If you want to chat with your friends, hear the latest news or see what celebrities are doing, you just open Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. But here at YourBrakes, we’re more interested in ways to connect you to your vehicle. And that brings us to what we think our some of the very best automotive apps our there.
These five apps quickly get you where you want to go, track your vehicle maintenance, and let you know how you’re driving. All work on iPhone and Android and most are free.
Best Automotive Apps: Car Maintenance
1. MyCarFAX–Keep It Rolling
Do you write down all the times you service your vehicle in the back of the owner’s manual like you’re supposed to? We don’t either, which is why we love MyCarFAX. This free app not only helps you keep up with scheduled maintenance. It also alerts you to recalls and helps you find a good mechanic and estimates repairs.
The app automatically populates info such as current mileage and open recalls as well as routine maintenance issues. Now there’s no need to guess when it’s time to change the oil, replace brake pads and hardware, rotate your tires, and much more. Line graphs display the time left until each issue needs attention as well as the mileage or dates since they last occurred and are scheduled to occur next.
Price: Free for Android & iOS at MyCarFax.
Best Automotive Apps: Navigation
Remember back in the old days (11 years ago) when everyone used paper maps and you could easily drive in the wrong direction for miles? Thank goodness those days are over! The apps below not only help you find your way but also save time and a chunk of change.
2. Waze–The Traffic Dodger
If you’re not already using Waze, go to the app store right now. Download it before your next trip across town. Waze’s strength is in its traffic alerts which help you avoid trouble spots from police officers and cars on the side of the road to large potholes. How does it do that? By crowd-sourcing traffic information from other drivers using the app. Red lines show traffic jams and the app can automatically reroute you to avoid them.
You’ll appreciate the accurate, up-to-the-minute traffic info. Plus, once you select your destination, Waze can find alternate routes so you can avoid severe traffic. And if you need to absolutely be on time for an important meeting, you can also enter the time and date you need to arrive. Waze will recommend the best time to leave.
Price: Free for Android, iOS and Windows Phones on Waze.com.
3. Google Maps–All-Around Navigator
Whether you’re driving, biking, or walking, you can open Google Maps. Figure out where that new bar or sushi restaurant is and then tap the navigate icon to find multiple routes from your current location. And because it’s Google, you can also “Explore Nearby” to see the best user-rated restaurants, bars, and entertainment or whatever else you may need along the way.
A bonus feature… If you’re going to be navigating without a data connection, you can save maps for offline use, complete with voice directions. Of course, there’s excellent integration with other Google software so you can search for a place you want to go on Chrome and open the location directly in Maps. The turn-by-turn directions are well-timed. And the app continually checks the speed of alternate routes, popping up options to switch to faster ones when they’re available.
Price: Free for Android & iOS on Google Maps.
4. Tollsmart–Beat the Tolls
Depending on where you live, you may be spending a lot of money on tolls. Tollsmart Toll Calculator for Cars, Trucks & RVs easily and quickly calculates the cost of tolls. Tolls across tunnels, bridges and toll roads for any route in the US & Canada for any type of vehicle from motorcycles to semis up to 9-axles.
Got a transponder? It also factors in transponder discounts from over 50 tolling agencies including E-ZPass, I-PASS, SunPass, TxTag and FasTrak. The app also highlights which toll facilities along your route accept your transponder and which don’t and finds alternative routes that save money.
Price: $3.99 purchase price, $2.99 monthly fee for iPhone or Android at Tollsmart.com.
Best Automotive Apps: Safe Driving
5. EverDrive™–How Safe a Driver are You?
Do you brake suddenly or unevenly? Speed? Lurch the car when you turn? It’s easy to find out when you download EverDrive™. This free app passively monitors what you’re doing on the road through your phone’s sensors and then delivers diagnostics.
This app can be especially helpful to parents of teen-age drivers who worry about how they are driving without supervision. It also gives you the ability to compare your driving under different circumstances, such as the city or on the highway, and shows how you can improve.
Bonus feature… You can compare your skills with friends and family to earn bragging rights.
Free on iPhone and Android: EverDrive™.