There are a ton of generic OBD-II adapters you can use to make your car smarter. However, one stands out above the rest. Automatic Pro does more than just pair with your phone over Bluetooth. It has its own GPS, 3G radio with 5 years of free service, plus OnStar-like Crash Alert. Here’s how to set yours up.
Setting up an Automatic Pro is a little different than most other OBD-II adapters. If you’re not familiar with OBD-II adapters, you can check out our guide here. While you can get a basic adapter for as little as $20, Automatic Pro costs $130. For that extra cost, though, you get a more advanced system that’s not dependent on your phone. It can track your car even if someone else is driving it, it can sync to your phone without Bluetooth, and it comes with a free Crash Alert system. If Automatic detects that you’re in a severe accident, it will call your phone and ask if you need emergency services and send them to your location.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started with Automatic Pro, you’ll need a few things:
- An Automatic Pro Adapter ($130): It should go without saying, but you’ll need the Automatic adapter for this. Automatic also sells an $80 adapter, though it lacks 3G connectivity, Crash Alert, and live vehicle tracking when you’re away from your phone. The setup process for both is similar, but we’ll be going over the Pro model in this post.
- The Automatic app (Android/iOS): You can install this app on your phone and track any number of cars remotely. If you’re a parent and you want to monitor your child’s driving, for example, install this on your phone and install the adapter in your child’s car.
- A car with an OBD-II-compatible port: Most modern cars fall into this category, but it’s worth checking before you buy. All cars sold in the US after 1996 were required to have an OBD-II port. If your vehicle is older than this, it may still have the port, but you should check your individual make and model.
Once you’ve got everything on this list, you’re ready to get started.
How to Install the Automatic Pro
Open the Automatic app on your phone. Don’t plug in your Automatic adapter yet. The first time you open the app, you’ll see a tour of Automatic’s features. At the end, tap Create Account (or Log In if you already have an Automatic account.)
Enter your email address and password to log in.
Next, Automatic will ask for permission to use your phone’s location. This is used to find gas stations near you and measure how far away your car is. However, this is not used to locate where your car is, since the adapter can do this on its own.
Now it’s time to set up a car. Tap the blue “Set Up a Vehicle” button. This is a good time to grab your adapter and head to the car you’re setting up (but don’t plug the adapter in just yet). Tap Continue when you’re in your car.
On the back of your Automatic adapter, you should see a six-character code. Enter this on your phone and tap Continue.
Automatic will ask you to disable and re-enable Bluetooth to help make sure that your adapter is set up properly. It won’t need Bluetooth during normal operation, but it will connect to your phone when it can to track your car more reliably.
Make sure your car is off and connect the Automatic Pro adapter to your car’s OBD-II port. It’s usually located below the steering wheel on the driver’s side of the car. By law, it must be within two feet of the steering wheel.
Your adapter should connect to your phone automatically. If there’s an update to the adapter’s firmware (and there probably is), it will download now. Wait for the firmware to install before continuing.
When the update is finished, turn your key to the last position before the ignition starts. For push button cars, keep your foot off the brake and press the button once or twice until the lights in your dashboard come on. This should turn on all the electronics in your car without starting the engine.
After Automatic identifies the model of your car, choose what body style and color your car is.
Next, give your car a nickname. This will identify your car if you’re tracking multiple vehicles in the Automatic app.
Next, you’ll need to set up the Crash Alert service. This is the part of Automatic’s service that will call you and send emergency services if it detects a crash. Tap Continue.
Enter the phone number you would like Automatic to call if it detects a crash. This should be the phone number of whoever’s going to be driving the car the most.
Next, add up to three emergency contacts. These people will be called after the driver in the event of an accident.
After that, you’re all done! You’ll get a notification on your phone every time your car starts driving or parks, and you can see how long each trip takes, how much gas it took, and where you parked your car.