Candice Choi

Determined to save every penny possible on gas? There are apps for that

By Candice Choi
Associated Press / April 21, 2011

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Outraged by gas prices? There are apps for that. The average price is again approaching $4 a gallon. But free applications let users compare prices at gas stations, anticipate traffic jams, and keep cars operating at peak performance.

AAA TripTik: iPhone; Droid due mid-May

As you near a station, you wonder if the place a couple blocks away has better prices. TripTik lets you search for prices (including by grade of gas) and sort the results by distance. AAA refreshes prices seven times a day; not every listing is updated each time. You don’t need to be a AAA member, but a AAA Discounts app lets you see where member discounts are offered.

GasBuddy: Droid, iPhone, Windows

GasBuddy relies on its 5 million users to post prices; listings tend to be more exhaustive and up-to-date for major cities. Each listing is time-stamped. The site raffles a $250 prepaid gas card each week.

Gas Cubby: iPhone

Users enter a few numbers at each fill-up: odometer reading, gallons pumped, price per gallon. If your fuel economy lags, it could mean you need to check the tire pressure or other maintenance issues that affect mileage. Users can also enter the brand of gas or whether they took highways or local roads, to see how the choices affect fuel economy.

MapQuest: Droid, iPhone

The app helps drivers avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic by giving them the option to see traffic conditions on their planned routes, highlighted in green, yellow, or red, depending on how bad the congestion is. MapQuest says the traffic function is updated every five minutes. Users can select directions by shortest distance, shortest time, or to exclude highways or tolls.

■Route4Me: iPhone

This app’s for multiple stops. If you want to check garage sales in an unfamiliar neighborhood, Route4Me could map out a game plan so you don’t waste gas. The app gives directions based on the shortest distance; users can go to to see routes that avoid tolls and highways. The app could be particularly helpful for small-business owners who make deliveries. To map routes that have more than 10 stops, the app costs $15 a month.

Waze: Select BlackBerrys, Droid, iPhone, Nokia, Windows

Waze collects traffic information through its users. The app gauges current driving conditions by measuring how far users have recently traveled on routes within set times. Routes are highlighted in green, yellow, and red to indicate traffic flow. The typing function is disabled when the car is in motion. But users can report incidents or upload photos of traffic jams when the car is stopped.

The app also has social media settings. For example, users can turn on a function before they start driving to Tweet their estimated time of arrival at a particular destination.

Candice Choi writes for the Associated Press.