The high price of fuel has people trying every gadget, gizmo, and formula to save money. But are they just spinning their wheels?
The pain at the pump has become excruciating. Crude oil has hit record highs, which have gasoline prices shooting past $4 per gallon and possibly $5 per gallon by the time you read this.
When such situations arise, we tend to see new products on the market that claim to save fuel. Some brag about boosting your fuel economy up to 20% or more. LCT Magazine decided to put a few of these products to the test.
Along with testing the products, a couple of driving habits also were looked at and analyzed: items such as speed and air conditioning versus open windows. The results were surprising.
The testing parameters were simple. Using a 2008 Nissan Sentra 2.0 S four-door sedan, we set up identical conditions for each product and driving habit. The testing ground was a stretch of Highway 65 between Huntsville and Birmingham, Ala. The distance was limited to 100 miles, and each product was tested on clear days at about 6:30 a.m.
Each product was initially used for about 150 miles before refueling and testing. This was done to give each product enough time to properly work throughout the fuel and combustion systems of the vehicle. Once a product such as a fuel additive was finished being tested, there would be two tankfuls of fuel used in the vehicle to be sure any residue of the previous product was properly “washed away” so it wouldn’t compromise the next product tested.
The results were displayed by the Sentra’s factory-installed onboard trip computer that shows both instant and average fuel economy. The unit and trip odometer were both reset, and the test began when the vehicle had attained the desired testing speed. This eliminated the chance of different start speeds from becoming a factor and compromising the test results.
• PRODUCT: FFT Gasoline Blend
• COMPANY: Future Fuel Technologies Lewiston, Maine www.futurefueltechnologies.com
• CLAIM: Introducing a small amount of engineered chemical catalyst will entice fuel molecules to burn at a lower temperature and longer.
• PRODUCT: MPG Booster
• COMPANY: High Performance Plus Tempe, Ariz. www.mpg-booster.com
• CLAIM: MPG Booster delays the burning of short hydrocarbons, and quickens the burning of the longer hydrocarbons. The molecules ignite simultaneously, reducing pre- and post-ignition detonation, causing a more complete fuel burn at the spark on the power stroke.
• PRODUCT: Gumout Regane
• COMPANY: Sopus Products Houston www.gumout.com
• CLAIM: By cleaning and maintaining valves, fuel injectors, and combustion chamber, Gumout Regane maximizes fuel economy.
• PRODUCT: Prestone Gas Treatment
• COMPANY: Prestone Products Corp. Danbury, Conn. www.prestone.com
• CLAIM: Want to save gas? With regular use, this product protects against the dangers of low-quality gasoline by helping prevent fuel system deposits and removing water.
• PRODUCT: Lucas Upper Cylinder Lubricant San Bernardino, Calif.
• COMPANY: Lucas Oil Products, www.lucasoil.com
• CLAIM: Counteracts negative effects of reformulated gasoline. Restores power and lubricates. Burns thoroughly for MPG and fewer emissions.
• PRODUCT: FUEL Miser XL Model
• COMPANY: FUEL Miser New York City www.fuelmiser.net
• CLAIM: A powerful, specifically directed magnetic field penetrates the fuel line, effectively disrupting the laminar flow and energizing the fuel molecules, making them combine with oxygen. It also causes trapped hydrocarbon to separate and become more exposed.
Each item was tested under the earlier mentioned conditions and all results were recorded. No special testing or considerations were given to any product and all testing conditions were duplicated as closely as possible.
At the start of the test, the test vehicle obtained a constant average of 33.2 MPG under the test conditions. Note: Each product was tested twice — from Huntsville area to Birmingham and from Birmingham back to Huntsville area.
FFT Gasoline Blend: 34.0 MPG • gain of 0.8 MPG
MPG Booster: 33.9 MPG • gain of 0.7 MPG
Gumout Regane: 33.1 MPG • loss of 0.1 MPG
Prestone Gas Treatment: 33.2 MPG • no change in mileage
Lucas Upper Cylinder Lubricant: 33.0 MPG • loss of 0.2 MPG
FUEL Miser XL Model: 35.1 MPG • gain of 1.9 MPG
SYNOPSIS: The FFT and MPG Booster both improved fuel economy marginally. Both require the product to be added on a regular basis so the purchase price vs. the price of the fuel saved should be considered. Since both products require very small amounts to be added to a tankful, a bottle could last for at least 10 tankfuls.
The Gumout, Prestone, and Lucas products actually lost a small amount of mileage, or it remained the same. With this being the case, I would recommend only using a product such as these if you think you have clogged injectors and you need to clean out your tank before winter.
The FUEL Miser product worked well. The fact that you only have to purchase it once and never have to constantly add it is a plus.
NOTE: All testing was conducted on an occupied highway. These tests are not a substitute for the normal battery of tests conducted on closed tracks by professional technicians. LCT conducted these tests as a guideline to help limousine operators. Please research any product before adding it to your fuel or oil, or installing it in your vehicle.
DURING THE TESTING PERIOD for the various fuel saving products, I experimented with various driving habits to check the effects on fuel economy. The results were actually quite impressive. By changing speeds traveled on the highway, I saw a noticeable increase in fuel economy:
• Driving at 70 MPH ... 33.2 MPG
• Driving at 65 MPH ... 35.9 MPG ... a gain of 2.7 MPG
• Driving at 60 MPH ... 37.8 MPG ... a gain of 4.6 MPG
When your vehicle is on the highway at cruising speed, your transmission will be in its highest gear in order to keep the engine at the lowest possible rpms. In order to maintain speed, your vehicle simply overcomes the friction of its own moving parts, the tires on the pavement, and the air flowing around it. The faster you travel, the more difficult it is to push that air. More air builds up in front of the vehicle, and the low-pressure vacuum trailing behind gets larger. So, by keeping your vehicle at lower (safer) speeds, you create less “drag,” which saves fuel.
The next test was to determine whether it’s more efficient to use the a/c or have the windows open. While traveling at 70 MPH, the test vehicle was driven under both conditions. Here are the results:
• With air running: 32.9 MPG ... a loss of 0.3 MPG.
• With windows open: 29.6 MPG ... a loss of 3.6 MPG
The reason for the difference is simple. With the windows closed, the air flowed uninterrupted around the vehicle, allowing the aerodynamics to work. When the windows were open, the air flowed into the vehicle and got trapped in the rear deck, causing a parachute effect, essentially slowing down the vehicle and forcing the engine to work harder to maintain speed.