Smartphone Apps for Car Lovers – E3 Spark Plugs Lists the Best

Keeping your teens undistracted behind the wheel? There's an app for that, E3 Spark Plugs says.

Ever circle the block a dozen times looking for a great parking spot? Or lock your keys in the car? Or forget to look at that handy little sticker from the auto shop telling you when it’s time for your next oil change until 400 extra miles have passed? There’s an app for that. E3 Spark Plugs lists a few of the handiest.

  • Mind your maintenance: Several smartphone apps help keep you mindful of upcoming maintenance needs. Various apps allow you to record your mileage, gauge your fuel economy and set timetables for routine service reminders alerting you that it’s time for an oil change, tire rotation and balance, alignment, radiator flush, belt or air filter change, etc. A few of the most popular car maintenance smartphone apps are the aCar app for Android and the Car Care, AutoLog and Car Minder Plus apps for iPhone.
  • Find a parking spot: Smartphone apps that help drivers find available parking spots in real time are popping up in markets around the country. Most, including the Parker app, rely on municipalities installing sensors in public parking spaces. These sensors then send out signals, letting app users know that a space is open nearby. The Smart Parking app being developed by researchers at Boston University allows drivers to reserve an open spot, detectable via an overhead light. When the right car pulls into the space, the light goes off. If the wrong car beats him to it, the sensor sets off an alarm. And a Parking Auction app used in Manhattan allows those leaving a parking spot to demand a price from nearby spot searchers.
  • Get a great deal on gas: Apps like Cheap Gas and GasBuddy allow you to enter your location and see real-time per-gallon gas prices nearby.
  • Ditch the distractions: This one’s very popular among parents of teen drivers. Several cell phone service providers including AT&T and Sprint offer smartphone apps that disable a drivers’ ability to text or to make or receive calls on their mobile phones while driving. Of course, they’re still able to dial 911 and to receive incoming calls from up to five designated numbers. Just make sure Mom and Dad’s numbers don’t get bumped for the boyfriend’s.
  • Call for help: Using crash-detection technology, Ford’s 911 Assist and My-911 can help drivers call 911 in the event of an accident. Tech triggers include deployed air bags and activated fuel shutoff valves. My-911 takes a proactive approach popular with parents of teen drivers. Parents can be alerted if their teen is speeding or if they drive beyond preset geographical boundaries.
  • Unlock your doors: How many times have you locked yourself out of your ride? Services like OnStar and Viper SmartStart offer apps that allow you to remotely unlock or even start your car using your smartphone – and you don’t even have to call a toll-free number. You can also pop your trunk or set off the panic alarm when you’re wandering aimlessly around a parking lot trying to remember where you parked.

Know of any other cool smartphone apps for drivers? E3 Spark Plugs wants to know about them. Post your info in our blog comments section or on the E3 Spark Plugs’ Facebook fan page.