Joined: May 01, 2007
|Posted: 2007-08-16 10:07 am  Permalink|
White Lightin' from corn squeezin's actually, mixed in with refined petroleum. Yum!
If you're like me, I'd rather spend my money on a fine bottle of rum than on fuel for my Jeep. So I'm a member of GasBuddy.com and GasPriceWatch.com. Personally, I prefer Gas Buddy. Both systems have free registration.
The one advantage of GPW is its zoomable map is easier to get to than Gas Buddy's. A big disadvantage of GPW is that I can't seem to find any participation in Canada on their system. The GPW search features don't seem to accommodate Canada, which would explain why gas prices don't show up when you zoom into any Canadian cities using the map. Gas Buddy does cover Canada. These two data collection systems together cover the US and Canada only and, though that leaves out many people on TC, I presume it includes most.
Check them out and see if they help you.
The rest of this post is pretty long-ass, so you can avoid the drivel below unless you want to know more stuff about GasBuddy.com from someone who has been a participant for about two years.
These systems rely on their membership to report prices at the pump as frequently as possible. It becomes rather routine and doesn't take much time once you get comfortable with it. But you don't have to join to check prices. You do have to join to set your favorite stations and searches.
I live in Gaithersburg MD and work in Reston VA. Sometimes the gas price is cheaper in G'burg, but mostly it's cheaper in Reston. I can log into GasBuddy.com and pull up the stations in the G'burg area and in the Reston area, then decide if I will be filling up near home or near work.
The more people who are participating in your area the more useful these sites are. There are not a ton of participants in Hawaii compared to other places (HI is broken down into Honolulu and the rest of the state). Members get points when they report prices and for dedicated participants it doesn't take all that long to rack up 35,000 points (couple of months). If you want to get a general idea of the participation in a particular area, you can look up the Points Leaders. To be counted on that list, a member has to have earned a minimum of 35,000 points.
The first Points Leaders page shows All-time and 30 Day Points Leaders, US and Canada combined. Then, you can click on a link for the All-time Points leaders of the area you're logged into (e.g., Honolulu). There are only 50 Points Leaders total registered in Honolulu, which is an extreme few. Not all 50 are necessarily active. Over time, people stop participating for one reason or another (no longer interested, no longer have Internet access, military deployed to parts unknown, passed away...).
In Honolulu there are only 18 members that have more points than me. I've been a member since September 2005 and I'm closing in on 300,000 points. The guy with the most points of all is in Chicago with over 2,250,000 points. The top member in Honolulu isn't too shabby with over 1,420,000 points, so there are some long-time, dedicated participants there. At this moment (11 am EDT on 8/16/2007) the COSTCO at 525 Ala Kawa in Iwilei and the one on Ka Uka Blvd in Waipio have Regular at $2.98. That's the cheapest (reported) in the last 24 hours. The most expensive in the same time frame is the Chevron at 1139 Kapiolani Blvd (McKinley Car Wash) in Kaka'ako Regular costs $3.23. Even though the membership is small in Honolulu, it looks like there is some decent participation.
California has so much participation the state is broken down into 14 areas: Bakersfield, Fresno, LA, Modesto, Oakland, OC, Riverside, San Bernadino, SD, SF, San Jose, Stockton, Ventura, and the rest of the state. In Alameda the Valero at Central and Sherman has the cheapest at $2.91, while the 76 at 1716 Webster St at Buena Vista Ave has the rip off $3.19. The Shell and the Chevron on either side of the 76 on Webster are at $3.18. If you put 15 gallons in your ride in Alameda right now, you'll have over $4 in your pocket by filling up at Valera than you would by going to the 76. You could use that to upgrade your rum purchase or to tip the barkeeps at FI. Savings like that over a month could be turned into new carving chisels.
To get a general idea of participation, in Oakland there are 106 Points Leaders; in SF 108; LA 399; Detroit 593; Phoenix 220; Tampa 154; Virginia 312; Maryland 261; Washington DC 28. Even though Washington DC has about half as many registered there as Hawaii, people in the MD-DC-VA area report in all three areas, so its more like 500 in the National Capital. New York City only has 196. People there can afford cars, they just can't afford parking spaces, so they don't have cars.
Anyway, I find GasBuddy.com very useful here in the Washington National Capital Area & Vicinity, where gas prices change drastically between neighborhoods and across all of the various county and district lines that converge here. If you use it enough, you get to know the stations that are your best bets even without having to visit the site.
As for me, there are a few stations really close to my office. When I need gas, before I head home I can check quickly and see who's gonna get my business for that day. I would prefer to fill up closer to home (to combine with other errands), but knowing that it's 48¢ cheaper near my office, I go for the savings. As often as I have to fill up for my 60-mile commute I save $10-15 per week just by giving my business to the right station. That keeps decent rum on my shelf and not in my tank.
Gas Price Watch is similar, but overall I much prefer Gas Buddy. If the reports are sparce for an area I'm searching, especially, an area I'll be driving to that's far away, I'll check both systems. There is a lot of overlap in membership, but the people who are members of both usually don't report in both.
Quick Start Instructions for GasBuddy.com
Before you start searching for gas prices in your area, if you plan on searching again, you need to register (free, of course) so that you can save your search criteria and favorite stations. Saving your searches lets you customize which neighborhoods you want considered and the maximum number of hours since a station was reported. Having favorite stations makes reporting prices quick and easy. You can type the prices you've seen into your favorites table and report them all with a single click.
When you register, each time you visit the site you have to log in, which can be remembered so you don't have to keep entering your username and password. In addition, if you want to look up gas prices in another area or state, you can go there from the main GasBuddy map and log in using your same user name and password for all locations. For each new state, you do have to enter your username and password the first time, but each site will remember both and log you in automatically if you want. If you delete your cookies, you'll have to log in manually and tell it to remember you again.
There is a map feature that crosses login boundaries. For example, if I log into VA, I can click on the map of any station I see listed. Besides the fact that it shows a map of where that station is, I can drag my way in any direction ad infinitum within the map crossing area and state boundaries. Any gas prices that have been reported show up in the map even though I might be panning over an area where I'm not specifically logged in. I could drag my way across the country checking gas prices from county to county and state to state if I wanted, just using the map.
The Canada division of the site doesn't have a map feature yet, so you can't drag the map from a border town in the US over into Canada to see if it's cheaper there. You can look it up with a Canada search though.
On the left hand panel, scroll down to where it says Search For Gas Prices. Tell it what grade of gas you are searching, what neighborhood(s) you want covered, and which stations (brands) are of interest (All Stations or specific ones). Tell it how recent the reports have to be (24, 12, 8, or 4 hours). Check the Save Search box and give your search a name. You can have several searches to suit your needs. Click Search Now! and it will show all reported gas prices based on your criteria. When your search is saved, you just have to click on the link to that search's name and it runs the search.
That's about it.