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FTC Consumer Alert

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Dubious "Gas-Saving" Gadgets Can Drive You to Distraction

With the summer driving season underway, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants consumers to question claims that automotive devices will “boost your mileage by an extra 6 miles per gallon,” “ improve your fuel economy up to 26 percent,” or the like.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tested over 100 supposed gas-saving devices - including mixture "enhancers" and fuel line magnets - and found that very few provided any fuel economy benefits. Those devices that did work provided only marginal improvements. In fact, some “gas-saving” products even may damage a car’s engine or cause substantial increases in exhaust emissions. For a full list of tested products, check www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer.htm.

The FTC suggests that instead of shelling out cash for products of questionable benefit, consumers take some tried and true steps to deal with rising gas prices:

Use Only The Octane Level You Need

  • Remember, the higher the octane, the higher the price. Check your owner's manual to determine the right octane level for your car.
  • All gas pumps must post the octane rating of the gas under the FTC’s Fuel Rating Rule.

Drive Efficiently

  • Stay within posted speed limits.
  • Use overdrive gears and cruise control for highway driving.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and stops.
  • Avoid unnecessary idling.
  • Combine errands.
  • Remove excess weight from the trunk.

Maintain Your Vehicle

  • Keep your engine tuned.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned.
  • Change your oil.
  • Check and replace air filters regularly.

Consider Choosing a Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

  • The next time you buy a new vehicle, the model you choose may be the most important fuel economy decision you make. The difference between a car that gets 20 MPG (miles per gallon) and one that gets 40 MPG amounts to $3,750 over 5 years, assuming gas costs $2.00 per gallon and you drive 15,000 miles a year.
  • Visit www.fueleconomy.gov for more information. You'll find gas mileage estimates and other data from EPA for 1985-2004 model year cars.

For More Information
For information about EPA test procedures and test results, visit www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer.htm or write:

Verification and Compliance Division
Office of Transportation and Air Quality
Environmental Protection Agency
2000 Traverwood Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Or call: 734-214-4925.

 

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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