Car Minder Plus
Car Minder Plus tracks maintenance, service repairs and gas mileage for vehicles, notifying you of pending and past due service. The app assists you in taking good care of your vehicle with ease of speedy data entry for oil changes, inspections, tire rotations, tune ups, and coolant system flushes.
Since the advent of the iTunes App Store, developers have introduced a fair number of vehicle related applications that made it easy and convenient to record and track fuel efficiency. There have also been auto insurance related apps launched by Nationwide, State Farm and others. Yet, until Car Minder Plus, the App Store was lacking an offering solidly designed for vehicle maintenance and repair tracking.
The developer, Josh Monroe, went for simplicity when designing Car Minder Plus and as a result, speed and ease of use are the app’s best strengths. From the opening screen, you can quickly add, edit, remove or select a vehicle. Vehicles are identified by name and custom photo for quick identification. Glancing at the vehicle list, you can instantly see by color and number which vehicles have pending or past due service needs. Also from the main view, you can access a very detailed manual and customize settings such as English or metric units and mileage/date triggers for alerts. To add a vehicle, you simply give it a name, assign a photo or icon, and enter the current mileage, which graphically appears as a familiar odometer. Entering additional details about your car or truck, such as VIN and title number, is optional and takes place on a free-form, yellow-lined page resembling the iPhone’s built-in Notes app. Lastly, from the vehicle view, you can email all vehicle details and recorded service and repair entries… great for sharing details with a mechanic or having a copy on your primary computer.
Upon selection of a vehicle, a view appears with four bottom “tab” selectors for Services, Repairs, Gas Log, and Car Info. The Services and Repairs tab will display their own respective alert badges should attention be needed. As with the vehicle page, an unlimited number of repair types, service records and gas fill-up entries may be added. To get you started and assist in familiarizing you with the app, some of the most common service types come pre-installed, such as oil change, tire rotation and windshield wiper replacement. Each service type displays at a glance a green/yellow/red light indicating if service is soon needed or past due, as well as, specific duration information such as “Rotate Tires – Due in 5,538 miles or 145 days.” To record service, you simply select a service type, and set both the mileage and date appropriate to when service was completed. Adding notes to the service record is an option in case you want to track where service was performed. The next service interval is automatically calculated based on the customizable defaults for a service type, such as oil changes are to be performed every 3000 miles or 3 months.
Maintaining consistency, Josh designed the Repairs view to work very much like the App does for Services. Since repairs do not have regular occurrence, there is no green/yellow/red indicator nor statement of when next due. However, you can see at a glance the history of repair on the vehicle, especially if you choose to itemize each repair as a separate entry, and the date and mileage is visible for each repair. Clicking on an existing repair or selecting to add a new one provides for repair name, date and mileage entry along with the familiar free-form notes page to record warranty info or any other details concerning the repair.
Last but not least, the Gas Log. Bearing a dramatically different, yet still very easy to use 3-page view that displays fuel efficiency trends over the past 3 months, 12 months and lifetime of the vehicle. Yet, what’s really smart and convenient is the ability to enter a fill-up from any of the three gas history views… no need to jump to a specific screen. You just click a plus sign to add an entry, click to record current milage, quantity of fuel, fuel price, and change the date (if needed). Graphs on the lower part of the screen instantly update for each of the three historic time periods. Additionally, green and red needles, representing average and most recent MPG, adjust in a dashboard-like fuel indicator display.
What I am hopeful to see from Josh in future revisions to Car Minder Plus are: specific fields for additional vehicle and insurance details like VIN and policy number, price paid field for repairs and services to track total cost of ownership, ability to download or enter manufacturer’s recommended maintenance intervals along with repairs suggested by a automotive shop for future budgeting, ability to compare repair/service/gas records with averages of other Car Minder Plus users or as compared to independent findings from organizations like Consumer Reports, and lastly, the ability to sync to a companion computer app or to the cloud where repairs/service/gas entries could be viewed in a geotagged manner on a map.
At $2.99, Car Minder Plus is a bargain versus the hundreds of dollars characteristic of many car repairs if proper maintenance is not performed. With an easy to use interface, rapid performance and considerable flexibility, Car Minder Plus is a highly recommended purchase.