Breakdown prevention system doubles as tracker and legal evidence.

The AA’s Car Genie plug-in vehicle monitoring device has turned out to have unexpected alternative uses.

The Car Genie device plugs into the car’s on-board diagnostics port, from which it can read engine fault codes and warn drivers if the vehicle has a problem. Issues with systems such as the ignition or electrics are read and the driver is notified via an app, with advice on whether the issue is dangerous or non-essential. Drivers can then choose whether to call for a roadside patrol or to book the car in for maintenance.

Using this technology, the breakdown service claims that it could potentially stop ‘one million breakdowns every year’ by spotting developing issues such as clogged diesel particulate filters before they cause a much more serious problem.

However, the device also contains a GPS locator, which is primarily designed to help the AA locate the vehicle in the event of a breakdown, but since the device was made available to AA members in May, a number of other uses have been discovered.

According to the AA, the GPS tracker has been used to help police find down stolen vehicles, avoid insurance fraud and even prove when staff have started their working day.

One stolen car was tracked within minutes of thieves taking it from the drive after the owner checked its location on the app, while another driver managed to disprove a false accident claim after the system showed that the vehicle was nowhere near the alleged accident location at the time.

Alan Ferguson, head of AA connected car technology, said: ‘We’ve had all sorts of feedback about how our connected technology is helping members with their everyday driving. Whether it’s keeping an eye on your pride and joy while you’re away, being sure that any problems have been fully repaired by the garage, providing evidence of your professional mileage, or remembering where you parked, it’s fascinating to hear about the many different ways Car Genie is being used.’