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September 15, 2014

On the Road: Automotive Apps for Windows Phone

My first car was a 1972 Volkswagen Type III Fastback.

The car was an old family hand-me-down and its age showed. The entire frame vibrated if you drove more than 60 miles per hour and the brakes were so worn-out that it seemed to take a half city block to stop.

But to a 16-year-old girl, the three-speed jalopy meant freedom. All of a sudden, the beach, the mountains, and points beyond were within reach.

I don’t have that car anymore, but if I did, I’d take better of it and enjoy driving it more with the help of my Lumia and these Windows Phone apps.

cardashappCar Dash

This free, award-winning app is perfect for the daily road warrior. Car Dash makes it easy to get directions, call up to six important contacts, and access a variety of apps (including Bing News, Evernote and HERE Maps) via a large, touch-friendly interface.

Want to listen to music from your Lumia while on the road? Just touch the app’s microphone then say aloud the artist, album, track or playlist you’d like to hear. Note that this service works only with the Xbox Music and MixRadio apps on your Lumia.

And if you’d like to get updated weather forecasts or access NFC features, they’re available via Car Dash’s Pro Upgrade ($1.99).

My Car

Help maintain your car with this useful and free app: Track your vehicle’s fuel costs and efficiency, add autoshop or dealer appointment reminders, and compose notes about important dates such as registration, annual inspection, and tire changing. You can also post photos of your car, car repairs, and receipts.


After you input enough data, you can view statistics, charts and trends related to your vehicle, including monthly costs, cost per day, and fuel efficiency. And don’t worry about losing important data: You can export and back up all of your cars’ data to One Drive.

My Car supports multiple cars, so feel free to track all the motorized vehicles in your household. In addition, you can pin your cars to the Start Screen via Live Tile.

parkitappPark It

This is the most straightforward app I’ve found to help you find your car. Park It will locate your car via GPS as well as provide street address and latitude and longitude coordinates.

Snap a photo of your vehicle, write notes if you want (“Add money to meter” or “Parking Garage, 2nd level”) and type in a reminder time. Also, pin Park It as a Live Tile on your Start Screen for instant access.

To return to your car, simply tap the app’s “directions” button and Park It will give you step-by-step directions as well as the approximate number of minutes it will take to walk to your vehicle. Nifty!

The app also features Augmented Reality, which comes in handy if your car is in a very large parking lot (e.g. shopping malls and amusement parks). If you want to go ad-free (and give a little love to the developer), that can be done for a mere 99 cents.

Auto Loan Calcs

Are you in the market for a new or used car? Be sure to bring this app with you. It calculates how much car you can afford, whether that would be a new Tesla (lucky you!) or a more modest but reliable and sturdy vehicle.

autoloancalcsThe app provides auto-loan amortization details such as interest, principal, and balance, as well as graphs to help you better analyze and visualize your loan. Besides calculating your monthly payment, the app also lets you send auto loan info by email, text and social media to friends and family so you can get their opinions.

Two other neat features of Auto Loan Calcs: The Cash Back vs. Low Rate calculator helps you figure out whether to take an auto dealer’s cash-back proposal or go for a low-rate interest offer instead. In addition, the app’s Auto Loan vs. Home Equity Loan calculator helps you decide if it makes sense to take out a home-equity loan to buy your car.

What was your first car? Which of these apps do you find the most useful?