[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ecently we’ve done a few “connected devices” reviews and personally I like them. For me it’s about learning, personal security and the potential for saving money which is where the GoFar a device you connect to your car to gather data using the OnBoard Diagnostic port comes in.
As we wrote back in July, the premise of the GoFar is simply this: to help you be a more economical driver but it’s how that is done that makes the GoFar something worth investigating, especially for those of you who do a lot of driving.
Setting up the unit
The GoFar dongle plugs into your OBD-II (OnBoard Diagnostic) port for your car which is where you’d find a mechanic would plug in a device to at least begin diagnosis of odd engine troubles you may have. Where do you find this port? Usually it’ll be under the dash, somewhere near your steering column, but if you can’t find it, Google will help you – just punch in ‘OBD port Holden Commodore 2016’ (for example) and you’ll find a webpage or a video showing you exactly where it is.
Is this dangerous, plugging into your car’s diagnostic port, which reads stuff from your car’s Engine Control Unit? No, not really; you’re not going to do any damage to your car by plugging into it, the GoFar only reads values from it, it doesn’t change anything. After you plug in you’ve got a decision to make – Where to put the “Ray” so it’s visible to the driver.
You’ll then need to install the app on your device and feed it information about your vehicle. It may seem basic but it’s important, I guarantee my SV6 Commodore uses more petrol than my wife’s Viva wagon. The app then calibrates to your vehicle across a number of complete stops and starts to give a baseline of data for your vehicle. Once the calibration is done you’re online with the GoFar.
Use of the GoFar Unit
Once its setup and installed, use couldn’t be easier – it’s a distraction free way of improving how economical your driving is to maximise fuel, brakes and the life of your vehicle by taking care of it. It does this by illuminating the Ray (earlier installed in a position visible to the driver) blue, as you accelerate it monitors your fuel consumption in real time and if you’re being wasteful with your fuel the colour of the LEDs changes from Blue, to purple, to pink to red as the fuel usage increases. The same colour change occurs progressively on braking.
Now, I’d like to say that it’s made a huge difference to my driving and fuel economy, and on the surface it hasn’t, but when I looked at the numbers it’s actually a pretty worthwhile investment because it would work out cost neutral in 12 months.
I worked this out based on a saving required of $200 in a year, divided that by 52 for a weekly saving requirement of $3.85 and at an average cost of $1.30 per litre that’s 3 litres per week needed. Given my fuel economy has gone from about 12.2L/100km down to 10.5L/100km I’m saving about 1.7L/100km and I’m doing about 220km per week.
Data from the app
The GoFar App will give you some good data on your driving broken down by individual trips. Unsurprisingly I’ve found that on longer trips with far less stop-start that my fuel economy is much better, higher speeds (within reason of course) also improve the fuel economy of my drives, but generally speaking I’m down around the 10.7 litres/100km now which is a nice outcome of this review thats for sure.
There are definitely cheaper ways to monitor (and log) your fuel consumption, and I’ve tried a few, but where I believe the GoFar excels above those is the combination of the data available and the distraction-free way of telling a driver in real time how they’re performing in terms of the economy of their driving versus the other options which (generally speaking) are analytical after the fact.
You can pick one of the units up from the GoFar Website for about $200 including shipping and from my time with the unit, it’s a pretty good investment for some long term savings, just how much you save will vary depending on your regular mileage and how lead-footed you are.
Are you a calm and economic driver, or do you think something like the GoFar could save you a heap of money?