Suggestion for Next Generation Product

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  • Updated 2 days ago
I wish I was an Automatic customer.  In fact, I'd love to buy two Automatic Pro's right now.  But due to one critical product flaw, I can't.

With that being said, I wanted to post a recommendation to your community to help improve the product so that I could one day be a proud Automatic customer.

The flaw that I see is the number of reviews that state that an Automatic can (and will) deplete your car battery within a week.  I see that Automatic support suggests that if you aren't going to drive your car for a few days you should unplug it.  The problem is, that means if I normally do drive it every day or every few days, that one time a year where I don't I had better remember - or I'm stranded and not making it in to work.  That's neither necessary nor acceptable.

From a device perspective, I assume the constant power draw is to keep the cellular signal locked because booting up from a cold start would probably take a few minutes - which could create a bad customer experience.  So, OK - power is needed.  But why does it have to kill my car?

Here's the first/best big idea:
Allow users to set a "power off" timer via the app/website.  Let me decide that my Automatic should turn itself off (fully) if my car has not been driven for X days.  If I don't drive the car in that time, the penalty to me is that I may lose some startup-related data and signalling.  I would consider that something I can live without compared to my car not working at all.

Or, if power is needed to detect the car starting...
Make the Automatic just a bit bigger and include a rechargeable battery, or an option for one.  Either built-in or add a small wire port that lets the driver mount the battery enclosure elsewhere, if space is a premium near the jack. 

For reference, a single rechargeable Engergizer AAA can support 1,000mAH - enough to power the Automatic for over a week.  The disclaimer would then be that if the car is off for over a week then the Automatic may need a few minutes to boot up on first use since its built-in battery died.  That seems to me like a much more acceptable situation.
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Posted 5 days ago

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I am a little confused. Okay a lot confused I have had no issues with car battery drain. I do not believe that is a real issue. The automatic is powered off of the OBD II port under the dash. Which does not supply power until the car is on. The automatic does not maintain a cellular data connection when the vehicle is off. And can take a short amount of time to report the startup of a vehicle.i have a few vehicles I have them installed on. Including a “mid life crisis convertible” that sometimes does not get driven for a week or maybe up to 2 weeks.
Even most of these cars today have the 4G connections with ability to remote start and relay diagnostics. And they don’t even need to maintain a cellular connection. I am now going to do a little more digging. But my understanding, and experience is that these aren’t issues. At least not exactly.
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I suspected that the opinion might have been about cars with poor batteries/ charging systems. But I am a little surprised that this device would kill a battery, now understanding the unsupported vehicles which boot when detected a diagnostic device is plugged in. I assume the setup would tell you the vehicle is unsupported. I still have had no problems. My vehicles are relatively new, or in great working condition. So no problems. And since insurance companies are giving these to people. I would assume that the vehicles causing those issues would shrink in numbers. Who wants to keep pulling the device out and remembering to plug it back in.
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Ani, Customer Care Lead

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Hi Adam,

Thanks so much for your feedback. I'd like to clarify a bit more about how Automatic works so you (and everyone else reading) can make an informed decision about your potential purchase.

The Automatic adapter is powered by the OBD-II port in your vehicle, and does not maintain a cellular connection when your car is off. When your car is off, so is the adapter. However, as with many electronics, it does draw a minuscule amount of power just by the fact it is plugged in. The vast majority of the time, this does not affect the vehicle in the least. The amount of power drawn is so small, it would take weeks, if not months, to affect a healthy, fully charged car battery.

When it comes to our recommendation to unplug the adapter if you're not driving for a few weeks at a time, we prefer to err on the side of caution. Keeping electronics plugged in while you're at home may lead to a few cents added to your electric bill, but the stakes are a bit higher when it comes to being able to operate your vehicle. :) There are largely two scenarios users could run into with regards to battery drain with the adapter.
  1. Your car enters a type of "diagnostic mode" when something is plugged into the OBD-II port. This turns on the car's computer and can lead to increased battery drain. We've seen this occur mostly with early 2000s BMW models but it also affects a handful of others. The bottom line is, you should always check car compatibility before purchasing.
  2. Your car's battery is approaching the threshold where it no longer has enough power to run the starter motor and the adapter's power draw is just enough to push it over the edge. In these cases, unplugging the adapter generally does the trick. We recommend that you get your battery checked out if you find yourself in this situation.
We also have a Battery Health feature as part of a suite of tools available to users in the Automatic Web Dashboard. The adapter can read your battery's voltage through the OBD-II port and this tool helps you track your battery's state of charge over time. It's caught more than a few dying batteries for users before they've completely expired!

I hope this helps to provide more detail about how Automatic works. Please let me know if you have any further questions or feedback.