In the early days of motor racing, the cars didn’t just carry a driver, but also a riding mechanic to take care of any problems that might crop up along the way. Well, Verizon is now offering the 21st century version of this concept with its Verizon Vehicle service, which taps into a vehicle’s computer system to detect mechanical issues before they lead to breakdowns.
If you were wondering why it sponsored Indy Car, there you go.
Now for the technical part. It uses a module that plugs into the on board diagnostic II port (OBD II) and links via Bluetooth to a cellular-equipped speaker that you can mount to a sunscreen.
Instead of just presenting you with a “Check Engine” light, it diagnoses the problem and sends specific information via text alert, and can connect you on the phone with a live mechanic who can provide more specific information and even a cost estimate for any necessary repairs. As for who’s on the other end of the line, the Mechanics Hotline is staffed with A.S.E. certified mechanics.
The service also does a bunch of other things, too, including.
- GPS-directed pinpoint Roadside Assistance for breakdowns, flat tires, overheating, a dead battery — anything that might require towing or immediate repair. Dispatches are made to the exact location of a disabled vehicle.
- Automatic Urgent Incident Alert System places a call to the Verizon Vehicle Member Care Center in the event of a suspected accident. Help is immediately dispatched to the location if an accident is confirmed or there is no response from the driver.
- One-Button Emergency Assistance immediately connects the driver to a live agent for emergency aid.
- Parking & Meter Tools help drivers find where they left their vehicle — using the Verizon Vehicle smartphone app — while also keeping track of how much time is left on the meter.
- Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance guides drivers when reporting a theft and helps authorities recover the
The service is similar to that provided as factory equipment by several automakers, most notably General Motors’ OnStar, but will work on any car built since 1996, when OBD ports became standard equipment.
The introductory price is $14.95 per month with one free month and free hardware, but a two-year contract is required. For more facts about the service, head to Verizon.