Gas prices are up, causing many drivers to look
for ways to improve fuel efficiency. Although there are practical steps you can take to
increase gas mileage, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you proceed with
caution when you consider buying automotive devices or oil and gas additives based on
gas-saving claims. The FTC says that even for the few products that have been found to
work, the savings to consumers have been small.
According to the FTC, it's wise for drivers to be skeptical of the following kinds of
- "This gas-saving product improves fuel economy by 20 percent."
Claims usually tout savings ranging from 12 to 25 percent. However, the U.S.
Protection Agency (EPA) has evaluated or tested more than 100 alleged gas-saving devices
has not found any product that significantly improves gas mileage. In fact, some such
may damage a car's engine or cause substantial increases in exhaust emissions.
The products on the market that claim to save gas fall into clearly defined categories.
the EPA has not tested or evaluated every product, it has tried to examine at least one
each category. Check http://www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/devicefs.pdf for category
and product names of devices tested by
- "After installing your product on my car, I got an extra 4 miles [6.4
kilometers] per gallon [3.8 liters]."
Many ads feature glowing testimonials by satisfied customers. Yet, few consumers have
ability or the equipment to test for precise changes in gas mileage after installing a
using a product that claims to save gas. Among the many variables that affect fuel
are traffic, road and weather conditions, and the car's condition.
Take the example of the consumer who sent a letter to a company praising its purported
gas-saving product. At the time the product was installed, the consumer had received a
engine tune-up - a fact not mentioned in the letter. The entire increase in gas mileage
the product may well have been the result of the tune-up alone. But other consumers
have known that from the ad.
- "This gas-saving device is approved by the federal government."
No government agency endorses gas-saving products for cars. The most that can be
advertising is that the EPA has reached certain conclusions about possible gas savings by
the product or by evaluating the manufacturer's own test data. If the seller claims that
has been evaluated by the EPA, ask for a copy of the EPA report, or check
information. In some instances, false claims of EPA testing or approval have been made.
Product Complaints and Refunds
If you're dissatisfied with a gas-saving product, contact the manufacturer and ask for
Most companies offer money-back guarantees. Contact the company even if the guarantee
period has expired. If you're dissatisfied with the company's response, contact your local
consumer protection agency, the Better Business Bureau or the FTC.
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
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
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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