A Backseat-Driver You’ll Love

Remember how when you were learning to drive, your parent, driving instructor, or parole officer was always hollering at you to slow down, signal, douse the engine fire before continuing, etc.?  Well, now there’s a technology that can do the correcting without all the terrified screaming and help you green up your driving habits in the process.

Davis Instruments sells a little device called the Car Chip Pro that gives useful feedback on how you and your car are performing.  It plugs into the On-Board Data port (available in most cars built after 1996) and records all kinds of handy info, including speed, distance driven, and mileage, all readily downloadable so you can make spreadsheets to bore the neighbors with. The device will also continuously log 4 of 23 engine parameters, including RPM, battery voltage, throttle position, timing advance, engine load, coolant temperature, fuel pressure, air flow rate, fuel system status, intake air temperature, short-term fuel trim, intake manifold pressure, long-term fuel trim and oxygen sensor output voltage.

From a saving-the-planet point of view (within the natural green limits that exist when you insist on internally combusting instead of walking or biking) all this data can help you make sure your engine is operating at maximum efficiency and releasing minimal pollutants. The Car Chip also lets you know if your car would pass the emissions test in your area before you go in to get it certified.

Also useful is the device’s ability to sound an alarm if you pass certain limits on speed, or engage in sudden acceleration and braking. Besides allowing you to get an audible sense of what an astonishing road hazard you actually are, this corrective feature can reduce your fuel usage through encouraging better driving habits.

Advanced models of the Car Chip also include a GPS function, so you can track your teenager’s progress as he or she careens from party to party in your new Beemer.

Of course, the Car Chip could be obsolete in a few years, as a whole host of new non-fossil fuel based technologies compete to be the environmentally conscious solution to America’s infatuation with the automobile. But for now, if you have to drive, this isn’t a bad way to help clean up your act.