Editor’s Note: Today we’re thrilled to welcome Christine Johnson to our Tech Talk team of contributors.
When I was a girl, my father taught me that it was very important to keep your car maintained and to keep track of your mileage. (I think keeping track of mileage was mostly for tax purposes, back in the day when your commute from the Jersey Shore to the upper part of the state would be deductible.)
Dad had a “gas book” in his glovebox; in this book, he logged every fill-up, every maintenance job, every expense he had for his car. Every car we ever owned had its own gas book.
When I got a driver’s license, Dad made sure I logged my tune-ups and oil changes in the book alongside my fill-ups. Using this method, we could calculate the miles per gallon I was getting in my 1977 Toyota Corolla, and I could always look in my book to see the next time I’d need to go to the auto parts store and buy spark plugs, cap and rotor, oil and filter.
It’s never occurred to me that anyone would NOT have a book like this.
When I got an iPod Touch a few years ago, I was determined to find some way to keep these records electronically instead of having a notebook. After all, the notebook pages could fall out (and frequently did, especially if it was a spiral notebook), and it was a pain in the tuchus to meticulously draw those lines on every new page.
After searching around the iTunes store, I came upon an app that had just been dropped in price (yay for sales!) that looked like it might fit my needs: Gas Cubby.
Here was an app that promised to keep track of everything I had in my little gas books of the past, PLUS calculate my MPG and a host of other things! I could – if we had two personal cars – add more than one car to the list. Not only that, but it also has a syncing capability just in case you’re afraid of losing your phone or iPod.
I jumped on it, and I haven’t been sorry since. Not only does it keep track of everything in my gas book, but it also reminds me when I have maintenance to do! (These are all customizable reminders, so if you’re using regular motor oil in your car, you can set the reminder for 3000 miles or 3 months, but if you’re using synthetic oil, you can set it for longer.) In fact, my app reminded me to rotate my tires and change my cabin air filter pretty recently. No more searching back through the gas book to find my last entry!
As you can see from my screen shots, you can also sort your information; if you don’t want to be reminded that you just had to spend $450 on a cooling fan module at the dealership, that’s okay! Just have the app display your gas purchases only. And you can see that the app also gives you your last tank’s MPG as well as the overall MPG on the homescreen (when displaying your gas purchases).
One of the other terrific things about this is the wealth of information it stores for me. My VIN, my insurance information (along with a note for their roadside assistance number), charts depicting my average costs for gas, repairs, and more. I can log where I filled up, what the octane was of my fill-up, where I got the car repaired, and whatever other little notes I want to leave myself.
Now, here’s the big question some women might be asking: What if I don’t DO my car repairs at all? What if I leave it up to my husband? What if we just bring it to a mechanic for everything?
Well, that’s easy! This is an app that will make everyone’s life easier because you can share your account with your spouse & sync the information back and forth. Honestly, until I got engaged, I did all my own car maintenance (Dad’s insistence – I would be able to save money & no one could take advantage of me in an auto parts store).
The week I got engaged, I showed up at my husband’s house with my car and a box of what was needed to change my oil and announced that it was now his job.
However, the need for knowing when to have these things done hasn’t gone away, and it’s especially important as our lives get busier not to forget. Having a good system to remind yourself is paramount, even if you’re just taking the car to the mechanic for everything. And regular maintenance is a lot cheaper than repairs.
Besides, a little app on your phone that reminds you is WAY better-looking than that window cling Jiffy Lube sticks on your window!
Gas Cubby is available for iOS devices, and now that I look at the App Store again, I notice that the price has dropped again to a lovely $2.99! A terrific bargain!
Copyright 2012 Christine Johnson