Beware: Auto Fuel Saving Scams

by Don Elliott on June 22, 2011

As gas prices increase, more consumers will fall victim to “fuel-saving” scams. Vortex generators, computer chips, magnets, fuel additive tablets, and tin catalysts are being offered to “increase fuel mileage by up to 40 percent.” The verdict on these products is they don’t work, so save your money!

Over the years, the Environmental Protection Agency has tested many devices dating all the way back to 1970. Consistently these devices have returned little to no gas savings. Several were unable to recoup even the cost of the device.

In July of 2010, Consumer Reports reported on three gas-savings devices to see if they had any merit: the Fuel Genie ($89.95), the TornadoFuelSaver ($49.95) and the Platinum Gas Saver ($248). The first two devices are “vortex generators.” Blades are installed in the air intake hose to disrupt the flow of air to the engine. In theory, disrupted air mixes more readily with the fuel to increase its oxygen content and provide for more efficient combustion in the engine. In reality, Consumer Reports was unable to show any significant fuel savings with either device.

The Platinum Gas Saver ($248) connects to the vacuum line leading to the intake manifold. This product adds “microscopic amounts of platinum to the air and fuel.” The device’s guarantee claims to add 22 percent to the fuel mileage and clean the engine. The bottom line, Consumer Reports was unable to find any gas mileage improvement in 1800 miles of driving.

Magnets clamped on the fuel line allege to improve consumption by 20 percent, increase horsepower, and reduce emissions. This simple device is easy to install and costs as little as $5.95. Device manufacturers claim that they work by straightening out clumped fuel molecules. It is a wonder that the auto manufacturers haven’t adopted this technology given its cost and remarkable fuel saving claims.

Fuel additive pills come in a wide range of prices and profess remarkable fuel savings. Most of them simply add more of the products fuel manufacturers already added to gasoline. Using a higher-octane fuel will, in many cases, yield the same results.

The Fuel Shark plugs in to your car’s cigarette lighter. This amazing device claims it “…instantly balances your car’s battery, spark plugs, and other electrical parts.” It even has a “…blue light that lets you know that it is doing its job.” How does it work? That is not clear. However, for $29.95 plus shipping and handling and the claim of a worldwide patent, it must do something, right?

Before you spend your hard earned money on gizmos that may or may not reduce your fuel expenses, make sure your car is properly maintained. Check out http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ for some common sense tips for improving your miles per gallon.

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