auto

5 free smartphone apps for frugal drivers

Tara Baukus MelloIf you own an Apple iPhone or another smartphone, you have an array of useful tools to make your time in the car easier -- all for free. These free applications, or apps, work on most smartphones and will save you money and time.

Get voice-guided navigation. Forget spending thousands on the optional navigation system or even hundreds on the portable unit suction-cupped to your windshield. Just download the MapQuest 4 Mobile app to get real-time, turn-by-turn voice-guided directions as well as traffic conditions, points of interest (such as restaurants and gas stations) and car rerouting if you take a wrong turn.

Find cheap gas. With the price of gas continuing to rise, finding the cheapest gas prices while on the road can save a bunch. The Cheap Gas! smartphone app developed by David J. Hinson provides gas prices using data from GasBuddy.com and allows the user to show gas stations by distance from their current location, as well as to search via ZIP code for gas in a town where you are headed.

Get the necessary information after an accident. It's easy to get flustered after a car accident and not obtain all the necessary info you need from the other parties involved. It can also be overwhelming to call family for help. The EmergInfo free app provides step-by-step instructions in preprinted forms to make sure you collect all the info you need, take still and video recordings as evidence and even call family members, a lawyer or a cab.

Have hands-free note taking. Driver distraction occurs in many forms, and removing your hands from the car's steering wheel to jot down an important phone number or note could lead to disaster. With the NoteMinder smartphone app from AlchemAid, you just shake the phone to record your note and shake it again to automatically send it to a preselected email address.

Send free text messages. Texting can be dangerous while driving. But if you must, an application called TextNow from Enflick can save you a bundle. It offers free texting and picture messaging, including to people who don't use the app.

Ask the adviser

If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories.
 

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