myChevrolet is like carrying an owner's manual in your pocket.

Before I hit the road this past weekend, I downloaded the myChevrolet app to accompany me on my trip from Northern Virginia to Richmond, Va. in the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox. More automakers are producing smartphone apps for vehicles, and I wanted to see how handy this application really is.

The myChevrolet app won’t be very useful if you don’t own a 2011 vehicle or newer and don’t have an OnStar subscription, but you can download it anyway because it’s free on the iPhone and Android phones. The first thing myChevrolet asks you to enter is your vehicle’s nickname and its vehicle identification number (VIN). Once you enter those, you can access tools like roadside assistance, parking reminder, locate a dealer and others.

In all, myChevrolet isn’t as impressive as I imagined it would be. It won’t start your car or do anything else fancy, but some features are handy. If you use the OnStar MyLink application, also available on Android phones and the iPhone, in conjunction with myChevrolet, you can unlock and lock the doors and start your Chevrolet remotely. MyLink also lets you access diagnostic information like fuel tank level and range, oil life, tire pressure and mileage data. I couldn't access this application because you need a user name and password to sign in.

Parking reminder uses GPS to locate your vehicle and lets you take pictures to help you recognize locations. But it won’t track your Chevrolet. The car’s location in your phone is based on where you log its location, not on where the car actually is. I drove the car to a friend’s house, but the application thought the Equinox was still parked in my cul-de-sac.

Another tool called lights and indicators shows the warning lights that could go off while you’re driving and what they mean. None of these flashed while I was on the road, but having this resource gave me peace of mind.

The owner’s manual, a condensed version of the one that comes with the vehicle, was also helpful. It tells you how to get better fuel economy, offers a detailed diagram of the dashboard, which is a handy picture for test drivers acclimating themselves to their latest vehicle, and breaks down safety, entertainment and electronics to help drivers and passengers use them with ease.

The myChevrolet app is like carrying an owner’s manual in your pocket. You might use it rarely, but you can’t beat the price.