Ever wonder where the cheapest gas is in your area? Or how many miles to the next highway rest stop? What about how much a car repair will cost? Well, yes, there’s an app for that . . . and more.
Here are several apps Consumer Reports’ auto experts have used and found handy for driving. But please, do your setup and searching while the car is parked so that they don’t distract you from the road. And if you need to see the screen while driving, Consumer Reports recommends buying a smartphone mount that attaches to the windshield or dash.
GasBuddy. This free app helps you find the best fuel prices at nearby stations. After pinpointing your location, it displays prices reported by other users for regular, midgrade, premium, and diesel at major-brand and independent stations, and shows how recently the prices have been updated. After you choose a station, it will give turn-by-turn directions to it. Turn on your GPS receiver for the most accurate information. The app is compatible with Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone.
RepairPal. After entering your car’s make, model, and other details, this app can give you estimates on what a car repair is likely to cost in your area. It can also help you find a repair shop and get real-world quotes on the work. If you log your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, it will give you service reminders. It even helps you locate emergency assistance if you break down on the road. It’s free for Android and iPhone.
iWrecked. In the harried moments after a fender bender, it can be difficult to think clearly. But it’s critical to properly document the event and the parties involved, because capturing that information can save both money and hassles later. This free iPhone app guides you through what to do after a crash, such as taking photos of the scene and getting contact information from other drivers. It can also dial 911 and locate a taxi, tow service, or police.
DriveSafe.ly. This app is designed to help you keep up with your e-mail and text messages but minimizes their distraction. It reads your messages aloud while you drive and can send a programmed response that says you’re unavailable. The free version has a limit of 25 words per message. The “pro” version ($13.95 annually) can handle messages of 500 words and allows you to change the gender of the “voice.” It’s compatible with Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Mobile.
iExit. You can help take some of the guesswork out of road-trip pit stops by letting this app identify the restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and other services available at each exit. It displays the information as you approach an exit, or you can search by a category or by a specific brand or company name. Make a selection, and you can call the service with one touch. It also locates rest areas. It costs $1.99 for iPhone and is free for Android.
Consumer Reports writes columns, reviews, and ratings on cars, appliances, electronics, and other consumer goods. Previous stories can be found at consumerreports.org.