Zus 12-volt plug-in finds your car, charges your phone

More than once I've forgotten to memorize a color and number representing the parking lot section where I've left my car. And seeing families wandering around large parking lots, sending the kids up and down aisles looking for their cars, I know I'm not alone. The Zus Smart Car Finder and USB Car Charger uses an app to mostly solve the problem of lost cars.

The Zus plugs into a car's 12-volt power point, formerly known as the cigarette lighter, and, when the car parks, automatically saves its location to a smartphone app.

Zus plugs into a car's 12-volt power point and automatically tells its associated app to save the location of the car when it is parked.

Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

In black plastic with a flanged head sporting two USB ports, the Zus has an attractive design. It measures 3.25 inches long, and an inch at its widest point. The USB ports sit on slightly angled surfaces for better access. ZUS also integrates white LED lights to let you know when it's on, and make it easier to find and plug in USB cables at night.

Zus' associated app gets right down to business with its interface, showing an indicator with the direction and distance of your car, along with the time you parked. Slide the screen up and you get a map view of your location and that of your car, making it easy to navigate through city blocks.

Setting up Zus went smoothly. After plugging it into the car, I opened the app on my smartphone and told it to connect. It took care of the Bluetooth pairing, so I didn't have to dig into my phone's settings. The size of Zus can be a problem, however. In my own car, my hands kept bumping its nearly 2-inch profile that rises above the 12-volt power point whenever I shifted gears. In other cars, the 12-volt power point was set low in the console, making the Zus a tight fit, so I'd recommend assessing how much space you have around your 12-volt power point when considering this device.

After parking, I checked the Zus app and its indicator pointed straight at my car, showing my distance from it and the time I had parked. Touching a timer icon on the app, a screen popped up letting me set an alarm for a set amount of time, useful for parking at meters or in areas with time limits. Another feature on the app let me take a photo of my car.

The Zus app initially shows this indicator screen, pointing to your car's location.

Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

When I first began testing Zus, the app let me share my car's location over a text message or email, a handy feature for couples, but an update to the app removed that capability.

Plugging my phone into one of its USB ports, Zus charged its battery very quickly, as the device supports higher amperage than typical chargers.

While Zus is very convenient, large parking garages could confound it. It won't be able to tell you which level you parked on, and it won't be able to save your location if your phone isn't getting a GPS signal. In that case, the app will prompt you to take a photo of the parking area.

Most map apps let you save your current location, a feature which would seem to render Zus obsolete. However, its value comes in how it automates the task of saving a parking location. Combine that with its fast-charging ports and good design, and it is certainly a step above most USB car chargers.

 

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