This week marks the beginning of the dog days of summer spikes in gas prices, as today is the official start of Memorial Day weekend, when Americans drop everything they’re doing for a 3 or 4 day weekend of drinking, driving, swimming and working on their sunburn.
Add the tensions in the Persian Gulf into the equation and this weekend gas prices are expected to increase past the current $3 + mark, and while one gas station may offer regular unleaded at $3.15 a gallon, one right down the street may offer theirs at $3.09…. something we always tend to notice right after we fill up.
Fortunately, there are some ways to preplan our gas buying habits this summer, as web traffic decreases due to vacations (this week is already slow since a lot of business people plan their vacations now, or take advantage of telecommuting) and traffic jams increase on the highways.
Several search engine powered sites track the prices of gas nationwide and can help us all save thousands of dollars every year, here are some of them.
- GasBuddy : Local search based network of more than 180 different sites which track gas prices on the local level. GasBuddy compares states and national averages from year to year and includes zip code search. Tracks by service station location, areas of town, the time the price was recorded, and which volunteer gave the price.
- Yahoo Search Shortcut : If you find the GasBuddy.com site too difficult or time consuming to navigate, just search for “gas price” + location on Yahoo Search and their shortcut will give your the link to GasBuddy.com results in your neighborhood.
- GasPriceWatch : Google Maps Mashup which highlights specific locations in your neighborhood, route or destination that offer the lowest gas prices. Although the Google Maps mashup makes searching for gas prices incredibly easy, the information served is sometimes quite old, with some gas prices being served from 4 days ago (when gas was 3 cents cheaper anywhere). Still useful however if prices are updated in your area and since this uses a Google API, you can search by zip code, town name or state.
- MapQuest Gas Finder : AOL owned MapQuest offers the MapQuest Gas Price Finder which allows users search for the cheapest prices for gas, diesel or alternative fuels. This tool is integrated with MapQuest’s Directions, which makes it easy for travelers to preplan gas stops along their route.
- MSN Autos Gas Prices : Microsoft’s MSN Autos channel compiles gas prices every evening to deliver a very user friendly gas price comparison experience, complete with a gas price list and mapping technology. Unlike other services which use volunteers to monitor gas price changes, MSN prices are provided by OPIS. OPIS tracks more than 90,000 daily retail gasoline prices, and 70,000 rack and spot prices for heating oil, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, LP-Gas, residual fuel, natural gas and ethanol.
- Motor Trend : MotorTrend.com also has a very simple to use gas price checker which reports gas prices on the local level and is updated daily. Not too many bells and whistles on this site, just direct information.
Have some other favorite gas prices search engines? Then please feel free to share them in the comments below.