Step by Step: Fuel-Saving Apps

May 12, 2011 (CHICAGO)

With the long Memorial Day weekend coming up and a lot of people expected to hit the roads, there are creative ways to save fuel. There's an app for that.

By some estimates, there are nearly half a million apps available to smart-phone and tablet users, with hundreds more being released every day. Surely there had to be an app that would help save money on gas.

"There are hundreds of fuel-saving apps, the trick of course, like anything in life, is to find out which ones are the best and which ones are most relevant for you," said Brad Spirrison, managing editor of Appolicious, a company that specializes in finding applications. "I'm a big fan of GasBuddy, and it's accessible to consumers on iPhone as well as Androids."

Gasbuddy finds the best gas prices near you. It's a free app that's easy to install. Type "gasbuddy" in search, read the description, and if you like it, tap install, free and your password.

You don't have to become a member to check gas prices, but if you do sign up, you can enter gas prices and become eligible to win a weekly prize of $250 in gas.

If you're looking for the best gas prices and then some, try the app "Where."

"Which will tell you not only where gas is near you, but where the closest grocery store, pharmacy, bar, ATM machine is," Spirrison said.

The app "Waze" will help you save fuel by giving you the most efficient route to your destination. It also identifies traffic incidents and congestion.

AAA also has a free app that will give you the closest locations for gas stations, repair shops, restaurants and attractions, and if you're a member, you can use the app to contact roadside assistance.

But where is this information coming from, and how accurate is it?

"A lot of these are a hybrid of user-generated data as well as information that's publicly available that the app developers tap into," Spirrison said.

All the apps listed here are free. An effective app for $.99 is "Buster: Chicago Bus Tracker" which tells you when your next bus will be arriving.

"I liked the fact that I could use a free app for voice-directed navigation, but for real-time traffic data, I still prefer the IDOT website," ABC7's Roz Varon said.

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