WEB SMART

Fill 'Er Up and Save

There's a new way to find the best gas prices for your next road trip.

By Sean O'Neill, Monday, Jan 29, 2007, 5:25 AM

AAA has begun to let members and nonmembers use its online mapping tool to find the cheapest gas stations for any road trip. AAA has long offered printable maps and driving directions, but now it has added the locations of gas stations--and even the per-gallon prices for gas at these stations. AAA's online service is fast, free, and easy to use.

Here's how it works: Visit AAA's main website, click on the TripTik link, and then enter your zip code and itinerary. The site will fetch turn-by-turn driving directions, detour suggestions, and other travel information. Next, look at the top left-hand corner of the screen and click on the button that says Show. From the drop-down menu that appears, select Gas.

Now you'll see gas stations along your route when you scan your online map displaying turn-by-turn directions. If you wave your cursor over any gas station icon on the map, the recent per-gallon price for gas at that station will appear. (AAA uses daily data from OPIS, a service that collects and provides fuel price data.) Click on the gas stations that will make the most convenient pit stops. The website will add those gas stations to your printable map.

You'll find this service especially useful when you're returning a car to a major metropolitan airport because the roadways at large airports can be convoluted, making it difficult to find gas stations fast.