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All Things Appy: 5 Best iOS Car Apps

All Things Appy: 5 Best iOS Car Apps

You can indulge your most ambitious car fantasies, access down-to-earth information on maintenance and repairs, virtually tool around in a car-centric game world, and much more with an assortment of free apps for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Our top choices are CarBuzz, Road Trip Lite, RepairPal, Cars.com and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Lite.

By Patrick Nelson
06/12/13 5:00 AM PT

Cars -- we love them. We're hooked on their looks, their shine, the freedom they represent. The insurance, the payments, and the smog checks, maybe less so -- but in any case, cars are a good example of a genre of app that fits well with the smartphone.

This week, All Things Appy takes a look at key, free must-have apps in this area, including one for drooling, one for managing your people shell with four wheels, one for fixing it, and one for whizzing around town virtually at high speed, with a bit of gambling and swearing mixed in.

About the Platform: Apps are found in the Apple iTunes store. Browse to the store from your device. Then search for the app that you want to load.

No. 1: CarBuzz - 1,000 Cars Inside

CarBuzz from Wapit is rated 4 out of a possible 5 stars for all versions based on 11,007 ratings, and 4 out of 5 stars for the current version based on 235 ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

CarBuzz
Wapit's CarBuzz is the best car info and industry news source on iOS. Scoops include spy shots, concepts and rumors. Plus, it provides in depth coverage of the auto shows.

Recent videos include Lamborghini's 50th anniversary driving tour with 350 Bulls all in one place. It's a must-have if you're a petrolhead -- and it's not just for supercars. Search for favorites too.

No. 2: Road Trip Lite

Road Trip Lite is rated 3 1/2 out of a possible 5 stars for all versions based on 8,553 ratings, and 3 1/2 out of 5 stars for the current version based on nine ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

Add data during fuel fill-ups and the app calculates your miles-per-gallon. Neat graphing functions let you get a quick picture of what's going on, and you can see fuel price, mileage and stats all on one screen.

The app is a come-on for a paid version with more extensive features, but it's a strong, full-functioned calculator and graph maker nonetheless.

No. 3: RepairPal

RepairPal is rated three out of a possible five stars for all versions based on 23,295 ratings, and 4 1/2 out of 5 stars for the current version based on 163 ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

Here's a way to avoid being bamboozled by your auto mechanic. RepairPal lets you know the fair price for an auto repair. Just punch in the job and the app provides an estimate based on labor and parts. Use it to price compare with your auto shop, or let it help you find an auto shop to get the job done

The app suggests best practices when making the repair, and also common symptoms and what might need doing. This is an example of an app that could make your smartphone pay for itself.

No. 4: Cars.com

Cars.com is rated 3 1/2 out of a possible 5 stars for all versions based on 32,328 ratings, and 4 out of 5 stars for the current version based on 440 ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

The Cars.com app taps into the Cars.com database of thousands of new and used vehicles near you -- including those at dealers. It's a useful tool for checking values and prices. You can also compare vehicles.

TechNewsWorld is downgrading its rating and position on this app because of numerous reports of the current version crashing periodically. Still, give it a shot and see if it works for you. It's powerful intelligence if it does.

No. 5: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Lite

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Lite is rated 3 1/2 out of a possible 5 stars for all versions based on 96,690 ratings, and 3 1/2 out of 5 stars for the current version based on 39,050 ratings, in the iTunes App Store.

Here's a free come-on version of the ultimate criminal career choice from Rockstar's Grand Theft franchise. It's a great fun starter game if you think you'd like to get behind the wheel and careen around town virtually. Like many games, it's heavy on the megabytes, though, at 243 MB.

You need to be 17 to download it. Hopefully that's old enough -- and that most 17-year olds know you're not supposed to steal cars in real life.

Want to Suggest an Apps Collection?

Is there a batch of apps you'd like to suggest for review? Remember, they must all be for the same platform, and they must all be geared toward the same general purpose. Please send the names of five or more apps to me, and I'll consider them for a future All Things Appy column.

And use the Talkback feature below to add your comments!


Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.


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