Quick Review: Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi

By Tyler Mortensen

verizon-delphi copyHave you ever wanted to get some of the cool new features of today’s connected cars, but just can’t afford the price tag for that vehicle? Well, now you just may be able to get those features added to your existing vehicle for a much smaller price tag. What are these cool features I’m referring to? Well they are: Remote Access, Vehicle Health and Diagnostics, GPS Tracking, Geo-fencing, and Vehicle Alerts to name a few.

Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi, or VDD for short, is currently available to Verizon Wireless subscribers only. It is priced at $249.99 with month-to-month service of $5 per device with a shared data plan. When you think about what features VDD has to offer, the price tag is really pretty reasonable. I’m hopefully that other carriers will get in on this action and begin to offer VDD in the near future.

Delphi sent me a VDD unit to test for a few weeks and I must say that I am impressed. The device itself is very simple to install. Once you remove it from the packaging, you simply plug it in to the OBD (on-board diagnostics) port in your vehicle. Done. Device installed. Follow some simple instructions and have the device activated and you’ll be up and running.

Once properly installed and activated, you will now have access to several features of today’s connected cars. Not every car will be able to take advantage of every feature. I discovered that I was not able to use the KeyFob feature of VDD because both of my vehicle have Push-to-Start, and VDD is not compatible with that yet. They say updates are coming, and I’m hopeful that will be one of them. My only other issue with VDD is location. Each vehicles OBD port will probably be located in a different area. For my 2013 Ford Escape, I had to remove a panel from the lower part of the dash to get to the OBD. Once I plugged in the VDD the panel would not go back on, and it just looked odd. It would be nice if Delphi included some kind of extension cable for the OBD port that would allow you to connect with minimal obstruction and move the VDD out of the way.

Now on to the testing… A few of the options you can do with VDD are set up alerts, such as speed alerts and geo-fence alerts. I started with speed alerts and had it set at 80mph. I quickly discovered a problem here, and it had nothing to do with VDD, and everything to do with my daily commute. I routinely drive a toll road that has a speed limit of 80mph. I was setting off speed alerts left and right. It does work as advertised, but I had to change that alert to save my email box from being flooded with messages.

The geo-fence settings allow you to pick a starting location, and then set a radius from that point as the “fence” area. I created my geo-fence to be 15 miles from my house, and just like the speed alerts, every time I crossed that boundary I would get an alert sent to my inbox.

VDD also allows you to monitor your vehicle health and get a history of your recent driving trips. If you happen to have any warning lights come up on the dash, you can refer to VDD for a reading of that code before you go to see your mechanic.

There are so many other things I found useful while using VDD, but I just don’t have time to keep rambling on about them. If you are a Verizon subscriber, I’d suggest going by your local Verizon store and checking this out in person. If you want to see a quick demo of the web control, click on this link.

Overall, I was very impressed. I think VDD is a great device for any parent with teenage drivers, or maybe even business owners needing to keep an eye on their fleet of vehicles. The price point is low, and the number of good uses is high. Sounds like a win-win to me. Go check it out!

UPDATE: Delphi contacted me and pointed out that there is an extension cable available for VDD, and that it just was not included in my demo unit. This is good news and makes me like the product even more! Now if it was just on AT&T…

OBD Extension Cable