Anytime something comes from overseas (China), I am always a little hesitant. Mostly because the quality sometimes can be an issue and getting support on that product is very tough. The guys at Vgate reached out and gave us the opportunity to try their OBD scanning tools. These are small little modules that plug into your OBD port, then connect with your smartphone. When opening the package though, I couldn't help but notice some similarities.... Just saying.
Anyways, onto the testing and product review. We were sent the Bluetooth version and also the Wifi version. The product is meant to connect to your smartphone and read out anything and everything your OBD port can supply. Pretty standard stuff in the aftermarket OBD world, if there is such a place.
First up was the Bluetooth, which looked identical to the Wifi piece besides the color. I plugged the unit into the open OBD port, which in turn showed a couple flashes of some hidden lights behind the plastic. Next move was to open up the Bluetooth settings on my iPhone 6. Nothing showing up other than products already connected (Jambox, Fitbit, etc). Next move was to start the car, instead of just relying on the keyed ignition being switched on... Still nothing. Maybe I'll try my phone, that has to be the problem. Reset Bluetooth, restart the phone - absolutely nothing. So on that note, my test of the iCar Bluetooth ended. Nothing to report other than it flat out didn't work.
Next, the Wifi version. Following the badly written instructions, I plug in the Wifi piece, lights flash, go to my iPhone Wifi settings, find the correct Vgate connection and bam. Off to the races, we are connected. Next move was to open the official app, if you'd call it that. I had to search for it specifically, and it's called "Accurate" - don't ask me. When opening the app though, you have a small set of icons for various activities. OBD, Dash Board, Fuel, Gauges, Gyroscope, Diagnostic, Settings, etc. Your basic array of useful tools within the app. Some were kind of pointless like the Gyroscope. It had nothing to do with the OBD device, and just relied on your phone, which is fine. The gauges and diagnostic sections is what we were interested in.
Gauges: When firing up the gauge area of the app, you are given rpms, speed and stuff that is normally on your dash. In all honesty... I wasn't impressed. Nothing shown was in "real time", as in it was laggy. Also, pretty much everything in that dashboard section, is on my regular car dashboard. Just a thought there.
Diagnostics: This is where I figured the iCar would bring out the big guns and prove to be useful. The idea is the module will read your trouble codes, send them to your device, then you can read and also clear them. Simulating some trouble codes, it read them fairly well. The process was slow, but accurate. Now the bad... When we went to clear the code, after it had been fixed, the app would run through its process saying codes cleared. The light was still on the dash though, saying Service Engine Soon. After 3 tries to clear the codes and the app crashing, I pretty much gave up. Pulling out my trusty, mild-professional scanner, the code was read and cleared in literally 30 seconds.
So with all that being said, the Vgate iCar3 products are not something I could recommend. I had my doubts, put them aside, then brought them back to the table when both products underwhelmed. This is one of those situations that you get what you pay for. I'm sure that many people have purchased these units and loved them. They may work fine for you and that is perfectly fine. For me though, during this test, the results weren't there and the fact that they aren't reliable ruins them for me. On a side note, I tried to reach out to the guys who set this up and got no response when I told them all of this. I'm hoping they are just out of the office on vacation or something. If they contact us with a fix or a patch, we'll gladly retest, but right now... These are a no go for Hoagies Garage.