Oh, all right. One more fuel additive.

A reader writes:

I've read all your various fuel-additive debunking pieces, and while I'm assuming that this is Just One More Of The Same, I would like your opinion:


Big, flashy web page. Graphics and embedded videos. And not only testimonials, but actual Lab Results!!!

The How It Works web page sounds awfully dodgy to me, though, and the FAQ page makes me even more skeptical. On the other hand, they go to great lengths to differentiate themselves from being just another engine cleaner, and give myriad details about how to properly do testing so you can see the results for yourself. Also, the information given in their "EPA & CARB certified Lab Results" page is big on scientific rigor, discussing the need for consistent baseline runs and blind testing so the driving habits do not affect the outcome. (Of course, it could all be made-up hooey, but that's the chance we take.)

Point is, they sound good. And the product is being sold by Canadian Tire, a very large Canadian retail outlet.

(Canadian Tire is an institution in Canada. They are a Wal-Mart like store, but have been around for some 90 years. For 50 years have a 'store loyalty' program called Canadian Tire money, where some small percentage of your purchase is refunded to you in Canadian Tire Money. This 'money' is of *very* high quality; it is, in fact, better (better paper and ink, stronger security measures) than the national currency of some countries I have travelled. It is gladly accepted by charities, frequently given in larger denominations as wedding gifts, and is often used as a sort of alternate currency, trading at par among friends or even friendly strangers. Thus endeth the lesson.)

Anyway, since Canadian Tire is endorsing the stuff, I expect that many folks are going to be trying it. I know you have seen many scams of this nature, so I beseech you to train your skeptical and knowledgeable eyes on this potential snake-oil from the Great White North.


Yeah, here we go again.

This outfit does indeed have a better spiel than most fuel-additive sellers, but there on their How It Works page is the usual claptrap about raising octane rating.

Raising a fuel's octane rating above what an engine's compression ratio and ignition timing requires will, for an absolute certainty, do nothing at all, and certainly not improve an "incomplete burn", a concept which the Eco Fuel Saver people also share with dozens, if not hundreds, of other fuel-additive companies.

Modern engines all burn very very nearly all of the fuel, or else they fail emission testing and/or set the catalytic converter on fire.

And on it goes, blah blah blah, and then there are those nifty PDF test datasheets you mentioned - which are, once again, of a quality well above the norm for these outfits, and not even from California Environmental Engineering!

This post has been sitting on my to-do pile for rather a while; when I first replied to Shane I observed that the "Gasoline" test-results document said that the tests were done in 2006. And here we were, years later, and this hundred-billion-dollar product was still being sold over the counter to individual motorists. On account, perhaps, of a Conspiracy.

Now they've got documents from 2011 on the lab-results page, though, and all they say is that their additive doesn't ruin the fuel, and in fact changes it in almost no way at all. Then, puzzled, you might try their "Results" page instead, but all you'll find there is a list of variably plausible excuses for the additive doing nothing noticeable. But don't be fooled - Eco Fuel Saver will "increase BTU, octane and lubricity in your fuel", so never mind our own PDF test results that proudly indicate an octane change, for instance, of less than half of one per cent, and the fact that even a large octane increase makes no difference unless your current fuel is causing knock or making your fancy computer-controlled engine retard its spark; just clap your hands, children, and wait for Tinkerbell.

I could dig further into this, but it's like investigating every new prophecy of the end of the world or dude who reckons he's channelling a million-year-old alien, yet is mysteriously unable to even tell you pi to ten significant digits, let alone anything of scientific interest that millions of human high-schoolers don't already know.

It's up to the makers of all of these products to demonstrate the value of their incredibly valuable, if true, claims. It's not up to us to sort through the numerous claimants and their countless claims to see whether perhaps, this time, the magical mileage elixir or perpetual-motion machine is real.

The fact that Canadian Tire sell this product indicates, I think, that Canadian Tire reckon people will buy it. Similarly, Wal-Mart sells those magical "Power Balance" wrist bands (and several similar products, not to mention a particularly spiffy-looking magical engine potion).

And just about every pharmacy sells homeopathic remedies (as does Walmart!). And so on, and so forth.

7 Responses to “Oh, all right. One more fuel additive.”

  1. Jax184 Says:

    I tried to explain the concept of Canadian Tire money to a friend in NZ. It soon became clear that he thought we were all a bunch of cave men who traded old car tires as currency.

    It reminded me of a line from the Hitchhiker's guide.
    "...the Triganic Pu has its own very special problems. Its exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since a Ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu."

  2. Red October Says:

    Looking at that bottle, "Magical Engine Potion" was never more appropriate. I think that's basically just expensive fuel system cleaner that's .00009% more effective than ordinary premium-branded fuel system cleaner but it costs twice as much. Probably has 4 paragraphs on the box that amount to "This will burn out the gunk from the motor".

  3. Popup Says:

    Never underestimate the power of advertising and the fervour with which people want to believe in something.

    I work in a medium-size company making some very fancy electronics. All very advanced and serious, but I'm afraid that our CEO ruins our reputation by wearing one of those 'Power Balance' bracelets. He actually appears to believe in it!

  4. Anne Says:

    It feels a bit strange to compare Crappy Tube to Wal-Mart - at least, it used to really be a car-supplies-oriented place, and arguably a hardware store. They have sort of sprawled into everything from home lighting to camping gear to rifles, but they're not quite in the same "we sell cheap junk to meet every need" category as Wal-Mart. And as a non-car-owner, I have to say I occasionally get a little Canadian Tire money but I don't think I've ever actually used any.

  5. davolfman Says:

    Also Petco sells "Magnetic Therapy Collars"

  6. Free Power Says:

    I loved the post, I must admit been an English man here in the US and not too far from the boader, I often travel to Canada where it seems the Canadians are always more intrested in the fact that my wife is American and never seem to glance at me for being from the UK. My wife now knows how I feel in the US when every one askes if I know the Queen! But any way I digress. The tire money is a great idea really, Wallmart does not have to introduce it because they have their own money card that rips everyone off already.
    Wops sorry I digress once again. Come on most of the products sold to day are because of marketing and no other reason. If the TV had not been invented well shops would be a lot smaller!

  7. Haela Says:

    Yes people are impressed by commercials and trust too often without checking things on their own.

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