With the price of gas continuing to rise, there’s another trend that might have caught your eye: the prevalence of gas saving products. Or, more often, “gas saving.” The facts behind the advertisements may well surprise you. Do they do what they claim? And if not, what is the best way to save on gas?
Ford, Hyundai, and Kia are all facing legal action following claims of misleading MPG (miles per gallon) boasts and inaccurate fuel-economy advertising.
Firstly, watch the language. The Federal Trade Commission is quick to point out that “No government agency endorses gas-saving products for cars.” There’s no such thing as a federally approved car, and no federal approval for environmental or mileage claims. What there is, is the EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with, among other things, monitoring the efficiency and green credentials of your car. And there have been some pretty big surprises, lately.
Ford, Hyundai, and Kia are all facing legal action following claims of misleading MPG (miles per gallon) boasts and inaccurate fuel-economy advertising. Ford’s claims of a whopping 47 MPG would be gas saving indeed – but a class-action lawsuit has been filed in California alleging that the claims are inaccurate and the car fails to save on gas compared to competitors. Hyundai and Kia, meanwhile, face legal challenges in Korea after the EPA itself released reports that the cars fell short of the advertised efficiency. My recent post regarding the pending legal action explains the allegations lodged against the Korean automaker, which include claims that consumers may be owed compensation beyond that offered through the company’s reimbursement plan.
It’s worth pointing out that the EPA tests aren’t related to durability or, in the end, whether the impact on your car will be detrimental; it’s all about fuel economy. But then, fuel economy matters. A car that achieves 30 MPG, rather than 20, driven for five years and around 15,000 miles, will save over $4000 (assuming gas stands at about $3.50 a gallon).
So, these “gas saving” products. Best avoided? Probably. You can ignore any devices that aim to turn water into fuel. There’s “no credible data” to suggest any improvement on your mileage as far as the EPA’s concerned. The same is true for fuel line devices and mixture enhancers. You’d do better to save the money you’d spend on these products and buy more gas, it seems.
It’s not all bad news. The government’s Fuel Economy website lets you search and compare cars from 1984 – 2013 for efficiency, as well as reports on past tests across the industry looking at MPG and performance. And there are plenty of ways to improve your own car without needing new products: maintain the right tire pressure, change the oil regularly (as well as using the recommended grade of oil), and make sure the engine stays well-tuned. All of these can improve efficiency by as much as 4%.
For the car makers, the outcome of the suits and class action lawsuits will no doubt affect their future advertising and approach to consumer relations. Reimbursement packages for car owners whose cars fail to achieve advertised efficiency may run to the hundreds of millions of dollars. As for the best way to save on gas with a particular product, the jury’s still out on that one.