Davis Instruments CarChip Fleet Pro Review

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Ever wonder where your employees drove the company car?  Or if they are driving recklessly?  I’ve always wondered that so I thought a review of the CarChip Fleet Pro would solve all my problem.

The CarChip Fleet Pro has an option for a GPS add-in which I’ve asked Julie to request from Davis Instruments but they didn’t send it to me.  This review will be purely just the CarChip Fleet Pro.

The CarChip Fleet Pro came in a small cube box and the DriveRight Fleet Management Software came in a plain white box with a label showing the system requirements and package contents.  My first impression is that this packaging wasn’t really appealing to a customer that just bought it.  The CarChip Fleet Pro costs $149.  One would assume it would come with the software for free, right?  Wrong.  The DriveRight Fleet Management Software costs $395.

The DriveRight Fleet Management Software requirements list that it’s compatible with Windows 2000, XP or Vista.  Luckily the installation wasn’t a problem and the program runs on my Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit.  The box also lists that there are 2 CDs, but it only came with 1 CD.

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The package contains one CD, a serial cable for DriveRight (different equipment not reviewed here), USB cable for CarChip, starter guide, and database selection guide.

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The CarChip is a small device that gets plugged in your car’s OBD-II port, which is usually located under the the steering column, about half way between the steering wheel and your gas/brake peddles.

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The CarChip must be configured before usage.  Installation went without a problem on my Windows 7 PC despite it not listed as being supported.  But the tricky part comes when you first run the program.  It begins by asking a lot of technical information which might confuse the average end-user.  It asks you to choose a type of database, ODBC driver, port number, username and password, etc.  The problem is that the manual doesn’t describe in detail on how you should fill these out.  Not very user-friendly for the average user.

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After the initial setup, you’ll get a plain looking screen with the menu and a row of icons on the time.  The manual included with the $395 DriveRight Fleet Management Software doesn’t provide any information on how to use the DriveRight program at all.  Using trial and error, I found out that I would need to add and setup the CarChip in to the DriveRight program.

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Adding the CarChip will require answering a lot of questions.  For example, is it assigned to a car or driver, car type, VIN number, license plate, make/model, driver names, odometer, etc.

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It also asks what type of parameters I would like to set for speed, hard breaking and acceleration.  These are the default choices that the CarChip will monitor on its own.

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Then you’ll get to choose 5 different parameters for the CarChip to monitor.  There’s an option for GPS logging as well.

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On the settings review page, you’ll get an option to have the CarChip beep or blink a LED light if any one of the default parameters are met while the vehicle is being driven.  Click on the “Set” button to program the CarChip, and then you’re ready to plug it in to the car’s OBD-II port.

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Plugging in to the car’s OBD-II port was easy.  My only question is why the CarChip gives an option to blink the LED light because the OBD-II port is located so low and out of the driver’s view that it’s pointless to include such option.

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DriveRight Fleet Management Software came with a lot of options because this software handles both the DriveRight and CarChip systems.  I wish they had an option to disable the parts of the program that are specific to the DriveRight system.  It does get confusing when you click on a functionality and find it doesn’t work because it’s not available for the CarChip system.  Or it would be better to have separate programs for the DriveRight system and the CarChip system.

I plugged the CarChip in to one of the company vans used for onsite work.  At first I left the beep notification sound on and the employees started to complain that it gets pretty annoying – which means they’re driving the van recklessly.  So I decided to turn the beep off and have the CarChip record data for a month.

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After a month I plugged the CarChip in to the computer, started the DriveRight software, and selected the trip summary report.  It showed me a complete list of vehicle trips, showing date, start/end time, trip duration, idle time and distance driven.  It’s pretty good data to determine if the employees are driving more than they are charging our customers.

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The vehicle activity report shows a bunch of statistics on the vehicle.

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The graphical day report shows it all graphed out which is pretty nice since it gives a nice overview of the van’s usage throughout the day.

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The odometer report was pretty simple and shows the miles driven.

All in all, the CarChip does what it needs to do by providing statistics on the car’s usage.  It’s definitely not for the home-user or small/medium sized business.  The CarChip Fleet Pro and DriveRight Fleet Management Software are geared toward huge corporations with many company vehicles (think Verizon or Cablevision-sized company).  It was more than what I needed for my store, and the user experience could’ve been better.

 

Product Information

Price:$149 and $395
Manufacturer:Davis Instruments
Requirements:
  • Windows 2000, XP or Vista. Tested and works on Windows 7.
  • Serial port for DriveRight
  • USB port for CarChip
Pros:
  • Detailed vehicle tracking
  • Optional GPS tracking
Cons:
  • Not user friendly
  • GPS functionality not included
  • Expensive
Posted in: Car Gear, Reviews

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Doug Kohl October 25, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Jackie should have just reviewed the CarChip Pro http://www.carchip.com/Products/8226.asp
    which includes the software and CarChip features needed to track multiple people and vehicles and cost $99.

    The CarChip Fleet version has more capability in the software to track larger fleets of vehicles.

    Customers with small service fleets of vehicle use CarChip Pro which has more consumer level packaging and a simplified user interface with a USB cable and desktop software included for the $99 retail price.

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  • Jackie Cheng October 25, 2011, 4:28 pm

    @Doug – We did request the CarChip Pro but got sent the Fleet Pro instead.

    2

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