Don’t Fall for Gimmicks Involving Gas Saving Devices

April 26, 2011

As gas prices continue to climb, some businesses are seeking opportunities to make money off of commuters by selling fuel boosting additives or offering engine modifications to help them conserve fuel. However, BBB advises consumers to stay away from these “gas saving” products and services, that sound “too-good-to-be true.”

Over the past decade, the EPA has tested more than 100 gas-saving devices and hasn’t identified any that significantly improve gas mileage and some could eventually cause engine damage.

Consumers are being inundated with ads and emails that offer better fuel efficiency. BBB recommends being particularly skeptical if advertisements claim:

  • Federal Endorsement. While the EPA does evaluate the legitimacy of claims made by companies that produce gas savers, no federal agency actually endorses gas-saving devices or additives.
  • Glowing Consumer Testimonials. Marketing materials or Web sites for gas savers often contain consumer testimony on the increased fuel efficiency they experienced with the device or additive, but these are often works of fiction devised by the company.
  • Outstanding, Too-Good-To-Be-True Results. Consumers should be extremely wary of big promises for big savings. If a gas-saving product really could increase mileage by as much as 40 percent with little effort or money, it is highly unlikely the inventor needs to peddle the product through spam e-mails or tacky-looking Web sites.

The vast majority of gas-conserving products are not viable solutions for squeezing mileage out of vehicles, but here are some tips drivers can take to increase fuel efficiency and get the most out of their gas tank:

  • Stay within the speed limit. Gas mileage tends to decrease rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and stops. Drivers can improve gas mileage around town if they avoid jerky starts and stops. This means accelerating slowly when starting from a dead stop and avoiding pushing the pedal down more than one-quarter of the way.
  • Air Conditioning or Windows? Using the air conditioner at lower speeds will decrease fuel efficiency, but, at higher speeds, open windows create significantly more drag than the AC – and can reduce gas mileage.
  • Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds can reduce a typical car’s fuel economy by up to two percent.
  • Keep the car properly maintained. The engine should be tuned, tires inflated and aligned, the oil changed on schedule and the air filters should be checked and replaced regularly.

Before buying any gas-saving device or additive, BBB recommends that consumers check out the company’s BBB Business Review.