Scams: MPG, and Others

Know of an MPG scam, or some other highly dubious automotive product? Share it right here, in the discuss area for our Official Car Talk Scam Detector.

We'd love to hear from you. Have you tried any of them? Have you put magnets on your fuel line, miracle additives in your gas tank -- or massaged enriched plutonium into your air filter? And, if so... did you think it worked?

Let us know your experience, right here- - and thanks!

Tom and Ray Magliozzi
Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers

Save your time, Popular Mechanics already did this:

By the way, they found that all the products didn’t work. All of them. At best they made no difference. At worst, they caused the vehicle to catch on fire.

Wow!! I can’t wait. With the way humor is used on the broadcast, this subject can be effectivelly addressed without rancor (Surf this web site for good examples). Plus I am sure your engineering backgrounds would play well in explaining why some of these devices don’t work - and more importantly why many of us know that without ever testing them.

It can’t get here soon enough. The Shysters never sleep!

Are these two going to actually test these devices in controlled testing…if they know how to do controlled testing…or are they just going to throw balogna back and forth at one another hoping something useful will come out of it?

my vote - bologna it’s much funnier than scammers trying to fleese us. don’t you think that if a product exixted that cost $10 and improved gas milage 20%. the manufacturers would already be using it to tout better mpg

Let me say I was EXTREMELY dissappointed in Tom and Ray’s response to the guy who was going to put an HHO generator on his car. I would have hoped they would have concentrated on the 2nd Law of Theromdynamics. Instead they focused the oxygen sensor and how that was going to screw up the function of the car.

But in all fairness: A few days ago I interviewed about a dozen people I work with on these devices. EVERY ONE OF THEM believed they worked. Not one questioned the reported 60% improvement in fuel economy I quoted as them having. None of them questioned why a Ford or a Toyota hadn’t installed the devices on their new cars.

I know these folks aren’t rocket scientists, but I was surprised that they accepted this possibility so easily.

See this thread to see that there is clearly a canyon between those folks that understand how the laws of physics apply in these situations - and those that don’t:

I am very discouraged!!

It’s high time to experiment.

A couple years ago, I had a 2003 Honda Civic. Factory spec says it should get about 33-35 miles per gallon on the highway. When Hurricane Katrina blew in and made a mess, gas prices shot up to just shy of where they are now. So I tried a little experiment, and found that I could wring nearly 40 miles from a gallon of gas - in mostly city driving - by adjusting one thing:

The nut between the steering wheel and the seat.

My current vehicle is a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer ES, about 40,000 miles on the clock. I’ve established that under most common driving conditions it gets around 30 miles per gallon, give or take. During the last couple of months the amount of lead in my foot has varied, depending on where I had to be and by when; and it’s still gotten pretty close to 30MPG.

This week, I’m going to do the same thing I did with the Civic and see what happens. Take off gently, accelerate slowly, don’t go much above 45MPH, slow down either by engine compression or by putting the transmission in neutral and coasting, drive without air conditioning when possible (I’m in South Carolina, so that WILL matter!), things like that.

you won’t be saving much, if anything, by putting your car in neutral.

And in many states it’s illegal to be moving on a highway while not in a “power-producing” gear.

I keep seeing this (re power from water) floating around in my emails. Is it for real? Then where is it? I would like to see them discuss this… maybe it’s been posted before but I haven’t seen it.

No, It doesn’t work. It violates the laws of physics.

Many folks will post that you have to give it a chance. Remember P. T. Barnum? “A sucker is born every minute!!”

Hey Tom and Ray, have you heard of the water for gas systems? Do they really work? And if it does, why hasn’t detriot installed as a standard feature in most cas?

I bought Ethos and have been using it for about a month. It does not seem to make a difference. Ethos has the ad below posted on Detroit Gas “Did You Know Your Car Engine Wastes 20%
Of The Gas You Buy? - Ethos Is Easy
To Use, And Starts Saving You Up To 80?
Per Gallon on Gas - Guaranteed.”

I am wondering if Ethos is a scam. Also, I was about to put some in the crankcase with the oil when I was at a gas station. A man got out of his car and asked me what I was doing. He informed me that he was the Dean of the Automotive School at the local community college. He said not to mix anything with the oil.

Is this correct? I would be glad to know if I was scammed.

My $.02…

Water systems - great for making more power (adding more oxygen into the mixture and cooling the cylinder at the same time). But - adding more oxygen causes the o2 sensors to tell the computer to add more fuel. So you gain nothing but weight, which will decrease your millage.

Ethos - I’d be very weary of this product, as it could effect the life of your catalytic converter and/or oxygen sensors. Sounds like a good deal for the company, not you. It may or may not slighly increase millage, but at what cost?

He said not to mix anything with the oil. Is this correct? I would be glad to know if I was scammed.

He was at least partly right. On rare occasions it may be good to add something to the oil, but 99% of the time you are wasting your money and may cause damage. Modern oils are great and complex, messing with their chemistry can cause more problems than it might solve.

Yes, you were scammed. Google “Ethos scam” and you will find more references than you need. This one isn’t bad: (and follow the links for more info).

Bottom line: If “this stuff” (meaning any gas saving stuff at all) was effective, it would either be in every gallon of gas on the market or would be installed in every car that you could buy.

Um…I respect what they’ve accomplished, but they don’t have engineering backgrounds. Ref:

Now figure out how much it changed your cost per mile rather than your MPG.


“Are these two going to actually test these devices…”

Why bother? EPA, Popular Mechanics, a few States, and probably several other have tested them and found that they are at best useless and at worst reduce gas mileage. I’m for processed meat byproducts, too.

Stale link, CapriRacer. Please repost it.

And what leads you to believe that rocket scientists can’t be fooled? The automobile is not their bailiwick. Rocket engineers; now that’s a different story…