Gas Buddy needs more buddies to work right

Aug 29, 2009
Tech

Oh, Gas Buddy, I had such great hopes for you. Gas Buddy is an app to help you find nearby gas stations with the cheapest gas. You can shop gas stations by distance and price and view the exact address of the gas station Gas Buddy directs you toward. You can also set Gas Buddy […]

Oh, Gas Buddy, I had such great hopes for you.

Gas Buddy is an app to help you find nearby gas stations with the cheapest gas. You can shop gas stations by distance and price and view the exact address of the gas station Gas Buddy directs you toward. You can also set Gas Buddy to your vehicle’s tank size, miles per year, miles per gallon and fuel grade (which will be taken into account in your search).

But Bottle Rocket’s Gas Buddy has an inherent problem: the content is user-generated. On one hand, who’s better to provide information than people on the street? On the other, there’s no guarantee you’re getting accurate or up-to-date information.

You can set your search parameters to only give you data that’s 36, 72 or 96 hours old. Highly populated areas such as Chicago seem more reliable, but on a recent road trip Gas Buddy was spotty at best. In a town of 10,000, Gas Buddy told me there weren’t any nearby gas stations when I could see two from the parking lot. Hoping it’d be better in a city of almost 200,000, Gas Buddy told me the nearest gas station was in a mile. I had just passed two.

I think Gas Buddy has the potential to increase its usefulness as it increases dedicated users. Once I started using it, I dutifully reported the prices at the stations I used.

Does Gas Buddy save you the money it says it will? Perhaps for people in big cities, but until a lot more people, in a lot more places, start to use Gas Buddy, its value is marginal.

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Tiesha Miller


Tiesha Miller is a Chicago-based writer/editor who's earned her stripes working on daily newspapers, city magazines and keeping the faith as a Kansas City Royals fan.

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