With gas prices going through the roof, there are a few gadgets and modifications you can implement that will increase fuel efficiency and improve gas mileage. Some of the fuel-efficient devices on the market work very well, and others are outright scams. I will show you some of the most popular offers and tell you which ones work and which ones are a waste of money.
The electric supercharger (fault)
The electric supercharger is designed behind the idea of forced induction modifications such as belt-driven superchargers or the popular turbocharger that is powered by exhaust flow. While the idea is great in theory, I have yet to see one with an engine capable of pushing air as fast as the engine is already consuming it. In other words, these tend to slow down the airflow to the engine, which can not only cause lower fuel economy, but can also damage your engine by causing a rich fuel / air ratio. Dyno testing on a 1998 S-10 V6 indicated a loss of 7 hp and an average loss of 3 mpg.
Vortex generators (poor)
Here’s a product that I’ve had marginal success with. The “Turbonator” and similar imitation products basically cause a twisting motion in the air intake hose, which in most cases allows the air to travel faster to the intake manifold. They are easy to install and work to some extent, but in my tests I noticed a maximum increase of 3 horsepower and no noticeable difference in gas mileage on average, which is well below projected results. Because it is so quick and easy to install, I tested this on 5 different vehicles with similar results on each.
Performance tokens (good)
There are several performance chips available that can not only add horsepower to your vehicle, but also improve gas mileage. They work best with high performance gasoline and diesel engines. I have nothing bad to say about performance chips, other than that they can be quite expensive and will generally require installation and dynamic tuning by a professional performance shop, which in itself can be quite expensive. That being said, they work. The horsepower increase is most noticeable with these, but they average an increase of around 3-5mpg.
Magnetic fuel conditioners (fault)
These inexpensive devices can be had for around $ 10 and will do absolutely nothing for fuel consumption. It would be much better to put that $ 10 in the gas tank. This is an extremely small device that is basically attached to the fuel line and magically you should get better fuel efficiency. The idea is that perfectly placed neodymium magnets will align the fuel molecules and “overload” or “ionize” them. Scientifically speaking, that doesn’t make sense! Feel free to try if you’re curious, but these have Bruce’s thumbs down!
Mass airflow module (fault)
There really is no common name for these, but they are usually a very small box with a couple of cables available at various places on the net for $ 5 to $ 15. The basic idea is that you connect it to your mass air flow sensor. (MAF) or intake air temperature (IAT) sensor, and it will trick your car’s computer into thinking that the air going into the engine is colder than it actually is. This is done using nothing more than a resistor that you can buy from Radio Shack for less than a dollar, and that’s it! It works in the sense that it fools your computer, but it doesn’t improve gas mileage or power from generalized tests. Don’t fall in love with this one like my friend did!
Hydrogen cells / water cells (excellent)
Why excellent? Most people report results of 20-45% increases in fuel efficiency. These work by dividing water into “HHO gas,” which is basically hydrogen and oxygen separated from each other. The only downside is that there aren’t really any production units available. Most HHO enthusiasts built their own setups. Fortunately, it is not very complicated and can be done at a fairly reasonable cost. There are some great plans available that show you exactly how to set this up for your car. I also personally tested this setup and was able to almost double my fuel economy on the highway and triple my MPG in the city!
I hope my review of the various gas mileage devices has helped you avoid some bad deals on the internet and beyond.