[iPhone] RepairPal helps you track and fix car problems

mza_8606230683152451155.320x480-75I can rip open a computer and tell you what each of the components does. But if you ask me to do the same thing under the hood of my car, I’d be at an utter loss. And I’m even more clueless when it comes to knowing what it should cost to repair my car. I’ve been looking for a good resource for car information, and I stumbled across RepairPal today. RepairPal is like having an auto repair expert in your pocket, and it has a whole host of cool features for people who are as equally car-clueless as I am.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

RepairPal helps users estimate how much a repair should cost at a reputable shop in your area, and also tracks all prior repairs on your  car. In addition, for those who don’t have free roadside assistance built into their car insurance plans, the app also gives you one-touch access to roadside assistance.

Pros

  • Stores info on multiple cars
  • Locate garages, specialists, and dealerships (with ratings for some establishments)
  • Free app that’s easy to navigate and small in size
  • Great information about best practices in terms of how often certain parts should be replaced, provides education to those who lack general automotive knowledge
  • Having detailed records of your car repairs and service history makes it easier to get a higher price on your car when you go to sell it or trade it in.

Cons

  • Long waits while the app syncs periodically
  • Some features (like adding a garage to your favorites list) are unavailable unless you sign up for a RepairPal account
  • It would be nice if there was a tool for inputting car “symptoms” to help users diagnose possible problems, and determine whether the underlying cause might be a simple thing (a spark plug) or a big issue (the transmission.)

Discussion

mza_8622163221174234855.320x480-75When you first fire up RepairPal, you’ll need to input some basic info about your car: year, make, and model. From there, you can search for a repair shop in your area, information about how much certain repairs cost, or call for roadside assistance. By calling for assistance only when you need it, you might save money as compared to paying an annual or monthly fee.

As I mentioned above, one thing I really wish that this app had is a tool for inputting car “symptoms” to help users diagnose possible problems. This would make it easy for drivers to know if the problem is something that they might be able to fix themselves (like a spark plug), or something more dire. The thing is, all this info is already in the app, under the various repair estimates. It would be pretty easy to create a search tool: someone just needs to do it. Having this tool would also help drivers to learn the basics of mechanics, at least over time.

I don’t like that you need to sign up for an account to get the full benefits of the app, such as adding a garage to your Favorites or recording your car’s service history. Other than that, though, this is a pretty decent app.

Conclusion and download link

RepairPal is a really handy app that will help you out when you’re in a jam. Make sure you have this app on your phone: when your car breaks down, you’ll be prepared to find a garage. And with good info at your fingertips, you will know if the mechanic is trying to rip you off.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 2.1.2

Requires iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, iOS 4.0 or later

Download size: 1.5 MB

RepairPal on Apple App Store

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