Home > Articles > Hardware > Upgrading & Repairing

Managing Your Car from Your iPhone Using the Automatic Link

Jason R. Rich explains how the optional Automatic Link accessory for the iPhone can be used to help you drive smarter, save on gas, monitor your vehicles, track trip-related information, remember where you parked, and automatically get help if you're involved in an accident.
Like this article? We recommend

For people who already own a GM vehicle, all they need to do is activate the OnStar feature that comes preinstalled (a monthly fee applies) and then download the OnStar RemoteLink iPhone app in order to remotely access vehicle-related information; check on the status of their car; lock or unlock the doors; or, in some cases, start the engine. If the car is running low on gas, the air pressure in the tires is low, or an oil change is required, a message on your iPhone's screen will bring this to the car owner's attention.

In addition to GM, many vehicle manufacturers are somehow incorporating iPhone integration into their 2014 model year vehicles, and more plan to do this in the future. However, if you already own a car or truck that lacks iPhone integration when it comes to monitoring vehicle management and maintenance, a company called Automatic Labs, Inc. has created a $99.95 solution that requires no monthly fees.

Figure 1 The Automatic Link (Photo © Automatic Labs)

Remotely Monitor Almost Any Vehicle from Your iPhone

Almost all 1996 or later model year vehicles have an OBD-II port built in. It's usually hidden somewhere near the foot pedals of the vehicle, under the steering wheel. This port allows for outside electronics to be connected to the vehicle and for the vehicle to then share diagnostic information with the equipment that is connected.

By plugging the Automatic Link device into your car's OBD-II's port (a process that takes less than 10 seconds), your vehicle will have the capability to wirelessly share information with your iPhone that's running the proprietary Automatic app.

Figure 2 The Automatic Link plugged into an OBD-II port (Photo © Automatic Labs)

Once the Automatic Link and Automatic app establish a wireless Bluetooth connection, it is then possible to remotely access a wide range of vehicle-related information from virtually anywhere.

Discover What Information the Automatic Link Shares

You'll discover that the newer your vehicle is, the more information the Automatic Link will be able to access and transmit to its app. For example, as you're driving, the app can detect hard breaks, speeding, and hard accelerations—none of which is good for gas mileage. When detected, the iPhone can generate subtle tones to alert you of these poor driving habits.

Because breaking abruptly and driving more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit reduces fuel efficiency by up to 15 percent, and quickly accelerating the vehicle by pressing hard on the gas pedal also utilizes extra gas. Becoming aware of these poor driving habits can easily help you drive more efficiently and save money on gas.

The Automatic app tracks your driving habits, plus keeps tabs on the trips you take. For this, a detailed map of where you've been can be displayed, which includes icons that represents your overall driving habits along each route.

Using the app, a weekly summary can be displayed on your iPhone screen that calculates your week's actual fuel costs, how many miles you've driven, and the average miles per gallon that was achieved. An overall driving score is also calculated, based on your driving habits.

Meanwhile, if the Automatic app detects your vehicle's Check Engine light comes on, it will determine and display the reason for this, and provide an easy to understand description of the problem.

Another useful feature that the Automatic app offers is the ability to remember where you've parked your car. If you forget, simply activate the Automatic app on your iPhone, and a detailed map will guide you to your vehicle's location. Plus, if you're involved in an accident, the Automatic Link can be set to have your iPhone automatically call for help and provide your exact location. At the same time, the iPhone can text message up to three emergency contacts and inform them of the accident and your whereabouts.

What's great about the Automatic Link is that you don't need to know anything about cars to make it work to your advantage. The most challenging part of using this iPhone accessory is locating the actual ODB-II port within your vehicle. Once you find it, the Automatic Link simply plugs into this port, which is as easy as plugging a lamp into an electrical outlet.

Set Up the Automatic Link to Work with Your Vehicle

The first time you install the Automatic Link into your car, and at the same time download and install the Automatic app, the setup process will take 5 to 10 minutes. Before plugging the Automatic Link into the vehicle, write down the unique six-digit Security Pin that's engraved on the link. This security pin ensures that the connection that's established is encrypted and secure.

Then, after the wireless connection between the Automatic Link and the Automatic app is established, you'll need to provide the app with details about yourself and your vehicle while setting up a free online account from your iPhone.

In some cases, the Automatic app can obtain your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) directly from the car. However, you may need to use the iPhone's built-in camera in order to scan the VIN barcode that's displayed on your vehicle, or manually enter this number into the app.

When prompted, start your vehicle so that the app can exchange initial information with the Automatic Link and learn about your vehicle. Within a few seconds, you'll be ready to start driving.

Once you begin using the Automatic Link with the Automatic app, it's possible to turn on or off the optional audible driving alerts that the app generates, based on your driving habits. If these alerts are turned on, and you have a wireless Bluetooth headset also linked with your iPhone, those alerts will be played through the headset, not the iPhone's built-in speaker.

Each time you enter your vehicle and start the ignition, the Automatic Link and Automatic app are designed to establish an immediate connection, even if the phone is in Sleep mode or you're using another app. However, due to what Automatic Labs refers to as "limitations of iOS 7," if you've recently accessed the multitasking feature of your iPhone and quit the Automatic app so it stopped running in the background, the connection between the Automatic Link and app won't always be created when you start a new trip. A problem could also arise if the Bluetooth settings on the phone have been altered.

To ensure that the necessary wireless connection is always made when you begin a new trip, after turning on your car's ignition, launch the Automatic app manually and then place your iPhone into sleep mode as you begin driving.

Once the Automatic app is running, you can turn on or off the audible alerts the app generates any time as you're driving. To do this (before you actually begin driving your vehicle, not while you're actually driving), tap the Menu icon that's displayed at the top-right corner of the main app screen and then select the Audio Feedback option. From The Audio Feedback menu screen, turn on or off the virtual switch associated with Hard Breaks, Speeding, and Rapid Accels.

Whether you have the real-time audible alerts feature turned on, the Automatic app will track your driving habits and display this information as part of its Week Summary report. If at some point you notice the Check Engine light on your vehicle's dashboard illuminated, launch the Automatic app and tap on the Check Engine icon that's found at the top-left corner of the screen.

A diagnostic message that explains the problem will be displayed. From this screen, tap the blue-and-white Nearby Mechanics button in order to access a list of the closest mechanics and obtain driving directions to them.

Final Thoughts

The Automatic Link is the perfect iPhone accessory for someone who spends a lot of time driving in their car, and who wants to achieve the highest fuel efficiency possible, while tracking the true cost of taking each trip. The other features built into this device and app can help you become a safer and more efficient driver, plus help you deal more effectively with vehicle-related problems that arise.

The Automatic Link is sold directly from the company's website, as well as from Apple Stores and Apple.com. If you're driving an older vehicle, consider visiting the Automatic Labs' website before purchasing the Automatic Link in order to look up the year, make, and model of your vehicle to ensure compatibility.

From the company's home page, click the blue-and-white button that says, "Is My Car Supported?" When prompted, enter details about your vehicle. In addition to being very easy to install and use, what's nice about the Automatic Link accessory is that you purchase it outright for $99.95, and there are no monthly fees associated with using it.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020