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November 30, 2015

6 Awesome Free and Cheap Apps Every Driver Should Have

Smartphones have changed the way people operate in general, but they’ve really shaken up how the world interacts with their vehicles and other drivers. There are many apps that go above and beyond to improve commutes, save on auto body repairs, or make the roads safer, but knowing which ones have solid reviews isn’t easy unless you spend an hour in the App Store. Here’s a quick look at six top apps serving up different functions and benefits to drivers right now. As a bonus, they’re all free or cost less than a buck, so trying them out is easy.

1. GasBuddy (Free)

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As one would expect, GasBuddy helps consumers find the cheapest gas around. It works on crowd-sourced information, so people are encouraged to upload prices they come across. The app is easy to use, and lets those who need a fill up refine their search by city, zip code, or using the map search feature. It also has helpful things like graphs, as well as a trip cost calculator. The GasBuddy app is available for just about every type of mobile device.

2. Honk ($0.99) 

Gizmodo.com essentially called Honk the Swiss Army Knife of car apps, because it packed a lot into a little package. Its major claim to fame is that it lets you sync the time limit on your parking meter, and even displays the number of minutes you have left on the corner of the app icon, so you can see it from the home screen. It also has a bunch of nifty features, like hand-written and voice memos, so you can jot down notes. Plus, it integrates with your iPhone’s GPS and camera, making it super easy to locate your car when it’s time to leave.

3. Repair Pro (Free)

Even the biggest car enthusiast can have difficulty determining if a product or repair is being offered at a fair price. That’s where the Repair Pro app steps in. It gives estimates of what specific repairs cost, based on the vehicle’s model and location, and allows the user to track repairs made and those that still need to be done. It also includes mechanic listings and reviews, plus has an option for calling roadside assistance. It makes taking care of your vehicle incredibly easy.

4. Vlingo (Free)

The Vlingo app is an awful lot like Apple’s Siri, but a little cooler. It provides a virtual assistant of sorts, that can turn almost any phone into a hands-free device. It can look up information, place phone calls, update social media, and send texts or e-mails. Parents may feel better knowing that it has a built-in profanity censor, which blocks out words the kids shouldn’t be repeating when it reads emails out loud. The handy app is ideal for minimizing driver distraction, but it is also useful anytime your hands are full and you need your phone to complete an action.

5. XLR8 ($0.99)

Although XLR8 is probably the least useful app detailed here, it’s absolutely the most fun. It enables your vehicle to sound like a classic V8 muscle car, a NASCAR engine, or another of the system’s five chosen sounds. The vehicle sounds play through your car’s audio system, and coordinate with the actions your vehicle is taking. It’s loads of fun, as long as you don’t let the power go to your head and start driving like a madman.

6. Waze (Free)

A popular app among those who have longer commutes to work, the Waze app uses crowd-sourced data to make transit simpler. People can report hazards, accidents, and other issues, and the app will also help you find better routes based on traffic congestion. It’s incredibly comprehensive. Additional features included in the app allow users to input details such as current gas prices, info on local businesses, and delivers all the data in real time to other users.

Although some of these have common features that are found in many apps today, others are truly one-of-a-kind, and you might not even know that such a beast exists without someone pointing it out. (Like XLR8!) Many of them offer in-app purchases, for improved features, but they all work just fine at their free and super-low purchase prices anyway. Have a look and see which ones can make your time behind the wheel easier or more fun.


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Cori Gordon is manager at Winnipeg Auto-body and Collision Repair.

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