How to . . . use your phone to find your car

Google and Apple both have handy ways to track down your vehicle via your smartphone


We’ve all been there: parked the car and come back to find we don’t have the right spot. There’s the inevitable panic as you try to figure out if your car has been misplaced, towed or stolen, hitting fever pitch just as you find it three rows away from where you thought it was. There was an incident once that involved 15 minutes searching the long term car park at the airport before I finally gave in and asked for help from staff.

But as you’d expect, there’s an app for that, or at least a function built into the mapping apps you more than likely already use.

If you are using Car Play, Apple’s in-car system, or your car’s built in Bluetooth, iOS 10 will automatically mark your car as “parked” when you disconnect from the system. A small notification pops up on the screen letting you know that your car has been marked as parked, and if you need to, you can get directions back to your car in a couple of taps.

If you want to disable the feature that automatically marks your parking location in iOS 10, got to Settings>Maps and scroll down to Your Car. Switch Show your Parking Location to on.

Google’s attempt was built into Android devices, with the Google App automatically generating a card when you stopped your vehicle that showed your approximate location on a map. To enable this, you simply opened the Google app, tapped Menu>Customise>Transportation>How do you usually commute? and select Driving. The card then automatically generated in future.

But what if you don’t have Car Play or Bluetooth in your vehicle, or an Android phone? Or if you are using Google Maps? That’s no problem: you can manually mark your car as parked on both Apple Maps and Google Maps.

On Apple Maps, tap your location marker on the map and select Mark My Location. You can then get directions back to that location the next time you open Apple Maps.

Google Maps added a feature in recent months that will let you mark your parking location manually. First, check that it’s enabled. Open the Google Maps app, and tap on the menu tab. Go to Navigation Settings, and check that Save Parking Location is switched on. Once that is enabled, to mark your car’s location all you need to do is tap on your current location marker on the map. From the pop up menu, choose Set as Parking Location. Google Maps will then save the location for 24 hours.

No more lost cars or traipsing around a labyrinthine car park for hours as the panic rises.