You own it, but do you really know it?


If you own a late model car, I'll bet you aren't using most of its features properly – or even know how to swap out the spare wheel. 

The surge in digitisation and connectivity has not passed by the automotive world, and as we rush about our lives, we often don't use the things we own, optimally.

That logic very strongly applies to your car. With all the time in the world and your vehicle garaged during the lockdown, now is the time to really familiarise yourself with its functions. 

Configure the app you need 

As the Smartphone has become a crucial device in all our lives, car companies have responded by making them usable when driving.

The latest Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions are excellent, but it's worth ensuring that you are getting the best from your car's infotainment system and Smartphone's digital interfacing. Merely pairing your device is only the start. Playing podcasts or your favourite songs might be the primary use for most paired devices when driving, but there is compelling data which can be analysed from your Smartphone's apps. 

apple carplay_toyota rav4

Image: Motorpress

Now is the time to download some of the best apps and prepare yourself to use them for when lockdown ends, and we can all again drive free.

For Android Auto, you'll want Torque Pro, which requires a Bluetooth OBD2 adapter, but can provide valuable early warning prompts, by scanning your engine management system's fault codes. Torque Pro also provides a very neat digital dashboard on your phone, which is configurable and can list all manner of engine, speed, and mechanical functions in real-time.  

Drivvo is available for both Android and iOS and targeted owners wishing to manage their car as an expense, instead of Torque Pro (which is an enthusiast application). Drivvo will track your fuel expenses, service costs and a flood of other motoring expenses in one consolidated application.

When tax season comes, it is a convenient way of collating your motoring claims. 

apple carplay_iphone 5

Image: GettyImages /Will Ireland

Learn to talk to your car – properly 

Some car companies have launched models with voice command capabilities. Fumbling through phrases while trying to navigate traffic usually leads to frustration between yourself and your car's digital voice assistant. 

You have all the time to now sit in the garage, get comfortable, and asses which form of pronunciation and phrases get the most accurate response from your digital voice assistant. 

Beyond the digital familiarisation opportunity that lockdown is providing, it is also a prescient time to refamiliarise yourself with some crucial automotive hard skills. South African roads can vary from excellent to quite poor in terms of surface quality – and that means the likelihood of suffering a flat tyre is high. 

Do you know how your car's jack works? And where the correct jacking points are, under your vehicle? The worst time to try and discover the answer to those questions is when you are stuck next to the road, with a flat tyre, panicking.

Your garage, in lockdown, is the safest place to teach all able-bodied family members how to function in the event of a flat tyre. Spending some time exploring your car's digital and device interfacing, and its spare wheel regime will make you feel a lot more empowered as an owner. 

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