Saturday, June 12, 2010

Car Care App, Review & Use


Following this blog’s theme of "D" maintenance and upkeep, I think and trust that you'll find this an appropriate posting.  This is about an an iPhone app, called “Car Care” ($4.99).   Note that this app also works on the iPod Touch and the new iPads, and works just as well in Imperial or Metric units.

Car Care has been around for a while, it was one of the first applications of its kind on the iPhone. I've been using it for nearly two years now, so this review is based on the practical usage, and not just on the recent discovery of an app.  Today there are others, and I have tried a few of them, but they are either poor copies of Car Car, or none of them can do everything, or as thorough, as this one.  Additionally the author, Karl Becker, encourages and replies to feedback.

What is does

In a nutshell, this handy little program when properly fed with data (takes discipline, but it's a quick process), will provide you with: MPG performance, maintenance history and reminders, as well as a history/summary of ownership details and vital car facts.
Here is a shot of the opening screen, you can enter and track one, or all the cars the car that you own with this app.  As you can seem you can customize this screen with your own background pictures. 

Fuel Mileage History: Features

Once your vehicle(s) are set up, it then all starts with a gas fill up. You record type (set once if you always pump the same type), gallon (or liters) used, cost per gallon (or liters), and the odometer reading (miles or km).  The entry screen looks like this:

It then automatically records the approximate (GPS synch speed sometimes throws it off) location, total fill cost, date and time.  The manual entry work is done in under 30 seconds, so it’s quick and easy to collect and enter this data just after a fill up.  So far this data is just record keeping, but the more you use it the better the available information becomes available.

On your second and follow up fills (can be partial fills as well), you then begin to create an MPG and vehicle history. Within a few entries, the program then will provide you a reasonably accurate summary of:

MPG average with graph (Selectable for all data or for a period of time).
Fuel cost graph, interesting to see the fluctuations over time.
Total fuel Cost
Avg Fuel Cost
Total distance logged
Fuel Cost per mile
MPG average, best, worst, and if you vary type, the avg by type of fuel.
Carbon footprint
Largest fuel fill
Most & Least Expensive fuel purchased
Avg Distance per fill
Avg Days between fills

Here is the "Vehicle Stats" page, for my daily driver (two iPhone screen fulls combined for clarity):

The "Graphs" screen shows your MPG performance on top, and a historical price of fuel cost/volume.

Fuel Mileage History: Usage

Looking at the summary above, it is certainly more data than you’d ever want, but this data is as useful as you make it, especially if you use the resulting information above to track to a goal and or to monitor performance.

Let me provide you with a recent example of how this data recently came in handy. Our other non-D quirky/classic car recently has started showing a drop in MPG performance from previous months of identical usage.  Something changed, and it triggered us to think what it could have been.  We recently found that one of the disk calipers was binding on a rotor, and we addressed it.  In gasoline fill ups after that, we observed that the MPGs started to go back up.  That’s a good example of how these types of programs can assist us to ensure that our classic (quirky) cars, are kept reliable and well maintained.

Maintenance History and Reminders: Features

The second major feature of this program has to do with maintenance, and I think that while this is generally useful, it becomes a handy preventative maintenance tool for owners of older cars.

Similar to the MPG data and results, you also record a vehicle maintenance by category and sub category, at what mileage it was performed, and the associated cost.  You can then also set it up for automatic reminders at selectable intervals, for follow up maintenance. For example, the most obvious one being an oil change, you can have the program remind you of the follow up oil change based on either miles or time period elapsed. While that seems mundane and easy enough to not need a software program, you can also put in service reminders for many other pre-defined or custom maintenance or recommended manufacturer intervals.

This picture shows the Maintenance reminders on our Supra.

Once they are triggered they turn red, and you are reminded to check here at the app's icon, and each time you launch the app.

Tip: On newer vehicles, always reference your service guide for service recommendation, most shops including car dealer shops, often add intervals or services ($$) inside those factory recommendations. When in doubt, check your vehicle's manual for the official recommendations.

The service reminders are triggered by the odometer and date input from your gas fill ups, and you are offered pop up maintenance reminders, as well as a symbol reminder on the main screen in the form of a wrench on an orange box next to the associated vehicle(s), and the apps icon (number of reminders).  

Perhaps not as useful, but interesting to compare amongst your different vehicles, the program does summarize all work done with the following statistics:

Total Service Cost (this is sometimes a scary number, with older, quirky/unique/classic cars)
Service Cost per mile

Maintenance History and Reminders: Usage

I have found the maintenance reminder feature very handy in setting up service reminders which I would have otherwise not recalled, such as for coolant flushes (once every 18 months, or 12K miles, is what I follow for good clean system), and tire rotations (worth it to follow as long as possible, to extend the time in having to purchase new tires).

If you have old service records you could also enter them in this app, sure there’s paper records; however, I find that having this type of information at your disposal (in your pocket) is a) handy when shopping for parts and you are not near the stack of receipts, and b) great for preventative maintenance e.g., anywhere, at a glance, you can see when the last time a clutch slave was changed, and how long it lasted in use, and even the part number or its equivalent cross over number for reference (e.g., out of town, looking for a 25 year old part).

Feature: Data Back Up

It would be a crime if you recorded all this data, and you change or worse lose your mobile device, because you would lose all this data and information.  Cleverly the author allows the data for each car recorded to be emailed to you, as a text file, which imports into Excel well enough.  If you wish, once in Excel you can dig deeper into data analysis, if you are so inclined.


If you are vested in the Apple scheme of mobile devices, this is an excellent tool that integrates smoothly and in sync with your car hobbies, interests, and upkeep.

If you are outside of the Apple scheme of mobile devices, then join me in convincing the author to get this app into the Android market!   LOL!

The author's support website is:
...and I just noticed he has a detailed video walk through of his program here:

If you have a few minutes, be sure to check out the "Best of" postings.  Thanks.


car care services said...

Thanks for best information about car care review. i think it's useful review. really good job keep it up!!!

Anonymous said...

For Android users, aCar is similar.