When gas prices skyrocketed, many drivers were tempted to buy devices and additives that claimed to improve vehicle mileage (and often claimed to reduce emissions and improve performance). But AAA is advising consumers to use caution against buying products that are unlikely to save them money on gas.
AAA’s state-of the-art Automotive Research Center (ARC) has tested dozens of devices and additives over the past 30 years and has not found any products that actually improve vehicle mileage significantly:
- Magnets that attach to the fuel line
- Fuel additives
- Lubricant additives
- Devices that go into the intake air stream and are intended to modify the air flow characteristics in some way
- In-fuel-line devices
- Pellets or tablets that go into the fuel tank
- Electrical components that go on the battery or plug into the cigarette lighter
- Stickers that attach to the fuel tank (including “frequency energy from the fifth dimension”)
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
The above-mentioned devices are often sold in automotive supply stores, on websites, and through multi-level marketing organizations. They are not supposed to harm vehicle engines as they should be tested before they can legally be sold. However, tests mandated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or California Air Resources Board (CARB) only require proof that the products do not harm the car or increase the pollution it emits; the tests do not have to prove that the usage of the product actually improves mileage.
How to Truly Save
Motorists who want to save money on gas and improve mileage should look at their driving habits, vehicle maintenance, and follow the suggested maintenance schedule in their owner’s manual. Key items for maximizing the efficiency of a car include:
- Properly inflating tires to the manufacturer’s (or the tire manufacturer for aftermarket tires) recommended pressure; this can be found on the driver’s side door jamb, inside the glove box, or on the fuel filler cap
- Change oil and oil filter at the time/mileage interval recommended by the manufacturer
- Inspect/change air and fuel filters at the time/mileage interval recommended by the manufacturer
Driving style is one of the single-most important factors in determining how much fuel you use each time you drive. Drivers who slam on their accelerator and/or brakes waste much more fuel than those who use their accelerator and brake pedals gently. Aggressive driving can also reduce fuel economy by as much as 50 percent according to tests performed by the ARC.