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New gadget can help drivers diagnose cause of check engine light

The FIXD gadget and accompanying smartphone app allows drivers to diagnose the cause of their car's check engine light. WDAY-TV

FARGO — Adrian Grieff has been keeping cars running since starting up his shop, Adrian's Autocare Center in Fargo, 15 years ago.

"Mechanic" is his native language, but for those who are learning the lingo, it can be overwhelming — and that includes when a car's check engine light comes on.

It's the very reason students at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found success in their startup gadget, called FIXD.

Its a device that explains what's wrong with a vehicle and gives an estimated cost for repair.

"There's some issues that may seem confusing or sound confusing, but they're actually really simple fixes," said CEO and Co-founder John Gattuso.

The device promises to break it down in understandable ways, and the process is pretty simple.

Plug "FIXD" into a vehicle's diagnostic port, found in model years 1996 and newer, then connect the car to the free app on a smartphone via Bluetooth and wait.

WDAY-TV tested the device and got the same result Grieff's $5,000 sensor read — but FIXD only costs $60.

"It's nice to have an idea of what codes you see and then bring it to the mechanic, and if he tells you there's a whole list of other stuff that's wrong with it, you can kind of step back and be like, 'Well, maybe this guy isn't very honest,'" Grieff said.

WDAY took one of its own vehicles with an illuminated check engine light to test the device, and sure enough, a code came up saying catalyst system efficiency below threshold bank 2. A reporter then brought the car to a mechanic to test it out, and Trent Chase, a mechanic at Adrian's Autocare, got the same code as FIXD.

"It's definitely something that's nice for people, especially people who are leary about shops like this and think that we're always out for a money grab, you know?" Chase said.

We asked FIXD's CEO about any issues or negative reviews the gadget has gotten.

"Some people would request additional features, like hey, can you detect our ABS light or our airbag light? Those are things that we're working on enabling," Gattuso said.

What does our mechanic think?

"It definitely gives you a starting place as to where to start looking on your vehicle," Grieff said. "There's more diagnostic that needs to be done besides just reading the code and replacing the part."

What started as three people in a basement is now approaching its millionth unit sold, all while saving people thousands of dollars spent at the dealership.

FIXD will update automatically on its own without replacing the hardware. For more information on FIXD or to buy one, visit www.fixdapp.com/buy.

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