8 apps to keep your car rolling

These mobile apps can help you maintain your car, save money on gas, avoid an accident -- or help if you have one.

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iOnRoad

iOnRoad

Price: $4.99

OS reviewed: iOS

Other OSes: Android (ad-supported free version available)

iOnRoad tracks the cars in front of yours and helps you avoid accidents by alerting you to potential collisions.

iOnRoad

iOnRoad

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The app uses your phone's camera and GPS to detect how long it would take you to collide with the vehicle in front of you at your current speed. (It requires that you use a phone mount that doesn't block the camera.) Your phone's screen displays the road ahead and color-coded bubbles follow the vehicle in front: green for over .8 seconds away, yellow for under .8 seconds and red for under .5 seconds. Audio warnings also sound when you approach a car too closely.

Also, though I was lucky enough not to get stuck in stop-and-go traffic while using iOnRoad, the app is supposed to detect bumper-to-bumper traffic (so that you won't get constant audio alerts) and will actually issue an alert when traffic starts moving again.

iOnRoad is not a navigation app, but can pair with several other navigation apps, such as Google Maps and Waze. You then have the option of either displaying a navigation bar from the paired app on the top of your iOnRoad screen or running iOnRoad in the background (from which you will still hear the audio alerts), with the navigation app in the foreground.

One area where iOnRoad did not deliver as promised was with lane departure warnings. I tested this out by veering a couple of times and not once did iOnRoad detect it.

iOnRoad is a innovative app. However, the novelty of watching the road on your phone quickly wears off; more importantly, it's visually distracting. iOnRoad actually recommends that you run the app in the background (so that you just get the audio) to avoid this distraction. I tend to agree.

iWrecked

Vurgood Apps

Price: Free

OS reviewed: Android

Other OSes: iOS

iWrecked aims to streamline information gathering for any car collisions you might have (which hopefully will be few-to-none).

iWrecked

iWrecked

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To get started, you input as much information about your vehicle as you can; in the aftermath of a fender bender, or something more serious, you want to do as little fussing as possible.

If you do have an accident, iWrecked asks for a lot of information within four categories: accident information, other driver, police and miscellaneous. Some of the information is basic, such as location and time; others are important details useful to have at hand, such as the insurance information for the other driver and the police report number.

iWrecked also lets you include photos of the accident with your information. Though it would be useful to be able to take photos right from inside the app, iWrecked instead takes you to your camera app; from there you can take pictures that can then be entered into iWrecked's accident information.

One of iWrecked's more useful features: In case of an accident, iWrecked will use your GPS to locate a tow service, taxi service or nearest police station. You can also call your emergency contact directly from the app.

While this is an easy-to-use and helpful app, it needs improvement in a couple of areas. First of all, you have to manually type in information, like car type and model, which would be faster and simpler if it were in the form of a drop-down menu. Additionally, you have to type in your emergency contacts yourself rather than being able to select them from your contact list.

But although it would have been useful to not have to enter so much information manually, overall this app does a good job of organizing your accident-related information.

Alternative: Auto Accident App is a free Android app that allows you to enter pertinent information, take pictures of the accident and record any bodily harm received as a result.

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