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Beat The Traffic, left, and Gas Buddy.

Smartphones have become so important that it's as if we've all grown another appendage. We stare at their glowing faces day and night, or rush to them with the faintest of pings.

We shouldn't use them to text, call or check e-mails behind the wheel of a car, but that doesn't mean a smartphone and your vehicle aren't compatible; on the contrary, these amazing devices have the power to enhance your driving experience.

To wit, here are five of the best car-related apps.

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Automatic

  • Price: $99 (U.S.)
  • Available at: automatic.com

Available for both iPhone and Android, it is one of the most comprehensible offerings on the market. You plug in an accompanying device to your car's data port, which then sends gads of information to your phone. It will monitor your car's mechanicals to tell you when you need to change the oil and what the problem is when the "check engine" light comes on; it monitors and makes suggestions on your driving habits, will contact authorities in the event of a crash and even find your car for you in the mall parking lot. The downside? It only works in the United States.

Chamberlain MyQ Garage

  • Price: $124.99 (U.S.)
  • Available at: chamberlain.com

You've left the house for a date night, heading to that swank restaurant downtown. Wait a minute. Did you close the garage door? No need to sweat or take time out of your romantic evening; just check it on your smartphone. This app uses a supplied WiFi hub and door sensor to allow you – via your home's Internet – to control the garage door. It works with most major brands of automatic door openers made since 1993, will alert you when your door has been opened or closed and will even remind you to close the door when it senses you've left.

Dynolicious Fusion

  • Price: $9.99 (U.S.)
  • Available at: iTunes

This app uses your iPhone's accelerometer, gyro, compass and GPS features to give you detailed performance information about your car. Hit the skidpad to get feedback on your car's acceleration, g-forces, elapsed time – even horsepower at the wheels. But don't keep these nuggets of information to yourself; this app also supports the social media aspect of Dynolicious Connect, which allows you to upload your car's data along with pics of your ride and personal stories to an online automotive community. It's only available for iOS 6.

Gas Buddy

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  • Price: Free
  • Available at: gasbuddy.com

Find cheaper gas in your area with this app. It works with more than 40 million users uploading the prices at local fuel stations with their iPhone or Android into a database, which then sorts the cheapest places to fill up.

Beat the Traffic

  • Price: Free
  • Available at: beatthetraffic.com

Getting stuck in rush-hour gridlock and being late for supper can raise the road rage in the best of us. Get help for the drive with this app, which also relies on users for information along their routes to chart difficulties, incidents or nightmares you might want to avoid. Beat the Traffic will also map out alternate routes for a faster or safer drive, as well as give you a full traffic map for your area. It works in both Canada and the United States, though traffic report videos are only offered for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas.

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