A guide to navigating auto apps
- Aug 31, 2021
- 7 min read
What we'll cover
Helpful car apps for your everyday drive
How your smartphone can enhance your driving experience
Apps that may help you save money
Pretty much anything you can think of, there’s an app for it. Got a car? There’s an app for that. So many, in fact, that it can be hard to find the best car apps when the rubber hits the road. But it’s good to know what they are, considering the average American spends 18 days in their car each year. So, we thought we might compile a comprehensive list to make those days a little easier and more efficient.
To do so, we scoured the app stores for you and crafted a best-of list based on customer ratings, tech site reviews, and/or app store rankings. Side note: All of these apps are available on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, unless otherwise noted.
Smartphone technology has unlocked endless ways to enhance your driving experience. Let our thorough list of the top-rated, most useful, trendy car apps guide you along your journey.
Favorite traffic apps
When time is money, why do we allow ourselves to sit in traffic? Plan ahead with an app that details how congested the roads will be on your route, before you find yourself stuck in a gridlock. With Waze, you’ll see traffic and navigation information that is compiled by users in your area. As one of the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation apps, Waze offers you real-time traffic information to get you where you need to go in the least amount of time. It also pairs with your music app so you can hear the directions and shows you the predicted traffic for your upcoming trips.
If you’d prefer to stick to a name that you're familiar with, you can always go with the tried-and-true Google Maps. From navigation to finding places to eat lunch along your route, Google Maps is a one-stop-shop for all of your navigation needs. And its vast business inventory is a boon when you’re just looking for your next destination.
Download Google Maps on the Google Play Store | Apple App Store
Favorite gas apps
GasBuddy is a mile ahead of its competitors with its immense database of gas stations and consistent updates that will allow you to easily find the gas station with the best price. With almost every gas station in the U.S. on record, you can rest assured that you’ll find the most affordable gas near you, no matter your location. And in Waze-like fashion, user corrections and updates are continually flowing, so you can expect pretty accurate info and prices when it comes time to hit the pump.
Electricity is the wave of the future, so electric car owners know the hassle that comes when trying to map out all of the available charging stations. Thankfully, U.S. electric car infrastructure continues to grow, and PlugShare has an interactive map of the 40,000+ and counting charging stations across the country. The app may be simple but gets the job done with filters, an option to add stations, and a trip planner to boot, so you’ll never be without a charge when you need one.
Favorite car buying apps
Edmunds has long been a storied and valuable resource for car buying, with its detailed and accurate car model pricing information — and its app is no different. Its True Market Value pricing tool can help you find the right vehicle at a competitive price, and its car buying calculator is one of the best out there (allowing you to figure out costs like monthly payments on a vehicle). In addition to vehicle reviews, you can search cars, text dealers, compare prices of similar vehicles, and save all of this info for later when you hit the lot. With an inventory of millions of used and new cars, in-depth photo galleries, pricing and trading tools, and dealer reviews, this app puts all the tools you’ll need at your fingertips.
Download Edmunds on the Google Play Store | Apple App Store
Nothing is better than inside information, and TrueCar doesn’t just give you an estimated market price, but the scoop on what other people in your area have paid for the car you want. That knowledge can be huge when you’re negotiating for your dream model. Bonus: It gives you access to exclusive incentives from factories, dealers, and TrueCar promotional partners. And to get a price quote quickly, use the app to scan the window stickers at participating dealerships and, voila, you’ve got all the info you need on your mobile device. One thing to consider: it will send your phone number to thousands of dealers, so don’t be surprised if you start getting calls from salespeople. On the plus side, you could use the conversation as an opportunity to land a real deal. (Now all you’ll need is some vehicle financing options to make that dream a reality.)
Many car-buying apps exist, but where CARFAX sets itself apart is with its vehicle history reports — an invaluable summary for used car shoppers. You can get a free history report with every car listed for sale on their app and even request reports on vehicles listed elsewhere. This capability could potentially save you the substantial repair dollars you’d have to shell out if you were to buy a car that turns out to be a lemon or was involved in an undisclosed collision.
Download CARFAX on the Google Play Store | Apple App Store
With millions of listings for new and used vehicles, and a breakdown of a vehicle's details, the Cars.com app is a certified encyclopedia for informed car shopping. You can instantly get pricing info and compare nearby inventory just by scanning the VIN of any vehicle on the lot. And when a car goes on sale, you’ll be able to act fast with the app’s price drop alerts. Additional features include vehicle reviews, a payment estimator, and an inventory comparison.
Favorite defensive driving apps
The road ahead is unpredictable. AutoGuard turns your smartphone into a dash camera that helps keep your driving habits in line and allows you to record an accident as it happens. AutoGuard can collect vital data such as time, speed, GPS position, and G-forces right through your windshield without straining your battery life. And in the event of a collision, a full report of this data can protect you from fraudulent claims against you should you need it.
AutoGuard is only available for Android users, but similar functionality can be found with CamOnRoad.
Download AutoGuard on the Google Play Store
Favorite parking apps
It’s all in the details — the parking details that is. From height restrictions to security information, Parkopedia provides detailed information on 70 million parking spaces in more than 15,000 cities around the world. You can search the app to find and reserve the perfect spot and pay online or in-person. Plus, you can read reviews of previous customers to ensure you’re picking the right parking space for your car, not to mention a guaranteed reservation in even the most popular garages.
If you’re someone who likes planning ahead, SpotHero is the bread and butter of parking apps. Whether you’re looking for hourly, monthly, or airport parking, SpotHero allows you to enter a specific address or use their feature to find parking spots near your location. Compare prices and prepay to receive the parking pass on your phone.
Favorite car repair apps
Everyone has car issues. Whether your car needs a regular oil change or a bumper replacement, RepairPal makes it easy to find the best shop near you to fix it. The web app gives you access to trusted and highly rated mechanics anytime, anywhere. And you can get average quotes based on the specific repair needed for your particular vehicle so you’re not price gouged at an unfamiliar mechanics shop (and we’ve all been there).
If you want to manage the efficiency and cost of using your car, Drivvo helps you stay on top of maintenance and track your vehicular expenses. The app manages all of your vehicle maintenance records and automatically calculates fuel economy. Simply enter your mileage whenever you gas up, and the app builds a record over time of how much your car costs to operate. It may have less coverage for fuel prices than GasBuddy, but it helps eliminate guesswork when budgeting car-related expenses.
Favorite road trip planner apps
Are you planning a big cross-country road trip in your future? You might want to download the appropriately named Roadtrippers app first. For schedule-averse road warriors, the app will help plan and map out your entire trek. It’s packed with features that are road trip-focused, like reviewed and searchable hotels, campgrounds, and places of interest along your route. It can even give you an estimate of how much gas you’ll use, to keep things affordable when you’re cruising along Route 66.
The automotive app landscape is constantly evolving, and this list can help you with every aspect of the auto experience. These technologies have the power to transform your drive while also saving you money.
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