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What are Fuel Saving Devices?

The idea that fuel additives actually save fuel has largely been debunked.
Keeping the tires properly inflated can help improve gas mileage.
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  • Written By: Matthew Lindley
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2014
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During gasoline price hikes, talk about fuel saving devices often becomes commonplace. These are gadgets and methods that claim to increase the fuel efficiency of an automobile. However, the truth of the matter is that people have seemingly looked for ways to increase fuel economy ever since the invention of the internal combustible engine.

The only methods that have proven successful are technologies employed by the car manufacturers themselves. These innovations have included fuel injection, hybrid car technology, also known as electrical motor assistance, and new designs in the auto body shells to make them more aerodynamic. The fact remains that it has always been easier and more cost effective to design a vehicle to be more efficient from the start, rather than to modify its existing design.

Despite these advances in automobile technology, there are some that still use aftermarket or retrofitted fuel saving devices to obtain better gas mileage. People use these devices despite the fact that many of them end up having negative or harmful effects on fuel economy and even the vehicle itself. Among those devices are fuel additives and vapor transfer devices.

One of the many fuel saving devices are fuel additives. Elements such as tin, magnesium, and platinum have been added to fuel with the supposed outcome of increasing the fuel’s density. Another suggestive additive has been acetone, but its use runs the risk of damaging plastic parts within the fuel system.

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Vapor transfer devices, on the other hand, claim to improve mileage by changing the actual fuel's conversion from fuel into vapor. These include different types of heaters and “swirlers” that increase turbulence in the intake manifold.

Independent parties have investigated, and in most cases debunked, many different fuel saving devices. Among those methods that have been publicly studied is attaching magnets to the fuel line. This approach has been said to better align fuel molecules, however, in the majority of studies no improvement was detected. Other devices that have proven ineffective are the aforementioned use of acetone as an additive and a new carburetor that claims to gain 300 miles to the gallon (about 128 kilometers to the liter). In fact, both of these fuel saving devices have actually been shown to decrease fuel efficiency in independent studies.

It should also be noted that out of over 100 fuel saving devices reported on by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), less than 10 of them showed any actual improvement in efficiency. Perhaps the most effective fuel saving devices are the most basic. Keeping your trunk free of unnecessary extra weight, and consolidating trips will help save gas. Maintaining your car in proper working order, including keeping your engine properly tuned, and your tire pressure at appropriate levels will also help. Avoiding fast acceleration and deceleration, as well as turning your car off if you plan on idling for more than one minute will help you expend less fuel as well.

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