Want to save gas? Don’t fall for additives that promise big savings

ID-10058494After commuting to work, visiting friends and family and driving around on the weekend, the gasoline bill can get pretty expensive, especially with the price of gas these days.

If only there were a magic substance you that would make your car run longer on a tank of gas…

Unfortunately, there isn’t any magic bullet for your gasoline budget. Your BBB warns to be skeptical of gas-saving claims for automotive devices or oil and gas additives.  Common sense is the way to go if you want to save money.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can evaluate some products to determine whether they’ll significantly improve or hurt fuel economy. However, they cannot say the type of effect a product will have on a vehicle over time because they do not test durability. Emission control systems in today’s cars are complex. Often they are capable of alerting drivers to problems and these additives may cause malfunctions or issues.

To avoid being scammed, watch for these red flag phrases:

“Improves gas mileage by XX percent.” The EPA has not found any product that significantly improves gas mileage after evaluating more than 100 alleged gas-saving devices. Ads that tout savings of a specific percentage are likely fabricated.

“My car gets an extra 4 miles per gallon. This product is great!” Testimonials from satisfied customers will often have exact numbers, but it is very difficult to test for precise changes in gas mileage after installing a product that claims to save gas. Many variables affect fuel consumption, including traffic, road and weather conditions, and the car’s condition—these factors make it close to impossible to attribute gas savings to an additive.

“Federal government approved.” Gas-saving products for cars are not endorsed by any government agency. An ad may be able to claim is that EPA has reached conclusions about possible fuel savings by testing the product or evaluating the manufacturer’s test data. If the seller claims that its product has been evaluated by EPA, ask for a copy of the EPA report, or check epa.gov for information.

BBB recommends these free or low-cost steps to save on gas:

  •  Clean out your trunk. Don’t carry what you don’t need.
  •  Slow down. Every five miles per hour over 60 costs you a quarter extra for a gallon of gas.
  • Find the least expensive gas stations. Saving a few cents can go a long way. Use a mobile app or website tohelp you find the closest and cheapest gas station.
  • Turn off your engine. If you’re parked and waiting, turn your engine off to save on fuel.
  • Keep your tires inflated. It is important to keep an eye on your tire pressure. For maximum efficiency, be sure tires are inflated to the recommended level.
  • Make your next car purchase a fuel-efficient one. If you’re in the market for a car, it’s important to consider fuel economy. Assuming gas costs $3.50 per gallon and you drive 15,000 miles a year, a car that gets 30 miles per gallon (MPG) versus one that gets 20 MPG amounts to over $4,000 in savings over 5 years. Visit fueleconomy.gov for gas mileage estimates and other information for cars dating from 1985.
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