TomTom Curfer Review
TomTom recently sent me their Curfer product to review and in layman's terms it’s a piece of technology that allows you to visualise/improve your driving style in real-time i.e. improve on matters of corning, braking, acceleration and idling. It works via the supplied Link 100 hardware product that plugs into your car’s OBD port and the accompanying Free app that you can download on either your iOS or Android device.
However having used the product for a few weeks now the basic visualisation aspect is not the only ace up its sleeve, as the Curfer does provide some useful information about your car’s internal components i.e. Intake manifold pressure, but I will talk in more depth about this in the In-Use section of the review.
What is an OBD Port?
There are two versions of the Curfer that you can buy; the basic £59 version provides you with a small box with a Link 100 module inside (plugs into the OBD port), this is also joined by a small Quick start guide and a 'I'm a Curfer' sticker that you can display on your car if it takes your fancy. While the £75 package comes with an OBD extension lead; just in case you can’t gain full access to your standard ODB port.
The first thing I need to explain is what an OBD port is. Given that I'm no mechanic, from my understanding the OBD port is usually the place where a diagnostic computer is plugged into; as it’s the access port for a car’s brain.
Thus, the TomTom Link 100 can pull out a fair bit of info that is accurately displayed onto the partnering app.
This is why the product is only suitable for cars of a certain age*, but even without much mechanic knowledge I was able to install the device into my Fiat Punto Grande; so I am confident that you will be able to install it to.
*Note: You can use this link to see if your car is compatible https://business.tomtom.com/en_gb/curfer/#app
Of course, if you are in doubt it's always best to consult a trained mechanic first, especially as installing the OBD port involves removing cover(s) from inside the car. These can break off if you are not careful!
The Link 100 is the same size as the OBD port obviously and it comes with the TomTom logo etched onto the black matt finish.
It also has what looks like a stand, that can be pulled from the side. However when you install the Link 100 module you will soon realise that it’s not a stand, rather its where you can use your finger to pull out the link if it’s no longer needed.
I also managed to get hold off the OBD extension kit, which I did not need to use in the end, as the standard link 100 fitted without a problem.
However this provides an adapter to connect the module on one end to the car's OBD port on the other. It has a longer thin cable to improve installation and in the pack there is a series of mounting screws so you can securely attach the link module to your car during transit. Again, I would consult the experts before using the extension kit if you are not sure what it does.
Installing the TomTom Curfer
The actually install was not as complex as I first thought. I did consult the Quick start guide, but the first point of call I found was to download the app and connect your phone up to the internet.
The app requires that you register an account first which is a must, as all your stats are held securely on the TomTom business servers.
You can then follow an on-screen wizard which guides you through the steps of installing the Link 100 module to your car’s OBD port.
It even provides an on-screen diagram of your selected car so you can get a better idea of where the port is located. However I found it displayed a left-hand drive version and the port was not really in the place highlighted.
I was able though to get a rough idea where to look, which proved successful in the end as I eventually found mine to the right underside of the steering wheel/air vent.
In some ways installation was helped by the previous owner who had obviously taken the cover off before, as they broke the clips at the bottom holding the cover in place and instead had used a single screw to perform a bodge.
Once the screw was removed I had access to the port. From here I could take off the OBD cover and then plug in the Link 100 module.
Immediately the dongle’s led lights started to flash between green and blue, before going back to green and turning off.
To keep active the dongle does require some of your car's battery power, however according to the website it uses 1 mA when the engine is off and minimal use during driving; so not to affect the vehicles performance in anyway.
From my experience I have not noticed anything strange happen with the car, so this is a good sign!
I then went back to the app and here you need to make sure the internet access on your phone is still on, because the next stages involve pairing your phone to the Link 100 (via Bluetooth) and downloading software to the module.
Again I was lucky, in that my houses’ router was positioned close to the car so I could use my broadband connection. Thus, it only took a few minutes to download and activate the product.
Once activated you can then move on to using the app!
The Curfer app I installed was running on my iPhone 5s and after a joyful notification tone you have to pick your driving style from three choices i.e. 'Relaxed Driver', 'Comfort Driver' and 'Sport Driver'.
I think I chose 'Comfort Driver'. However you can see the initial unboxing and setup process in my video below which will give you a much better idea of how the product is installed.
After the driving style was chosen the product does ask if you want to enable a 'Car Finder' option. Basically this will allow you to find where you parked your car. I enabled this function and also the location services so the app can run in the background.
Eventually you will arrive at the main interface but it takes a few more minutes to calibrate the module's sensor. It’s at this point I recommend you check your car’s dashboard for any errors (by turning on the ignition). As after all, you are plugging in a foreign product into your car.
Touch wood, I was lucky in that no errors came up, however your car may be different.
Note: Out of interest my car does have a Bluetooth Parrot kit for hands free calling. The Curfer seems to work perfectly alongside the latter, so no problems here.