need to constantly disconnect and reconnect the unit from the OBD-II port. The plug-and-play is compatible with vehicles built in 1996 or later. Additional features include:

• Wireless connectivity between iPhone or iPod Touch and vehicle.

• A 50-foot line of sight range.

• Power consumption of 0.7 watts.

• WiFi Standard: 802.11a/b/g.

• Dimensions: 2.75 x 1.25 x 0.6 inches.

On-board diagnostics

Most people can’t change their car’s oil, let alone diagnose engine problems. The GL1 Car Diagnostic Gadget directly connects a vehicle’s engine onboard diagnostics (OBD) data to one’s iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. A driver can use his or her iPhone/iPod Touch to read or reset diagnostic codes, as well as log the vehicle’s engine performance and gas mileage. The GL1 charges the iPhone or iPod Touch using patent-pending intelligence, and then automatically stops charging when the vehicle is turned off. The device is said to be easily connected by plugging it into the vehicle’s OBD-II data port. The device is compatible with all 1996+ OBD-II and EOBD vehicles by downloading a free App (goLINK App). A 1.5-meter cable is included for connecting the device to the iPhone or iPod Touch. The 3.5-ounce device is 1.5 x 1.5 x 1 inch.

Blu-ray DVD

Chrysler Group minivan customers now have the option of a dual-screen Blu-ray DVD rear-seat entertainment system. The system plays both Blu-ray and standard DVDs, and has standard higher-resolution screens for the 2013 model year. It features second- and third-row screens capable of playing two different DVDs at the same time. Nine-inch screens in the second and third rows are said to feature better resolution when compared with previous models and allow customers to watch their movies on Blu-ray or standard DVDs or play their High-Definition Media Interface (HDMI) gaming systems. In addition, the system includes two USB ports; one HDMI port and 115-volt power inverter, enabling customers to charge their cell phones, MP3 players, laptops, tablets and gaming systems; a standard RCA input; a 12-volt outlet; and two wireless headsets and a wireless remote. The entertainment system is available on Dodge Grand Caravan Crew and R/T and Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L models. It is standard on Chrysler Town & Country S and Limited models.

Checking used car history

Thanks to the Carfax Reports app for iPhone and Android users, used car buyers have anywhere- anytime-access to Carfax information, according to the company. Smartphone users can run a Carfax Report by entering the license plate, scanning a barcode on the car, or using the 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN). With nearly one in 50 used car buyers purchasing the vehicle as a gift last December, according to CNW Research, on-demand Carfax reports can bring customers peace of mind, says Carfax. The Carfax Reports used-car app is a free download from the App StoreSM and Google PlaySM. In addition to the report, anyone shopping for a used car also should get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic before buying, according to Carfax.

Ford goes green

At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, The 2013 Ford Fusion was named Green Car Journal’s 2013 Green Car of the Year®. The 2013 Fusion was designed with a focus on customer safety, according to Ford. A variety of advanced high-strength steels, such as boron-alloyed grades, have been used to increase the vehicle’s body strength by 10 percent over its predecessor. Additionally, the Fusion is said to be the first vehicle to use steel hydroformed tubular B-pillars, which contribute to enhanced side-impact performance, mass reduction and roof strength. The vehicle also features a steel hydroformed A-pillar roof rail, which reportedly reduces cost, while improving the crash performance. According to the publication, Green Car of the Year nominees are selected based on their ability to improve environmental performance in meaningful and quantifiable ways at a price that is accessible to enough consumers to make a positive impact on the environment, says Green Car Journal. The Fusion’s ability to reduce petroleum use, CO2 emissions and overall environmental impact at an affordable price contributed to its win.

Carpool apps

iPhone users can now do their part to save money and be kind to the environment by using Carticipate, a free rideshare application downloadable from iTunes. Carticipate is designed to bring fellow commuters together in a large social network of individuals looking to save money on fuel while also contributing to the environment by emitting less CO2 into the air in the form of emissions. Users can search for ride locations near their cities of residence or business travel, both in United States and internationally. International users have the same capabilities as their U.S. counterparts. And because the iPhone works worldwide, the app can be configured in English, German, French, Dutch, Italian and Spanish.