If you’re anything like me, you have an unhealthily co-dependent relationship with your smartphone. We’re all on these devices all day – texting, emailing, checking the Twitter, or, if you’re me, managing my dog’s very popular Instagram account. Since we’re all using them constantly, why not put our smartphones to use to help us save on fuel?
We haven’t written about smartphone driving apps for a few years now, so I thought I’d see what’s new (or just improved) in the driving app world, specifically around ways to increase your fuel efficiency. Here are our top six apps for tracking, maximizing or saving on gas.
AccuFuel ™ Fuel Tracking App – PAID (iOS)
With AccuFuel, you just update it every time you fill up, inputting the fuel purchased, the cost and your current odometer readings. It’s an American app but you can switch it from imperial to metric. You can use it to track fuel use in multiple vehicles and keep an eye on how your driving habits affect how much fuel you’re using.
Best Parking – FREE with in-app purchases (IOS, Android, Blackberry)
Sometimes the best way to save on fuel is to avoid unnecessary driving – and driving around endlessly looking for parking can really cost you. The Best Parking app saves you both time and fuel by showing you the best places to park. It not only shows you where to find parking lots, but also colour-codes parking areas by price range, so that you can find the cheapest parking option fast. If you upgrade to the premium service, you can get even more granular info on individual lots, including hourly rates and dates and times – plus, the app will show you a photo of the parking lot entrance, so that you know what you’re looking for. For us Canadians, Best Parking only works in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver right now, as well as over 100 cities in the U.S.
greenMeter – PAID (iOS)
The greenMeter app uses accelerometer sensors in your smartphone to show you real-time data on how your driving style is affecting your fuel economy. It uses existing information about your particular vehicle, combined with your own driving behaviour, to deliver data on energy cost in dollars, CO2 output and oil consumption. The app doesn’t use GPS, so it doesn’t drain your battery as much as some other apps – but it does have to be mounted on or near your dashboard for easy reading.
Waze - FREE (iOS, Android, Windows)
Waze is a community based traffic and navigation app that’s particularly useful in crowded cities where finding the route of least resistance can help you save on fuel. It uses GPS to map a route, but on Waze, that route will include additional info like accidents, traffic jams, speed traps, construction delays and other road info that has been reported by other Waze users in your community. The data on Waze is only as good and plentiful as members of Waze in your area. But since the app is free, it's worth a download to see what kind of traffic and construction reports are being added in your city. Waze has a social aspect as well, letting you build a profile and connect it to your Facebook account, so you can see when your friends are on the road.
Automatic – FREE but requires hardware purchase (iOS, Android)
The Automatic app is free but, it requires the purchase of an external device that you plug in to your OBD II port. Automatic is a pretty powerful diagnostic tool, intended for those who really want to get under the hood of their vehicle, and it offers a slew of cool features. The app diagnoses your check engine light, letting you know if you can fix the problem yourself or if you need to see a pro. It also keeps track of your fuel levels, analyzes your driving habits and delivers prompts when you’re braking/accelerating too much or driving too fast. The app tracks your progress and actually gives you a score on fuel efficient driving every month. After a long wait, Automatic is finally available in Canada – but it’s an American product and doesn’t work in metric.
Petro-Canada™ Mobile App - FREE (iOS, Android, Blackberry)
I’ll admit, I’m taking the idea of “saving on fuel” literally by including this app – when you register your Petro-Points card on the app, you’ll have a digital points card that you can use to collect and redeem points in-store for fuel savings (or whatever you choose, of course). The app can also locate the nearest Petro-Canada and you can use it to reload your Fuel Savings card, among other things.
NB: While we haven’t written about smartphone apps in awhile, we HAVE written a lot about the dangers of distracted driving. Most of these apps are meant to be used in the car, with your phone mounted on the dash, similar to a GPS unit - but you should not be messing around with your phone while driving!! Be sure to either use these apps to plan ahead or have your passenger monitor the apps when you need to check something while on the road. Stay safe out there!
Do you use a smartphone app that helps you save on fuel? Which is your favourite driving app? Let us know in the comments!
- Rose R.