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"Check Engine" Light? Check Your E-mail

Leveraging the convergence of the Internet, wireless technology, and automotive diagnostic computers found in most modern vehicles, Networkcar is targeting both consumers and automotive service providers with its Internet-based scan tool.

Networkcar, a Reynolds and Reynolds company, announced Tuesday that it has been awarded a patent, titled "Internet-based Vehicle-Diagnostic System" by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent describes the company's "Internet-based scan tool" technology for wirelessly communicating and extracting automotive data from an in-vehicle device and Internet-based system featuring Web sites for both car owners and automotive service providers.

The patent also covers systems, such as a global positioning system (GPS), that obtain power from a host vehicle's On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) port and transmit information through a wireless network. This patent adds to Networkcar's growing patent portfolio, which currently features 19 pending and issued U.S. patents.

Networkcar's system collects and organizes detailed automotive information directly from a vehicle's engine computer and location-based information from a GPS. Information is transmitted wirelessly to an information center where it is made available to car owners, automotive dealerships and fleet operators in the form of immediate e-mail alerts, summary e-mail reports or Web pages. Networkcar's technology is compatible with virtually all light- and medium-duty vehicles manufactured since 1996.

"With our Internet-based scan tool technology, automotive service providers now have the ability to solve car problems online and in real-time, before their customers even arrive at the service drive. This means car owners with Networkcar's system will spend significantly less time waiting and wondering about car repairs," said Dave Dutch, president of Networkcar.

Networkcar affiliated auto dealerships can access a Web site showing the detailed performance status of their customers' vehicles. By accessing this data before the car arrives, technicians can plan their repair strategy, order parts ahead of time and save time associated with initially identifying the problem. Car owners can save money by troubleshooting problems earlier and preventing them from developing into larger more expensive repairs.

Networkcar also offers Smart Roadside Assistance, stolen vehicle recovery services and Car Guardian, a feature that allows a car owner to find their car by accessing a secure Web page.