Auto Bits: How your smartphone can help you care for your car

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

If you can resist the temptation to reach for it while you're behind the wheel, your smartphone can be a great asset as you care for your vehicle. A smartphone can give you instructions for maintenance procedures while you are under the hood, help you find a part that needs fixing and get you to a trusted mechanic quicker and easier than ever before.

- How-to videos. YouTube isn't just a great place to check out the latest hilarious viral video, it's a great resource for finding videos that can lead you through common car maintenance procedures. "Being able to pull up an installation video, often for your specific car, on a  smartphone so you can watch while you replace parts is convenient for mechanics," says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of

- Maintenance diaries. If you're like many conscientious car owners, you probably keep a log book in your glove box detailing everything from maintenance procedures to oil changes and even gas mileage from tank to tank. The good news is there are now a number of mobile device apps that can make this task even easier for you. A good car maintenance app will organize and present the notes you keep in a logical way, and even allow you to keep notes on multiple vehicles. Some even have the ability to send you reminders when you are due for an oil change or other routine maintenance procedures.

- Garage locaters. If you end up breaking down in unfamiliar territory, a smartphone can be of great assistance in finding a reputable shop. Your map app can help you locate the shops closest to you and then you can take to the Web, visit a shop's site and read reviews collected by mobile-friendly services like CustomerLobby to learn what other customers said about repairs they had done at the shop.

- Car buying info. Your smartphone can also help you if you're in the market for a new car. If you're on the showroom floor, you can use your phone to browse vehicle specifications and read reviews. Many car magazines now have mobile sites, making things that much easier, and you can even get a quick answer on what kind of fuel economy to expect at


The List

According to, here are the fastest cars of 2013:

5. SRT Viper

4. Ferrari FF

3. Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

2. Lamborghini Aventador LP700

1. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport

Did You Know

Honda recently recalled about 170,000 CR-Vs and Acura ILXs because of a problem that can cause the front doors to open unexpectedly.

Car Q&A

Q: I hope you can help with my 2001 Honda Odyssey a/c problem. I turned the a/c on this week and it did not work. I added a can of R134a and it still does not work. Before I take it into the shop, do you have any ideas?

A: Today’s a/c systems are controlled by a body control module, and before the compressor gets power to turn on there are certain requirements in the a/c system that have to be met. The use of a scan tool to check any fault codes in the HVHC system is necessary before anything is done. It would be best to take the van to a qualified technician to let him diagnose the problem.

- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

GateHouse News Service