1998 Jeep TJ Sport







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 CarChip E/X with Alarm (OBD II Scanner)

Diagnose & Monitor Your Vehicle, Well Featured PC based OBD II Scanner.


One day, I was pulling out of a toll gate, the Jeep started stumble to notice something was not right, but the MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light, Check Engine Light) was not lit!  Then the Jeep drove fine for another a month or two then it started stumble again on the highway, now the PCM lit the MIL. So that got me interested in OBD II scanners (it reads trouble code from the Power Control Module, PCM).


The search began for OBD II scanners.  Many types were available, PC based, stand-alone type that will display the trouble code on the screen and the hybrid who does both.  The prices ranged from around $40 to $5000.  To make the long story short, upon my "price to performance analysis", I decided to go with CarChip E/X for the data logging capability for 300 hours.


I have already shown how to read the trouble code generated by PCM without any scanner.  While that method works pretty well for a problem that is persistent but if the problem is intermittent, you won't be able to diagnose it at your convenience.  Remember the time when the dealer sent you back home because they could not recreate the problem? That is about to become a history. I will say if the problem can be read by an OBD scanner, CarChip E/X will log the problem and store it in its memory with time and date along with 4 other choices of 23 parameters including temperature, RPM, Speed, and others.


In this write up/review, I will show you some of the features of the CarChip and how I used them to diagnose and fix the throttle position sensor (TPS) problem.


Required Tools & Supplies

Computer with a free USB port with Windows XP installation

CarChip E/X with Alarm (Retail: $199, Street: ~$150, One year warranty.)





CarChip E/X with Alarm Packaging






CarChip is shown with AA sized battery.






Major components of the kit are shown. (CarChip, USB Cable, and installation CD)





CarChip installed on the OBD II connector.






Parameters available for CarChip E/X to monitor.






Graph generated by CarChip E/X.









Carchip Software Installation Procedure








In overview, once the CD installation is completed, you can run the CarChip software.  It will ask the user to set up different parameters for the hardware.  You can choose 4 parameters from 23 to monitor. Just answer the questions from the pop up menu and follow the procedure.  You will be set in minutes.  The set up procedure can be repeated any time to change the configuration.



Carchip Hardware Installation Procedure


1. Locate the OBD connector at the left bottom of the driver side dash. Just plug it in.  You are done.  Now just drive around up to 300 hours, CarChip will monitor your OBD system for problems and other parameters you have set!











Carchip Diagnostic Procedure


1. Remove the CarChip from the connector.


2. Connect the CarChip with USB connector and connector the USB cable to the Computer.  Backside shown.





3. Run CarChip software by simply clicking on the icon.


4. Download from the CarChip Software.  Notice you can also reset the "Check Engine Light".






5. The result of the problem in detail.  The problem description is displayed with the trouble code.  Notice the other details such as the engine speed, vehicle speed, intake manifold pressure, and engine coolant temperature. The load value is the calculated engine load.



Once I figured out it was a problem with TPS, I went ahead and replaced the TPS.



The Verdict


If you are the one who likes DIY and learn what is going on, the CarChip is by far better than any other simple OBD reader that only tells you the trouble code set by the PCM.  You can graph and look at the trend of various real time parameters of the vehicle to zone in on "hard to diagnose" problems.


Or if you are still learning, you don't need to tell the dealer or the shop how to recreate the problem, you just print the log generated by the CarChip and take it with you!  You can also set audible alerts for hard braking, hard acceleration, high speed, and high operating temperature!  Besides you can use this on any other vehicles with OBD II system which most vehicles manufactured today are already equipped with.  You can even spy on whoever's driving the vehicle by logging their driving habit!


Upon my research there weren't many USB supporting OBD II readers.  Either they don't support it or they charge you extra for the USB interface.  There were a few such as AutoTap which offers similar price range but it gives you about 25 minutes log time.  Well, for about $50 less, you can get CarChip E/X and get 300 hours of log.


With many other features that I have yet to discover, I am not hesitant to say that this is by far one of the best (if not the best) OBD II scanners for the price.


If you have any questions or recommendations, please let me know.



I tried my best to document as much as possible along with pictures.  I hope you find them useful. However, do use the information provided here "as-is".  DailyDrivenTJ.com or the author does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, or process disclosed.  Use the information at your own risk.


Written by Michael on 2006.4.15.

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