How many times have you taken your car to the shop, only to be told in mechano-speak that “the computer” dictates pricey repair of the trigabobulator? Wallet, please.

Now a new device, Davis Instruments’ CarChip, helps to level the playing field by giving drivers direct access to the mysterious workings of their vehicles. Just plug the CarChip into your ride’s OBD-II connector, standard on most cars built since 1996, and it will gather all kinds of data whenever the car’s in use.

The CarChip records the vehicle’s speed every five seconds, keeps track of starts, stops, RPMs, and distances, and reads the engine’s trouble codes and sensors. To access the info, just plug the chip into your PC and download.

Frank Velasquez, director of sales for Davis, says the chip is helpful for many common car ailments.

“So you’ve got an engine light on,” he says. “You take it to a mechanic who decides it’s some kind of intermittent misfire. With the CarChip, you could have reset the light yourself and saved the time and money.”

The CarChip, winner of an Innovation award at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is sold at Sears stores and AutoZones in the Eastern and Midwest U.S. The standard model, which stores up to 75 hours of trip info, sells for $139. The CarChipE/X model stores 300 hours of details for $179 (