TOX BOX: Carchip won't fix your fear of auto repair

Ok, quick show of hands. Who actually likes taking their car in to a repair shop?

Ok, quick show of hands. Who actually likes taking their car in to a repair shop?

When I do it, I usually feel like I should just leave my wallet and hope they give me enough back so I can buy a small crust of bread on the way home. Wouldn't it be great if something could even the odds between you and your mechanic so you'd know what work was actually needed? That's what I was hoping the Carchip EX, a little gadget that plugs into your car and monitors your driving, would give me. But the performance reports it produced left me just as confused as the mechanic does. The good news was it didn't record any trouble codes for my car. I found that I had a misaligned tire while using it, thanks to Chicago's monster spring potholes, but I didn't see mention of that in the reports it generated once I attached the chip to my computer through a serial port. To be fair, though, I think it's designed only to spot engine trouble. The verdict - if you're a gear- head, I'm sure you'll think this is cool. As for me, I still feel at the mercy of my mechanic. Any suggestions for gadgets we should try? Send them to
  • John N. Frank writes Toy Box. He is the Chicago-based Midwest bureau chief for PRWeek. Price $179 Available at Sears, selected AutoZone stores, and Specs Plugs into car's OBD II connector. Connects to a PC through a serial port; needs Windows 95 or above

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