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Monday, February 11, 2008

 

The gas mileage evildoers of eBay

The mad scientist is feeling a bit belicose today. So I thought I'd go take on a few of the automotive evildoers - those who use impressive-sounding pseudoscientific claims to convince people that a worthless trinket will improve their gas mileage. It's my opinion that the products they sell are scams, and today I'm going to unmask a few of these evildoers and show what is wrong (and often patently absurd) about their claims. So I decided to do a little bit of patroling on eBay to see what I could turn up. There's always a couple good automotive scams on eBay.

My first target is what appears to be a cheaply made knock-off of a product I've blogged about before, the Tornado Fuel Saver. Not only is it cheaply made, it's cheaply photographed, too. Seller couldn't afford more than 72 by 80 pixels for his photo. (This guy appears to be selling the same thing but with a bigger photo, allowing you to see just how poorly made this thing is.) I've blogged about the "genuine article" reducing performance when tested on a dyno before. Since there's already a lot of notes on why the Tornado and its ilk are scams, I only feel it necessary to comment on one particular issue with this knock-off. They've used slit bends to form the vanes. This significantly weakens the base of the vanes and invites cracks to form. There's a good chance that the vanes could break off and get sucked into the engine. Perhaps that's why "Peter Pan" used such a small photo. The Tornado may be flim-flam, but at least it's well made flim-flam.

This guy puts the names of some better known rip offs into his auction. So he's not only ripping off consumers, he's ripping off trademarks (couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of trademark holders, though, could it?). This one is good for a few laughs if you're into material science, such as "Made of strong alloy zinc." Zinc's mostly used for cheap castings where strenght is not a big concern, stuff like the metal emblems on my Dart. Extra giggle points for using the phrase "cambusting chamber." Sounds worse than getting metal shards sucked into your intake.

This auction is for another gas mileage scam that refuses to die, the gas line magnet. The EPA's tested these fuel magnets time and time again. And they never work.

Another classic rip-off is the "ebay chip," which isn't a chip at all, but a resistor that you splice into the coolant sensor line. This forces the engine into warm-up mode, making it add more gas. This seldom improves matters as many engines are tuned cautiously from the factory and run fairly rich as it is under full throttle; some motors even gain power when you lean them out from stock. Amazingly, this device that dumps more fuel into the engine than it needs is now being rebranded as a fuel economy booster! They're really too numerous to count, but I've chosen a few standouts that offer extra laughs: This one, for its claims of MPG and power gains being higher than Jerry Garcia, and this one, for inexplicably wading into the abortion debate.

Let the bidder beware!

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