First published October 2007, updated February 2012
Environmental concerns coupled with high prices at the gas pump and the specter of peak oil continues to fuel the market for magic pills, gadgets and additives promising better gas mileage and less emissions. But do they work?
I still see these products being touted quite often around the web and I occasionally have companies and agents trying to get me involved in actively marketing them.
The reason I don’t is that I find the whole notion of these products rather questionable. With billions of dollars poured into fuel technology and the pressure on oil companies and auto makers to clean up their environmental act, I find it difficult to believe that outsiders have formulated miracle fuel savers. A chemical analysis of any such product by the big oil companies would very quickly allow them to create a similar additive for their own fuels – and charge accordingly.
A blurb about such a miracle product I received some years ago stated:
“Increase MPG 7% to 14% on gasoline and diesel. Laboratory tested, EPA registered, scientific process. Up to 75% reduction in emissions.”
EPA registration means nothing except that a product won’t create any worse emissions that what your car is already spewing out. It is not an endorsement of its claimed capabilities. As for the independent laboratory testing, I couldn’t locate the lab mentioned in the reports.
The little further research I did found the company in question was at that point, they were under investigation by the Attorney General of Florida (I haven’t been able to determine the result). Investigation doesn’t equate to guilt by any means, but it sows seeds of doubt, especially as you dig around a little more and read some of the debates and investigative stories published online.
There’s plenty of these fuel-saver products around; sometimes they are nothing more than an octane booster; which is already available at most gas stations in the form of different fuels available – and these are the safest product to put in your vehicle.
Using 95 RON (Research Octane Number) or 98 RON fuel can give about a 6-7% increase in power and mileage over the standard (in Australia anyway) 91 RON fuels – you’ll also pay about the same amount more for these fuels though. I run a 98 RON fuel where I can. In fact, with many newer cars, a higher than standard RON fuel is recommended by the manufacturer and it’s a recommendation that should be followed (check your manual).
Note: even before putting “premium” fuels in older vehicles, check with the manufacturer to ascertain suitability.
As for some of the separate add-in products, some can damage your car and actually increase emissions.
The FTC has stated that even for the few gas-saving products that have been found to work, the savings have been very small and at times inconsistent.
The Environmental Protection Agency has run tests on over a hundred so called gas saving gadgets and additives and has found none that work as advertised. It makes me very sad to see unscrupulous operators taking advantage of people who want (and need) to save cash and do something towards minimizing their environmental impact at the same time.
If someone’s trying to peddle gas pills and miraculous gas saving gadgets to you, exercise due diligence – run a search on Google for
product name scam
company name scam
.. and see what comes up. Read the information both for and against in order to make a more educated decision about whether or not to purchase. You’ll also need to consider if any modification or additive may void your car warranty.
For some real gas saving strategies that help minimize environmental impact, check out my gas saving tips – it’s mostly common-sense stuff.
Read more from the FTC about gas saving pills, additives and gadgets.