You've probably got a smartphone, and you've probably got a car. Both cost you money, and it's time to combine the two and see if you can't save just a little cash. Here are the apps, and one gadget, that help you track your car.
Photo credit: Sexy car mechanic image by Shutterstock
You might be aware that your car has a diagnostic port, called an OBD port. Sadly, it was not designed by Ol' Dirty Bastard, instead it's a proprietary port that your mechanic generally jacks into to get information from your car's onboard computer.
You might be wondering if you can't get this information yourself. The answer is yes. You'll need an OBD-to-Bluetooth adapter, generally called a “scan tool,” which runs from $25 to $200. Make sure that the adapter will work with your car.
Once that's plugged in, you just connect your phone and run Torque. The app will give you both the raw information and tools for understanding the various error codes, so when you roll into the mechanic, you'll know exactly what he'll see.
Photo credit: Torque Pro
This takes a little work, but it's worth it: Every time you fill up, enter the information into an app like aCar.
At first it seems like paperwork, but over time, you'll be able to collect information like how much gas your car is actually burning, how many miles you're getting to the gallon in practice, and how many times a week you fill up. If there's a subtle problem with your car, it tends to be reflected in the mileage, and you'll be able to get it to a mechanic before something terrible happens.
Photo credit: aCar
How many repairs have you had to put your car through? Just like tracking your mileage over time can tell you something is going wrong, tracking your repairs over time can help you spot problems. Cars are complex machines, and sometimes, you're fixing a result of a problem, not the problem itself.
As a bonus, repair tracking apps like RepairPal offer features like one-touch roadside assistance, mechanic ratings, and how much a repair should cost, letting you figure out if your mechanic is on the up-and-up.
Photo credit: RepairPal
Most people don't realize that, for example, minor cosmetic damage to your car is something you can generally fix at home. They just lack the instructions, or the willingness to drag their laptop out into the driveway.
That's where DIY car repair apps like Car Paint Repair come in handy. Step-by-step instructions let you understand first of all what goes into actually fixing your car, which is handy in general, and also lets you decide whether to tackle a repair yourself.
Granted you'll look a bit silly spraying compressed air onto a dent and blasting it with a hair dryer, but hey, it actually works.
Photo credit: Car Paint Repair
You may not like everything about your car insurer, but we will say this: They're pretty good about putting out apps.
Car insurance apps are useful for a lot more than just keeping track of how much you're being bled for every month. Many of them also have accident reporting features, complete with a form to fill out and a way to attach photographs of damage. If your insurer doesn't have one, use a generic app like iWrecked, which is comprehensive and keeps all the info about your accident in one place.
Photo credit: iWrecked
Many cars have advanced technology, such as radar sensors, that allow you to know exactly what a safe following distance is and whether you're really in the lane or not. But needless to say, that's only for new cars... unless you've got a smartphone.
Clipping your phone into a windshield mount and using an app like iOnRoad to keep an eye out for your following distance, your lane, and other ways to keep your driving clean.
Photo credit: iOnRoad
Speeding is dumb. You shouldn't do it.
But if you're going to do it, you might as well do it without getting caught. Apps like Trapster collect reports of speed traps from the crowd as they happen, allowing you to know where not to speed. Of course, you keep speeding you'll be using iWrecked a lot, so don't bitch to us when your premiums go up.
Photo credit: Trapster
We've all lost our car in a parking lot, but apps like Honk not only let you track where you go so you can find your way back to a space, you can set alarms to remind you when your meter is about to expire. Of course, you could just risk it, but trust us, it's hard to get a boot off, even with an angle grinder.
Photo credit: Honk