Track your fuel mileage over time via your iPhone

Back when I learned to drive—one of the things my father instilled in me was the need to track my vehicle’s gas mileage. Such information would alert me to problems before they became major issues, or so I remember hearing. For some reason, that particular lesson has stuck with me over the years, even as cars have evolved with systems that will find trouble spots long before they become obvious in a mileage book. So, I’ve always kept a small notebook and pen. Every time I fill up, I pull out the notebook, and jot down the miles driven, gallons bought, and (usually) the cost per gallon. I then transfer these figures to a spreadsheet and track and calculate my miles per gallon over time. Have I ever actually done anything with this information? Not that I can recall… yet still, I diligently record every fuel purchase.

The advent of the App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, however, has brought out a handful of applications that aim to put my little mileage book out of business. These mileage trackers help you record mileage, fuel costs, and in some cases, additional information about your car’s behavior over time. I took a look at five such programs in order to identify which do the best job of replacing my manual mileage logs. To evaluate the programs, I developed a set of conditions around what it would take to replace my manual mileage logs. To me, an ideal application in this category would meet all of the following criteria:

  • Has a fast and easy-to-use data input screen.
  • Supports more than one vehicle.
  • Tracks per-tank and overall fuel mileage data.
  • Can import and export data.
  • Has a database of vehicles, to make setup quicker.
  • Can use the vehicle’s trip meter or its odometer for mileage tracking.
  • Generates useful reports based off the stored data.

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