A Highly Subjective List of 2021 Best Car and Trucking Apps

By Carter Hammett

Whether it’s locating a parking spot in a new city, operating a dash cam with your phone or simply trying to find the best rest stop for a break, the scope of offerings has never been broader when applied to automotive and trucking apps for your smartphone. 

Here’s a “highly unbiased” look at some of the best. I think we can all agree that 2020 was a pretty horrible year. Not just because of Trump. Not just because of COVID. Not just because of the havoc that the year wreaked on the economy and people’s mental health, not to mention long-term care and our vulnerable seniors’ population. Fortunately, 2020 was also the year that saw technology being used in new and innovative ways to help us just get through this mess. And that technology wasn’t simply limited to two-dimensional video conferencing. No, 2020 also reminded us that phones play a critical role in our lives and go beyond mere communication. 

Many of us sought refuge in our vehicles to escape the humdrum isolation that lockdown brings. And we enhanced that driving experience with a range of apps that became central in a variety of activities, ranging from car safety to finding the perfect parking spot. Here then is a round-up of some of the best apps in no particular order that we enjoyed during 2020 and that will help you rev up for the year ahead.

Waze

No app list would be complete without Waze. 

Available on both IOS and Android, this free resource has become the go-to app for route planning. But wait: capable of so much more, Waze offers users data on speed cameras, accidents, traffic jams etc, which enable users to plan their routes accordingly. 

Believe it or not, there’s also a carpool feature if you don’t mind sitting with strangers. The one downside is that if you live in an area where people don’t use the app, you probably won’t get that much from the experience. That aside, the app is pretty much considered essential by most drivers.

PlugShare

Cost: Free; Available: IOS & Android

One topic in the automotive world that gets my motor running like few others is the rise of the electric vehicle. Complementing this increased use is a pragmatic new app called PlugShare, which guides you to the nearest charging station should you need it. It’s especially helpful if you’re  new to the world of E-vehicles. 

Smart Dash Cam

Cost: Free; Available: IOS & Android

Dash cams have become considered almost essential for many road users but part of the problem is that the cost is often prohibitive. Smart Dash transmogrifies your phone into a dash cam. This is a great alternative to physical dash cams and could have lots of benefits in the long run. 

Gas Buddy 

Cost: Free; Availability: IOS and Android

Gas Buddy makes the list again this year for the simple reason that it’s one of the best things out there when it comes to finding the most affordable gas near you. 

The app is free but there are memberships with perks like discounted gas and roadside assistance. If there’s something to complain about, Gas Buddy relies on its network of user reports so you may come across errors in the information if there’s not a lot of people using this app in your area. 

Parkopedia

Cost: Free; Availability – both IOS and Android

While, there’s numerous applications that can assist you to locate a parking spot, we are rather fond of Parkopedia. True, it doesn’t have an in-app payment feature, but it comes with a huge index of more than 70 million parking spaces in more than 15,000 cities globally. That’s not too shabby. Definitely worth a look-see.

CARFAX

Cost: Free Availability: IOS and Android

The marketing tag boasts that this application has “everything you need to maintain your car and preserve its value in one convenient place. Finally, something that lives up  the hype! With Carfax you can receive alerts when it’s time for tire rotations, vehicle registration or emissions inspections, among other service details. You can display your service history, receive recall alerts and even access a list of trusted service shops. 

WhatsApp

Whatsapp is a popular messaging tool that offers users a hands-free way of receiving and sending messages. After receiving a message you can voice-activate the app to craft and send replies. If a GPS happens to be in use while driving, messages will still display the key screen, thus avoiding accidents. 

Updated versions of the app support call waiting and include a fingerprint option to add another security level. 

TRUCKING APPS

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include at least a few of the better trucking apps that we’ve come across, so without further ado, here are some raves for our faves.

KeepTruckin

Commercial drivers are empowered to communicate effectively and efficiently with their dispatchers using this app. Security is improved as drivers can easily send messages from their live location that’s accurate and timely. Electric logs are here for better or worse, and this app makes it easy to fill in the necessary tracking data.  There’s lots of other features as well, including trucking safety, violation alerts, task recaps and inspection reports. All of which add up to a highly rated and dependable app that’s used by over half a million drivers.

Trucker Path

Cost: Free; Availability: IOS and Android

This is another go-to app for people in the trucking industry. Billed as a navigation app, this resource enables users to identify information ranging from parking spots to locating a decent place to eat and rest. Among the dozens of features included in this app are elements like weigh station, fuel station locator, trip planning, job listings, address search and even a truckers’ forum. This app’s considered a must for drivers of all kinds. 

BigRoad  

Cost: Monthly fee; Availability: IOS and Android

Claiming to make the transition to ELD, Big Road offers a “no nonsense plug and play design that makes DIY installation effortless.” This app helps truckers keep daily logs quickly, accurately and easily. There’s a product that helps in creating inspection-ready reports while maintaining logs automatically. 

The app also comes with a host of features that includes fuel tracking, risk notifications for upcoming violations and 24/7 customer support. All of which make this app another standard for truckers.

So there you have it: our list of the best of the best. We love sharing new information with our readers, so please contact us if you feel we’ve missed anything or just want to share something cool you’ve found.  This list is far from comprehensive, and we know there’s lots of great car apps to be found out there. From navigation to diagnosing issues with your vehicle, the scope of service that the best apps offer has never been wider. And as we gear up to drive into 2021, you’re going to make sure you have only the best for your vehicle.   

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