Ah, driving. For many of us, it’s a necessity and not a choice, and even more so, a royal pain. Thankfully, the app gnomes have been working overtime to improve the very experience of getting behind the wheel. There may be thousands of driving-related apps out there, but here are the five that should be on every motorist’s phone:
This app is literally indispensable for all but the most ardent backyard mechanics. Just input your vehicle’s year, make & model, either choose a zip code or let the GPS find you, and then choose what you’d like an estimate on what mechanical work you need: everything from minor work such as an oil and filter change, all the way up to engine dismantling procedures as replacing the head gasket. You’ll receive instant estimated price ranges from not only authorized dealerships but even the independent mechanics in your area. These estimates are extremely detailed and include a breakdown of costs by parts and labor, what to watch out for, and even mechanic recommendations. If you really get stuck, RepairPal can even directly connect you with your manufacturer’s help line or roadside assistance!
Prior to this app if you wanted to get accurate performance figures on your car you’d need to hire a racetrack, a dynamometer, and lots of complex electronic sensors that would fill up your trunk. All of that is easily replaced by your phone’s accelerometer so now you can get precise readings of your car’s quarter-mile time, 0–60 mph acceleration, lateral G-forces, and even a decent estimate of your horsepower output. You can save your Dynolicious test result history for future comparisons, although it’s doubtful that it qualifies as evidence in court when you’re hauled in for speeding.
If you’ve been testing lateral G-forces for your Dynolicious app and end up spinning out into a ditch, you’ll be glad you have iWrecked, which helps you document all of the pertinent information of the accident: photos of the scene and damage, the location and time, and the particulars of any other individuals involved including driver’s license and license plate numbers as well as insurance and contact info onto a comprehensive PDF accident report. You’ll even be able to keep a record of the information provided by witnesses and track the report filed by the police department.
With the price of fuel expected to keep rising above the $4 a gallon level and beyond, finding a nearby gas station with a low price can really add up to big savings at the pump. The Gas Buddy app locates service stations both via zip code and also by the location mapped on your GPS. When you select the desired station, Gas Buddy not only shows you the currently updated cost of fuel there, but also maps the route, provides an estimate of the drive time, and shows the various services available there, such as convenience store, ATM, or car wash. Gas Buddy is also indispensable when you suddenly realize that the needle has hit the dreaded “E” as a single button touch will locate the nearest station in a hurry.
Another great way to save on gas is by riding with a buddy or two. Not only is it healthy for your wallet to share the costs of the commute, but it’s good for the environment and the overall traffic situation to get more people into one car. Carticipate allows you to input your driving plans and it will match you to local carticipants who would like to tag along. With the growing number of app users, this facility could easily grow to a well-populated network of ride-sharers which could make a major impact on our country’s roads.
With the proliferation of phone operating systems most apps are being ported to the major platforms, so if any one of these apps is not currently available for the OS of your choice, you can be certain it or a similar one will be soon. Happy driving… and keep your eyes on the road!