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Bankrate's 2008 Car Guide
Dollar$ & $en$e
Whether you're in the market for basic transportation or a status symbol, financial savvy always helps.
Dollars & $en$e
Gas saving devices remain unproven

As Americans look desperately for financial relief, some are exploring the promises of add-on devices and fuel additives that manufacturers claim will improve vehicle fuel-efficiency.

Unfortunately, experts agree they may be wasting money instead of saving.

The claims made by manufacturers of these gas savings devices run the gamut. Some devices claim to reduce fuel consumption by using hydrogen from water as an alternative to fuel, or pumping hydrogen into the engine to improve fuel-efficiency. Others claim to increase a car's horsepower -- and its gas mileage -- by pumping a vortex of air into the engine. Yet others say the addition of certain additives into the fuel tank will interact with and modify gas molecules, leading to an improvement in gas mileage.

While the claims vary, experts say that for the most part, they have something in common. "There is no device or pill that you can drop in your tank that's going to give you a magical increase in mileage," says Lon Anderson, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "If there were, the car companies would have incorporated it."

There is no device or pill that you can drop in your tank that's going to give you a magical increase in mileage

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has been in the forefront of testing such products and additives over the years, checking not only for their effect on vehicles but for their effect on the environment. In extreme cases, products may damage your engine or increase your emissions, says Hampton Newsome, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC. But consumers may also pay for using fuel-saving devices and additives in another way, says Cathy Milbourn, spokeswoman for the EPA. "If someone puts something in their car that hasn't been approved by the manufacturer, has difficulty and takes the car to their dealer, I can pretty much guarantee that their warranty is not going to hold up."

While the EPA will approve devices as long as they don't harm the environment or show signs of hurting the vehicle's performance over time, "We have found quite frankly that most of these just don't work," says Milbourn.

-- Posted: Aug. 4, 2008
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