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Do products - fuel economy devices or fuel additives - that claim to improve fuel economy or lower emissions really work? Some say they are EPA-certified.

There are many fuel additives and/or aftermarket devices on the market that claim to save fuel and/or lower emissions. Some even claim they are approved or certified by EPA.

Under the Clean Air Act, a fuel additive (any substance or compound intended to be added to gasoline or diesel fuel) must be registered with EPA.  This means that the manufacturer of the product must provide EPA with certain information concerning the chemical composition of the additive, as well as submitting data to EPA that provides reasonable assurance that the use of the additive will not increase emissions of regulated air pollutants and will not pose a health or safety threat to the public. The registration requirements do not address the efficiency of the product or require any demonstration that the claims made for the product are valid (typically, "better fuel economy," and sometimes also "reduced emissions" or "engine life benefits").

Those marketing such products take advantage of this distinction, citing the fact that the product is "registered with the US EPA" and sometimes citing the applicable section of the Code of Federal Regulations (i.e., "under the provisions of 40 CFR Part 79") to foster the impression that EPA has somehow "approved of" or endorsed the product. For more information on the process by which fuel additives must be registered with EPA, and exactly what this does and does not imply, please see our Fuels and Fuel Additives Registration web site: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/registrationfuels/index.htm.

We have a program under which formal evaluation test programs are performed on aftermarket devices (generally, mechanical objects that are attached to or installed on a vehicle by the consumer) and on certain fuel additives. However, EPA does not certify, approve, or endorse any product tested in this program nor the results of any independent laboratory testing. EPA issues a technical report for those products and additives that we have tested and evaluated; these reports are available on our Web site at: www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/reports.htm.

None of these products were found to produce statistically significant benefits in terms of fuel economy or exhaust emissions. When we explain all this to someone, the usual question we get back is "Why doesn't EPA stop them from doing this?"  EPA does not have the authority (or the resources) to attempt to stop such products from being marketed.  When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which can go after companies for false advertising, does manage to stop a company from marketing anything along these lines, the company and/or the product simply resurface under new names. 

Many people want to believe that there are in fact such "magic products" that will somehow greatly improve your vehicle's fuel economy (and hence reduce the costs of fuel), but when it comes to products and claims such as this, it’s wise for drivers to be skeptical. For more information, please read the following fact sheets on gas-saving products:

 

·    "Devices and Additives to Improve Fuel Economy and Reduce Pollution - Do They Really Work?" http://www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/420f11036.pdf  (PDF, 5 pp, 115K, About PDF )

·     “Gas-Saving Products”
http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0057-gas-saving-products (Federal Trade Commission, August 2012) 

·    "BBB Warns Drivers to Be Wary of Gas-Saving Gadgets and Additives" http://www.bbb.org/us/article/bbb-warns-drivers-to-be-wary-of-gas-saving-gadgets-and-additives-5804 (Better Business Bureau, June 2008)

External Links Disclaimer: Please be aware that links to non-EPA sites do not imply any official EPA endorsement. Furthermore, EPA does not accept any responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented at those locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. EPA does not guarantee the suitability of the information for any specific purpose.

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Topic Information
  • Topic #: 23002-24291
  • Date Created: 6/21/2004
  • Last Modified Since: 8/7/2014
  • Viewed: 1871

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