3 Apps that can help you cut car costs

Due to insurance and repair expenses, the true cost of a car can often exceed customers’ initial expectations, leaving new car owners overwhelmed and frustrated.…

Apps that can help you cut car costs. (Shutterstock)

Due to insurance and repair expenses, the true cost of a car can often exceed customers’ initial expectations, leaving new car owners overwhelmed and frustrated.

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Fortunately, there are ways to save money when it comes to car maintenance by staying on top of your car’s repair history and by doing everything in your power to avoid accidents. We’ve selected a few easy-to-use apps that can help you on the road and in your garage.

RepairPal

Getting your car checked regularly for any minor problems is a great way to avoid major, wallet-emptying repairs. RepairPal, a free app for both iPhones and Android phones, records your car’s repair history while keeping a checklist of required maintenance.

RepairPal collects its data through surveys and analyses of actual repair invoices, which means you can look up the average price of more than 100 types of repairs in your area. A water pump replacement should, for example, cost between $263 and $368 in suburban Seattle, according to RepairPal. Don’t be surprised if a shop lowers its price if you show a cheaper RepairPal estimate.

Last November, RepairPal launched a program that gives AARP members a 10% discount off the price of repairs at participating RepairPal Certified shops. While RepairPal has many benefits, its roadside assistance program isn’t one of them: Although RepairPal will help you find the nearest tow service, you’ll still have to pay a standard tow fee, which is often more expensive than AAA’s annual membership fee. If you’ve recently relocated for work or school, this app can be especially helpful as it will help you find the most reliable and affordable repair shop nearby.

save on car costs with these apps

Find out about apps that can help you save on car costs. (Shutterstock)

aCar and aCar Pro

An Android app, aCar lets users keep track of basic car maintenance, fill-ups, and repairs, while also calculating the fuel economy of their car(s).

Unlike RepairPal, aCar can manage multiple cars simultaneously and reminds users of when and what service is necessary for each vehicle, making this app ideal for families with multiple vehicles. aCar also records the specs of each of your vehicle parts, so if a technician has a question that you don’t know the answer to, you could refer to aCar for guidance.

In addition to its free app, aCar also offers a Pro version for $5.99, which will appeal to savvier car enthusiasts interested in keeping their cars as fuel-efficient as possible.

On top of all of the basic functions, aCar Pro incorporates graphs and charts to analyze and optimize your car’s fuel efficiency, providing users with visual representations of general fuel expenses and service costs. Along with expanded language capabilities, aCar Pro also lets users import data from various other mobile apps, as well as websites for even more advanced statistical insights about your car’s fuel usage.

iOnRoad

Although ordinary wear and tear will inevitably lead to a trip to the repair shop, you can avoid major accidents that require extensive repair thanks to apps like iOnRoad. Available for iPhone and Android users, this app uses a phone’s built-in camera and sensors to alert drivers of dangerous driving situations. The software, for instance, can notify a driver of when he or she is crossing a solid marked line.

Although iOnRoad only costs $4.99, users will also need to purchase a car cradle mount to comfortably use the app. One of the only apps of its kind on the market, iOnRoad even notifies drivers of when they are speeding, thus helping them avoid tickets. Inexperienced or uninsured drivers may benefit from the extra sense of security afforded by iOnRoad.

In this day and age, there’s an app for just about everything. It seems logical, then, to invest in apps that can actually help you save money.

While RepairPal and aCar promote smart, money-saving car maintenance habits, iOnRoad can help you become a safer driver by preventing swerving and tailgating and, in turn, costly repairs. AARP members and individuals with one car should opt for RepairPal, but families with more than one car in their households should go with aCar.

Although RepairPal and aCar are the best apps of their kind on the market, users may also want to check out Car Minder Plus ($2.99) for further support.

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Tony Armstrong is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a website devoted to helping consumers make smart financial decisions.