Current Fuel Prices On Your GPS
With the rising costs of fuel in the USA, more drivers are asking about GPS devices that offer live fuel prices. Being able to locate the nearest fuel stations that have the cheapest gas might save you a few bucks… and having your GPS create a route directly to the station doesn’t hurt either. Here are the most popular services available now to get you updated fuel prices on your GPS.
Where Does the Data Come From?
The data that both TomTom and Garmin are using ultimately comes from the same company, OPIS. With Garmin and TomTom there is a different “middle-man” in the picture, but both services rely on OPIS. So where does OPIS get the data from? OPIS monitors credit card receipts from a variety of commercial fleet operations. They take the data and can figure out which store the gas was purchased at, the date and time of the purchase, the grade of fuel, and the cost of the fuel. From that data they build up a database of current fuel prices around the country.
Because fleet operators are used, the majority of the gas purchased is Regular Unleaded. Not as much data is collected for Mid and Premium grade gasoline nor Diesel. The Garmin devices that rely on MSN Direct only have data for Regular available to them. The TomTom devices can also receive reports for Mid, Premium, and Diesel (there is a preference setting you can switch) however there isn’t as much data for those grades so the data might not be available for as many stations or slightly older. About 70,000 gas stations are tracked daily. This generally amounts to about 85% of gas stations in a typical POI list.
TomTom says that “60% of Stations will report Regular Fuel price updates every 48 hours”.
Where do I subscribe?
From TomTom, owners of the 920 and 920T can subscribe through TomTom HOME, the cost is $14.95 per year. Currently it is only available on those two devices, however we expect that will change before too long.
For Garmin owners, the service comes through MSN Direct and also includes the live traffic reports, weather, local movie times, etc. The service costs either $49.95 per year or $129.95 for “lifetime”. If you don’t already have the receiver, you will need to purchase the MSN direct receiver ($100 – $125) from Garmin. The service is available on the Nuvi 680, StreetPilot c580, Nuvi 700 series, Nuvi 800 series, and the Nuvi 5000.
The TomTom Fuel prices product can be delivered “over the air” if you happen to have a phone compatible with TomTom PLUS services. Otherwise you can download the updates through the TomTom HOME program. The MSN Direct service receives its updates through the MSN Direct receiver “over the air”.
It is a bit hard to break out the price of the MSN Direct service to see if the fuel prices service is worth it to you. But it might be worth it to scratch out a little math to see if the service will break even for you.
Let’s say I put 15 gallons of gas into my car each week. That comes to 780 gallons of fuel per year. If the service saved me $0.03 every time I fueled my car, and I didn’t waste any gas driving extra distance to save on that fuel, the service would save me $23.40 per year. Subtract $14.95 for the cost of the service and it will have saved me $8.45 in the year. If you drive more often than that, or drive something that is a bit more of a gas hog, you could save more.