Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gasoline? I'll never reach empty again!

I have a same-name cousin living in Huntley, Ill., and I just might call him to let him know that gas in his area is expected tomorrow  go down a bit. But if he needs to refuel right now, the lowest price -- $3.63 per gallon -- is at the 7-Eleven at 4500 W. Algonquin Road, between Wentworth Road and Lakewood Drive.

No, I didn't get a call about this. In fact, I've never been to his house, which is somewhere in the Elgin area west of Chicago.

All I did was punch his ZIP code into Fuelcaster -- -- an incredibly handy new website. It tells you whether the price-per-gallon of gas is expected to rise or fall in the next day. It also tells you what the going price is at up to 10 gas stations in the area.

When you click either the "cheapest" or "closest" link once you've input the ZIP code, a Google map opens up, pinpointing where the desired gas pump is.

 The website debuted in February.

While this is great for at-home use, think of what it can do when you're running low in an unfamiliar area if you have a palmtop computer or a smartphone in your car.

If you don't, call someone you know who is glued to the home computer and get your information that way.

First, identify what ZIP code you're in ( works for me).

Enter that ZIP code and enter it into

When you've decided where to go for fuel, click that link to open up the map; just zoom out until you see where your exit is.

Move the map around, zooming as needed; write the directions to the gas station. If you have a passenger, that's even better: He or she can give you "turn here" verbal directions.

Or punch the "here" and the "there" locations and get exact directions.

If you're getting close to "empty" you'll know exactly how close you are to a refill.

And by the way, Cousin John, that best-price Seven-11 gas is 12 minutes away (6.28 miles), according to Mapquest, based on current traffic conditions.

I think you know how to get there.