Driving safety videos retro

Safety Tips from Hilarious Vintage Automotive Videos

A crisp “Hollywood” voice that’s almost too earnest to take seriously. Cars that look like bulging biceps, The Chordettes or The Ink Spots blaring from that newfangled Blaupunkt FM radio. What do these have in common? American automotive nostalgia!

We get caught up in the future of automobiles so much that we thought it might be fun to explore the past with some quality vintage car films that capture the era. Thanks to YouTube, we have these videos from yesteryear available to us. Convenient!

Part of our job at Automatic is keeping you safe. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite vintage car safety videos. You can watch them here, or Subscribe to the YouTube playlist below.

Anatomy of an Accident (1961)

One part Sixth Sense and one part It’s A Wonderful Life this 25 minute movie follows John as he prepares to teach his company drivers about driver safety. Chief concerns for John’s drivers, you ask? Daydreaming, hunger, and blondes.

Best piece of advice from the video: “It never pays to get mad while you’re driving. You’re inviting an accident when you take time to yell at other drivers. Even if they’re driving like idiots, it’s not up to you to tell ’em off or try to get even.”

The Distracted Brain (1953)

The National Safety Council released this video in 1953. The narrator warns against the phantom danger of the distracted brain. “Remember,” he warns, “to all appearances, you’re driving with your hands and your feet, but do you know where you do most of your driving? In your head.”

In a curious tactical turn, the narrator suggests you hire a mental secretary to guard your brain against distractions. What follows is a hilarious sequence of scenarios where the imaginary secretary tells visitors off.

Best piece of advice from the video: “When you’re driving, drive. Be deaf and blind to everything except the road, your vehicle, and the traffic around you.”

Formations (1936)

We love this video. There are some genuinely interesting scenes like watching pre-WWII planes flying in formation, and watching the driver use hand signals to inform those around him what he’s doing. This video predates the US factory-installed turn signal (Buick’s doing) by three years.

The narrator puts you in the first-person perspective of a (horrible) driver and takes you through several dangerous driving situations. As the driver, you suffer through appalling lapses of judgment, like thinking about the Big Game and suddenly stopping in the middle of the road to talk to your friend Joe who’s reading a newspaper outside the corner store. You know, typical rookie mistakes.

The best piece of advice from the video: “If all roads were a mile wide, it would be fine. Then cars could drive a mile apart! But our highways aren’t that wide. For the safety of all in automobiles, all the care the formation fliers practice in the air must be practiced on the ground.”

Would you like to see more?

We know, we can’t get enough of these either. Check out this 127 video YouTube playlist featuring videos made in the late 20s all the way to the 60s. Let us know which ones are your favorites!

Speaking of car safety, here are other posts that can help you drive more safely out on the open road:

How to: Take Your Car to the Shop

Check Engine Light 101

list of driving music

Pit Stop: Some of Our Favorite Driving Songs

Music and cars go together like peanut butter and jelly. Whether you roll the window down and sing to the highway, or you channel Neil Peart and drum on the steering wheel, having your jam on while driving is hard to beat.

We asked our fellow Automatic employees to give us their top 5 favorite songs to listen to on the road. We’ve collected these songs in a Spotify playlist which you can find at the bottom of the post. We’ve also linked each song to a YouTube video in case you want to sample our selection on a single serve basis.


Derrick Seleska – Customer Care Specialist

Customer Care at Automatic

“This list of songs can take care of me anywhere I am driving, whether I’m caught in traffic, hanging out with the boys, or on a back country road! I guess you have to listen to my songs to know which one is for road rage.”

Ruthie BenDor – Lead Web Engineer

Automatic jobs and company culture

“What these songs say about my driving music preferences… I have awful taste.”

Inga Chen – Head of Automatic Fleet

Jobs at Automatic Labs

“I listen to trap / hiphop / EDM while driving (and working) to 1) stay awake 2) bop/sing/dance in my seat to. It’s my natural caffeine.”

Nasir Hakim – Android/iOS QA and Support Analyst

Automatic Labs company culture

“I started listening to Bollywood music during my time at UC Berkeley because some of my Indian friends would play Indian songs during our study sessions and slowly I became really interested.”

Jennifer Tam – Operations Intern

Work at Automatic in San Francisco

“The songs on this list fit my mood for when I’m driving during a sunny afternoon or late at night. They are fast-paced and upbeat to keep me and my driving focused and assertive.”

Arjun Mehta – Product Designer

What is it like to work at Automatic?

“I generally only drive alone and when I need to get to far away places. This often makes driving an epic and introspective experience filled with seamlessly connected landscapes. To match, I’ve chosen some fairly epic, introspective songs (with their own seamless landscapes)!”

But wait, there’s more!

I painstakingly put all of these songs into a palatable playlist that we’re calling “Automatic Drives, Vol. 1.” The playlist is notable for its genre diversity: you go from rap to electro to ’80s rock to Bollywood to progressive rock in just 28 tracks. Neat!

Jam With Us!

What are some of your favorite driving songs? Sound off on Twitter and Facebook.

Tips for talking to a mechanic

How to: Take Your Car to the Shop

Taking your car to the shop can be a nerve-racking experience. The costs associated with repairs, lack of automotive expertise, and relying on a mechanic to take care of everything are pain points for car owners.

There is also the stereotype that mechanics are going to take advantage of you.

Mechanics are aware of this stereotype, and many have taken the time to answer questions online to give tips to wary shop-goers.

We’ve collected tips from mechanics that will help you have a plan the next time you have to take a trip to the shop.

Tip: Ask, ask, ask for recommendations

Tips for going to the auto shop

Interior of Messy Car Repair Shop — Image by © Helen King/Corbis

“Ask for recommendations, years in business, warranties offered, licenses, and the type of equipment used. Look for a clean garage. A floor cluttered with empty oil cans, worn tires, and dirty rags is a red flag.”

via rd.com

What is more powerful than word of mouth recommendations? You go to someone you trust, and they can give you the skinny on their mechanic. Today, the smorgasbord of online review sites available is another resource you should use. In addition to asking your friends and family, take to the internet and read the reviews. You can bet that people will raise red flags if they’ve had a bad experience at a shop.

Tip: The Job Will Almost Always Cost More Than I Said

How to talk to your auto mechanic

An auto problem is rarely an isolated one.

“Since it’s impossible to know everything that’s wrong with a car prior to working on it, the quote that you receive doesn’t include everything that needs fixing. If a part looks like it’s going to break next month, it’s going to get fixed. Also, there are certain parts that have to be repaired by law. If the part in question is going to cause you to fail an inspection, then it has to be fixed, too. Of course, good mechanics will let you know about the additional charges and work in advance. They will also let you know the consequence if the work is not done.”

via 290autobody

Don’t be surprised if there are other fixes to make. A vehicle is a mechanical system that relies on other parts of the system to work properly. If one part is acting funny, there’s probably another part acting funny too. This is where people feel like they are losing control. Be clear with your mechanic that you want to know about all additional work and cost in advance of the work happening.

Tip: The manufacturer knows best

How to talk to a mechanic

Manufacturer’s tend to know more about their own cars than independent mechanics

“Instead of asking for a shop’s 10,000-mile service package, pull out your owner’s manual and point out exactly what you’d like done. Forget about the alternate schedule for heavy-use vehicles, he adds. Though your mechanic may try to convince you otherwise, most drivers just don’t fall into that category, which is for drivers who drive off-road most of the time, or in temperatures below 10 degrees or in excess of 90 degrees.”

via Daily Finance

Familiarize yourself with your owner’s manual and read the manufacturer’s recommendations on scheduled maintenance so you don’t pay for service your car doesn’t actually need. When you start talking about miles driven in the tens of thousands, the large numbers can seem like something to worry about, but remember, vehicles are meant to withstand that wear. Don’t pony up dough for a service package without referring to your owner’s manual first.

Tip: Learn how to do basic things yourself!

Fix your own car and save money on trips to the mechanic

Learning how to do basic car maintenance can save you trips to the mechanic

“I definitely encourage people to learn on their own how things work, and how to perform basic maintenance. It’s a great way to get to know your vehicle, and it’s just good life knowledge. I hesitate just a bit though. I would also encourage you to have your car inspected once (at least) a year by professionals. It’s easy to miss something small when you’re changing your oil that could leave you stranded at a really bad time. Most repair shops do really cheap, or even free multi-point inspections. (I’m not talking about a Jiffy Lube or tire store, a real shop)”

via /r/MechanicAdvice

You can save a lot of time and money by learning how to do just a few things yourself like replacing your air filters, checking your spark plugs or changing your oil. Here is a great Lifehacker article to get you started.

Tip: Don’t forget about your tires

Tire maintenance important for avoiding big problems with car health

Don’t neglect common tire maintenance.

“Tires are one of the sneakiest ways to end up spending a lot of money on car maintenance. Not only can worn out tires create a dangerous driving situation, they can also lead to the car getting out of alignment and having more expensive repairs needed. Make sure to rotate your tires along with the recommended schedule and replace them when the tread is gone. Healthy tires make a good foundation for your vehicle to stay safe out on the road and will keep you out of the repair shop.”

via Motor-Pros

Going to the shop for little things will save you from going for the big things. Paying attention to the health of your tires is a little effort that goes a long way. While you may not want to spend more time at the mechanic, being stranded on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere makes that little shop sound like a Hilton, right?

Our thoughts:

We think it comes down to being educated about your car. A flat rate manual is a good place to start. Flat rate manuals are published every year by organizations like Chilton and Motor. These manuals give the estimates for: an average technician, with average tools, and the average amount of time needed to complete a specific job on a specific vehicle.

Dealers tend to know the most about vehicles they sell, but they can be more expensive. You can find some good independent shops, but they can be just as expensive as the dealer. As our head in-house automotive engineer says, “If you’re shopping for a bargain, you deserve to get ripped off.”

Here’s the bottom line about car maintenance: short-term service visits like oil changes and getting your tires rotated will save you in the long run. Go ahead and invest the money for maintenance and regular check-ups and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding those repairs that end up costing more than the car itself. Also, try to find a mechanic by personal recommendation.


Pit Stop: We Nerd Out Over Our Favorite Drivers

When you work with car technology all day, your conversations tend to turn to cars even if you weren’t explicitly talking about them. For example, when Mad Max: Fury Road came out recently, a few of us started talking about how much we liked the movie, and then our favorite drivers. This inevitably led to: “Alright, who’s the better driver: Batman or Mad Max?”

Naturally, we proceeded to nerd out: “Mad Max is a way better driver than Batman! He’s driving with super low tech in the middle of a desert!”

“No way! Batman can drive any type of vehicle, and he has to do it in claustrophobia-inducing Gotham whilst avoiding civilians!”

“I think you’re missing the point, which is OMG FURIOSA.”

You get the picture. We’re huge nerds around here.

While we’ve decided to settle this debate by sharing these matchups on social media, it made us wonder how some of our favorite characters from TV and film would use Automatic. We presented this question to some Automatic teammates: “Who is your favorite fictional driver, and which Automatic feature would be most useful to them?” Here’s what we got.

Frank Bullitt – Ladan Mahini, Partner Marketing Manager


Frank Bullitt from Bullitt. Um, have you seen that car chase scene? Need I say more?! Plus, it features my favorite car, the 1968 Mustang GT Fastback.

Frank could potentially use all of Automatic’s features, but most importantly he could use the audio feedback on his driving habits. If Frank were to be notified every time he hit the brake too hard while swerving around a corner, or how much gas he’s been wasting chasing the bad guys, then maybe his drive score wouldn’t look too shabby. If Frank were to take the feedback from his Automatic and be a safer driver, he could save on gas and maintenance costs (braking too much wears on your tires!). Who am I kidding, Frank probably wouldn’t listen to the audio cues and would still drive like a maniac through the city.

(Editor’s Note: If you want to be more like Frank, you can turn driving feedback off in Settings. We cannot, however, recommend the use of Automatic in high-speed car chases, no matter how cool they look on camera.)

Ricky Bobby – Buckley Slender-White, Head of Marketing

Ricky Bobby and Wonder Bread

Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights. I imagine that he’d like to use the Nest integration. While he might have trouble with most technology—“Where do I put my hands?”—he knows how his car works (arguably) so he might be able to figure out how to set the temperature in his house with Automatic. “If you’re not first, you’re last!”

Batman – Lisa Yu, Director of Program Management


Who’s my fave? Batman! When the Batmobile’s out, it owns the road. It’s got so many gadgets, very fitting for its tech-savvy owner.

Batman could benefit from using DashCommand, because when the Batmobile’s out racing and he’s saving lives, he needs to be in control. DashCommand assists him in checking his engine health, tracking his horsepower, torque, and acceleration to make sure he’s catching up with the bad guys, and monitoring gas mileage and fuel consumption to keep the car running!

Richard “Dick” Milhous Dastardly – Nick Lambourne, VP of Hardware and Firmware Engineering


Dick Dastardly is by far the best of the drivers in the Wacky Races and all around misunderstood villain. His car, the Mean Machine, outstripped all the other competitors with raw speed, yet Dick cared more about his villain credibility than winning the race. These are morals I can get behind!

Every well-funded villain needs to track expenses. Enter our heroes, Automatic and Xero! Now at the end of every unsuccessful race, Dick retires to his castle licking his wounds, pours an inch of Rogue’s Rum, and files his day’s trips for next year’s tax season.

Marty McFly – Ljuba Miljkovic, Designer


Easy: Marty McFly from Back to the Future. It’s easy to lose track of your car through space and time and the DeLorean is no exception. Marty needs the parking location feature to work for him in overtime. If he could integrate Automatic’s parking locator with Doc Brown’s flux capacitor…great Scott, he’d never lose the DeLorean again!

Speed Racer – Cori Johnson, UX Designer


The whole Racer family would use Automatic! Speed obviously would practice his races with Harry’s LapTimer, and Pops would use that data to fine-tune the engine on the Mach 5. And while Trixie keeps an eye on his races from the sky, I bet she and the Speed’s parents would appreciate his being protected by Crash Alert.

When Speed’s little brother Spritle is old enough to drive, they’ll definitely want him using License+ so he can grow up to be a great driver and one day beat Racer X. And when Spritle gets an allowance, Speed can use UnMooch to get him to cough up cash for all the times he got a free ride by stowing away with Chim-Chim in the trunk.

Nerd Out With Us!

Those are some of our favorites. (Me? KITT, from Knight Rider, hands-down. The Hoff, on the other hand….) Who or what are some of your favorite fictional drivers? Which feature do you think would be more useful to them? Sound off on Twitter or Facebook.

The check engine light can be as mysterious as these other lights

Check Engine Light 101

So your Check Engine Light (CEL) came on. For a lot of people this light is a mystery and hints at some unseen danger in the guts of your car. Others ignore it until it goes away, or just let it stay on.

The Check Engine Light (also known as the Malfunction Indicator Light) exists to notify a driver that the engine computer has noticed a problem and requires attention. The on-board diagnostics system and engine control unit are in charge of monitoring a bunch of things like car emissions, and if they get a signal that’s abnormal, it triggers the CEL.

We get a lot of questions about the CEL in the Automatic customer community. There is some uneasiness surrounding this indicator that we believe stem from a few misconceptions.

Our goal is to make sure you’re informed and that you are able to have a good conversation with your mechanic if you need to. Let’s try to clear some of these up!

Misconception: “A code reader tells you the exact problem.”

While a DTC tool can give you an idea, you should still check with a mechanic.

While a DTC tool can give you an idea, you should still check with a mechanic.

A reading of a CEL trouble code can be confusing because the trouble code is only one piece of information, a single symptom of a possibly larger problem. Imagine going to WebMD with a headache, and trying to figure out what it means – a headache can mean anything! If it’s bad enough, you probably need to go see a doctor. This is the same for your car. Engine codes should be diagnosed by a professional, but identifying and understanding the symptoms can help you be comfortable talking with your mechanic.

If you’d like to know more about codes you might see, here’s a FAQ from obd-codes.com that discusses codes in depth.

Misconception: “Clearing the light clears the problem.”

Clearing the light over and over might get you into real trouble.

Clearing the light over and over might get you into real trouble.

When the CEL comes on, some technicians will clear the light once before attempting to fix the problem. This is fine for you to do, too. It’s possible that the light was triggered accidentally. If the light comes back on, figure out what the problem is and fix it if you can. Clear the light and check it again. However, if it comes back on, it’s time to call the mechanic.

Some people like to continually clear the light and put off checking in with a mechanic. This isn’t your best bet because ignoring the problem might make it worse – sometimes substantially.

Make sure you can retrace your steps: what code did your scanner report? What did you try to do to fix a problem? Did it work? Keeping track of your steps will be useful when talking to your mechanic.

You can read more about this topic in the Automatic community.

Misconception: “The CEL gives information related to all problems with your car.”

Check engine lights only tell you one thing: something's up and you should check it out.

Check engine lights only tell you one thing: something’s up and you should check it out.

This is not the case, and that’s actually a good thing! The CEL gives you just emissions related issues. Lights related to airbags, maintenance, ABS, tire pressure, and car batteries are different from the CEL. If you had to rely on one light to tell you all your problems, it’d be annoying to figure out where to begin. With the different lights on your dash, you can at least know where to start looking.

These are some of the misconceptions, but not all of them.

Don’t fret if your CEL comes on*, just make sure you know what’s happening inside your vehicle as soon as you can. You’ll need a scan tool/code reader (like Automatic) to give you the rundown.

*Note: If your CEL is blinking while your engine is running, it means you’re doing “mechanical damage” to your vehicle if you continue to drive under these conditions. If this happens, you should seek immediate professional advice.

Looking for more resources? We can help. Ian, our resident automotive engineer, also suggests checking out these resources if you’d like to learn more about CEL/MIL or OBD-II.




Any other questions? Ask us!


Fueling Up

Just a few short weeks after launching the Automatic App Gallery and Developer Platform, we’re back with more big news: Automatic just closed a Series B round of $24M, bringing our total funding to $32M.

Since Automatic launched in 2013, we’ve been fortunate to receive tremendous interest from companies across the automotive industry. As we talked to many of these companies, they offered to invest in us to make sure we had the necessary resources to support them. We all know that the auto industry doesn’t exactly evoke feelings of trust, loyalty, and amazing customer service for many people. We only wanted to accept money from companies that shared these values with us.

Luckily we found them.


We’re proud to announce that our Series B round is being led by USAA, one of the most respected brands in the financial services (and possibly any) industry. USAA has a legendary reputation for customer service. From year to year, 98% of its members stay with USAA, something we look to with great respect and admiration.

They’re also a proven innovator in the financial services space. If you’ve taken a photo of a check to deposit it, thank USAA because they invented that. USAA has almost 11 million members and we’re thrilled that they picked Automatic to help them deliver amazing experiences to their members.



Also participating in this funding round is CDK Global, the leader in digital marketing and dealer management system for the automotive industry. With CDK software powering 27,000 car dealerships globally and 6 of the top 10 dealer groups in the U.S., almost every car owner regularly interacts with CDK technology but is not aware of it.

CDK is an important partner we’re working with to build a seamless connected car experience for everyone. We look forward to collaborating with them to improve the car sales, repair and maintenance experience for millions of car owners, something that hasn’t changed much since the birth of the automotive industry.

We’ll take this opportunity to thank our always-supportive early investors: RPM Ventures, Y Combinator, Anthemis Group, Amicus Capital; and our newer investors, Comcast Ventures and Lumia Capital. We’re also fortunate to have the advice and support of prominent angel investors like Gary Clayton, Mark Goines, Jared Kopf, Rob Chandhok, Jeff Bonforte, and Dave Pell.

Funding is fuel to let us think big. We’re very happy to have the most influential and trusted brands in the automotive industry as investors and we look forward to building great things with their support.

Now, back to work!

rideshare drivers losing money

3 Ways Rideshare Drivers Lose Money

Rideshare drivers, what if we told you that the rideshare company apps, GPS technology, and 3rd party apps that allow you to earn money also stop you from getting all the money you deserve? Naturally, as a car company, we want to fix auto technology problems for every driver on the road, but especially for people that drive in order to make a living.

With our sights set on the problems rideshare drivers face, we knew that we could tag team with companies like SherpaShare to help solve some of the problems. SherpaShare is a free online financial and analytics dashboard that rideshare drivers can use to track their earnings and expenses, work efficiently between multiple services and track total working mileage.

The big question remains: “How is this technology hurting rideshare drivers?”

Let’s take a look.

Rideshare apps aren’t counting all of your miles

Rideshare drivers can deduct miles even with no passenger

You’re still driving around while waiting for riders


Fun fact: did you know that the IRS actually lets you deduct for all the miles that you work? The problem is, rideshare company apps have driver summaries that only show the number of miles you earn while you have a passenger! What about all of those miles you drive picking people up, or what about when you’re waiting for a rider? Those miles add up, and it’s costing you.

SherpaShare built data from Automatic into their apps so that you can make sure that you get the all the miles you drove the entire time you were driving on the job.

GPS is dumb, and it’s making you work harder

Not even this stock photo model can handle the fake trips

Not even this stock photo model can handle the false trips

GPS can’t tell the difference if you are riding in your car, a friend’s car or even bicycling quickly, so your trip list is populated with false trips.When GPS collects trips, it relies on speed, and so all of those events trigger a “trip” to be created in SherpaShare. Now you have to go in and manually select the real trips. That tedious task can be a real bummer, and the last thing you want to do after a long day of driving.

Since Automatic is connected to your car, and your car only – it only grabs trips you’re taking in your car. When combined with SherpaShare you can avoid a lot of the manual work. Phew.

Phone connectivity issues are more than a minor annoyance

Karl the Fog causing GPS issues for rideshare drivers

San Francisco’s most notorious phone signal disruptor, Karl the Fog.

Your device’s signal strength is prone to all sorts of signal interference like overcast weather conditions and tall buildings. Take this a familiar situation: you’re working, a passenger is in a rush, and your map app suddenly forgets where you are driving. Your signal strength is poor and your GPS can no longer track your driving route. You’re losing precious money-making miles if the signal is lost for long periods of time.

The SherpaShare + Automatic integration takes a true distance directly from your engine. So go ahead, bravely drive into that fog bank; your miles will be there when you find your way out. And on the SherpaShare app, you’ll see your valuable tax deduction too.

To learn more about SherpaShare, visit their website or download their iOS app directly. Check out the Automatic and SherpaShare integration here, in the App Gallery. What? Don’t have an Automatic adapter? That’s alright, you can get one here.



Father’s Day Gift Guide: for the dad who doesn’t want anything

Helpful newsflash: Father’s Day is just over a week away. Dads can be tough when it comes to gifts. The old “Dad-ism” “I don’t need anything!” can leave you in a bit of a pickle. We’re a gadget company, so we typically think about gifting gadgets. It turns out that a lot of dads like gadgets, too! We’ve taken a few typical “Dad-isms” and turned them into gift ideas for the techy dad.

If any of the following Dad-isms sound like your Pops, you’ll have the upper hand come June 21st.

Dad-ism: “I’m not paying to heat the whole neighborhood!”

Solution: Nest

Nest is a perfect gadget gift for Father's Day

Nest is a perfect gadget gift for Father’s Day

Costs: $249

Nest is the popular smart thermostat that “learns from you.” Your dad will have to give one of his approving grunts when Nest programs itself as it learns the temperatures he likes. Even better, Nest automatically turns itself down to help save you energy when nobody’s home.

Dad-ism: “There’s not enough time in the day…”

Solution: Pebble Watch or Apple Watch

Wearables for Father's Day include Pebble and Apple watches.

Wearables for Father’s Day include Pebble and Apple watches.

Costs: Pebble, multiple models: $99 – $299

Apple Watch, multiple models: $349 – $10,000

Smart watches are some of the only wearable devices that have proven to have staying power. They have a multitude of functions like health tracking, displaying text messages, customizable interfaces and of course telling time. If your dad likes having a veritable command center on his wrist, try a Pebble or an Apple Watch.

Dad-ism: “In my day, I walked 15 miles uphill in the snow.”

Solution: Jawbone  UP

Healthy dads and dads trying to get healthy alike can benefit from using a health tracker

Fitness trackers are good Father’s Day gifts for dads trying to get back into shape

Costs: Multiple models, $49.99-$179.99

Prove it, Dad! With the Jawbone UP, Dad can monitor his health, track his physical activity and even learn about his sleeping habits. In addition to all of that, Dad can also connect the UP models to different kinds of apps and hardware that can help him reach his fitness goals. Challenge Pops to a fitness contest and try not to laugh when he says, “I let you win.”

Dad-ism: “Keep your eyes on the road!”

Solution: Smartphone Car Mount

A smartphone mount for your car can help dad drive more safely.

A smartphone mount for your car can help dad drive more safely.

Costs: various models, $8.99 and up

Once upon a time, having your phone out while you were driving meant you were unnecessarily distracted. Dad was probably the first person to remind you to “get off that darned thing.” Nowadays, navigation apps and music interfaces that have replaced paper maps and car stereo knobs make your smartphone an indispensable part of the driving experience. Make sure dad has it at eye-level instead of down in his lap or precariously balanced on the cupholder.

Dad-ism: “What do you think I am, made of money?”

Solution: Automatic

Gift guide for gadget loving dads includes the Automatic adapter

Automatic for Father’s Day gifts: dads who love cars and saving money

Costs: $99.99, use promo code: DearDad to get 20% off, (expires July 6th)

We may be a little biased (okay, we’re really biased)  – we think an Automatic is a great gift for Father’s Day! The Automatic app diagnoses MIL codes (when your Check Engine Light is on) which might save your dad a trip to the shop, tells him how much money he’s spending on gas and even helps him improve his fuel efficiency. Now you can tell your dad, “Look who’s made of money, now!” There are also loads of apps for car enthusiasts, savings, and safety like DashCommand, License+ and YourMechanic.

If that wasn’t enough, Automatic integrates with all of the products above! You can buy an adapter from us, or from one of your favorite retailers.

App Gallery, Developer platform and 2nd Gen launch

Bringing the Car into the Future, Today

We founded Automatic on the belief that our cars weren’t living up to their potential. The way we see it, cars are very expensive computers on wheels. They’ve been like this for decades, and in that time the world of technology has transformed our lives, but not so much our cars. We hold the entire internet in our pockets now, so why is car ownership still stuck in the past?

Two years ago we introduced the Automatic adapter, a small device that plugs into just about any car built since 1996, and a mobile app that pairs with it to tackle some of the top needs of most drivers: decoding engine problems, helping you save money on gas, remembering where you parked, and even calling for help in a crash. The idea was to augment your car with your smartphone, and the response was amazing.

2nd Generation Automatic Adapter

Drivers took to Automatic right away: people wanted their car to be a part of making life easier. What excited us even more was the sheer number of other ways they wanted Automatic to help them in their driving lives. We heard from many people who hated the tedious process of manually logging business trips and then submitting them into expensing software to get reimbursements. We heard from parents who were anxious about their teens just starting to drive. And we also heard from gear-heads who wanted access to real-time streams of raw data about their cars’ performance.

The opportunities to improve the car ownership experience were so broad and deep that we knew not to try to tackle them all on our own. There’s one way to do it right, a way everyone’s already familiar with: an app store, but for your car. And that’s exactly what we’re introducing today.

The Automatic App Gallery

The Automatic App Gallery features over twenty 3rd party apps for every kind of driver. Whether you expense your mileage for work, geek out over your car’s performance and driving stats, or just want your car to connect to the rest of your digital life, there’s an app for you – all powered by Automatic.

Automatic App Gallery

The first time you use any of these apps, they’ll ask your permission to access data from your Automatic account. If you want to allow that, just log in with your username and password. You are in complete control of which apps get access to your driving data.

Great apps are the key to unlocking your car’s potential. With so many apps in the Automatic App Gallery, we believe every driver will find something interesting, useful, or just plain fun.

2nd Generation Car Adapter & Real-time Streaming Apps

Our most requested feature has been a way to see a car’s raw performance data in real-time. We heard this loud and clear and have been working on it for over a year. The solution was to allow drivers to grant 3rd party apps access to the stream of data coming from the Automatic car adapter.

Today, alongside all the other 3rd party apps, Automatic now supports three of the top real-time data apps for iPhone and iPad: DashCommand, Harry’s LapTimer, and OBD Fusion. (Android support coming soon.)

To do this we had to build a 2nd generation Automatic car adapter that supports dual Bluetooth data streams: one to the Automatic mobile app and one to a third-party app. This allows both apps to receive data from the adapter simultaneously over an encrypted Bluetooth connection.

The 2nd generation adapter also features built-in GPS, Made for iPhone (MFi) certification, and an improved connector to fit better in more cars.

Without question, what we’re most excited about from this new adapter is the streaming apps available today and all the new ones coming soon. You can find the new adapter online or in these retailers.

The Automatic Developer Platform

Of course, an app store also needs great developer tools. And we’ve got those too. Starting today, anyone can build apps on the Automatic Developer Platform. It features rich APIs that give you access to all kinds of driving data:

  • REST API for trip logs: mileage, routes, start/end location and times, and more
  • Webhooks and Websockets for driving events: ignition on/off, check engine light status, and real-time location updates
  • Data streaming SDK for iOS: get a real-time stream of speed, RPM, air intake, and data from many more sensors


We’ve even got libraries and SDKs for iOS, Android, Ruby, node.js, PHP and others; rich documentation and sample apps; and a Developer Apps Manager, which lets you register new applications, get API keys, manage your developer account, and submit apps to production. We asked ourselves what a great API for a car would look like and built one that works for every car on the road today. Developers, start your engines!

The Future of the Connected Car is Apps

The Automatic mobile app is the foundation of a great connected car experience, with features that are useful to almost everyone. But the key to personalizing that experience is for developers to build a range of apps for every need and lifestyle. Today, we’re making that possible. Join us for the ride.


Back to the Features: Fuel Grade Picker, Apple Watch Extension

We had a chance to show you the new trip details view and business trip tagging in our last post. Without further ado, let’s dig into fuel grade picker and the Apple Watch extension.

Fuel Grade Picker


This has been a long time coming, requested since the very beginning of Automatic. One of our most automagic features—pulling your fuel cost basis from the time and location of fillup—is growing up. You’re now able to set the fuel grade your car uses to get more accurate cost calculations. We’re sorry it has taken so long and are thrilled to deliver this at long last.

When you change your Fuel Grade Automatic will start to calculate future trips with the appropriate rate. For cars that report fuel level, this will take effect after the next fillup. All of this sounding new? Check out how Automatic calculates the cost of your trips: http://bit.ly/1J7reMd

Apple Watch Extension


Alright, Apple enthusiasts – we’ve got good news for you. Two of Automatic’s most popular features are now conveniently found on your wrist.

The business tagging feature on Apple Watch takes even more friction out of the expensing process. The IRS lets you deduct $0.57 per mile of business driving—if that wasn’t worth the effort before you should have no excuses now.

At the end of each trip, a prompt on the Watch will allow you to tag the trip as business. That’s it. As noted above, the tags on trips will be visible in the phone app, the APIs, and soon on the web dashboard. In time, we know that 3rd party apps that connect into Automatic will make use of these tags directly. We’ve come a long way since manual logbooks!

Secondly, Automatic marks your exact location every time you park. That’s nothing new (but it is one of our favorite features). Now that same parking map is even easier to get to: just lift your wrist. When looking for your car, just swipe up from the Watch face to see the map in the Automatic “glance”. Or enter the Automatic app on Apple Watch to get the same.

Now that you know what you’re working with…

We hope these tools help you drive off into the sunset. But make sure to drive back, because we aren’t done yet.