Mechanic Advisors’ new product is designed to make the appearance of the dreaded check engine light that little bit less disheartening, by giving car owners a portal into the health of their vehicle. The device provides drivers with the same information available to their local auto repair shop, but what makes it truly unique is its ability to put them in touch with a suitable, trustworthy mechanic.

The device plugs into the vehicle's standard On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port, linking to iOS and Android smartphones to provide real-time vehicle data and decipher more than 20,000 error codes – the exact same diagnostic tools available to mechanics. It’ll also provide alerts when it’s time to change oil or replace tires, and according to the company, will work with almost any vehicle manufactured form 1996 onwards.

If and when a problem arises, the companion app will link you directly to one of more than half a million trusted mechanics, making it easier to get your vehicle into a reliable repair shop. In future, the company plans to improve the service by using anonymous data to provide useful information such as known issues for specific models of car, breaking down stats based on location and driving habits.

The company believes that giving drivers real-time stats will not only help educate them about their vehicles, but should also eliminate the distrust surrounding auto repairs. When your check engine light flicks on, you simply fire up the app to see what’s wrong and contact a mechanic suitable for fixing the specific issue, as selected by the company’s online referral engine. It’s a two-way street – the driver can easily see what’s wrong with their vehicle, and the mechanics can make their recommendations backed up to said data.

The Connection Key is also built with safety in mind, with all data being encrypted when transferred between the device and the user’s smartphone. The same goes for the web servers used to track down a suitable mechanic.

If you’re interested in picking up a Connection Key, then you’ll be pleased to learn that it’s available for pre-order right now for US$50 including shipping. The price is set to rise to $75 when it becomes widely available in Q1 2015. Potential buyers might also want to check out the Automatic Link, an existing device that offers some of the same features.

Source: Mechanic Advisor