Torque Lite and Pro app for Android reviewed
Cars are technologically advancing everyday while phones are getting smarter too. Today one can do so much more with a phone apart from just making calls and texting. This has been possible thanks to various applications that are being developed so often. We came across one such app that lets one use a smartphone to communicate with the car's brain, the ECU. Torque Lite and Pro is available for download on Google's Play store so this means the app is only available for Android users at the moment. We installed the app and found it to be quite useful.
We first tested the app for a car's performance data. For the use of this feature, one doesn't require any extra hardware apart from your Android phone. The app uses the phone's GPS antenna, compass, barometer (if available) and the accelerometer to analyse and display 0-60kmph and 0-100kmph figures. We compared the figures to the Vbox (a GPS based device we use for all our performance tests) and they were quite accurate. Since the GPS antenna is also used, the car's position can also be logged and exported.
But the best feature of Torque is the ability to diagnose the car's ECU. For this, one does require a Bluetooth OBD II compliant scanning tool. This device is easily available online and in a few car accessory stores. We purchased one online on Amazon.com for just Rs 1900. But make sure your car is OBD II compliant. Most cars have their OBD port located either below the steering wheel or in the glovebox. One simply has to connect the Bluetooth scanner into this port and let the engine run. Connecting the phone is simple - it just needs to be paired with the device.
Once connected, open the app and it automatically starts receiving real time information from the car. There are various modes in the app - Realtime information, Fault codes, Map view, Test results, Graphing, Adapter status and Get plugins. Realtime information opens up various widgets such as gauges, performance figures, compass, clock,roll meter, pitch meter, map etc. Gauges are interesting as one can view data such as car speed, engine speed, boost pressure, fuel and air status, coolant temperature, air intake temperature, throttle position, engine load, fuel rail pressure and much more. Yes, all these can be viewed on your phone!
This makes your phone or tablet a cool display in your car and one can even change themes for the various gauges, a cheaper option compared to regular gauges and there's no wiring needed too. One can also add any of these widgets to the screen like in most Android phones. The fault code mode scans the ECU for any trouble codes. Normally a check light usually pops up in the dash when the ECU detects a problem. So far only an authorised service centre could diagnose and pinpoint the exact problem by using a diagnostic tool. But with Torque, the app does the same function and displays the trouble code and description of the problem. If not, the app automatically looks up the web for the same - it's that simple. We even successfully diagnosed a problem on one of our long term cars and continued driving it to the service centre since it was a minor issue.
The Map view mode displays the car's exact location, while Graphing creates a graph where you can choose what needs to be displayed in the X and Y axis.
The Torque Pro version with some additional features is priced at Rs 250 on Google Playstore while the demo version is free. The app is a must buy for those of you who want to keep a close watch on your car - all you need is a Bluetooth OBD II scanner and an Android phone.