As any truck enthusiast knows, the standard set of gauges you’ll find on most models don’t provide much data. If you tune or tow, a lack of detailed engine and transmission information can put you and your truck in danger. That’s why experienced tuners and owners have been using OBD port data loggers and scanners for years. We’ve got a hands on with the DashBoss, a seamless Bluetooth OBDII scanner for your Apple iPhone, iPod, and iPad.
In the last decade, diagnostic port scanning has evolved. In the late 90′s tuners started using laptops equipped with special software and a hard wire to communicate with a vehicle. Today, diagnostic scanning has evolved into small wireless dongles ready to pair with a new generation of smartphones and tablets.
It’s relatively easy to find OBDII scanning hardware and software online. However, it’s hard to come by an all-in-one wireless solution. Many companies offer either software or hardware, ignoring how well the two interact. It’s not always easy to find two products that don’t have some sort of issue connecting to one another. Attractively cheap hardware usually has no guarantee that it will work with your vehicle or software.
Enter the DashBoss, by iMiken. It’s the only certified Bluetooth OBDII scanner made for Apple iOS devices. It includes a hardware dongle that plugs into your vehicle and includes free software, available on iTunes. Because the entire hardware and software package has been certified by Apple, it runs smooth as butter and offers a wireless diagnostic scanning option that is virtually unrivaled.
So, what is the big deal about a diagnostic port scanner? Consider this; the information you can access through your gauges, even if you have a driver information center, represents only a small fraction of the readable data from your vehicle’s computer.
With the DashBoss, you’ll get real-time information on over one-hundred parameters from your truck’s engine, transmission, and other sensors. You can use it to read diagnostic trouble codes from a check engine light, monitor critical temperatures while you tow, run performance testing, or monitor specific sensors to log a problem.
Diagnostic ports all work on a standard that must show a standard, predetermined set of data that all automakers adhere to. That doesn’t stop each automaker from adding their own “extra” parameters that can be read, however. These extra parameters can vary on every vehicle but generally speaking, most out of the box OBD scanning software only read the generic data. Some software makers allow you to buy extra add-on packages to read the manufacturer specific information.
DashBoss is unique in that it has the ability to read any GM specific parameters out of the box. It’s ready to go and works on nearly any make, General Motors or otherwise. When you plug the DashBoss into your vehicle it automatically scans to find every single bit of data it can show you. DashBoss can extract different levels of data out of a vehicle, depending on the make and model. We found a large sample when scanning our Sierra. However, a 2013 Volkswagen only showed the generic information. Most 2003+ vehicles will work and nearly all 2008+ vehicles will work. DashBoss has a list of cars that you can check, but we can confirm that all 2007+ GM trucks and SUV’s should work just fine.
The DashBoss Bluetooth OBD dongle is essentially a tiny computer on a chip. It only works with DashBoss software but does so with ease. The dongle has a micro-usb port for future updates and a connector harness to attach a handful of available external sensors. A group of LED lights blink different colors and provide information on the status of the dongle. The company indicated to us that, in the future, updates may be avaliable to the dongle hardware through the device’s micro usb port.
Setting up the device is easy and takes under one minute. Simply plug the DashBoss dongle into your vehicle’s diagnostic port and start the engine. Then pair the Bluetooth dongle with your iPhone, iPod, or iPad and open the DashBoss software. You’ll get a pop-up message when the hardware dongle and iOS software are connected. Designed to work together, the software and dongle will communicate seamlessly, up to 30ft away.
Perhaps the hardest thing to wrap your head around is the number of things you can do with a DashBoss. Using the product as a virtual dash-board or auxiliary gauge set is easy and informative. Three virtual gauge screens can be customized to show any set of values you choose and look any way that you like. You can set up the DashBoss to use casually as you commute or specifically to gather a narrow set of information.
We really appreciated the ability to log all data at a moments notice. Just tap the “record” button and the values on your screen are recorded multiple times a second to a log file. You can save, view, and export any logs you record. Logs can be as long as you choose; from a few seconds to an hour or even more. Here’s an example of a log file we recorded. It’s in CSV format and can be viewed in Excel, Google Drive, or another spreadsheet software. Download: DashBoss Example Data Logging
Using the device to find out the cause behind a check engine light can also save you money. Finding out if your issue is a bad gas cap or a much bigger problem only takes a few seconds. If the problem isn’t current, you can clear the check engine light just as easy.
The product can also run performance tests such as 0-60mph, 60-0mph, and 1/4 mile times. If your device has an active internet connection, those tests will even be atmospherically corrected. We tried a 0-60mph run in our Sierra and it was super easy to use. You can even store performance tests and export them in CSV format to your computer. Curious what a 0-60mph performance test log looks like? Here, we’ve got one for you. Download: DashBoss Example Log- 0-60mph run
The DashBoss can also actively monitor your vehicle. Towing a heavy trailer and want to be alerted if your transmission is running hot? That’s no problem for the DashBoss. Any of the over one-hundred parameters can be monitored and set to alert you at the value of your choosing.
It would take us pages to list all of the things that you can do with a DashBoss. The list of parameters is endless and covers a wide variety of vehicle functions. It also changes depending on the make and model of your vehicle. See the bottom of this article to read all the parameters we were able to read from our 2011 GMC Sierra.
You can enjoy information as redundant as your speed or as specific as the distance traveled using active fuel management. You can use the device to keep tabs on GM’s torque management or use it to verify which transmission gear you’re in. How the DashBoss can help you is really up to your need and imagination.
Having dabbled with OBD scanners for over a decade, the DashBoss stands apart for how simply it works. Years ago, I had to solder and assemble my very first OBD scan tool, then provide my own expensive laptop to use it. Today, getting information out of your vehicle is as easy as plugging in the DashBoss and starting up a program on your iPhone.
For Android users, don’t despair. DashBoss is promising an Android version is in the works and will work with the existing dongle. The company has started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the money needed to fund the software port and hopes to offer the Android version in August.
The current Apple only package has a retail price of $169.99, which is a little more expensive than the other piece meal options on the market. However, we feel the polished user interface, added features, and easy connection routine, justify the premium. You buy the dongle and download the software for free on iTunes. The device works with iPhone 3GS/4/4S/5, 32GB and higher 3rd Gen iPod Touch, 4/5th gen iPod touch, and all iPads. Your device must also have Bluetooth and iOS 4.3 or higher.
One last thing to mention. Some of you more astute readers may have seen how similar DashBoss looks to the Superchips iHawk device. It’s no coincidence. The iHawk is actually an earlier version of the DashBoss that Superchips licensed for their own brand. However, while Superchips hasn’t updated the iHawk yet, the DashBoss will be updated well into the future.
The DashBoss makes a great companion for any truck owner who’s interested in learning more about how their vehicle is working at any given moment.
Things we liked
- Easy setup and connection, every time you use it
- Able to be used on multiple vehicles with no extra fees
- Uses the iOS device you already have in a simple manner you’d expect
- Quick data refresh rate between vehicle and device
- Can adjust for tire size changes
Things we didn’t like
- No profiles for multiple vehicles (coming to future versions)
- Monitoring doesn’t include an audible alarm
- No Android version avaliable, at least not yet
Get More Information
List of readable parameters on Project Sierra (2011 5.3L)
- Trouble Codes
- Fuel System Status
- Calculated Engine Load
- Absolute Throttle Position Sensor (TPS)
- Run Time Since Engine Start
- Distance with Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) ON
- Control Module Voltage (Battery Voltage)
- Absolute Load Value
- Relative Throttle Position Sensor (TPS)
- Absolute Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) B
- Absolute Pedal Position (APP) D
- Absolute Pedal Position (APP) E
- Commanded Throttle Position
- Oil Pressure from sensor voltage
- Desired Throttle Position (Desired TPS)
- Pedal Rotation (APP)
- Fan Speed
- Desired Fan Speed
- Fan Speed Error (in %)
- Active Fuel Mgmt (AFM) Status
- Active Fuel Mgmt (AFM) Distance Activated
- Active Fuel Mgmt (AFM) Distance Deactivated
- Desired Idle
- Oil Pressure ECU
- Predicted Oil Pressure
- Calculated Throttle %
- Delivered Engine Torque
- Active Fuel Mgmt (AFM) Solenoid A
- Active Fuel Mgmt (AFM) Solenoid B
- Active Fuel Mgmt (AFM) Solenoid C
- Active Fuel Mgmt (AFM) Solenoid D
- Intake Air Temperature (IAT)
- Ambient Air Temperature (AAT)
- Engine Oil Temperature (EOT)
- Intake Air Temperature (IAT) Sensor 2
- Intake Air Temperature (IAT) #2
- Engine Oil Temperature (EOT) 2
- Short Term Fuel Bank 1 (STFT)
- Long Term Fuel Bank 1 (LTFT)
- Short Term Fuel Bank 2 (STFT)
- Long Term Fuel Bank 2 (LTFT)
- Fuel Pressure
- Commanded Evaporative Purge
- Commanded Equivalency Ratio
- Alcohol % in Fuel
- Block Learn Cell
- Injector Pulse Width (IPW) Bank 1
- Injector Pulse Width (IPW) Bank 2
- Commanded Air/Fuel Ration (AFR)
- Intake Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP)
- Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF)
- Barometric Pressure
- Calculated Air Flow
- Mass Air Flow (MAF) Frequency
- Boost (PSI/kPA)
- Boost (BAR/hPa)
- Low Boost (PSI/kPa)
- Low Boost (BAR/hPa)
- Pressure Ratio
- Vehicle Speed (VSS)
- Fuel Level
- Warm Ups since last DTC Clear
- Distance since last DTC Clear
- Brake Pedal Applied
- Brake Booster Pressure
- Instant Power
- Instant Torque
- Instant Fuel Economy
- Port #1 External Position Sensor
- Port #2 External Position Sensor
- Port #1 External Pressure Sensor
- Port #2 External Pressure Sensor
- Port #1 External High Temperature Sensor
- Port #2 External High Temperature Sensor
- Port #1 External Voltage Sensor
- Port #2 External Voltage Sensor
- Port #1 External Temperature Sensor
- Port #2 External Temperature Sensor
- Spark Advance
- Torque Management Spark Retard
- Spark Retard
- Current Misfire Count for Cylinder 5
- Current Misfire Count for Cylinder 6
- Current Misfire Count for Cylinder 7
- Current Misfire Count for Cylinder 8
- Historical Misfire Count for Cylinder 5
- Historical Misfire Count for Cylinder 6
- Historical Misfire Count for Cylinder 7
- Historical Misfire Count for Cylinder 8
- Total Misfires
- Historical Misfire Count for Cylinder 1
- Historical Misfire Count for Cylinder 2
- Historical Misfire Count for Cylinder 3
- Historical Misfire Count for Cylinder 4
- Current Misfire Count for Cylinder 1
- Current Misfire Count for Cylinder 2
- Current Misfire Count for Cylinder 3
- Current Misfire Count for Cylinder 4
- Misfire Cycles
- Knock Retard
- 02 Bank 1 Sensor 1
- 02 bank 1 Sensor 2
- 02 Bank 2 Sensor 1
- 02 Bank 2 Sensor 2
- Evaporative System Pressure
- Catalytic Converter Temperature Bank 1 Sensor 1
- Catalytic Converter Temperature Bank 2 Sensor 1
- Exhaust Backpressure
- Port #1 AFR EXTERNAL WB sensor
- Port #1 Lambda EXTERNAL WB sensor
- Port #1 Eq Ratio EXTERNAL WB sensor
- Port #2 Air/Fuel Ration (AFR) EXTERNAL WB sensor
- Port #2 Lambda EXTERNAL WB sensor
- Port #2 Eq Ratio EXTERNAL WB sensor
- Transmission Temperature
- Transmission Input Shaft Speed
- Transmission Output Shaft Speed
- Torque Converter Slip
- Current Gear
- Last Shift Time
- 1->2 Shift Time
- 2->3 Shift Time
- 3->4 Shift Time
- Torque Converter Clutch Duty Cycle
- Torque Converter Slip Error