Creative Consumer: Scams That Don't Save You Gas

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline could hit an all-time high today, and for months drivers have felt continuous pain at the pump.

"It's crazy, It's out of control," a motorist at a Washington, D.C., gas station told ABC News. "It hurts me in the wallet, in the heart, in the stomach -- everywhere," said another customer as he filled up.

When gas prices go up, so does hype about "gas-saving" products. The Federal Trade Commission warns that these gadgets and additives don't work. If they did, the government and carmakers would have incorporated them into their requirements and designs.

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The Environmental Protection Agency monitors gas-saving claims and tests some of the products. The EPA says it's never found one that provides significant savings.

EPA scientists showed us how they can test fuel consumption by putting a car up on a rack and driving a computerized course. Over the years, they've tested more than a hundred gadgets and additives that claim to save gas.

But the claims -- especially on the Internet -- continue. The most common categories are additives you put in your gas tank, air bleed devices that pump air into your carburetor and magnets that claim to change the molecular structure of gasoline.

ABC News found an online ad that said by attaching a special magnet to your fuel line, you could save up to $20 per tank of gas. The device sold for $90 and claimed to increase gas mileage by 27 percent. Turns out, the FTC had already ordered the company to cease making false claims. But the ads kept popping up. To add insult to injury, this device and others are now sometimes sold as business opportunities that turn out to be pyramid schemes.

Some Red Flags

Products that brag they can increase gas mileage by big percentages. The EPA has never found this to be true, even though it tries to test a few products in each category.

Products that claim to have been tested by "EPA-Certified Labs." The EPA doesn't certify labs. And the federal government doesn't endorse gas-saving products for cars.

Ads that feature glowing testimonials by satisfied customers. Think about it. Most consumers don't have a way to truly test their car's fuel efficiency.

So it's driver beware. Authorities say some of these products can even damage your engine.