By Richard Kitterman
Special to the Daily Herald
The average price for a gallon of gasoline has risen to $3.43 statewide, up from an average of $3.16 per gallon just one month ago.
As prices continue to climb, it's not surprising that some businesses may be taking the opportunity to make money off consumers by selling "fuel boosting" products and additives to help conserve gas. Consumers should be cautious of "gas-saving" products that sound too good to be true.
The Environmental Protection Agency has tested more than 100 gas-saving devices to determine whether their use will result in any significant improvement to fuel economy. Even though a few products were found to save a small amount of gas, the EPA has not identified a single product that significantly improves fuel economy. Additionally, several of the products tested were shown to cause an increase in exhaust emissions.
Currently, ads boasting "Instant Mileage Gains up to 35 percent" and "Gain up to 6+ MPG Now" are popping up in in boxes and on many search engine results pages. While phishing attempts can be common with this type of promotion, BBB experience is that most websites linked to the ads have not presented major concerns for phishing. However, these advertisements are filled with questionable statements that may entice consumers to purchase a product costing over $100 that will not decrease gas consumption.
Consumers should keep in mind the following red flags of gas-saving device advertisements:
1. Federal Endorsement. While the EPA does evaluate the legitimacy of claims made by companies that produce gas-savers, no federal agency endorses gas-saving devices or additives.
2. Glowing Consumer Testimonials. Marketing materials or websites for gas-savers often contain consumer testimonials to the increased fuel efficiency they experienced with the product. Often these are made up by the company and the same testimonial can be found on several different websites.
3. Too Good to be True Results. If a product could increase gas mileage by as much as 40 percent with little effort or money, it is highly unlikely the inventor needs to promote their product through spam emails or questionable websites.
Even though most gas-saving products are not practical solutions for getting the most out of your vehicle, BBB offers the following tips for consumers to increase fuel efficiency:
Stay within the speed limit.
Avoid jerky starts and stops.
Consider driving with the windows down.
Keep up with basic scheduled maintenance.
Reduce your driving mileage. Car pool, combine errands, stick to an efficient route and eliminate unnecessary trips.
Richard Kitterman is the executive director of the BBB for Central and South Central Texas. To check out businesses, go to www.centraltx.bbb.org or call (254) 699-0694.