Forgetting where you’re parked is no fun, especially in crowded parking lots that seem to go on forever. But, if you have an iPhone and your car has CarPlay or Bluetooth connectivity, you can easily find your vehicle. We’ll show you how.
How Your iPhone Knows Where You Park
Your iPhone can recognize when you’ve parked, provided it’s paired with your car in some capacity. This works by detecting when you switch the ignition off or when you disconnect your device from your car, severing the connection between the two.
For this to work, you’ll need a car with CarPlay or Bluetooth audio. CarPlay is Apple’s in-car standard for interacting with iPhone apps while driving, available in both wired and wireless forms.
Bluetooth audio includes anything from manufacturer-provided head units to third-party car stereos that have been custom-installed. While most should work, compatibility with parked car location marking may vary. Ultimately, it depends on whether your iPhone recognizes the Bluetooth system as car audio.
If you’re having trouble getting parked car location marking to work after syncing your iPhone with your car’s Bluetooth system, try labeling your vehicle as “Car Stereo” to see if that helps.
Head to Settings > Bluetooth and tap on the “i” button next to your car’s stereo. In the menu that opens, tap on “Device Type” and choose “Car Stereo” from the list.
You’ll also need to have the following services enabled on your iPhone:
- Location Services: Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services and toggle Location Services on.
- Significant Locations: Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services > Significant Locations and toggle Significant Locations on.
- Show Parked Location: Go to Settings > Maps and toggle Show Parked Location on.
If all of the above is enabled, your iPhone should be able to mark where you’ve parked. There’s no need to do anything else.
Find Your Car on Maps
This feature uses the Maps application that comes with your iPhone. You can find your car by launching Maps and then typing “Parked Car” into the search box.
You can also find your car by panning around the map. You may need to zoom in for it to become visible, especially if you’re nearby. Your iPhone’s blue location marker may obscure it.
Apple says that your parked car’s location won’t be shown in a location where you “frequently park, like at home or work,” but we’ve noticed it works a bit differently in practice.
In a location that Apple has labeled as “Home,” we’ve seen the Parked Car label appear regularly.
You can see how long ago your car was parked in the listed location by tapping on the marker in the Maps app. You can also add notes and a photo to your Parked Car in this field or manually move the marker using the “Move” button.
How to Remove Your Car’s Marker
If you want to manually remove your car’s location from the Maps app, you can do so. First, tap on the marker, scroll to the bottom of the “Parked Car” overlay that appears, and then tap on the “Remove Car” button.
You can disable the feature under Settings > Maps by toggling “Show Parked Location” off.
Find Your Car with Your Apple Watch
Assuming the feature works on your iPhone, you can also use your Apple Watch to find your car. The easiest way of doing this is with the redesigned Compass app in watchOS 9.
For this to work, you’ll need an Apple Watch Series 5 or later (including both models of SE and the Ultra) with a Compass. Launch the Compass app, then look for a blue waypoint on your compass dial.
You can turn the Digital Crown to adjust the dial to get a better idea of how far away your car is. Tap on a waypoint to get more information about it, then tap “Select” to see a pointer that will guide you to your waypoint.
You can even add a Complication to your Watch face that points to your parked car. Tap and hold your Watch face to customize it, tap “Edit” on the face you want to edit, then scroll left to the “Complications” display.
Tap on a Complication slot to customize it, then scroll with the Digital Crown until you find the “Parked Car Waypoint” under the “Compass Waypoints” section. This complication will always point toward your parked car, with a display that shows the distance.
Consider Marking Your Car with an AirTag
Your parked car’s location is static. This means that once it’s recorded, it won’t be updated until your iPhone reconnects with it again. If someone moves your car while you’re out of range, you won’t be able to find it using the location marked in Maps.
An AirTag may be able to help. When an AirTag comes within range of another iPhone, its location is recorded and sent to Apple. This makes it effective at tracking objects like a car, providing additional security against theft.
Once activated and labeled, an AirTag will appear in the Find My app on the “Items” tab. You can use devices like an iPhone or Apple Watch to find AirTags, put items into “Lost Mode,” and play a sound to locate lost items.
Find More Devices, People, and Things
Use Find My to track the location of your friends and family, Apple devices, and items attached to AirTags.
If Bluetooth audio isn’t working, you could always try adding Apple CarPlay to your car with a software unlock or head unit upgrade.
In addition to seamless parked car location marking, you can set up CarPlay to show useful apps while driving and automatically enable “Do Not Disturb” or Driving focus modes.