How-To: Find Your Car with iPhone 3G

Have you ever experienced the frustration of parking your car in a massive parking lot or parking garage and then almost panicked when you couldn't find it? If you haven't, well, good for you. Your pink Hummer with curb feelers and fuzzy dice must make things REAL easy for you. Me, on the other hand, not so lucky. Let me tell you how your iPhone 3G can be your best friend for finding where you parked! After the break, of course.

Long before I had my iPhone 3G, I had the good fortune of watching a college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Having never attended an event there, I was a bit fascinated how the golf course adjacent to the stadium is literally used as a parking lot for event attendees. Yes, that's right. The entire golf course is one ginormous parking lot and one lost car fiasco waiting to happen.

After the game, it was dark and disorienting. Even though there were large balloon markers spaced avery 100 yards or so, it was nearly impossible to find my car and almost an hour was spent tracking it down. If only I had my iPhone 3G! If only it had been conceived!

Why, you ask? GPS. Fast forward a couple years to CES in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. Driving down the strip in the heart of Vegas on a Saturday night is NOT for the patient. I was meeting up with Dieter Bohn and several others bloggers for a fancy-pants dinner and quickly realized that I would reach my location much faster if I abandoned my ride and hoofed it - the good old "ankle express."

I found a massive parking garage that barely accommodated the height of my truck, parked, and then froze. I knew I had a good jaunt in front of me and I wanted to be sure I could easily and quickly locate my truck again. I'm easily disoriented and have a poor sense of direction - when people call me "Magellan", it's NOT a compliment. My iPhone 3G to the rescue! I simply opened up my Maps app, tapped the "target" in the bottom left of the screen, and dropped a pin for my current location and bookmarked it (just tap the pin after you drop it and then "Add to Bookmarks" in the bottom right of the following page).

Is the iPhone 3G's GPS precise to the foot? Not exactly, but I was able to easily return to my truck because I could rely on my iPhone's GPS to point the way and return me to the parking garage, even in the busy hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas strip. So if you need to leave a trail of virtual breadcrumbs the next time you park your car or plan on wandering far and wide from your base camp, give your iPhone 3G's Maps app a try, drop a pin, and have fun!


[Note: Above photoshops are for comedic value, no actual trucks were impaled on giant map pins in production of this how-to]

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Reader comments

How-To: Find Your Car with iPhone 3G


Great tip Brian! Heck, with my poor sense of direction and memory, I could use that just about anywhere ;-)

But what happens, when you leave your iPhone in the car that you forgot where you parked?

@Moe wait, you actually let your iphone out of your hand? :P It's not on your mental checklist when you leave the car: 1) keys (check) 2) tickets (check) 3) iPhone (check) ;)

Ha, prob work better if you walk outside first. You could always snap a pic of the section/level markers too, especially if they're in view from your car.

There's a great free app called Take My Car (I think) that lets you just push a button saying "I parked here" that will record the GPS coordinates so you can find it again.
I've found it handy when parking in neighborhoods I don't frequent.

Tried to find this "Take My Car" application, but no luck. Any pointers? Thanks!

Brian, based on that pic, I you also definitely need an app "Park My Car." Geeze bud are you from Texas or something - drive a truck and thus entitles you to two parking spots and two lanes on the road?

The issue I've found with Iphone or any other types of GPS type device, is that it usually takes a while for the device to find the GPS signal to "remember" where the car is. It basically means I have to actively press something and stand outside the car in the parking lot, which in my experiences, after I park, I just want to go inside the store.
I've found a gadget at, works similarly, but doesn't require GPS. The drawback is that it's got limited range up to 1/2 mile. It's good if you lose your car in a parking lot of a mall or ball game, but if you go further than that, the gadget doesn't work as well.