The rising cost of gasoline and diesel fuel is causing a lot of “free energy” and “mileage boosting” scams to be posted everywhere. Here are a few of my favorites from the past as well as brand-new scams for the computer age.
Everything old is new again…
I remember seeing ads for Cow Magnets in the back of Popular Mechanics magazines back in the early ’70s. The idea is that by clamping a pair of heavy-duty magnets around your fuel line close to the carburetor it would somehow align the ions in the gasoline and extract more energy when it was burned. Actually, every farm kid knows that cow magnets are a real thing that dairy farmers get cows to swallow, which stops bits of barbed wire and nails that might get into their feed from traveling though their digestive tract.
Cow magnets for better mileage are 100% Bull!
There is ZERO proof that Cow Magnets do anything at all to improve your gas mileage. Yes, modern vehicles don’t have a carburetor any more. Instead they have some sort of fuel injection under computer control, and many also have something called GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) which creates a timed spray of gasoline into each cylinder, sort of like a low-pressure diesel engine with spark plug ignition. Add in a turbocharger and you’re now extracting near the theoretical limit of energy in every gallon of gasoline or diesel.
The following ad was auto-inserted by Google
Magic spark plugs are a complete fizzle
Here’s another one that was a big deal in the ’70s and ’80s and has shown up on a number of my latest news feeds. The idea is that there’s some special spark plug design with unobtainium contacts that can somehow provide better ignition of the fuel/air mixture. Now, back in the day of leaded gasoline you needed to change your spark plugs every 10,000 miles or gas mileage would suffer.
So if you put in a bit of magic zirconium-tipped spark plugs to replace your dirty factory/OEM plugs, of course your mileage would increase a little bit. But that would be true if you simply cleaned and re-gapped your dirty spark plugs. However, in the current days of electronic ignition and unleaded gasoline, spark plugs last 50,000 miles or more and there’s no points and condensers to change. Actually, the computer in your car tunes your engine 100 times every second, so there’s nothing you can do to improve its performance. So replace your spark plugs with quality plugs recommended at the mileage intervals suggested by your vehicle manufacturer, and that’s as good as it’s gonna get.
Free energy generators are just smoke and mirrors
I see these so-called free energy videos all the time, where someone builds a strange looking gadget from an old car alternator or a few bearings and spark plugs with magnets. Once you spin it up, the light bulb magically lights up and the claim is now you can have free energy forever.
But the reason for these scams is the number of views that these YouTube videos get in a few days, sometimes in the millions. Of course, there’s a battery cleverly concealed somewhere in this free energy scam, or maybe they’ve added a magnetic coil feed by AC power under the table, sort of like your wireless phone charger. That’s how I would do it if I wanted to make a free energy scam.
If wishes were horses, all beggars would ride…
Note that I really did try to build a Perpetual Motion / Free Energy generator out of an electric motor and car generator when I was 8 years old. It didn’t work, but I did manage to blow the fuses in my parents’ electric box. It didn’t work 60 years ago when I tried it, and it certainly won’t work now, no matter how much you wish it would. The lesson is that no matter how badly you wish for something to work, any gadget that appears to break the laws of physics as we understand it is complete bunk.
The following ad was auto-inserted by Google
And finally, the OBD2 tuner scam
All modern vehicles have an OBD2 port under the dash, which does allow you to add something like a Bully Tuner to your diesel truck. While those tuners can allow you to increase your horsepower (voiding the warranty and possibly wrecking your engine), there’s no proof that any of these tuners can improve fuel mileage. But the real scams are the ones that have nothing but an LED light inside with no computer interface at all. When you plug them in, a magic glow assures you that they’re doing something, but in reality they’re nothing more than a night light for your feet. So don’t fall prey to this scam.
What does work?
Simply driving at the posted limit will probably improve your gas or diesel mileage by 10% to 20% compared to going 10 to 15 mph over the limit. Yes, it will take you longer to get there, but what’s your hurry when you’re camping?
Let’s play safe out there….
Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.