Vehicle Metrics

As I’m getting used to my vehicle, I was pretty excited about owning it for a full month, and getting my first metrics e-mail.  As you all probably know, I’m something of a data geek – I love my spreadsheets and I like good data collected and organized well.  That’s why I was super excited about the possibility of getting a monthly report from my vehicle with usage metrics.

While technically true, what I got was something less that I had hoped.

The first part, of vague use, was the status of any warning lights from my vehicle.  My monthly report showed me things like whether the check engine or oil change light was on.  While a nice thing to know, I was looking at it thinking to myself, “I already have a dashboard for this information…  …It’s my car dashboard!”  Still, this may be useful if I wanted to find out during which months I changed my oil or had maintenance done.

The second part was somewhat less useful, as it cataloged the “usage” of various features of my vehicle, like remote start or remote lock/unlock.  This was a pretty obvious advertisement in disguise, as these are all paid features that I get for free for the first three months, so showing me metrics of how often I have used them is a means to keep my subscription up.  For me, I have never used them, as I have no use, so…  …They were all zeros.

This was disappointing all the way around, because what I really wanted was metrics on how I’ve used my car.  On the shallow end, something like the odometer reading, average gas mileage, or RPMs would have been useful.  On the high end, something like what my fit bit provides, like how often I drive it, for an average of how long, a list of trips, would have been pretty cool.  All of that is data that I could have used to understand a bit more about how I use my car and how my car performs under that usage.

To facilitate this kind of information, I’ve decided to pick up  an OBD-II scanner.  I found one online that has a bluetooth transmitter designed for phone use.  With an app on my phone, I’ll be able to pick up the results, show lots of dials (should I find that useful), as well as dump everything to csv for later evaluation.  I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to get something more out of this exercise, so we’ll see how that turns out later.

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