Photo of gas prices in the Chicago area (From WZZM 13's Bob Brenzing)
(WZZM) - Patrick DeHaan of Grand Rapids started gasbuddy.com about a decade ago. The website shows current gas prices at stations all across the country.
But late last summer he turned his popular site into a smartphone app, and its popularity has taken off.
"The smartphones are about to overtake the web for sources of (gas) prices. So instead of having to write down prices and get home and report them to the internet, you can do it when you get to work or when you're stopped at a red light - whatever is legal. Since they came out we've had a total of six million downloads, across all platforms - the I-Phone, Android and Windows Phone. Blackberry is just about to come out," said DeHaan.
Dana Van Kampen of Fennville does a lot of driving. In any given week she is shuttling her kids to soccer, baseball, and all of it is out of town.
"Out here (in Fennville) pretty much everything is a trip," says Van Kampen. "This week we have to be in Wayland, Allegan, Holland and Saugatuck."
While it burns a lot of gas and money, it also gives her many different options to buy her gas in several different towns, depending on which is the cheapest. She added the Gas Buddy app to her Android phone about three months ago and likes it.
"They'll send you e-mails if the price is going to rise. Sometimes it takes them longer to raise their prices, so I have a heads-up if I need to run and get gas real quick. It's also great on road trips."
You can access gas prices in several different formats: map, town listings or the price from lowest to highest.
"You can plot it out on the map and it'll tell you how to get there," says Van Kampen.
And when you're looking at the price you can also see when it was last updated so you know if it's current.
The Gas Buddy app is supported and updated by users so Patrick DeHaan has given us another reason to use his app. "We give you 150 points for each price you report. We give away $250 a week in free gas via this point system."
The days of driving around wasting gas looking for the lowest prices are over, thanks to these new virtual, free "buddies."