Review: Car Care
My father always kept track of his gasoline purchases in a one of his many extra checkbook registers. When I was on my own, I did the same, until I got my first PDA. Now, with my iPhone replacing my Treo, I needed a new car tracking program.
There are a lot of options out there. Some of them just track mileage, some of them include car service. The one I choose to use is Car Care.
Car Care starts off with a screen where you can choose your vehicle. If you want, you can even take a picture of your car to have it listed there. You can have multiple vehicles, although if your household is anything like mine, you usually only drive one car. I hope my wife is tracking the information for her car.
After choosing the car, you move to the entry screen. The first option is to edit the cars or reminders. This is key - I want to be reminded when I need an oil change, tire rotation, etc. Unfortunately, you can't be reminded for routine service - they only include opoptions for oil change, tire rotation, and tire balance. Given that routine services is strongly suggested to maintain your car, I found it odd that this was lacking. When setting the reminders, you can choose either months and miles between the service, which is good. Many programs only let you choose how many miles.
You can also look at fuel graphs, to see how your mpg changes over time. Since I have only put one entry in my system, I don't have any graphs yet, but this is a nice visual aspect. It also include how price per gallon has changed - something that we are all very aware of now, so I don't know if it is good to be reminded of this or not.
To enter a new fill-up or service, you click on the appropriate button at the bottom. For fill up, you can enter the price per gallon, odometer reading, total number of gallons, what kind of driving you have done (highway, city), and what quality of gas you got (regular, super, etc). It would be nice to see a combination of highway/city, since many people probably don't drive each of those exclusively on any single tank of gas, but that is a nice feature to include (as is the gas quality). I am still getting used to the spinning drums to enter numbers - I can't decide if I like that or not. It probably takes up less space than using the keyboard, but I don't know it is faster or not.
For a new service, you have the option of entering the service type from 9 different types (including tune-up, and tighten wheel lug nuts!). You also include the odometer reading.
The program doesn't have any sort of "total costs" feature - to see how much you have spent on gas, or on service, or on everything. That would be nice, especially if you are trying to decide if it is worthwhile to keep an old car.
The interface is, on the whole, very clean and easy to use. I like some of the features (such as the gas type) but it would be nice to have a "notes"section (especially on the services, for when you have multiple services, or something that is not listed). This program costs $4.99, so it is not the cheapest, but it seems to have the most features from when I was comparing these types of programs. Right now, it only uses MPG, but says that metric is coming soon.
All in all, the program does want I need it to do, and does it well, so I give it 4 out of 5 stars. With some polishing (additional features I listed above) it would go to 5 stars. If you are only looking for something to track gas mileage, you can probably use one of the cheaper program, but if you want to track more and get reminders, this program is pretty good.
Pros: Lots of data, easy to use
Cons: Some obvious reminders missing