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I've heard on the radio advertisements for a product called the Platinum Fuel Saver, that they claim that if you use it, you will increase fuel efficiency by 25%. What kind of data is there to support this claim. Bonus points if you figure out the cost for the system, including installation, and figure the break even point.

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    If devices like these worked, they would be standard in new cars. – duder Mar 25 '11 at 17:16
  • Agree duder, with the the US Congress mandating higher and higher CAFE standards, manufacturers would be all over this cheap solution. – Moab Aug 25 '11 at 1:13
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Did a quick look at Amazon and a few other places on this device. Both the EPA and Consumer Reports mark this as a scam device. Many of the EPA reports were commissioned by the FTC, and conclude:

EPA judged that there was no technical basis or appropriate test data to support the claims for a fuel economy improvement or emission reduction due to the device. Therefore, EPA issued a report concluding that the device would not have an emission or fuel economy benefit.

Furthermore, the claim that it somehow adjust the way your car burns gas is bunk because there is no mechanism to accomplish this. Modern cars have a computer controlled electronic fuel injection system that will control the fuel to air ratio for optimum performance. This device is preying on the increase in gas prices and people's natural gullibility. Mythbusters did an episode that showed that these things are scams.

The bottom line: The best way to get the best mileage from a tank of gas is to follow the vehicle manufacturer's service schedule and fine-tune your driving habits.

And since the device doesn't actually work, for your bonus question, the break even point is never.

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    Or as the case might be, 5000 miles before you buy the device;-) – PearsonArtPhoto Mar 25 '11 at 17:16
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    An EPA report from 1991 here. "The overall conclusion from these tests is that the Platinum Gasaver did not significantly change vehicle emissions or fuel economy for either the FTP or HFET. The device clearly did not produce the large -- greater than 20 percent -- fuel economy benefits claimed by the manufacturer. Therefore, users of the device would not be expected to realize either an emission or fuel economy benefit. Vehicle operation and performance were unchanged by the device". – Henry Mar 25 '11 at 17:33
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    Thanks Henry, I have incorporated your link into the answer. – Larian LeQuella Mar 25 '11 at 17:53
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    @Pearsonartphoto: Here's an old-timer's trick for saving gas: Get a lead brick. Balance it on top of the radiator cap. Then drive in such a way that it doesn't fall off. – Mike Dunlavey Mar 25 '11 at 17:59
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    I find that a gold brick works better. – horatio Mar 25 '11 at 19:04
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Devices of this kind are quite common, some have even been featured in episodes of Mythbusters.

I found a Consumer Reports article where they tested Platinum Gas Saver and two other similar products. The result:

In more than 1,800 miles of driving, our tests showed no overall mileage improvements. In addition to the cost of the Platinum Gas Saver, consumers would have to pay for the oxygen sensors in each vehicle—about $140 for our vehicles—plus a labor charge for the work.

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