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Garmin ecoRoute HD Review

 

Reviewed By

Mike Alder Garmin EcoRoute HD
Review Date

19th June 2011

Manufacturer Garmin

RRP

£75.00 inc VAT (Amazon)

6

 

Whats in the Box

OBD-II probably isn't a term too familiar to users of GPS devices, but most of the cars we all drive these days are equipped with an OBD-II diagnostic socket so lets start by looking at what OBD-II is and what it can offer a car owner. In Europe, all petrol engined cars made since 2001 have to comply with the OBD-II standard, all diesel cars made since 2003 are also compliant, however, some manufacturers fitted the socket earlier than required.

 

ecoRoute Box

 

It offers a diagnostic capability where faults logged by the car can be read to assist the garage/ home mechanic to troubleshoot a car that's not performing correctly. Ever had the 'MIL' or 'Check Engine Light' illuminate while driving and had to take the car to a garage to have a computer plugged in to the car to read codes and reset the light? Typical costs for this can vary between £25 and £75 just to turn the light off which is a very simple job in itself assuming you have the equipment.

 

In addition to fault code reading and resetting the Check Engine Light the OBD-II port offers access to a huge array of data from the car whilst it's being driven.

 

The Garmin ecoRoute HD accessory plugs in to the cars OBD-II socket and employs Bluetooth technology to transmit data from the car to a compatible Garmin Sat Nav (a list of compatible models is available at the end of this write up). Of note is the physical size of this accessory, in the picture below is the Garmin unit sat next to my OBD-KEY scanner which performs nearly the same functionality, albeit employing a laptop to display the information.

 

EcoRoute Dongle

 

Installation

Depending upon the location of the OBD-II socket in your car, this could make securing the accessory quite a challenge, you need it to be well away from interfering with any of the cars controls, especially the pedals and steering wheel. The device is supplied with double sided sticky tape and some tie wraps and the body of the main unit has a number of holes through which you can secure the tie wraps.

 

Please examine your car for suitability when fitting this accessory prior to purchase, as it won't suit all cars due to the location of the diagnostic socket.

 

Once the box is unpacked you need to locate the car's OBD-II socket, it is often found inside the car near to the drivers side either under the dash or as part of a fuse box. In this instance for my Volvo V70 it's under a small cover within the cubby box under the centre arm rest.

 

OBDII

 

The cover simply flicks out of the way to reveal the connector.

 

OBDII

 

This is a close up of what you are looking for, similar in size to a SCART socket that you used to find on the rear of a TV but this one has 16 pins.

 

OBDII

 

Incidentally I have read some utter rubbish on the internet about devices that read the data from a cars OBD-II port. They cannot damage the cars 'brain' they don't invalidate the vehicles warranty from the manufacturer, any such claims you read elsewhere on-line are nonsense.

 

Simply plug the lead in to the socket, the power the device needs is provided by the OBD-II socket.

 

OBDII Socket

 

Depending upon the location of your OBD-II socket you might have an issue with the lead preventing the trim from closing or a panel being re-applied post connection. On other cars where the OBD-II socket is under the steering wheel take extra care to ensure this can't interfere with the controls of the car. If you don't know where the socket is located on your car check out one of the numerous automotive-related forums applicable to your cars make and model.

 

Armrest

 

With the accessory plugged in and the car switched on, the Garmin Sat Nav will find the ecoRoute HD unit automatically. When the 'Next' button is made available for selection communication is established, so follow the on-screen prompts and questions to complete the set up. Note the supplied manual offers no support for device set up, but the on screen instructions are both clear and obvious in use.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

With set-up out of the way, the ecoRoute icon changes to display the additional 'HD' logo denoting the accessory is connected, selecting this icon will now make new sub-menu options available to the user.

 

'Gauges' is the first new menu option worth looking in to, any information made available within this option is derived straight from the cars databus wiring reading sensors that are already part of the engine.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

You start with a screen showing battery voltage and four other smaller blank gauges all of which are fully configurable to display parameters from the car. To change the parameter displayed by any of the gauges you simply press the gauge you want to alter until it highlights in blue.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

When you release the highlighted gauge a selection menu is offered, scroll through the presented options to find the parameter you want and select the radio button adjacent to it, there is little point in me listing which options will be made available as this will differ on a car by car basis.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

In this instance I switched from a Battery Meter to engine RPM. Note if you don't get presented with any options to select from after a minute or two, give the reset button on the ecoRoute HD unit a press. Having to access the device in this way negates any idea of burying the unit behind the trim, which is a shame.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

Carrying out the same process of selecting the gauge followed by the required parameter for each of the smaller gauges only takes a few seconds, this can offer plenty of information about what is going on within the engine but as yet no data is displayed, you need to hit the return button (lower left) and re-select Gauges from the menu.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

Re-selecting Gauges will bring back the display which is now updating in near real time as you drive the car. I appreciate the screen shot doesn't match the earlier blank gauges but it does show more of the options available. The units of measurement seem rather strange to a British user, Degrees Celsius for temperature is fine but Inches of Mercury for pressure shows its parentage back to America, PSI, KPa or even BAR would have been more appropriate for European use.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

If your Garmin Nav unit supports both Landscape and Portrait as per my 3790T, when gauges are displayed you can still flip the screen automatically by simply rotating the device through ninety degrees.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

Another feature of the ecoRoute HD accessory is the ability to read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTC's). Pressing the 'Diagnostics' icon will scan the engine control unit for any stored fault codes. To aid the creation of this review I deliberately 'broke' the Volvo by disconnecting a couple of components in order to see what the Garmin returned by way of fault codes and information.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

When I disconnected the coil pack to cylinder two of the engine and the vehicle alarm immobiliser aerial, the Garmin displayed two fault codes on screen.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

Simply tapping the 'P0302' code offered up the correct description as to what was wrong, OK it didn't know that the coil pack was disconnected but it did know there was something wrong with the cylinder firing and identified the correct area at fault.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

The second fault code 'P1670' was tapped and again the Garmin responded, this time with little information as the code is specific to Volvo, I happen to know that P1670 is the code for the immobiliser aerial so it got that part right. To obtain information on manufacturer specific codes is easy via the internet as there are vast quantities of automotive-related forums which provide a rich source of information per manufacturer.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

At the top left of the screen you can see three horizontal bars, tap these to bring up further options, one being to reset the fault codes which should also turn off the check engine light on the dashboard display. Before you reset any codes though make a written note of any that have appeared, a garage might need the information if you intend booking it in for any work, the code offers a clue as to what was/ is wrong with the car.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

Once reset, the unit will rescan the engine control unit and any persistent faults will reappear in the code list. If the ECU is clear you probably had an intermittent fault so you get the no fault found screen, indicating all is well.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

Another benefit of having the ecoRoutes HD connected is when you use the trip meter screen, it now uses the normally blank areas around the top of the screen to display certain engine parameters, RPM, Battery Voltage, Engine Temperature.

 

ecoRoute Screenshot

 

Limitations

The unit won't clear or read ABS or SRS related faults and neither will it gain access to any Gearbox or chassis related information, for this type of in-depth diagnosis you will need access to far more specialized (and costly) equipment, usually the sort of kit only found at the vehicle dealership.

 

Conclusion

Assuming you have a compatible Garmin Navigation device this accessory provides a cost effective way to access information from the car's Engine Control Unit. Even if you don't service or maintain your own car it can be very handy when taking the car to the garage to be pre-armed with the knowledge of what's wrong with it.

It's a shame the software doesn't offer the ability to datalog parameters to a memory card in csv or txt file formats, as this would enhance its ability to analyse data when looking for intermittent faults or when out on a race track for post-run performance analysis.

 

The gauges are something of a gimmick but can also prove handy when looking for engine faults assuming you know how to interpret the data being offered.

 

Personally I see the integration of a car based navigation device with the ability to access vehicle information via the OBD-II socket a very neat innovation, which in this case is well thought out and easy to use. Using Bluetooth to get the information from the vehicle to the Navigation unit is also well thought out, avoiding more cables in the car.
The manual needs a rewrite and the software could do with some rough edges removing, but its not too difficult to get it working as intended.

 

The accessory will work with the following Garmin models at the time of writing:

Nüvi 3790, 3760, 2360, 2310, 1690, 1490, 1410, 1390, 1370, 1310, 1260, 1210, Nülink 1695

 


References

Manufacturers Web site http://www.garmin.com
Pocket GPS Contributor

Mike Alder

   
Forum Comments:

 

Comments
Posted by Wazza_G on Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:13 pm Reply with quote

£75 for that. Rip off.

Besides what do you need to know all that gibber for, most 2007+ cars will tell you what's wrong with it anyway as they come (spec. dependent) via the on-board computer.

So whilst this maybe OK for lower specced cars, for higher specced ones it's just an unnecessary waste of £75.


Be alert.. This country needs more lerts.

 
Posted by ESL on Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:23 pm Reply with quote

I thought the whole point of this gizmo was to provide more accurate Eco routing info, so why no review of this aspect of it?


 
Posted by Wazza_G on Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:30 pm Reply with quote

Another point is, should this information be appearing on a sat nav device anyway.

You should be keeping your eyes on the road & listening to the instructions given, not watching performance charts/figures.


Be alert.. This country needs more lerts.

 
Posted by mikealder on Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:49 pm Reply with quote

ESL Wrote:
I thought the whole point of this gizmo was to provide more accurate Eco routing info, so why no review of this aspect of it?


With no fuel related information available over the OBD-II port from my car I didn't see how it could alter any eco route information in terms of accuracy, neither did I see any change to any routes as a direct result of using it over a three month period - Mike


 
Posted by AlwynMike on Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:51 pm Reply with quote

Wazza_G Wrote:
Another point is, should this information be appearing on a sat nav device anyway.

You should be keeping your eyes on the road & listening to the instructions given, not watching performance charts/figures.


However, to those of us (Anorak wearers) who have cars that the manufacturer has seen fit not to supply even an engine temperature gauge, never mind an oil pressure gauge, this unit is a boon, albeit an expensive one.

Mike


 
Posted by mikealder on Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:53 pm Reply with quote

Wazza_G Wrote:
You should be keeping your eyes on the road & listening to the instructions given, not watching performance charts/figures.

That depends upon your use of the device, indeed on busy roads watching a nav screen isn't the "done thing" on a test drive on quiet roads or even a test track its a different thing all together.
Even the passenger can be watching (and logging information if needs be) - Mike


 
Posted by Wazza_G on Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:21 pm Reply with quote

If its that good then it should copy the journey data to the SD card for future analysis.

I'm sorry but as I see it, it's another unwanted distraction to the driver.


Be alert.. This country needs more lerts.

 
Posted by Andy_P on Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:29 pm Reply with quote

Wazza_G Wrote:
£75 for that. Rip off.

Besides what do you need to know all that gibber for, most 2007+ cars will tell you what's wrong with it anyway as they come (spec. dependent) via the on-board computer.

So whilst this maybe OK for lower specced cars, for higher specced ones it's just an unnecessary waste of £75.


Not all of us are in the position to be able to afford "post 2007" cars I'm afraid. My car has an OBD port but the only thing the car could do with a computer is run over it.

So I dispute your assertion that it is a rip-off (what cheaper unit have you seen that does the same job?) and I don't understand why you felt the need to say (dismissively) that it maybe OK for low specced cars.


"Settling in nicely" ;-)

 
Posted by Chuffer4 on Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:06 am Reply with quote

CAUTION
It is not true to say that all cars HAVE to be ODB2 compatible, if the manufacture decides they don't want to comply they can not be forced to do so.
Yes I know that seems totally at odds with the principal of compatibility but that's the way it is.
If you own a Renault any device of this type will not work correctly, yes you will get some data but the fuel figures will be very wrong.
Usually there is a label in the engine compartment that says if it is ODB2 compliant, and yes, I own a Renault !.[/b]


 
Posted by PhilHornby on Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:04 am Reply with quote

ESL Wrote:
I thought the whole point of this gizmo was to provide more accurate Eco routing info, so why no review of this aspect of it?

It seems to me that the only enhancement over the existing 'Ecoroute' stuff, is that MPG is measured, rather than er, guessed at...

Wazza_G Wrote:
£75 for that. Rip off.

Besides what do you need to know all that gibber for, most 2007+ cars will tell you what's wrong with it anyway as they come (spec. dependent) via the on-board computer.


£75 is the same sort of price you'd pay for a cheap Chinese stand-alone code reader (which would probably give less information - and take every opportunity to make you painfully aware of its cheapness Sad ).

In my experience, I don't think it necessarily follows that the trip computer will give you plain English versions of Fault Codes either (especially pending and non-fatal ones). In the words of Wikipedia - "citation required" Exclamation

As for the rest of the 'Gibber', some of us like that sort of thing Wink

mikealder Wrote:
With no fuel related information available over the OBD-II port from my car ...


See this website: http://www.windmill.co.uk/obd.html

This describes a method of calculating MPG, using the Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS) and Mass Air Flow (MAF), both of which should be present. (It assumes the air:fuel ratio is 14.7:1, so full throttle usage would presumably distort the result. (No idea how or if this can be applied to diesels... )

Garmin say "Accurate fuel consumption data can actually help you improve MPG", so presumably, they're measuring it somehow...

Chuffer4 Wrote:
CAUTION
It is not true to say that all cars HAVE to be ODB2 compatible, if the manufacture decides they don't want to comply they can not be forced to do so.


According to this website:

talktomycar.co.uk Wrote:
"Within Europe OBD (also known as EOBD) became mandatory for all new European car designs in 2000, existing cars in 2001 and diesels 2004 (however most manufacturers implemented it significantly earlier – as many cars were also sold in the US). "

¬


 
Posted by MaFt on Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:19 am Reply with quote

Chuffer4 Wrote:
CAUTION
It is not true to say that all cars HAVE to be ODB2 compatible, if the manufacture decides they don't want to comply they can not be forced to do so.


Actually, European law demands it for petrol cars since 2001 and diesel cars since 2003. American federal law has demanded it since 1996.

MaFt


MaFt®

 
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