I don’t know how many RV’ers use Gas Buddy to help with their fuel plans but I wanted to mention a couple recent improvements in their mobile APP that deserves a comment.
I was tickled with their previous addition of favorite gas stations, which (for me) meant that I could “favorite” a station in another part of the country that I routinely travel through so that when I was in that area my previously discovered cheap stations would be highlighted. Now I find two more clever tools.
The first is a price prediction tool. I have followed it over the last few days and it actually seems to work reasonably well. I’m sure the algorithm considers crude prices and neat stuff like that, all I care about is that it helps me decide what day of the week to fuel up — if I have a choice. Obviously when we were RV’ing in the coach we didn’t usually have a lot of choice — we had to fill up when we needed fuel. With a 100 gallon tank and 8 mpg fuel economy I could go more than a day on a single tank of fuel — so we did pick and choose when to fuel. There is the old adage that fuel is cheapest on Wednesday — but that’s not always reliable and given the variation in fuel prices, sometimes cheaper in an expensive state is still more expensive than the average price in a cheaper state.
Still, I was happy to see that Gas Buddy now includes this guide on your smartphone home page. You have to click on the tagline for the APP to do the computation, but once it’s completed it’s machinations it does predict the future!
The second improvement, and this I think is brilliant because it saves me from having to scroll up and down in the listing of stations, is that you now have a price range for the stations near you! This is great. There’s no sense in driving five miles at $0.50 per mile to save 3 cents per gallon if you are going to spend more getting to that “cheaper” station than if you bought fuel at a slightly higher price at a much closer station! There’s economy, and then there’s false economy.
I used that same reasoning about overnight campgrounds. I wasn’t about to drive 1/2 an hour out of our way to save money on a cheaper campground fee if the cost of getting there was more than the cost of a more expensive campground en route.
It’s one thing to be economical; it’s another thing to be a skinflint or just plain cheap.
If you are RV’ing and you aren’t using Gas Buddy, I highly recommend it. If you are a traveler-by-car, and you aren’t using Gas Buddy you really ought to. There is no reason on earth to pay a lot for gas if you can pay less for gas and get the same quality.
And just an aside about gas quality…
Recently someone commented to me about their fear they might have gotten a bad tank of gas. And that triggered a whole big series of bad memories from the days when I drove semi. It was pretty common back in the 70’s and 80’s to pull into a fuel stop and end up with a tankful of fuel that had way too much water in it. The water was the result of condensation in the in-the-ground fuel tanks — and leaks into the tanks from groundwater. But you know, I am hard pressed to remember a bad tank of fuel in all 5 years of full time RV’ing, and I have to admit that I fueled at some crummy looking fuel stops.
I’m sure it still happens, and if you have a diesel pusher you do well to carry a spare fuel filter just in case you do get a bad load of fuel. But I have to admit that I went 1 year, every year that we were RV’ing on the same fuel filter. Never once was I forced to change fuel filters because of water in the fuel in between my regular annual oil change. And I changed annually because our mileage was below the recommended oil change interval. Diesel and gasoline are very different fuels, and you can get a bad load of either — but it’s a problem that you just don’t see very often anymore. It’s still good to be prepared — the cost of a spare fuel filter for a diesel pusher is way less than the cost of a service trip out to bring you one!
So, bottom line — Gas Buddy is free. Gas Buddy is helpful. Gas Buddy is My Friend. 🙂