I, Shalott Cecchini have a problem. I’m not proud of it, but I admit it. I am the absolute worst about filling up my car. I have transformed the concept of driving on empty into an art, and pride myself in knowing how far I can take the flashing E before my car gives up. Sometimes though I mess up. Big time. Huge time actually. See, the problem with riding on E is that sometimes, you get lost and have absolutely no idea where you, or the nearest gas station, are. When this happens (and trust me it happens quite a bit), I scramble to find the nearest gas station pleading to every deity known to man that I don’t stall on the side of the road.
Thanks to my trusty Iphone, I found a bunch of apps claiming to help me lower my gas costs. Thinking I had finally solved my problem of riding on E I installed a couple. Here’s my review:
Pro: Super sleek interface. I really like how you can sort through type of gas and divide it up by price and distance.
Con: Requires an annoying sign up process. I really like the idea of a map, but it doesn’t integrate with the GPS I use on my phone when I’m driving. I would have to switch screens as I’m driving in order to get the information, which is really unsafe and not something I’m willing to do. There’s also a surprisingly long process in sorting how to get the cheapest and closest gas station in map-form.
Pro: Provides more info than just nearby gas, including roadside assistance and auto repair services.
Con: I like how I can find gas near home or work but I generally know my way around that area. It would be more helpful to find me gas when I don’t know where I am and thus don’t know where the nearest gas station is.
Pro: Pretty much nothing.
Con: Really strange user interface. It’s not immediately clear what each button means. I’m pretty hesitant to hit the “cyborg” button. Additionally it tells me how close the cheapest gas station is but it doesn’t have a map feature for me to be able to see price and distance at the same time. It takes a pretty long time to figure out exactly what gas station fits my needs and since I’ll be using it when I’m driving, this app is really not an option.
Pro: Really great (albeit useless) design.
Con: Requires way too much information for me to use the app, including license plate, odometer reading, the exact price of gas during my last fill, and VIN number. I got impatient with this app after about 20 minutes of trying to get everything set up. This would have been a really great idea if it could somehow automate everything and just figure out when I was low on gas. If I have to input all these things every time I fill up, then what’s the point of me having an app to help me remember when the best time to fill my tank is!
Pro: It provides the most comprehensive and useful data. The app can tell me exactly how much fuel my car will consume based on my odometer reading and the make and model.
Con: Even though this is by far the most helpful at telling me when I need to fill up, it still doesn’t automate the process, or even tell me when the nearest and cheapest gas station is coming up. I like how it tailors gas usage to my individual car, but since it has no way of knowing how I drive, the result is always pretty off.
In conclusion, all of the apps I reviewed have their merits (some more than others!) so it’s hard for me to pick a best one. I think the perfect app would be one where I can not only know about my individual car (like Gas Manager), but know how my individual driving style affects my gas consumption. If this could then be added to the map-like features (like Gas Buddy and Gas Guru) then it would make for the perfect driving companion. The best application would be one that takes into consideration my whole driving history, including places where I frequent often, so as to be able to predict the nearest and cheapest gas that is along my route.