Pump Patrol: Exploring Fuel Economy Products

June 22, 2007 - Posted at 2:46 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -As the fight at the pump continues, everyone is looking for ways to get better fuel efficiency.

That often includes a stop to a local auto parts store.

There are dozens of items that could help you get a few extra miles to the gallon - everything from new spark plugs, to air filters, to fuel system cleaners.

"There's a lot of things that anybody can do to save gas mileage. One of the top things to do is maintain your tire pressure. Checking that on a regular basis, making sure you've got a good oil change before you take a long trip...anything like that really helps out substantially," said Shawn Morgan, Parts Sales Manager for Auto Zone at Hilltop.

The one item that makes the biggest difference is your air filter. A clean filter could save you big at the pump.

"If your engine can't get any air, it can't help burn the fuel, and it tries to get more fuel into it. That's where your gas mileage goes down. The less air it gets, the more fuel it will take in," said Morgan.

A new item that's drawing attention is "The Tornado." This is placed inside the air filter and creates a vortex, leading to improved air flow.

"The Tornado does actually improve gas mileage. On most fuel injected vehicles anywhere from one to three miles to the gallon on some of them," said Morgan.

Another cheap and easy gas saving solution is a fuel system cleaner which is added to your vehicle's gas tank every few thousand miles. However, the affects of these are not quite as strong.

"When you look at them price-wise a lot of them have the same stuff in them. Octane boosters and stuff like that really don't help a lot as far as gas mileage, but anything that has a maintainer, an upper cylinder lubricant, or a fuel injector cleaner will help out, especially on a long trip," said Morgan.

Mechanics and auto parts specialists say one thing you should never do is ignore your "check engine" light. They all have a set of diagnostic tools that plug right into your car's computer system, which can tell them in a matter of minutes what's wrong.

"Now days, fuel-injected vehicles are designed to run much more efficiently. They have small parameters that they operate in, and if something goes wrong, you need to get it checked out," said Morgan.

Experts say one of the most common finds is a bad oxygen sensor which can be detrimental to fuel efficiency.

And while you've probably heard it before, the best advice for saving gas is simple.

"Probably one of the number one things people don't realize is your driving style makes a huge impact on your gas mileage. Jump rapid starts, exceeding the speed limit by more than five miles per hour...it's all time constraint stuff. Everybody wants to leave five minutes late, yet be ten minutes early," said Morgan.

Most of the products shown can be found at your local auto parts store, but mechanics say you should always talk with them before adding anything to your engine's fuel system that could be potentially harmful to your vehicle's performance.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.