The AA has just launched Car Genie, a device that predicts vehicle breakdowns before they happen.
It’s designed to be self-installed, plugging into a car’s on-board diagnostics (OBDII) port. This enables it to read the vehicle’s EOBD (European On-Board Diagnostics) system in real-time and broadcast the information to the Car Genie app, which is available to download for free on both iOS and Android.
According to the AA, which has been trialling Car Genie since April 2016, it will anticipate up to a third of breakdowns.
“What we’ve been doing is analysing the fault codes that come from the device and the breakdowns that the connected members have had,” Gareth Adams, the AA’s connected car manager, told The Independent. “Of the people who broke down, was there a corresponding fault code to that breakdown?
“In about 38 per cent of cases, we could see that there was a fault code directly related to that breakdown. In the event of a battery breakdown though, a battery alert could appear between one day and a couple of months before the breakdown event.”
Car Genie detects standard OBDII faults, such as degrading battery health, problems with the ignition coil and failing exhaust gas recirculation, and tells users to act on them. However, the AA will contact customers in serious cases.
“With certain fault codes, we actually proactively contacted members before breakdowns to advise them,” continued Mr Adams. “Experience from the technical helpdesk is key with this.
“What we can see, based on our experience and information that we’ve got from the trial, is that if certain fault codes on certain vehicles aren’t addressed, they’ll lead to a breakdown within a short period of time.
“Any faults reported to members are also pushed to our diagnostic dashboard within the AA, so they’ll be constantly monitored by our technical helpdesk team. If it’s something that needs to be addressed quickly, the team will get the relevant technical information and make an outbound call to the member.”
Users will have to agree to data-sharing, of which Mr Adams says, “We think our members will see the benefits of it.”
That’s because the AA needs to know a customer’s location in the event of a breakdown or accident, and the Car Genie app also provides feedback on driving style, such as braking, acceleration, speed and cornering.
As the app flags up issues both in technical terms and user-friendly language, the AA says it can also help prevent people from being ripped off by mechanics.
According to the AA, 33 per cent of the 10,000 participants in the trial said it helped save them money on fuel and 49 per cent said they now have a better understanding of car issues.
Car Genie is launching exclusively to AA members on 1 May, and will cost £29 per year. However, drivers can pre-register on the AA’s website.