9 of the Best Apps for Drivers

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Longing for the days when smart cars will take over and you can just sit back and enjoy the ride? Wish you could have your own onboard ‘Jarvis’ to tell you what’s up ahead, what’s coming down the road, or what that weird noise is coming from your engine? While we’re not quite there yet (but it is coming!), there are plenty of smartphone and tablet apps out there that can help make your dumb car at least a little smarter. If you’ve taken a look at the App Store or Google Play recently, you know that they’re both cluttered with potentially useless apps that are little more than a waste of time and money. How do you figure out which ones are worth your time? Here are 9 of the best apps for drivers.

Waze

Looking for a way to dodge those traffic snarls on your way home from the office? Waze is one of the most popular navigation apps, and it’s pretty fully featured, as well. Information is crowd-sourced and real-time, so you’re warned well ahead of time about things that might add extra time to your drive.

Canary

Got a teen driver? Got a case of the nerves? We feel for you, but Canary can help. It’s available for both iOS and Android, and it’s a free app. Canary is all about keeping tabs on your teen driver’s phone use (not necessarily their driving habits). It’s really geared for making sure your teen isn’t doing something dumb like texting behind the wheel. It uses GPS information combined with phone usage records to tell you if your kid is texting, talking on the phone or doing something else with the device at speeds higher than 12 MPH.

Automatic

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That glowing check engine light have you worried? Don’t stress out. Automatic allows you to ditch the mechanic (at least for the diagnosis aspect). It connects to your car’s computer via the OBDII connection (just like a mechanic’s diagnostic computer) and will read the trouble codes stored there. The app is free, but it’s $99.95 for the OBDII accessory. Still, it can save you a lot of time and hassle, particularly if you’re just resetting a code from a loose gas cap. Sadly, Automatic doesn’t do the repair work, so you’ll still need to play nice with the mechanic.

GasBuddy

Sick and tired of filling up at the gas station only to find out that you could have saved several cents a gallon at a station just down the road? GasBuddy is the app for you. While it’s only available for iOS, it’s super handy and can save you a ton of cash over the course of a year or so. All you’ll need to do is input your location information (zip code, or city and state), and you’ll be provided with a list of gas station prices and locations.

Trapster

Have a lead foot? Are you one speeding ticket away from having your license suspended? Maybe you’re just worried about the increase in your insurance premiums if you get caught speeding. Whatever the case, Trapster is a very useful app. It offers information about speed traps around the world, and boasts over 14 million users. The app not only warns you (via voice alert) if you approach a speed trap, but can also provide warnings if you go over the speed limit. Other information can also be provided via the app from users, including breakdowns, bottlenecks and other hazards that might put a crimp in your day.

greenMeter

If you’ve got a lead foot and you’re looking for a little encouragement to cut down on your speed, this handy app might do the trick. It works on the same principle as the information system in most hybrids, turning boosting fuel economy into something of a game (it’s not a game app, though). It’s for iPhone only, and it does come at a cost, but it can help you boost your fuel economy by a significant percentage by providing you with information about current, minimum and maximum MPG, engine power and a great deal more.

Car Minder

Don’t trust automated maintenance reminders? Maybe your mechanic usually forgets to reset your “change oil” light. If either of those sounds like you, then Car Minder might be a great option. It’s a handy app for iOS devices ($2.99) that lets you manually log a ton of information about your driving, maintenance and other issues. You can access all the information you need at a glance, and you can also manage more than one car at a time. Whether you’re a fleet manager or a parent with multiple vehicles to handle, this app can be a real lifesaver.

RepairPal

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On the surface, RepairPal seems a lot like Car Minder, but there are some important differences here. RepairPal does let you track your maintenance and other information, but it also provides you with information about repair costs, helps you locate shops near your location (handy if you’re out of town and an emergency strikes), and more. It’s also available for both iOS and Android, and the app is free (it only works in the US, though).

Find My Car

Forget where you parked? Tired of trudging up and down crowded parking lots searching for your car? Find My Car was made just for you. It’s a simple, no-frills app that does one thing only – it shows you exactly where you parked. It also does so with augmented reality to show you exactly what stands between you and your car.

These are just a few of the many apps out there for drivers. There’s a whole slew of others that might be worth your time, including both paid and free options. Really, there’s an app for almost anything you might need, from navigation to fuel economy to locating your car if it’s been stolen.